The Folk-Lore Journal/Volume 1/Notes, Queries, Notices, and News (pp. 59-64)


A Cheshire Custom.—An extraordinary custom was made public at the Eddisbury Cheshire Police-court on Tuesday. Five young men were summoned for assaulting another young man named Taylor. Complainant was coming from his sweetheart's house when defendants asked him to pay his footing on commencing courting. He refused, whereupon defendants produced a huge flour bag, in which they completely enveloped him, smashing his hat and umbrella, smothering him with flour, and spoiling his overcoat. Defendants said this was the invariable custom of the neighbourhood, and the magistrates recognised it by ordering the defendants to pay £2 10s. damages, and also to pay expenses.—Yorkshire Gazette, Nov. 4, 1882.

A Singular Custom kept up.—A correspondent writes:—I see that some of our old and quaint customs are still kept up in St. Just. William Harvey and George Angove had their hats burnt on Monday morning at Wheal Drea mine for the first increase to their families.—Cornishman, Aug. 21, 1882.

"Riding the Stang."—On Monday night the town of Northallerton was in a somewhat excited state on the announcement that the youths of the place were going to "ride the stang" for a married man and woman, who had, it was alleged, eloped, but who returned to their respective homes last Thursday and Friday night. The procession started at the back of the town, near the residence of one of the alleged offenders, but as soon as it reached the main street a number of policemen conveyed them to the police station.—Yorkshire Gazette, Nov. 4, 1882.

Superstition in Stornoway.—On a visit which we had the pleasure of making the other day to the capital of the Lewis, we were surprised to find the still prevalent strength of an old superstition that was at one time widely influential in Scotland. It would appear that the disease known as "the King's Evil" is very common in the island, including its chief town. One of the islanders, a shopkeeper in a good way of business, telling of the prevalence of the disease, from which his own children suffer, added the astonishing remark, "But we are getting a good deal of good from the Seventh Son cure. This refers to the old practice of getting the seventh son in a family of that extent to touch the person afflicted with the disease, The shopkeeper, on being expostulated with for his apparent faith in this absurd nostrum, frankly acknowledged that it was a superstition, but added that he had no doubt of its practical utility in many cases. From the tone of his remarks, indeed, it was evident that he had been resorting to it in the case of his own children.—Glasgow Mail.

An Egyptian Variant of Sindbad.—Among the papers read before the Berlin Congress of Orientalists in 1881, and printed in the Verhandlungen (part iii. pp. 100-120), is one by M. W. Golénischeff, of St. Petersburg, on an old Egyptian tale which presents analogies to certain episodes in the tale of Sindbad. As M. Golénischeff promises a transcript and translation of the papyrus, folklorists will soon be in a position to judge for themselves of the exact relation between the Egyptian and Arabian tales. For the present, it may be of interest to reproduce a summary of the leading incidents of the title, as presented by M. Golénischeff to the Congress. The papyrus is said to be, approximately, about 4,000 years old.

The narrator says that he embarked in a large vessel, and was overtaken by a storm. All the sailors were drowned, but the narrator was saved by a plank, and reached the shore of an island, in which he found food and fruit of the most excellent description. Suddenly he heard a sound of thunder, and beheld a serpent approach. Its rings were encrusted with gold, and its colour was of lapis lazuli. In reply to the enquiry of the serpent as to how he came there, the narrator tells the story of his shipwreck. The serpent comforts him, because it is God who has brought him to the enchanted island; and, after four months, another ship will arrive which will carry him safely home. The serpent then tells him sundry details about the serpent family, and again comforts the narrator. The latter promises that Pharaoh will give the serpent rare cassia, and incense, and treasure of all kinds out of Egypt. But the serpent smiles, and says that he has all the rarest cassia and incense of Egypt, and anti perfume as well, which the Egyptians had not. Only one Egyptian incense was lacking [but this Pharaoh could not supply —because] "after your departure you will never again see this island, which will be transformed into waves." Then the ship came, as the serpent prophesied, and the serpent loaded the narrator with all manner of good things, not omitting the anti perfume, and so he got safely home.

M. Golénischeff discusses in some detail the points of contact between this story and Sindbad's voyages; but, until we have a full and exact account of the papyrus before us, it is premature to start hypotheses on what is already a difficult problem.

Early Notices of Yorkshire Folk-lore.—The following passages relating to the Folk-Lore of our forefathers occur in a place where few would look for them. I therefore make no apology for forwarding you a transcript for the use of the Folk-Lore Society: Fabric Rolls of York Minster. (Surtees Society.) Edited by the Rev. James Raine. 1859.—Article liii. Detecta quœdam in visitationibus Eccl. Cath. Ebor. necnon ecclesiarum eidem pertinentem infra provinciam Ebor.

1510. "Newbald, North and South ......... and alleso yer is a womane yt hath demeyd her marvelously, for sho hayth takyne ye coveryng of ye bere and layd it on hir kow, and a plewygh stayfe yt had kyld a mensse, and a clothe ondyr a corsse to cast over ye kow."— P. 266.

"Strensall ........ Ricardus Hall, capellanus ibidem, est communis adulter. ...... Item ministrat poccula amatoria sive medic' Agneti Hobson de Alne servienti suse, per quod destruit puerum in utero suo et eciam mulierem, & dicta pocula ministravit aliis quampluribus mulieribus."—P. 272.

1528. "Bishopwilton. Isabel Mure presented. Shee took fier and ij yong women wt hir and went to a rynnyng water, & light a wyspe of straw & sitt it on the water, and saide thus: 'Benedicite, se ye what I see; I se the fier burne and water rynne and the gryse grew, and see flew and nyght fevers and all unknowth evils that evil flee, and all other, God will.' And after theis wordes sais xv. Pater Noster, xv. Ave Maria, & thre credes."—P. 273.


Brood of Ducks. A brood of young ducks, is it a "squad"? There is some peculiar word which I failed to note at the time, and have lost it. I am trying to recover it.

About Axbridge they call the youngest of a litter of pigs a treseltrype.

Jno. A. Yateman.

Old Rhymes and Sayings. The Macclesfield Courier of Oct. 14th, 1882, relates an amusing police-court case at Hyde. A woman named Catherine Ann Whitehead was charged with stealing a purse at Staley on the 28th September. In the midst of her examination the prisoner commenced to hum a tune and keep time with her feet. A Constable: Will you be quiet? Prisoner: Oh; you are somebody's son, and somebody is your mother.

Will you come to the wedding —
"Will you come, will you come?
Will you come to the wedding,
Will you come?
Bring your own tea and sugar.
And your own bread and butter.
And we'll all "go" a penny to the rum.

The magistrates here held a consultation, during which the prisoner was allowed to do pretty well as she pleased. After upbraiding the public for laughing at her, and making a little speech to the reporters, she sang:—

The man in the moon one morning did say,
"How many oak trees are there in the sea?"
I answered and said, "When I'm understood,
As many red herrings as there are in the wood."

I say, if you keep on the clean side of the road your boots don't get dirty, but if you go into the mud you can't brush it off. Come with me, and I'll take you where the moon shines in the day and the sun shines in the night, where the donkeys bark and the dogs all bray, and the dumb men speak and the blind men fight.

Are these the ravings of a maniac merely, or do they contain remnants of a folk-lore knowledge?

Who is the author of Holland-tide, or Munster Popular Tales. London, 1827?


The first meeting of the session of the Colchester Natural History Society was opened on October 5 last by Mr. Laver with an interesting paper on "Folk-Lore in its Relation to Mammals." The numerous superstitions connected with our familiar animals were illustrated by popular sayings from various parts of the world. The Folk-Lore Society was highly commended for the valuable assistance it renders to those interested in researches regarding the mode of life and thought of our ancestors.

During his survey of Eastern Palestine, Captain Conder is said to have collected a great quantity of Arab Folk-Lore, with tribe-marks and other ethnological evidence of value.

Mr. S. L. Lee is editing for the Early English Text Society the English version of the French Romance of Huon of Bordeaux, which was written by Lord Berners, the well-known translator of Froissart, early in the sixteenth century. Only one copy of the first edition is known to be extant, and it is now in the possession of the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres, by whose permission the present reprint is being made. The book will be of interest to students of folk-lore, as being the first to introduce Oberon, King of the Fairies, into English literature. His ancestry and the circumstances of his birth are there minutely described. In person he is represented as "of heyght .iii. fote, and crokyd shulderyd, but yet he hathe an aungelyke vysage." His dress gleams with precious stones and round his neck hangs a marvel-working horn. There is no limit to his powers of enchantment, and he has the reputation of working deadly evil on all men who speak with him, although other passages show him to be a zealous Christian. Huon, the hero of the romance, he takes under his especial protection, and brings him safe through all his hair-breadth adventures. His habitation is a wood, named Maumur, on the road between Babylon and Palestine; and, according to the old story, he finally sets out for Paradise, where a place was appointed him at his birth, and bequeaths his kingdom on earth to Huon of Bordeaux. Mr. Lee intends in his introduction to consider the various theories that have been suggested by continental writers as to the origin of Oberon, and to trace briefly his career in English literature. The former part of the subject has never been fully investigated. Keightley, who attempted it in his Fairy Mythology, preceded by many years the most thorough workers in the field, and has been long outpaced. Mr. J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps has well illustrated the latter part of the subject in his many valuable notes on A Midsummer Night's Dream. Mr. Lee hopes that the book may be published early in 1883.

At the Antiquarian Congress at Cassel, which took place from the 27th to the 30th August, a resolution was adopted impressing on historical societies the advantage to antiquarian research of the collection of the Volkslieder (or popular songs) of their respective districts.

The year's Proceedings of the Portuguese Folk-Lore Society have been issued by Clavel, of Oporto. The Book is edited by Senhor J. Leite de Vasconcellos, who published not long since an interesting study of the folk-lore of his native country, called Tradicoes populares de Portugal.

Mr. G. L. Gomme, F.S.A., and Mr. H. B. Wheatley, F.S.A., intend to publish a set of chap-books and folk-lore tracts. The editors propose to reprint in chap-book form, with outline representations of the quaint woodcuts, the earliest editions at present known of these fugitive though not forgotten pieces of a dead literature. Each tract will be complete in itself, and will have a short prefatory note, giving as much bibliographical and folk-lore information as may be necessary to confirm its value. The subscription for a series of tracts is one guinea. When the first is issued a second will be prepared. Subscribers need only subscribe for a single series, but they will have the option of subscribing for the others as they appear. The following will form the first series, and will be ready early this year: "The Seven Wise Masters of Rome," edition printed by Wynkyn de Worde, circa 1505; "The Antient, True, and Admirable History of Patient Grisel," a seventeenth century edition; "The Pleasant History of Thomas Hickathrift," printed for W. Thackeray; "The History of Mother Bunch of the West," a seventeenth century edition; "The Famous and Remarkable History of Sir Richard Whittington," a seventeenth century edition. Among those which it is proposed to print in succeeding series will be: "The Seven Champions of Christendom," "The Right Pleasant and Variable History of Fortunatus," "Jack and the Giants," "Tom Thumb," "The Wise Men of Gotham," "Guy of Warwick," "Bevis of Hamton," "Academy of Complements," and "Round about our Coal Fire."