The Folk-Lore Journal/Volume 2/Impounding Wild Birds


THE following legend, copied from the Parochial History of Saint Neots in Cornwall, by James Michell, 1833, pp. 137-138, seems a fitting pendant to those mentioned by Mr. Peacock in the last number of the Folk-Lore Journal (i. 379):—

"The saint [Neotus] observing that the inhabitants of Guerryer Stoke [now St. Neots] paid little or no regard to their religious duties, and seldom attended divine worship on the sabbath day, remonstrated with them on such a serious breach of the law of God delivered to them in the fourth commandment, and exhorted them in the most earnest manner to amendment of life, in order to obtain eternal salvation. They at once acknowledged the justice of the saint's remonstrance, but palliated it by averring that the crows, and other birds of prey, committed such depredations on their property, and in their corn-fields, on the Sunday, that it required their continued attention to drive them away and disperse them; and, but for this circumstance, they would not have neglected to attend and receive his instructions every returning Sabbath. The saint having considered the matter, peremptorily directed all his parishioners duly to attend divine service in his church, and promised, on their compliance with his commands, to prevent those voracious birds from injuring their property by any future depredations during such their attendance. The parishioners complied with the saint's injunction, and became exceedingly regular in the performance of their sacred duties on the sabbath day, when, lo! a miracle was effected: the saint caused the whole of those feathered plunderers to come to an enclosure, which he formed on the common near the village, every Sunday, and made them continue there impounded during the whole time of the church service, even from morn till eve. The enclosure formed by the saint for their confinement is still shown on the common west of the village, and bears the denomination of the 'Crow Pound' to this day: it contains about a quarter of an acre of land surrounded by a mound of earth."

I learn from the Vicar of St. Neots, who has kindly written me on the subject during the present month, that the enclosure known as the "Crow Pound" is still discernible, and that the older inhabitants still call it by that name.

Torquay, 10th December, 1883.