A Ballad Of The Guild Of 1802.
(From Dobson and Harland’s History of Preston Guild.)
The following ballad, written for the Guild of 1802, although partaking of the doggerel, may not be without interest, as a picture of local manners and feelings “sixty years since.” The song was taken down, the other day, from the lips of a Lancashire hand-loom weaver of “nankeen,” seventy-six years of age. He recited it at his loom from memory, and stated that his father visited Preston Guild, in 1802, whence he took home with him this newly-composed ballad. It is printed pretty nearly as he recited it, except that he gave it in the Lancashire dialect, which rendered it all the more racy, and no doubt a more close resemblance to the way in which it would be sung in the streets of Preston sixty years ago. At succeeding Guilds, a somewhat similar song, with alterations for the worse, has been “cried” by “flying stationers.”

Now Preston Guild is drawing near,
And folk of all sorts will be there,
Lords, knights, and squires of high renown
In shays and coaches come to town.
Merchants that trade beyond the seas
Will there attend, their wills to please;
And tradesmen, too, depend, they will
In whiskeys * ride to Preston Guild.
Butchers sell their meat now dear,
Their pelf to raise to spend it there,
And their wives in muslins will be drest
And jig it away with the very best.
Badgers,+ by pinching of the poor,
And farmers who’ve got gold in store,
All as fine as the rest, resolved, they will
In whiskeys ride to Preston Guild.
The fun with racing will commence,
When gamblers free their guineas spend,
And sharps may lose, and flats may win,
And “knowing ones” be taken in.
The streets they’ll crowded be all day,
And every night, a ball or play;
Concerts and ’semblies too, there’ll be,
Each evening to keep up the glee.
With love-indulging masquerades,
Bachelors then are rakish blades;
Wives, widows, maids, by dress and skill.
Increase the throng of Preston Guild.
Grand comp’nies in the streets parade;
There’s not calling or a trade,
But will the grand procession join,
With bands of music and colours fine.
Among the smiths you’ll Vulcan find,
And Adam and Eve with tailors joined,
And other sights more curious still
Compose the show at Preston Guild.
All you that wish these sights to see,
With money well provided be;
For, wanting this, your case is bad,
You’ll lack both victuals and a bed.
A bed of straw or chaff lets high,
In paver’s shops ± all night some lie.
For a barn or stable charge they will
A shilling a night at Preston Guild.
* A sort of gig. - + Corn and provision dealers; usually applied to those who buy at one place and sell at another. - ± A figure of speech for the street.

Title:A Ballad Of The Guild Of 1802


Publication:The Blackburn Standard

Published in:Blackburn

Date:Wednesday, September 03, 1862

Keywords:history, industry


Although published in the town of Blackburn, this poem celebrates the ancient tradition of the Preston Guild, a week-long market event held every twenty years in that town. Purporting to be transcribed from a handloom weaver, a man who would have been fourteen when the event in question took place, the piece gives us a fascinating window on civic history, and folk lyric tradition. Not long after this poem was published, fully half of the population of the town of Preston was seeking relief through unemployment due to the Cotton Famine, so this reminder of a time of commercial bustle and agricultural plenty would have been especially poignant. – SR