British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

A calendar of the traditional customs, practices & rituals of the British Isles.

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Feb. 3.]                         shrove Tuesday.                                67
Church, Oxon, 1679, p. 48), quoted by Brand, Pop. Antiq., 1849, vol. i. p. 78, is the following ironical song on cock-throwing :
" Cocke a doodle doe, 'tis the bravest game, Take a cock from his dame, And bind him to a stake: How he struts, how he throwes, How he staggers, how he crowes, As if the day newly brake.
" How his mistress cackles, Thus to find him in shackles,
And tied to a packe-thread garter. Oh, the beares and the bulls Are but corpulent gulls
To the valiant Shrove-tide martyr."
Shying at Leaden Cocks.—This was probably in imitation of the barbarous custom already described of " shying" or throwing at the living animal. The " cock " was a repre­sentation of a bird or beast, a man, a horse, or some device, with a stand projecting on all sides, but principally behind the figure. These were made of lead cast in moulds. They were shyed at with dumps from a small distance agreed upon by the parties, generally regulated by the size or weight of the dump, and the value of the cock. If the thrower overset or knocked down the cock, he won it; if he failed, he lost his dump.
Shy for Sliy.—This was played at by two boys, each having a cock placed at a certain distance, generally at about four or five feet asunder, the players standing behind their cocks, and throwing alternately ; a bit of stone or wood was generally used to throw with; the cock was won by him who knocked it down.
Cocks and dumps were exposed for sale on the butchers' shambles on a small board and were the perquisites of the apprentices who made them; and many a pewter plate, and many an ale-house pot, were melted at this season for shying at cocks, which was as soon as fires were lighted in the autumn.
These games, and all others among the boys of London, had their particular times or seasons; and when any game
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