British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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242                                         may day,                                [may i.
"( Here comes us poor Mayers all,
And thus do we begin                -
To lead our lives in righteousness, For fear we should die in sin.
To die in sin is a dreadful thing,
To die in sin for nought; It would have been better for us poor souls
If we had never been born.
Good morning, lords and ladies,
It is the first of May; I hope you'll view the garland,
For it looks so very gay.
The cuckoo sings in April,
The cuckoo sings in May, The cuckoo sings in June,
In July she flies away
Now take a Bible in your hand,
And read a chapter through ; And when the day of judgment comes
The Lord will think of you."
N. & Q. 3rd S. vol. vii. p. 873.
It is the custom at Warboys for certain of the poor of the parish to be allowed to go into Warboys Wood on May-day morning for the purpose of gathering and taking away bundles of sticks. It may possibly be a relic of the old custom of going to a wood in the early morning of May-day for the purpose of gathering May-dew.N. & Q. Srd S. vol. xii. p. 42.
Sir Dudley Diggs, by his will, dated 1638, left the yearly sum of 20 to be paid to two young men and two maids,who on May 19th yearly should run a tye at Old Wives Lees in Chilham and prevail; the money to be paid out of the profits of the land of this part of the manor of Selgrave, which escheated to him after the death of Lady Clive. These lands, being in three pieces, lie in the parishes of Preston and Faversham, and contain about forty acres, all commonly called the Running Lands. Two young men and two young maids run at Old Wives Lees in Chilham yearly on May 1st, and the same number at Sheldwich Lees on the Monday following, by way of trial; and the two who prevail at
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