British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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250                                      may day.                              [May I,
was the result. It was, however, soon revived " as of old," and, we are told, was much patronised "by the nobility and gentry." It had also its attractions for the ruder class of holiday-makers, as we learn from the following copy of a hand-bill formerly in the Upcott Collection, dated 1748:
" May Fair.—At the Ducking Pond on Monday next, the 27th inst., Mr. Hooton's dog Nero (ten years old, with hardly a tooth in his head to hold a duck, but well known for his goodness to all that have seen him hunt), hunts six ducks for a guinea against the bitch called the Flying Spaniel, from the Ducking Pond on the other side of the water, which has beat all she has hunted against, excepting Mr. Hooton's Good Blood. To begin at two o'clock.
" Mr. Hooton begs his customers won't take it amiss to pay twopence admittance at the gate, and take a ticket, which will be allowed as cash in their reckoning ; no person admitted without a ticket, that such as are not liked may be kept out.
" Note—Eight Lincoln ale."
Mr. Morley, in his History of Bartholomew Fair (1859, p. 103), after noticing the presentment of the grand jury in 1708 and the prohibition of May Fair, tells us that the fair was revived, and " finally abolished in the reign of George IL after a peace-officer had been killed in the attempt to quell a riot." The statement, however, of the fair having been finally abolished in the reign of George II. is perfectly gratuitous on the part of the historian of " Bartlemy," as it existed until near the end of another reign. Carter the antiquary wrote an account of it in 1816, and he says that a few years previously it was much in the same state as it had been for fifty years. This description, full of curious interest, was communicated to the Gentleman's Magazine for March 1816 (vol. lxxxvi. p. 228). It has been reprinted in Hone's Every Vay Book, 1826, vol. i. p. 572; See Soane's New Curiosities of Literature, 1867, vol. i. p. 250, &c.; N. & Q. 3rd S. vol. x. p. 358.
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