Dicky in the Yeomen
DESCRIPTION: Yeoman cobbler Dick McClane and his Orange wife live "at the end of Dirty Lane." He was with Beresford, at Castlepollard and Weavers' Hall upon the Coombe. Finally, "he shot an ass ... going to mass." But now he has to beg "Like all black-hearted Yeomen"
AUTHOR: probably by "Zozimus" (Michael Moran) (c.1794-1846) (Source: Zimmermann)
EARLIEST DATE: 1830s (Zimmermann)
KEYWORDS: violence death Ireland political
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Zimmermann 47, "Dicky in the Yeomen" (2 texts, 1 tune)
ADDITIONAL: Gulielmus Dubliniensis Humoriensis [Joseph Tully?], Memoir of the Great Original Zozimus (Michael Moran) (Dublin,1976 (reprint of the 1871 edition)), p. 23, "Dickey and the Yeoman" [only the first verse]
NOTES [627 words]: "Following an affray at Loughgall in Co. Armagh in 1795 the Orange Order was founded, while the Yeomen were also established in June 1796. These were made up mainly of men from the Orange Lodges." (source: The 1798 Rebellion on the Hogan Stand site)
Zimmermann: "John Beresford was one of those who organized the repression in 1798."
Zimmermann: May 21, 1831 - "Seventeen people were killed by the police at Castlepollard ... in one of the bloodiest affrays of the Tithe War. An inquest followed but the policemen were finally acquitted of the charge of murder." See also "The Castlepollard Massacre."
The Charter of the Weaver's Guild, dedicated to "the Blessed Virgin Mary," was granted 1446. A weavers' hall was built by the Guild in the Lower Coombe, Dublin. Irish Catholics were excluded from guild membership and Catholic weavers operated illegally. The guilds no longer had a monopoly and the Municipal Corporations Act of 1840 ended the guild system in Ireland. The Weavers's Hall was demolished in 1965. (source: The Weavers' Guild, The Guild of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dublin 1446 to 1840 by Veronica Rowe at The Irish Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers web site.
For all that, I haven't yet found anything about a battle at Weavers' Hall or any loss there of Croppy lives.
Donkey's have a cross-shaped patch of dark hair on their back. In political ballads this mark is taken as a sign that donkeys are Roman Catholic. [For more on this, see the notes to "The Ass's Complaint." - RBW] - BS
There are at least three John Beresfords who might be the subject of this song, though I suspect the reference is to the younger, John Claudius.
John Beresford (1738-1805) was the second son of the Earl of Tyrone, and the depiction of him as strongly opposed to Catholic rights is quite accurate -- Bartlett/Dawson/Keough, p. 23, tells us that "members of Parliament like John Foster, John Fitzgibbon, and John Beresford... served as an informal 'Irish cabinet'. This talented but deeply conservative trio became a vital element in the government of Ireland and shared London's opposition to parliamentary reform." MP for Waterford, Beresford also held a revenue commission post from 1780 (OxfordCompanion, p. 44), and gave vigorous support to the Act of Union.
According to Brumwell/Speck, p. 50, the Lord Lieutenant Lord Fitzwilliam declared that he was "virtually King of Ireland." And he used that power to oppose FitzWilliam's attempts at reforms.
His greatest influence on Irish history may well have come in 1795. In January of that year, the Second Earl of Fitzwilliam was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, which brought "prospects of Catholic Emancipation" (Smyth p.108). Beresford protested vigorously, and in the squabble that followed, it was Fitzwilliam, not Beresford, who fell.
I can't find any references to deaths at Weaver's Hall, either, but there were riots in Dublin in 1795. During the riots, John Beresford's son John Claudius Beresford fired on the crowd outside the Customs House (Smyth, p. 150). Beresford the younger was also a leader of the Dublin Orange Lodge (Pakenham, p. 352). So he is a likely target of the denunciation in this song.
The third John Beresford is Lord John George Beresford (1773-1862), who became the Church of Ireland (Anglican) Archbishop of Armagh in 1822. The nephew of John Beresford and the cousin of John Claudius, he was not as directly involved in battle as his cousin, but he vigorously opposed Catholic emancipation and contributed to the needs of clergy who had lost their incomes during the Tithe War (OxfordCompanion, p. 44).
Given that this song seems to describe events stretching over a period of more than thirty years, I wonder if there might not be some conflation of Beresfords. - RBW
Last updated in version 2.6
- Bartlett/Dawson/Keough: Thomas Bartlett, Kevin Dawson, Daire Keogh, The 1798 Rebellion: An Illustrated History, Roberts Rinehart, 1998
- Brumwell/Speck: Stephen Brumwell and W. A. Speck, Cassell's Companion to Eighteenth-Century Britain, Cassell & Co., 2001
- Pakenham: Thomas Pakenham The Year of Liberty, 1969, 1997 (I use the 2000 Abacus paperback edition)
- OxfordCompanion: S. J. Connolly, editor, The Oxford Companion to Irish History, Oxford, 1998.
- Smyth: Jim Smyth, The Men of No Property, 1992, revised edition 1994 (I use the corrected 1998 St. Martins edition)
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2018 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.