|John Peel was born at
Greenrigg, a small hamlet outside Caldbeck, in
1776, the son of a yeomen farmer. The exact date
of his birth is not known, but his batism was
recorded in the parish church register the
out of his teens, John fell in love with a local
girl, Mary White, then 18 from nearby Uldale.
They were fordidden from marrying by John's
mother, but they galloped to Gretna Green (17
miles north) and married. They had 13 children.
was a farmer, not from the gentry. He managed to
hunt two and sometimes three days a week.
1776 - 1854
the prospect of steady work that attracted John
Woodcock Graves, a restless young coach painter
from nearby Wigton, to move into the village for
a job as a mill manager. That's where he met John
Peel who kept a kennel of hounds - for which he
earned £40 a year by hiring them out to various
hunts. John later became the local MFH (Mater of
men were in the heyday of their manhood they met
one night at Graves's house at Caldbeek, to
arrange some hunting matter. The grandmother of
Graves's children was singing a child to sleep
with an old nursery rhyme known as Bonnie Annie,
or Whar wad Bonnie Annie lie, and Graves became
struck by the idea of writing a song in honour of
Peel to the tune the old lady was singing. He
completed a version before Peel left the house
and jokingly remarked 'By Jove, Peel, you'll be
sung when we are both run to earth'. Peel died in
1854, aged seventy-eight, and was buried at
Caldbeck. The song, sung to a version of Bonnie
Annie, seems to have had a long traditional
popularity before it got into print, and was
probably first published on a music sheet by Mr
William Meteclfe of Carlisle about 1870 or 1880.
There are two distinct versions of the tune of
John Peel, the one being a corruption from the
other, and both differing materially from the old
nursery rhyme. The tune Whar wad Bonnie Annie lie
or Whar wad our Guidman lie, is found in several
early Scottish publications. It is, however,
founded on an English Country Dance called Red
House, printed in The Dancing Master, 1703, and
greatly used in the early ballad operas of the
first part of the 18th century. See John
the man and the song - full story here
a full story: The story of a song appear in the
Summer 2001 edition of Evergreen - magazine
article - not on line.
Peel Family gravestone at Caldbeck was repaired
after being damaged by anti-hunt protesters
though the folk-song became, it nevertheless
proved to galling for the militant anti-blood
sports protesters, for in 1977 they went up to
Caldbeck one night and cracked John Peel's
headstone in the churchyard, dug a hole in the
grave and threw the head of a fox into it..
gravestone has been repaired, and the Peel
family's remains were found not to have been
disturbed, bu the evil desecration caused a
severe loss of support for the anti-hunting
ye ken John Peel?
Do ye ken John Peel with his
coat so grey?*
Do ye ken John Peel at the break of day?
Do ye ken John Peel when he's far, far away
With his hounds and his horn in the morning.
Twas the sound of his horn brought me from my bed
And the cry of his hounds has me oftimes led
For Peel's view holloa would wake the dead
Or a fox from his lair in the morning
Do ye ken that hound whose voice is death?
Do ye ken her sons of peerless faith
Do ye ken that a fox with his last breath
Cursed them all as he died in the morning?
Yes, I ken John Peel and auld Ruby, too
Ranter and Royal and Bellman so true
From the drag to the chase, from the chase to the
From the view to the death in the morning
And I've followed John Peel both often and far
O'er the rasper fence and the gate and the bar
From Low Denton Holme to the Scratchmere Scar
When we vied for the brush in the morning.
Then here's to John Peel with my heart and soul
Come fill, fill to him a brimming bowl
For we'll follow John Peel thro fair or thro foul
While we're waked by his horn in the morning.
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