Leicester (SK5904), Leicestershire

"All the Year Round" (1888)

"All the Year Round" (Auth.)
*Nottinghamshire Guardian, 14th Jan.1888

Initially a description of plough trailing customs on Plough Monday featuring Bessy with a collecting tin and threats of malicious ploughing but no mention of any location or indication of when this when done.

Finally comes the following: "When a schoolboy I remember seeing a band of farm men and lads, decked out in all manner of grotesque devices, parading the streets of Leicester as 'ploughboys,' and capering about but with no plough accompanying them. Tusser's 'Husbandry' tells us that:

'Plough Monday next after the Twelfth tide is past.
Bide out with the plough: the worst husband is last.'

Before leaving Plough Monday I must refer to a custom observed on the morning of this day amongst rural[?] men and maids. These always strove the one to be up and dressed before the other. If the men were up and dressed by the side of the fireplace with some of their implements of husbandry before the maids could put the kettle on, the latter were under fine to provide a fowl for the men next Shrovetide; or as an alternative, if any of the ploughmen, returning at night came to the kitchen hatch and cried 'look in the pot' before the maids could cry 'look on the dunghill' they incurred the same penalty."

R.Hazlewood (1896)

R. Hazlewood (Auth.)
*Nottinghamshire Guardian, 14th Nov.1896

"In my early days plough-boysism as at its zenith. Then Leicester was visited with very many sets from the villages adjacent. Each set consisted of about six or eight in numbers. One was attired in female costume, and carried a larege woodedn ladle, and was called 'Poll with the ladle,' intimating that she was the one that served the plough boys with broth, milk, &c, that made them so healthy and strong. Another was called the 'Rag Man,' and was attired in trousers and jacket, with small pieces of coloured cloth similar to hearth rugs we see in the present day. He had on his head a hairy cap, carried in his hand a bullock's horn, which he frequently blew - his face was raddled and a small bell attached to his trousers behind. All the others wore clean white shirts over their clothing, decorated with a profusion of many ribbons of various colours. Their hats were similarly decorated, which gave them a very pleasing appearance. In proceeding along the streets they accosted all they came in contact with, and asked for money in the most urgent manner. They ran after the girls in the streets. Persons locked their doors to keep them out of their houses, for if they once got in they would not go out without receiving something. Plough-boying in Leicester has disapppeared. One reason for this is that stocking-makers and other others dressed themselves up as plough boys and came to Leicester, but the people got aware of it, and would not encourage deception. Now it rarely occurs that there is seen any plough boys in Leicester. - R.Hazlewood, Leicester."

* indicates data that not yet been validated against the original source and/or has yet to be completely indexed.