Location: Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, England (SP3127)
Year: Perf. about 1840
Time of Occurrence: Christmas
Collective Name: Mummers


Mrs Norgrove
Notes and Queries [1582] - MUMMERS AT CHRISTMAS (1840)
Birmingham Weekly Post, 4th Oct.1884, p.1a; Birmingham: Jaffray, Feeney and Co.



{[1582] - MUMMERS AT CHRISTMAS (1840). - I was born At Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, and about 1840 the Mummers were all the rage. About a fortnight before And after Christmas they used to visit people's houses and Enquire in the daytime, 'Mrs, ----- will you please to Have the Mummers to-night?' And if agreeable, all the Neighbours used to come in that particular house to wit- Ness their performance. They all wore masks and dressed Up very grotesquely ; they used to dress at our house, and I have often heard them rehearse the following words :-}


Good master and good mistress,
I hope you are within,
For we are come this Christmas time
To amuse you and your kin.
A I O U, a-down derry,
We are come this Christmas time to see you merry.
For if you are, pray tell me, and we'll quickly go from hence.
A room, a room, a room for me,
And all my jolly company.

{The speaker then brings in a broom and sweeps a place for the performer.}

[humpy Jack]

In comes I, old humpy Jack,
With all my family at my back ;


Next there comes old Beelzebub,
And on his shoulder he carries a club,
And in his hand a dripping pan,
Now don't you think he is a noble man !

[Turkish Knight]

In steps I, a Turkish knight ;
From Turkish lands I come to fight.
I've come to fight King George the Third,
That man of courage bold.
Although he says his blood is hot,
I'll very soon make it cold,
For I've fought in battles one, two, three,
And always gained the victory !
Show me the man that dares to bid me stand,
I'll cut him down with my audacious hands ; ---
I'll cut him and chop him as small as flies,
And send him to the cookshop to make mince pies.

{Enter King George.}

[King George]

I am that man that dares to bid thee stand,
Although thou saidst thou'll cut me down with thy Audacious hand :
I'll cut thee down with my audacious hand ;
I'll cut thee, and chop thee, as small as flies,
And send thee to the cook shop to make mince pies ;
For I've fought in battles one, two, three,
And always gained the victory.
So guard thy arm - defend thy blows -
Likewise thy head - and precious nose ;
And we will try which on the ground dead first shall lie.

{They fight with swords and the knight falls down.}

[Humping Jack?]

Oh for a doctor do depart !
The knight is wounded through the heart ;
Likewise ten times through the knee ; -
A thousand pounds it won't cure he.
Oh for a doctor don't delay,
But mount thy horse and ride away.

{Humping Jack goes for a doctor but returns saying,}

[Humping Jack]

Oh good sirs, I've looked around,
But no doctor can be found ;
But as along the road I came,
I met a woman of great fame,
And Molly Finney is her name. {Enter Moll.}

[Moll Finney]

My name is not Moll Finney, Mistress Finney is my name,
And I am a woman of great fame ;
I can do as much as doctor, or any man again,
For I have travelled here, I've travelled there,
In fact I've travelled everywhere,
But mostly at home.
I can cure all sorts of diseases,
Whatever this box of pills pleases ; -
I can cure the itch, the stitch, the palsy, and the grout,
Pains within and pains without.
Show me an old woman that's lain in her grave
A hundred years able to swallow one of my pills,
And she's bound to come to life again.
And I can cure this man if he's not quite dead,
So now brave fellow rise up thine head.
{(They all walk round him ; Moll kneels down and makes him swallow one of the pills ; Beelzebub beats him with the club. Moll says) ---}
This is a case that's been before,
So rise Sir Knight and fight no more.
For you see King George shall never conquered be.

{They then retire singing 'I wish you a merry Christmas And a Happy New Year.'}

{The above is a correct copy of the Mummers as performed at Chipping Norton for years. I have myself performed the part of Moll Finney at a Christmas party in Smethwick, which is my present home.}

{178, Rolfe Street. (Mrs.) NORGROVE.}


Notes from James Cowley

The address of 178 Rolfe Street, Smethwick, given for Mrs Norgrove in the cutting is also her address at the time of the 1881 Census. A widow at the time of that Census, her occupation is given as News Agent. Her maiden name was Elizabeth Paget. She was born, Chipping Norton, c1827 so would have been about 57 at the time of the article and not much more than a teenager around the time she is recalling.
She was my wife Diane's Great Great Grandmother.
Elizabeth Paget married George Norgrove in Chipping Norton, 1848 aged about 21. Their first son was born in Smethwick the following year. Elizabeth died in Smethwick, 1898 aged about 72.

File History:

2008-06-16 - Digitised by James Cowley
2008-06-17 - Encoded by Peter Millington
2021-01-15 - TEI-encoded by Peter Millington


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