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Rockley Firs / Sweet Jenny Jones
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Shirley Collins sang the poaching song Rockley Firs in 1978 on her and her sister Dolly’s Topic album For As Many As Will. A live performance from London in 1979 was included in 2005 on their Fledg’ling CD Snapshots. Another live recording from Dublin was included in 1998 on their CD Harking Back. The original album’s liner notes commented:
“Rockley Firs is near Marlborough, Wiltshire, and was a noted rendezvous of poachers in times gone by. Hares were in great abundance. I have heard of a case in which a poacher claimed to have killed three in one shot!” The marriage of the words with the Adderbury Village Morris dance tune [Sweet Jenny Jones] was suggested by Ashley Hutchings.
Shirley Collins sings Rockley Firs
In Rockley Firs where I was sought,
I thought that night I should have been caught;
The moon shone bright, and the stars gave light,
And from them all I ran away.
I went to the tavern on Saturday night,
And called for a bottle, likewise a pipe;
And a special warrant it was brought in,
And taken I was in Cole’s kitchen.
I slept at Cole’s all that long night,
Mark Hanks came in before it was light,
And he said, “Young man, you must away
To Marlborough gaol, this very day.”
I mounted a gig in Marlborough town,
And off to Salisbury I was bound;
In irons so strong they bound my hands,
And I was forced to go at their command.
My trial is over, I am got free,
I am not transported as you all may see;
’Twas in a dark cell where I did lie,
Where locks and bolts like bullets did fly.
Now Salisbury assizes was over and past
All call for a brandy all in a strong glass
But the hares and the pheasant shall never go free
For poaching is the life for me.