Traditional Drama Research Group
The website of the Traditional Drama Research Group

New Holland Mummers [1880]

R.Greig Collection (1971, J.Mouncey)

Context

Location: 
New Holland
TA0823
Time of Occurrence: 
[Not given]
Collective name: 
Mummers

Source

Author: 
Joe Mouncey
Title: 
New Holland Mummers
Publication: 
Collected c.1971

Cast

No. 1
No. 2 / Devil Doubt
No. 3 / Beelzebub
No.4 / Jack Rix
No. 5 / Soldier
No.6 / Doctor

Text

No. 1.

Kind Sir, please will you have the mummers?

No. 2. {with brush.}

In comes I, little devil doubt,
if you don't give us money, I'll sweep you all out
It's money we want, it's money we crave,
if you don't give us money,
I'll sweep you to the grave.

No. 3. {with a bladder tied to a stick.}

In comes I beelzebub,
on my shoulder I carry a club,
In my hand a witleather frying pan,
I think myself a jolly young man

No.4.

In comes I, Jack Rix,
full of fun and tricks.

{Beelzebub belabours him with his bladder and knocks him to the floor.}

No. 5.

In comes I, the soldier,
Who fought the firey dragon to the slaughter,
By those means I won the King of Egypt's daughter.

No.6

In comes I, the doctor!
What can you cure?
The itch, palsy and gout,
Pains within and pains without.

{He gives Jack Rix a dose from a bottle and says,}

Rise up, you have life within,
If you can dance, I can sing.

{CHORUS.}

[All]

I can milk and plough and drive a cow,
I can reap and sow,
If in a race,
I take first place,
My name is buttercup Joe.

{Beelzebub holds out his cap to receive what the people care to give in money. They would often pass round mince pies and a glass of home-made wine, or plum-bread and cheese. The mummers would then wish them:-}

A merry Christmas and a happy New Year,
A pocket full of money and a cellar full of beer,
A good fat pig, a new lay{?} cow,
Plenty of money and nowt to do.

{They then pass on to the next house to seek- admission.}

Notes

Notes with the text:

"Collected by Mr. Jack Martin from Mr. Joe Mouncey."

"Jack Martin organized the performance of the Plough Jags play that was presented in Barrow on Humber as part of the Festival of Britain celebrations in 1951"

Peter Millington's Notes:

The whereabouts of the original collected manuscript is currently unclear (Oct.2001). E.C.Cawte et al (1967, p.52) list two sources - Mrs.E.H.Rudkin's collection, and M.W.Barley (1953), and give a performance date of c.1880. However, the text in Barley's collection is annotated "...collected since 1940 by J. Martin from Mr.J.Mouncey", and makes no mention of Ethel Rudkin. This is significant, because (a) Rudkin was his main folklore mentor, and (b) he is assiduous in acknowledging her material elsewhere. It is possible therefore that this text was communicated directly to Barley by Martin. In any case a copy of this play is among Barley's papers held by the Manuscripts Department, University of Nottingham, Ref.Ba2/29.

A note with a copy of this text in the Alex Helm Collection reads, "Mrs. Mouncey gave me this version about 1938." This date conflicts with Barley's date, which is confusing.

Note from Ruairidh Greig (26th Jan.2003):

"The version of the play I sent you was given to me personally by Jack Martin at his home in Barrow on Humber in about 1971."