The Lincolnshire Poacher

Album: English Folk Songs (1776)
  • songfacts ®
  • "The Lincolnshire Poacher" is a regional English folk song, the unofficial anthem of the County of Lincolnshire, and behind Sir Isaac Newton and - uh hum - Margaret Thatcher - arguably its most famous export.

    As might be expected, it is an ode to the delights of poaching, and, like the even more famous "Greensleeves", it is a song whose melody (in 6/8 time) is far superior to its lyrics. As with many folk songs, there are variations on both the melody and the lyrics, the latter of which fit quite cumbersomely with the former in places.

    The oldest printed version appears to be as a poem called "Lincolnshire" which was printed at York in 1776; the original melody was that of a Lancashire air called "The Manchester Angel", and the song itself has been adapted to other counties, but none of them has the same ring to it.
  • Unsurprisingly, "The Lincolnshire Poacher" has been employed by the military; it is the quick march of Cranwell - the Lincolnshire based RAF college - and was the march of both the 10th Regiment of Foot and later of the Royal Lincolnshire Regiment. It is also the regimental song and a march for the 2nd Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment (the Poachers).

    The name is popular with public houses in the county, and has even been used for a type of cheese!
  • Needless to say, the song has been widely recorded by folk artists. Shortly after the Second World War, an official cartoon of it was commissioned. A document deposited with the Public Record Office (in file INF 6/735), contains the following information:
    A Song of Lincolnshire.
    Sung by Dale Smith and a Male Voice Quartet.
    Musical score by Hubert Clifford.
    Illustrated by the W.M. Larkin Studio.
    A British Council Film.
    Made by the Central Office of Information.
    Length ................ 1 reel.
    Running Length ........ 279 feet.
    A British Council film made by the Central Office
    of Information presenting the English folk-song, "The
    Lincolnshire Poacher", through the media of animated
    drawings. Hubert Clifford has written the musical score
    and the lyric is sung by Dale Evans and a Male Voice

    "Dale Evans" appears to be a misprint of Dale Smith, who recorded the West Country song "Widdicombe Fair" for the same project. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for all above
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