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Spencer the Rover- gibbeted highwayman?

DigiTrad:
IRVING THE ROVER
SPENCER THE ROVER


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Spencer the Rodent (parody) (16)
(origins) Origins: Spencer the Rover (33)
Video: Corncrow - 'Spencer The Rover' (9)


GUEST,Paul Burke 30 May 11 - 11:35 AM
Fred McCormick 30 May 11 - 12:16 PM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 30 May 11 - 01:55 PM
Rozza 30 May 11 - 02:14 PM
GUEST,Paul Burke 30 May 11 - 02:15 PM
Fred McCormick 30 May 11 - 02:33 PM
MGM·Lion 30 May 11 - 02:37 PM
Steve Gardham 30 May 11 - 02:40 PM
YorkshireYankee 30 May 11 - 02:50 PM
MGM·Lion 30 May 11 - 03:16 PM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 30 May 11 - 05:25 PM
Colin Randall 30 May 11 - 05:44 PM
GUEST,Paul Burke 30 May 11 - 05:45 PM
MGM·Lion 31 May 11 - 12:29 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 31 May 11 - 03:37 AM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 31 May 11 - 04:56 AM
McGrath of Harlow 31 May 11 - 06:26 AM
Silas 31 May 11 - 06:35 AM
GUEST,Dave Burland 31 May 11 - 06:48 AM
Desert Dancer 31 May 11 - 12:40 PM
Musket 31 May 11 - 01:16 PM
Steve Gardham 31 May 11 - 03:25 PM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 31 May 11 - 11:11 PM
Valmai Goodyear 01 Jun 11 - 04:07 AM
squeezeboxhp 01 Jun 11 - 04:47 PM
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Subject: Spencer the Rover- gibbeted highwayman?
From: GUEST,Paul Burke
Date: 30 May 11 - 11:35 AM

The bucolic tale of the prodigal's repentance has been done almost to death in other threads, but a booklet I picked up today adds a new (to me) twist. The Sheffield East End History Trail guide to the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal (Hallamshire Press 1997) takes us to near the Don Valley stadium, then continues:

To the left is Broughton Lane,surely the only street in Sheffield named after a convicted criminal. He was the highwayman Spence Broughton who, with an accomplice, robbed a postboy on lonely Attercliffe Common in 1795. The next year he was caught, tried and hanged at York. His body was returned to the scene of his crimes and 'hung in chains' from a gibbet, where it reputedly remained for many years. Broughton was apparently the last man in England to be punished in this gruesome fashion. As well as Broughton Lane his name is remembered in the famous folk song 'Spencer the Rover'. His chains are now in Weston Park Museum.

Leaving aside the fact that gibbetting persisted in England until the 1830s (see Dickens' Great Expectations), is there anything other than the similarity of forename and the location (the gibbet was between Sheffield and Rotherham) to connect this unfortunate rake with the much reduced but harmless rambler? Are there darker versions of the ballad which have hitherto passed unnoticed?


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Subject: RE: Spencer the Rover- gibbeted highwayman?
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 30 May 11 - 12:16 PM

Sounds a right load of cobblers to me. Without checking out any of the lesser known versions, I can only comment that the well known Coppers version has nothing whatever to tie it in to highway robbery.

There is a song about Spence Broughton in Frank Kidson's Traditional Tunes, but it has no connection at all with STR.

My guess is that the Coppers' Spencer was either a labourer of some kind who'd fallen on hard times in one of the nineteenth century depressions, and been unable to find work. So he took to the road hoping to find work that way. When it didn't pan out, he simply returned to his family to starve there instead of on the road.

Alternatively, he might have been a gentleman who'd fallen on hard times through gambling, drinking etc, and took to the road to get away from the wife and debts.

Whatever, the song ends happily, with no talk of highwaymen, gibbets or hanging.

It sounds to me that, as happens a lot with these local histories, the author has heard the suggestion that Broughton and Spencer were one and the same, and included it in his book without checking the facts.

BTW., according to Wikipaedia, Broughton's body was hung in the gibbet for 36 years. So, while he certainly wouldn't have been the "last man in England to be punished in this gruesome fashion", his may have been the last gibetting to be taken down.


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Subject: RE: Spencer the Rover- gibbeted highwayman?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 30 May 11 - 01:55 PM

Lighten up Fred.

Personally I have fretted over whether Spencer was the bloke who started the well known clothing store with Marks - famous for tv adverts with Twiggy and ladies in glamorous lingerie.

Then again it might have been Spencer who started a famous football club in Blackburn.


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Subject: RE: Spencer the Rover- gibbeted highwayman?
From: Rozza
Date: 30 May 11 - 02:14 PM

No link between Spence and Spencer. Spence Broughton's sad history is told here:
Spence Broughton

There is a pub in West Melton, near Rotherham, called "The Cottage of Content". I reckon that's where Spencer ended up.


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Subject: RE: Spencer the Rover- gibbeted highwayman?
From: GUEST,Paul Burke
Date: 30 May 11 - 02:15 PM

No Al, that was Karl Marx and Herbert Spencer.


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Subject: RE: Spencer the Rover- gibbeted highwayman?
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 30 May 11 - 02:33 PM

"Lighten up Fred." Lighten up ballocks. What's wrong with setting a few facts right? Anyway, it might just as well have been Spencer Williams or Spencer Davis or Spencer Lee or Spencer Moore or the Spencer Family or O'Neil Spencer or Leo Spencer or the Whitetop Mountain Band or Sarah Spencer or Thornton Spencer.

On the other hand he might not have been musical.


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Subject: RE: Spencer the Rover- gibbeted highwayman?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 30 May 11 - 02:37 PM

For once I find myself on Fred's side. The OP asked a question. Fred endeavoured to provide a proper and purposeful answer. Why should that provoke the injunction to 'lighten up'?

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Spencer the Rover- gibbeted highwayman?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 30 May 11 - 02:40 PM

Both songs and totally unconnected histories are on the Yorkshire Garland website at www.yorkshirefolksong.net

'And now I am placed in my cottage of content
With woodbine and ivy drooping over my door,
I'm as happy as those what's got thousands of riches,
Not hung on a gibbet of that I am sure.'


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Subject: RE: Spencer the Rover- gibbeted highwayman?
From: YorkshireYankee
Date: 30 May 11 - 02:50 PM

According to Wikipedia's "Gibbet" entry:
"The last two men gibbeted in England were William Jobling and James Cook, both in 1832,"
   and
"In 1834 England outlawed gibbeting."


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Subject: RE: Spencer the Rover- gibbeted highwayman?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 30 May 11 - 03:16 PM

A possible cause of the confusion in the guide quoted by OP may be found in the alphabetical contents pages to Frank Kidson's (a Yorkshireman) "Traditional Tunes, a Collection of Ballad Airs, Chiefly obtained in Yorkshire and the South of Scotland, [Oxford, Chas Taphouse & Son, 1891]" ~ where 'Spence Broughton' is followed by 'Spencer the Rover'. Perhaps the guide's compilers referred to that while looking for details of Broughton & confused the two adjacently printed titles in some way?

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Spencer the Rover- gibbeted highwayman?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 30 May 11 - 05:25 PM

SPENCER THE ROVER

These words were composed by Spencer the Rover
Who traveled Great Britain and most parts of Wales
He had been so reduced, which caused great confusion
And that was the reason he went on the roam

In Yorkshire, near Rotherham, he had been on his rambles
Being weary of traveling, he sat down to rest
At the foot of yonder mountain there runs a clear fountain
With bread and cold water he himself did refresh

It tasted more sweeter than the gold he had wasted
More sweeter than honey and gave more content
But the thoughts of his babies, lamenting their father
Brought tears to his eyes which made him lament

The night fast approaching, to the woods he resorted
With woodbine and ivy his bed for to make
There he dreamt about sighing, lamenting and crying
Go home to your family and wandering forsake

On the fifth of november, I've a reason to remember
When first he arrived home to his family and wife
They stood so surprised, when first he arrived
To behold such a stranger once more in their sight

His children came around him with their prittle prattling stories
With their prittle prattling stories to drive care away
Now they are united, like birds of one feather
Like bees in one hive, contented they'll be

So now he is a living in his cottage contented
With woodbine and roses growing all around his door
He's as happy as those who have thousands of riches
Contented he'll stay and go a rambling no more

But one day in walked the rozzers and grabbed poor old Spencer
And charged him with crimes in his wild roving days
They were not inhibited, poor Spencer was gibbeted
Thats one of the tricks that sometimes life plays.


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Subject: RE: Spencer the Rover- gibbeted highwayman?
From: Colin Randall
Date: 30 May 11 - 05:44 PM

Brilliant, Alan. Took a while mentally to make it scan, but got there in the end.


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Subject: RE: Spencer the Rover- gibbeted highwayman?
From: GUEST,Paul Burke
Date: 30 May 11 - 05:45 PM

Al- you bar steward. That nearly made me eject my teeth.

Monsieur French Tea (genetically modified)- that's quite probably the sauce of the mixup, the closeness of names and the common (Attercliffe Common?) location being compounded by proximity in the collection. Of such elements is folk history made.


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Subject: RE: Spencer the Rover- gibbeted highwayman?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 31 May 11 - 12:29 AM

Paul ~~ To be strictly accurate ['accuracy matters']: not "proximity in the collection", but "in the list of contents to the collection".

To be further accurate, the French for 'tea' ends with é, which 'the' doesn't. And what form, pray, is this genetic modification supposed to take? And what is the flavour of the 'sauce' of the mix-up? But thanx 4 the acknldgmnt anyhow!

~Monsieur~


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Subject: RE: Spencer the Rover- gibbeted highwayman?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 31 May 11 - 03:37 AM

Bring back gibbetting - that's what I say!


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Subject: RE: Spencer the Rover- gibbeted highwayman?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 31 May 11 - 04:56 AM

There was a legend that the only reason you could go near Chatsworth House is that the public had to have access to seeeing a gibbet - which had to be near the scene of a crime.

i don't know if its true. No doubt some expert on Derbyshire folklore will have the full story. Its is said, that the Duke of Devonshire had an entire village relocated to build Chatsworth in the beautiful position that it is.


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Subject: RE: Spencer the Rover- gibbeted highwayman?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 31 May 11 - 06:26 AM

As posted by Malcolm Douglas back in 2000:

SPENCE BROUGHTON

To you my dear companions accept these lines I pray;
A most deeply felt trial has occupied this day.
'Tis from your dying Broughton, to show his wretched fate,
I hope you'll reformation make before it is too late.

The loss of your companion will grieve your heart full sore,
I know that my fair Ellen will my wretched fate deplore;
Thinking of those happy days that now are past and gone,
And I, unhappy Broughton, would I had ne'er been born.

One day unto St. James's with large and swelling pride,
Each man had a flash woman walking by his side,
And at night we did retire unto some ball or play;
In these unhappy pleasures our time did pass away.

Brought up in wicked habits which wrought in me no fear,
How little did I think that my time would be so near;
But now I'm overtaken, condemned and cast to die,
Exposed a sad example to all that does pass by.

O that I had but gone unto some far distant clime,
That a gibbet post for Broughton would never have been mine;
But as for such like wishes they are vanity and vain,
Alas, it is but folly and madness to complain.

One night to try and slumber I closed my weeping eyes,
I heard a foot approaching which struck me with surprise;
I listened for a moment, a voice made this reply,
"Prepare thyself, Spence Broughton, tomorrow thou must die."

O awful was the messenger, and dismal was the sound,
Like a maniac in distraction I rolled upon the ground;
My tears now flow in torrents, with anguish I am torn,
O poor unhappy Broughton, would I had ne'er been born.

Farewell my wife and children, to you I bid adieu,
I never should have come to this had I stayed at home with you;
But I hope through my Redeemer to gain the happy shore;
Farewell, farewell for ever, Spence Broughton is no more.


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Subject: RE: Spencer the Rover- gibbeted highwayman?
From: Silas
Date: 31 May 11 - 06:35 AM

It is certainly true that Lord Lichfield had a village relocated in order to landscape Shugborough Hall


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Subject: RE: Spencer the Rover- gibbeted highwayman?
From: GUEST,Dave Burland
Date: 31 May 11 - 06:48 AM

There is a South Yorkshire version of this Spencer the Rover, published in Stirrings mag. some years ago collected by a Nr Sissons I believe. Has the line " And now they're united like ants live together, like bees in one hive contented they'll stay"


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Subject: RE: Spencer the Rover- gibbeted highwayman?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 31 May 11 - 12:40 PM

Lyr Req: Spence Broughton thread from April 2000 in which McGrath found Malcolm's post of the lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Spencer the Rover- gibbeted highwayman?
From: Musket
Date: 31 May 11 - 01:16 PM

Many people, self included sing "In Sheffield near Rotherham."

Must be sad on my part to learn and sing a song on the basis of winding up the good people of Sheffield. When I lived in the city, reminding them of their status, (in song, people needed to be told you were near Rotherham in order to place you...) kept me sane.

I note Attercliffe must have been a no go area at the time then? As opposed to now, where it is a fine place to partake of a glass of Chardonnay of an evening.....

Spooky, I dipped into this thread just as iTunes randomly selected John Martyn's hauntingly beautiful version...


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Subject: RE: Spencer the Rover- gibbeted highwayman?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 31 May 11 - 03:25 PM

Unfortunately Malcolm missed off the last verse of SB.

But in the nick of time a pardon from the king
Arrived at the prison gates, and so he didn't swing.
And now he's in his cottage with the roses round the door,
With his 20 kids and missus, and a roving goes no more.

(Or not!)


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Subject: RE: Spencer the Rover- gibbeted highwayman?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 31 May 11 - 11:11 PM

Not!

Cos in Spencer's retirement package
Of moulah there was a lackage
So to his bad habits. he returned before long
A new song soon caught on, called Spencer Broughton
Same bloke. albeit a much differ-i-ent song!

(well you never know, that might be what happened.....)


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Subject: RE: Spencer the Rover- gibbeted highwayman?
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 01 Jun 11 - 04:07 AM

Spencer the Rover must have been a Lewes man because he came home for Bonfire, as all true Lewes men do.

Valmai (Lewes)


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Subject: RE: Spencer the Rover- gibbeted highwayman?
From: squeezeboxhp
Date: 01 Jun 11 - 04:47 PM

the new village near Chatsworth would be Edensor, very nice it is too


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