Would You Believe It?
by Julie Bunting
The Tailor’s Ramble
Some strange local tales have intrigued our readers over the past years, with more coming to light as time goes by. They may all be perfectly true, but then again… Peaklanders often have very vivid imaginations.
This ballad, formerly in the collection of 19th-century antiquarian Llewellyn Jewitt of Winster, relates the exploits of a tailor by the name of Eyre. On 19th January 1797 Eyre was pursued for 20 miles on foot by five troops of Derbyshire mounted cavalry, and when captured was put under armed guard at the White Horse Inn – now the Rutland Arms – in Bakewell.
The ballad gives no explanation for the chase but it took place in an era when French forces were expected to invade the English coast at any time, so civilians were being balloted to supplement the regular army. A number of Peaklanders voiced strong objections to a perceived unfairness in the ballot, thus leading to the famous Bakewell Riots of 1796 (Peak Advertiser July 1996). The cavalry was brought in to break up the mob and a number of prisoners were taken to Chesterfield gaol. It may be that the soldiers had been sent to fetch tailor Eyre because he had ignored his ballot papers after his name had been drawn.
THE TAILOR’S RAMBLE
Come all you gallant heroes of courage stout and bold
And I’ll tell you of a tailor that would not be controlled;
It happened in Derbyshire, as you may understand
Five troops of the cavalry to take this noble man.
So I do now begin to tell you of the fun
Full twenty miles that morning this tailor he had run,
And when he came to Ashford, the people they did cry
Make haste my jovel lad, for your enemies are nigh.
This tailor was a mighty man, a man of wondrous size
And when he came to Endcliffe Hill you would have thought he would have reached the skies.
And when he did climb those rocks that was so wondrous high,
The cavalry came all round and the tailor they did spy.
They loaded their pistols with powder and with ball
All for to take this tailor that was both stout and tall;
He was nearly four foot high and a mighty man indeed,
You’d ha’ laughed to have seen the cavalry ride after him full speed.
In lighting from their horses, their valour for to show
Five of them upon the ground the tailor he did throw.
They being sore affrighted, saying, we would shoot him if we durst,
But their carbines would not fire, for their balls they’d put in first.
Their Captain as commander, he ordered ranks to form
All for to take this tailor and Endcliffe rocks to storm;
Prime and load then was the word their Captain he did cry,
Cheer up my jovel lads, let us conquerors be or die.
These valiants being reinforced, they took the tailor bold
And guarded him to Bakewell, the truth I will unfold;
At the White Horse Inn in Bakewell, as you may understand,
Full fifty of their troops to guard this noble man.
The battle being over, the tailor they have won
And this is the first prank our cavalry has done;
I’ll tell you the truth, they cannot refuse,
They are ten times worse than the runaway Blues.
Here’s a health to the tailor of courage stout and bold
And by our noble cavalry he scorns to be controlled;
If he’d but had his goose, his bodkin and his shears,
He would soon have cleared Bakewell of those Derby Volunteers.