The Warrington Volunteers – Part II

In the last blog you may remember I showed you a piece of music used by Dr. Kirkland’s band in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, but relating to Warrington. We had the tune, but unlike most of the music in Dr. Kirkland’s little book, we had no words.

With my curiosity whetted, I decided to search through the archives to see whether I could find a copy of the lyrics to this tune. What I turned up was a copy of a song titled “The Loyal Warrington Volunteers” dating from circa 1815.

Because the handwriting is a little unclear to the modern eye, and the image online may not be that big, I have copied below the words from the song:

The Loyal Warrington Volunteers

Verse 1
Once more brother soldiers together we’re met,
And I hope we again shall meet many lives yet,
With strong beer and good cheer
To welcome our annual Day:
Join hearts and join hands like a true faithful band,
Let friendship good humour and mirth have full play,

Then we’ll laugh Drink and Sing,
Toast our Country and King,
And Old Warrington true blues for ever huzza!

Verse 2
When France rolls along like a terrible flood,
And England alone all its fury withstood;
Whilst Droves suffered Thrones,
To be swept by the torrent away

So we’ll laugh Drink and Sing,
Toast our Country and King,
And Old Warrington true blues for ever huzza!

Verse 3
Now the meteor is gone that alarmed mankind,
And left not a trace of its terrors behind;
On you, Waterloo,
Was shed its last glimmering ray;
Then let us rejoice with heart and with voice,
To our gallant defenders a just tribute we’ll pay.

Then we’ll laugh Drink and sing,
Toast our country and King,
And Old Warrington Blue Backs for ever huzza!

Whilst this song sheet isn’t dated, it must be slightly later than the music in Dr. Kirkland’s book as the third verse mentions the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815. Dr. Kirkland’s music book was written during the end of the French revolution and the beginning of the Napoleonic wars.

Possibly this is the same song as performed by Dr. Kirkland and the Glazebrooks, with a later verse added to celebrate victory, or perhaps just one of a number of songs being sung across Warrington at the time. Patriotism does seem to have been at a high; and if Warrington of today is anything to go by, I don’t think people would have needed much excuse to drink and sing in the streets.

But not all in Warrington was gung-ho, pro-army, anti-French. When looking for the words to the Warrington Volunteers, I also stumbled across the following:

This sermon, “What has the Poor Man to Lose in the Event of a Successful Invasion?”, was preached at St. Elphin’s in Warrington on 19th October 1803. The sermon, extending to 22 pages, sets out all of the reasons why the people of Warrington would not be better off if they sided with the French and decided to get rid of their betters. The sermon states repeatedly that the poor in the countries which have overthrown their aristocrats are not living in palaces; that in fact their hovels have been burnt down. It goes on to list the many atrocities committed by the French in occupied countries, the curate stating for example that “Although they introduced misery among all ranks, among the poor alone do we find them deferring the murder of the parents, for the purpose of compelling them to hear their children shriek amidst the flames”.

The fear of French invasion was very real, and would no doubt have been brutal, but this sermon does basically say “Poor people know your place! If you even think about wanting more than you’ve got someone will murder your children in the night”.

What these documents together show is a time of fear, turmoil, war, and social unrest, and how it filtered into the everyday lives of the people of Warrington, whether that be songs being sung in their pubs, or sermons being preached in their churches.



This article was originally posted on Monday, October 13th, 2014.