John Gilpin (18th century) was featured as the subject in a well-known comic ballad of 1782 by William Cowper, entitled The Diverting History of John Gilpin. Cowper had heard the story from his friend Lady Austen.
Gilpin was said to be a wealthy draper from Cheapside in London, who owned land at Olney in Buckinghamshire, near where Cowper lived. It is likely that he was a Mr Beyer, a linen draper of the Cheapside corner of Paternoster Row. The poem tells how Gilpin and his wife and children became separated during a journey to the Bell Inn, Edmonton, after Gilpin loses control of his horse, and is carried ten miles further to the town of Ware.
A number of sites commemorate the exploits of John Gilpin, most notably Gilpin's Gallop, a street in the village of Stanstead St Margarets. This was said to have been on the original route taken by the horse and his unfortunate rider.
The poem in full at
- The Poetical Works of William Cowper, P 212, London: Frederick Warne and Co, 1892