The Lincolnshire Poacher

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"The Lincolnshire Poacher" is a traditional English folk song (Roud # 299) associated with the county of Lincolnshire, and dealing with the joys of poaching. It is considered to be the unofficial county anthem of Lincolnshire.


The earliest printed version appeared in York about 1775.[citation needed]


The Lincolnshire Poacher was the regimental quick march of the 10th Regiment of Foot and its successors the Royal Lincolnshire Regiment and the 2nd Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment,[1] who are known as "the Poachers";[2] the song is very important to the battalion and can be heard many times being sung at full volume from barrack blocks, messes and parties wherever a "poacher" is based. It is also the authorised march of The Lincoln and Welland Regiment of the Canadian Forces.[citation needed] Sir John Graves Simcoe, in the 1790s, named many of the original settlements and rivers in the Niagara district of then Upper Canada after towns and rivers in Lincolnshire, England.[citation needed]

When the Royal Air Force College Cranwell, the officer training school of the Royal Air Force, was formed in Lincolnshire in 1919, its first Commandant, Air Commodore C A H Longcroft, sought permission from the then Regimental Colonel of the Royal Lincolnshire Regiment to adopt the march as the quick march of the College.[citation needed]

Anglo-Catholic congregations in the Anglican communion sometimes use the tune as a setting for a hymn sung in procession that begins, "The happy birds 'Te Deum' sing, 'Tis Mary's month of May."[3]

Radio Lincolnshire used the melody from the end of the song's chorus as the signature tune for its news jingle when it commenced service in 1980 and in 1988 commissioned UK jingle company Alfasound to write a package of jingles based on the song.[4] Variations on this theme continued until early 2006, and today the station still uses a version with a less pronounced melody[clarification needed] from the folk song. In 1961, Benjamin Britten arranged the song as no. 3 in Volume Five of British folk songs.[5] Frank Newman instrumented the song for four hands on piano. In 1978, the Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band issued the Lincolnshire Poacher as its follow-up single to their successful Floral Dance, and it was on the 1978 album The Floral Dance.

The first two bars of the tune were used as an interval signal on the numbers station known as Lincolnshire Poacher. The same two bars, with markedly different accents and rhythm, form the basis of the opening theme of tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins's 1956 composition St. Thomas (song).

The melody is used in Harold Baum's "The Glyoxylate Cycle" in The Biochemists' Songbook and the 1950 novelty song "The Thing", sung by Phil Harris, which was #1 in US charts in 1950.[6]


The Lincolnshire Poacher

When I was bound apprentice in famous Lincolnshire
Full well I served my master for nigh on seven years
Till I took up to poaching as you shall quickly hear
Oh, 'tis my delight on a shiny night in the season of the year.

As me and my companions was setting out a snare
'Twas then we spied the gamekeeper, for him we didn't care
For we can wrestle and fight, my boys, and jump from anywhere
Oh, 'tis my delight on a shiny night in the season of the year.

As me and my companions was setting four or five
And taking them all up again, we caught a hare alive
We caught a hare alive, my boys, and through the woods did steer
Oh, 'tis my delight on a shiny night in the season of the year.

We threw him over my shoulder, boys, and then we trudged home
We took him to a neighbour's house and sold him for a crown
We sold him for a crown, my boys, but I divven't tell you where
Oh, 'tis my delight on a shiny night in the season of the year.

Success to every gentleman that lives in Lincolnshire
(Alt. Bad luck to every magistrate)
Success to every poacher that wants to sell a hare
Bad luck to every gamekeeper that will not sell his deer
Oh, 'tis my delight on a shiny night in the season of the year.


  1. ^ "The Royal Anglian and Royal Lincolnshire Regimental Association". Retrieved 2014-12-11. 
  2. ^ "Lincolnshire Regiment". Retrieved 2014-12-11. 
  3. ^ Thompson, D. (2004). Loose Canon: A Portrait of Brian Brindley. Bloomsbury Academic. p. 154. ISBN 9780826474186. Retrieved 2014-12-11. 
  4. ^ "Former 1980s BBC Radio Lincolnshire jingle package by Alfasound based on "The Lincolnshire Poacher"". Retrieved 2014-12-11. 
  5. ^ "Britten-Pears Foundation - Britten's British folk songs". Retrieved 2014-12-11. 
  6. ^ "The Biochemists' Songbook MP3 Files | The Glyoxylate Cycle mp3". Retrieved 2014-12-11. 

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