We wunt be druv

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We Wunt Be Druv (also Wun't Be Druv, Won't Be Druv) is the unofficial county motto of Sussex in southern England.[1][2] It is a Sussex dialect phrase meaning "will not be driven". The motto asserts that people from the English county of Sussex have minds of their own, and cannot be forced against their will[3] or pushed around[4] or told what to do.[5] It is used as a motto of the people of Sussex and is used by the Sussex Bonfire Societies.[6][7] The people of Sussex have been characterised by independence of thought and ‘will not be druv’.[8] The phrase continues to be used in Sussex.[9][10]


According to The 2006 Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, Sussex won't be druv is a local proverbial saying dating from the early 20th century. A magazine from 1810 references Mr 'Wunt-Be-Druv'[11] while the 1875 Dictionary of the Sussex Dialect stated that "'I wunt be druv' is a favourite maxim with Sussex people."[12] Although used all over Sussex, the phrase probably originates from the Weald, and there is evidence that in Wealden areas common people were freer from manorial control than in the rest of Sussex. Twice in the late Middle Ages Wealden peasants rose in revolt: once in the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, under the leadership of Wat Tyler and the radical priest John Ball, and again in 1450 under Jack Cade, who was pursued and fatally wounded at Old Heathfield, where he had connections.[13] The phrase "I wunt be druv" is mentioned in EV Lucas's 1904 book Highways and Byways in Sussex (1904).[14]


In his 1924 tale The Cricket Match, Hugh de Selincourt wrote "‘Well, we'd better be going, I suppose,’ Gauvinier announced‥well aware that ‘Sussex won't be druv’." In David Frome's "Mr. Pinkerton at the Old Angel", "The sudden weariness in her frail face testified to years of patient leading. Mr. Pinkerton thought of the boast of the men of Sussex. They too couldn't be druv, they said."

According to linguist Richard Coates an organisation called The Men of Sussex had as its motto, Non cogemur, a Latin translation of the motto. [15]

The phrase was also used in poetry:[16]

You may push and you may shov
But I'm hemmed if I'll be druv

And a longer version:[17]

And you may pook
And you may shove
But a Sussex pig
He wunt be druv

In Sussex, pigs are respected for their independent spirit and are associated with the county's informal motto, "We wun't be drive".[18] In the 19th century, some Sussex potteries produced earthenware flasks in the shape of pigs with 'Wunt be druv' incised or impressed on the pig's neck.[19]

W Victor Cook[edit]

W Victor Cook wrote the following poem in Sussex dialect, published in 1914:[20][21]

Some folks as come to Sussex,
They reckons as they know -
A durn sight better what to do
Than simple folks, like me and you,
Could possibly suppose.
But them as comes to Sussex,
They mustn't push and shove,
For Sussex will be Sussex,
And Sussex won't be druv!
Mus Wilfred come to Sussex,
Us heaved a stone at he,
Because he reckoned he could teach
Our Sussex fishers how to reach
The fishes in the sea.
But when he dwelt among us,
Us gave un land and luv,
For Sussex will be Sussex,
And Sussex won't be druv!
All folks as come to Sussex
Must follow Sussex ways -
And when they've larned to know us well,
There's no place else they'll wish to dwell
In all their blessed days -
There ant no place like Sussex,
Until ye goos above,
For Sussex will be Sussex,
And Sussex won't be druv!"

See also[edit]

"Sussex by the Sea" – unofficial Sussex county anthem


  1. ^ Lowerson 1980, p. 7.
  2. ^ "Brighton rocks". The Guardian. 25 July 2003. Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  3. ^ "Sussex won't be druv". Oxford Reference, Oxford University Press. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  4. ^ "West Sussex spirit means voters will not be pushed". BBC. 6 April 2010. Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  5. ^ "Exploding meters, parking vigilantes and a suspicious silence in a sleepy Sussex town". The Independent. 13 January 2007. Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  6. ^ "Newick Bonfire Society". Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  7. ^ "Cliffe Bonfire Society". Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  8. ^ "A Cultural Strategy for East Sussex County Council" (PDF). April 2011. Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  9. ^ "No fracking in home counties, village residents tell oil company". The Guardian. 12 January 2012. Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  10. ^ "We Wun't Be Druv! Falmer Rally Poster" (PDF). Falmer For All Campaign. 17 Sep 2006. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  11. ^ Cruttwell 1810, p. 471.
  12. ^ Parish 1875, p. .
  13. ^ Brandon 2006, p. 164.
  14. ^ "Highways and Byways in Sussex/Robertsbridge". Wikisource. Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  15. ^ Coates 2010, p. 261
  16. ^ Coates 2010, p. 261
  17. ^ Coates 2010, p. 261
  18. ^ Simpson & Roud 2003
  19. ^ Coates 2010, p. 261
  20. ^ Maskill, Louise (2012). Sussex Dialect: A Selection of Words and Anecdotes from Around Sussex. Bradwell Books. p. 44. ISBN 9781902674339. 
  21. ^ "Lewes Bonfire Celebrations". Retrieved 22 June 2012. 


  • Brandon, Peter (2006). Sussex. Chichester: Phillimore. ISBN 978-0-7090-6998-0. 
  • Coates, Richard (2010). The Traditional Dialect of Sussex. Pomegranate Press. ISBN 978-1-907242-09-0. 
  • Cruttwell, Richard (1810). The Correspondence of the Bath and West of England Society. Bath: Richard Cruttwell. 
  • Lowerson, John (1980). A Short History of Sussex. Folkestone: Dawson Publishing. ISBN 0-7129-0948-6. 
  • Parish, Rev. W.D. (1875). A Dictionary of the Sussex Dialect – a Collection of Provincialisms In Use in the County of Sussex. Lewes: Farncombe & Co. 
  • Simpson, Jacqueline; Roud, Stephen (2003). A Dictionary of English Folklore. London: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198607663.