We wunt be druv

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"We wunt be druv" is the unofficial county motto of Sussex in southern England.[1][2] It is a Sussex dialect phrase meaning "we 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 told what to do.[4] It is used as a motto of the people of Sussex and the Sussex Bonfire Societies.[5][6]


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'[7][improper synthesis?] while the 1875 Dictionary of the Sussex Dialect stated that "I wunt be druv" as a "favourite maxim with Sussex people".[8] 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.[9] The phrase "I wunt be druv" is mentioned in EV Lucas's 1904 book Highways and Byways in Sussex (1904).[10]


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. [11]

The phrase was also used in poetry:[clarification needed][12]

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

And a longer version:[clarification needed][13]

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 motto.[14] 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.[15]

W Victor Cook wrote a poem in Sussex dialect, published in 1914, with the repeated refrain[16][17]

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. ^ "Exploding meters, parking vigilantes and a suspicious silence in a sleepy Sussex town". The Independent. 13 January 2007. Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  5. ^ "Newick Bonfire Society". Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  6. ^ "Cliffe Bonfire Society". Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  7. ^ Cruttwell 1810, p. 471.
  8. ^ Parish 1875, p. .
  9. ^ Brandon 2006, p. 164.
  10. ^ "Highways and Byways in Sussex/Robertsbridge". Wikisource. Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  11. ^ Coates 2010, p. 261
  12. ^ Coates 2010, p. 261
  13. ^ Coates 2010, p. 261
  14. ^ Simpson & Roud 2003
  15. ^ Coates 2010, p. 261
  16. ^ Maskill, Louise (2012). Sussex Dialect: A Selection of Words and Anecdotes from Around Sussex. Bradwell Books. p. 44. ISBN 9781902674339. 
  17. ^ "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.