Union Songs

The Hand-Loom Weavers' Lament

John Grimshaw©1820s
Tune, "A Hunting We Will Go.

You gentlemen and tradesmen that ride about at will,
Look down on these poor people. It's enough to make you crill.
Look down on these poor people, as you ride up and down
I think there is a God above will bring your pride quite down.

You tyrants of England! Your race may soon be run.
You may be brought unto account for what you've sorely done.

You pull down our wages, shamefully to tell.
You go into the markets and say you cannot sell.
And when that we do ask you when these bad times will mend,
You quickly give an answer, "When the wars are at an end."

When we look on our poor children, it grieves our hearts full sore.
Their clothing it is worn to rags, while we can get no more.
With little in their bellies, they to work must go,
Whilst yours do dress as manky as monkeys in a show.

You go to church on Sundays. I'm sure it's naught but pride.
There can be no religion where humanity's thrown aside.
If there be a place in heaven, as there is in the Exchange,
Our poor souls must not come near there. Like lost sheep they must range.

With the choicest of strong dainties, your table's overspread
With good ale and strong brandy, to make your faces red.
You call'd a set of visitors--It is your whole delight--
And you lay your heads together to make our faces white.

You say that Bonyparty he's been the spoil of all,
And that we have got reason to pray for his downfall.
Well, Bonyparty's dead and gone, and it is plainly shown
That we have bigger tyrants in Boneys of our own.

And now, my lads, for to conclude, it's time to make an end,
Let's see if we can form a plan that these bad times may mend.
Then give us our old prices, as we have had before,
And we can live in happiness and rub off the old score.


From John Harland and T. T. Wilkinson, "Ballads and Songs of Lancashire: Ancient and Modern," 1882.

This song evolved through the Luddite period. "When the wars are at an end," indicates a date before 1815, while "Now Bonyparty's dead and g one," suggests 1821 or after.

Recorded by Harry Boardman, Lesley Boardman, and Bob Diehl, and included in the collections, "Iron Muse," 1993, and "Deep Lancashire," 1997.

Manky = unpleasantly dirty, esp. because of being old or having been used a lot.

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