Local Morris Records

Records of Morris Dancing in the East Midlands/South Yorkshire area

Below are listed all the references to 'morris dancing' in its widest definition that we have found in our local area' There are certainly more to be found. Please do get in touch if  you can add any further information. CR

Location Date Description Time of year Source




‘entertainment on the ‘Gate to Southwell' provided by a team of  morris dancers who were rewarded for their efforts by payment for their bells, coats and the ale that the dancers drank at all times.


Nottingham Borough Records




From Long Sutton churchwardens accounts 1543-73

‘to the morris dancers of Spalding 2s

‘to the morris dancers of Whaplode 6s 8p


From Long Sutton churchwardens accounts 1543-73




Parish records of St Georges church, Doncaster : ‘payments for items used in this recreation'. Said recreation being a morris dance.






To a moresse dawnce of litle bytam the xviij th day by my masters comaundement ij s -


--not as 'dawncer' - i.e. it was probably a set of dancers.







Payment for morris dancers from Little Bytham.


REED Lincolnshire ed Stokes 2009, p.359: Richard and Katherine Bertie's Household Accounts LA: 1 ANC 7/A/2: 1562:

f 63* (May)




Account book at Casewick




‘the churchwardens of Finningley were ordered to give ten shillings to the poor box ‘for not makyng a presentment for the repayre of the church and for the morrys dancers there.''


R.F.B.Hodgekinson. ‘Extracts from the

Act Books' 1926



Visitations banning morris dancing






Visitation banning morris dancing


Records of the Borough of Leicester

Scopwick (Lincs)


at Scopwick in Lincolnshire in 1602 there was a court case where


Joan Abney ... saith ... that uppon the said first day of may there were in the said howse a great Company of the Inhabitantes & most of the youthe of Scawpwick aforesaid to see a Company of morrice dauncers which were in the said howse


(the house had been cleared of furniture so seemed to them to be a good place to dance)



 May 1st  This is from a posting on MDDL (Morris Dance Discussion List) 



a churchwarden being accused:









[dimittitur] Thomas Statherne gardianus for beeinge absent from prayer vppon sunday after St Peeteres day last & then was at a morrice dance & after comminge in vnto the sermon was warned to fetche the rest of the companie vnto sermon but he sette still in the churche & did not. °28 Iulij apud Lincolniam citatus &c comparuit et obiecto articulo fassus est vnde habet ad agnoscendum crimen et ad certificandum in proximum [<.>c]° 20 Septembris 1609. certificavit 25



Benington TF 3946

Records of Early English Drama: Lincolnshire, ed by James Stokes 2009





Archdeaconry of Lincoln Visitation Book la: Diocesan Vij/ 12

p 465* (28 July)




“I the churchwarden of Bradmore doe psent Hugh Longley,

Gervis Goldinge, John Butler, Hugh Ffoster for morris dauncers

 and Harold Maples, Richard Roberts and Antonie Truman

 of Ruddington and Ralph Lees of Wisall for ppaning the Sabaoth

daye beinge and since Whitsundaye laste paste.”

Thomas Bond, his marke.



Since Whitsun

 ‘Archdeaconry MSS.  Presentment Bill. 295.’

Dolphin Morris 

Trowell 1618

Dancers fined for dancing on the Sabbath at Trowell.  Dancers came from Wollaton and Bradmore and pipers from Ruddington and Wisall.

f.125d.  2th October 1618.

William Hartley “lay cooper” of Wolloughton.

Admitted “that upon a Sabaoth daye since the feaste of Pentecost

 laste paste he went to Trowell in companie of morris dauncers in

 tyme of divine service.”

Richard Mee of Wolloughton.

Admitted “that he was absent from divine service upon a Sabaoth

 day and in companie with morris dauncers since Whitsun daye

laste paste.”



Since the feast of Pentecost

R.F.B.Hodgekinson. ‘Extracts from the Act Books’


Dolphin Morris






































f.140,  7th November, 1618.

Hugh Longley of Bradmore ‘for prophanynge the Sabaoth by

 morris dauncinge.’  Pen. Reserved.

Gervase Goldinge of the same ‘for the like’.  His father Richard

Gervase pleaded guilty for him.

John Butler of the same ‘for the like’.

Pleaded guilty. Dismissed.


  1. 7th November, 1618.

Harold Maples of Bradmore ‘for prophaning the Sabaoth’.  v.  et  m.

Richard Roberdes of the same ‘for the same’.

Pleaded guilty.  Dismissed with a warning.

Anthony Trewman of Ruddington ‘for pyping at the

 same’.  Excommunicated

Ralph Lees of Wisaw ‘for the same’.

To be cited afresh for that day fortnight.


  1. 25th December,   1618.
  2. Excommunicated.


  1. f.146d.

21st November, 1618.

Henry Oldershawe of Bradmore  ‘a morrise dauncer’.  v.  et  m.


f.148d.  25th November, 161.

5th December, 1618.

Edward Creswell of Bradmore ‘for a morris dauncer’.

‘His wife is with child before marriage’.   v.  et  m.

  1. 5th December, 1618.

Henry Oldershawe of Bradmore ‘a morrise dauncer or a looker on’.


Edward Creswell of the same ‘for the same’. Excommunicated.


Humphrey Garner of Bradmore, John Wighteman of Ruddington

and Robert Windley of Lenton ‘morrice dauncers’.


R.F.B.Hodgekinson. ‘Extracts from the Act Books’


Dolphin Morris



Visitation banning morris dancing


Nottingham Borough records

Gunby (Lincs)


‘pd john Chambers 5s he gave his fiddler for playing NEWARS DAY, and 1s gave the morris dancers when I would not have them come in and play.'


New Years Day

Massinbird Mundy household accounts

Revesby (Lincs)


Payment for morris dancers.



Laceby (Lincs)


 ‘...several morris dancers came thither from Grimsby; and after they had danced and played their tricks, they went towards Alesby, a little town not far off; but as they were going about five o' clock they felt two such terrible shocks of the earth that they had much ado to hold their feet, and thought the ground was ready to swallow them up whereupon thinking god was angry at them for playing the fool, they returned to Laceby in a great fright, and the next day home not daring to pursue their intended circuit and dancing.'

28 Dec 1703, a famous great storm - the description is taken from Daniel Defoe, The storm: or, a collection of the most remarkable casualties and disasters which happen'd in the late dreadful tempest, both by sea and land. London : printed for G. Sawbridge, 1704, page 231.

Innocent's Day

Lincoln Rutland and Stamford Mercury, 6/1/1750






Daniel Defoe, London printed for G Sawbridge.

London 1704 p231


country places




Thomas Ratcliffe's grandmothers recollections from her childhood in Derbyshire..

‘...dancing  about the maypole was really morris dancing'


Nottinghamshire Guardian 21/2/1914

Burton (Lincs)




To the Morris Dancers (boys) by order of Lady Monson 1s

Dec 29th 1767 To the Morris Dancers (men) 2s 6p

Dec 19th to 26th 1768 gave Morris dancers Boys 1s  Men 2/6


Helm Collection






1771 Got Morris Dancers from Nettleham by order 2s 6p

1781 Dec 24 The Lincoln Morris Dancers Christmas Box 2s 6p

1783 Dec 26th The Lincoln Morris Dancers by order 2s 6p

1784 The Lincoln Morris Dancers as usual  2s 6p

1785 the Lincoln Morris Dancers as usual 2s 6p

1786 Dec 26th Lincoln Morris Dancers 2s 6p

1787 Lincoln Morris Dancers 2s 6p

1788 Lincoln Morris Dancers as usual 2s 6p

1790 Lincoln Morris Dancers 2s 6p


Burton House Accounts



‘the dancing ploughboys being decorated in ribbons, each carrying a sword'

Plough play and sword dance appear very much part of a common performance which also included a short dance called ‘Jack the brisk young drummer'. ‘then they dance the sword dance which is called Nelly's Gig, then they run under their swords, which is called running Battle; then three dancers dances with three swords and the foreman jumping over the swords...'


Brands Antiquities











...'a number of young men join together, and strip to their shirts, which they pin all over with ribbons...They are called Maurice or Morris dancers...



Diary of John Cragg





Pre 1791

‘History and Antiquities of Claybrook'

An annual display of morris dancing on Plough Monday at Claybrook by players from Sapcote and Sharnford'



Macauley ‘History

 and Antiquities

 of Claybrook'




‘On Plough Monday it was the custom of some of the villagers to dress in grotesque masquerade and perform morris-dances before all the houses where they were likely to get money or drink. Sometimes they were accompanied by a gang of lads with raddled faces, half hidden under paper masks, who dragged a plough, but this was unusual. Some of the performers, generally four, had on white womens dresses and tall hats. One was called Maid marion. Of the other performers one was the Fool who always carried the money box and generally a bladder with peas in it on a string at the end of a stick, with which he laid lustily about him. Another was Beelzebub, in a dress made of narrow strips of flannel, cloth etc with the ends hanging loose - yellow, red, black and white being the predominant colours. The rest were simply grotesques. The dance they performed was a travesty of a quadrille, with ad lib stamping and shuffling of feet......‘Tell him the bullocks are thirsty and want some beer.' Said one of the performers.'



Leicester and Rutl

and County Folk

 Lore Evans

Normanton (Derbyshire)


‘[Vol 2 p29] ...Rode through Normanton, a village, where Maypole was, as others of this county, richly adorned by garlands, composed of silk, gauze and mock flowers; and around which (a woman told me) they danced in the morrice-way; but not in honour of the goddess Maia on the 1st of her month, but rather in memory of the restoration on 29th May. (March 13 1789)

29th May

J. Byng Torrington Diaries.


and Epworth

C 1810

 ‘...ceremony of dancing the morris recently discontinued.'


Peck History of

the Isle of Axholme




(Not a direct reference but shows knowledge of -CR) On Monday night the 30th, between seven and eight o’clock, a man knocked oat the door of the widow Culy of Whalpole Fen-Ends, under the pretence of having a letter to deliver, no sooner was the door opened than in walked four men, masked, whom the inmates at first took to be morris dancers, but were soon undeceived by the marauders deliberately pulling out their hammers and chisels etc etc…..


Stamford Mercury 10/11/1820



..and finally arrived on Christmas Eve at Barlborough Hall

We accordingly had mummers and morris damcers and glee singers from the neighbouring villages


 Christmas Eve

 Old Christmas

Washington Irvine



: ‘Plough Bullocks ....attended by music and morris dancers.'

‘The most remarkable modern occasion on which the morris-dance was seen to best advantage ..... was witnessed in Doncaster in 1832. The performers numbered above twenty, male and female. They came from Nottinghamshire. They were fantastically attired in dresses of every variety of colour, with a profusion of ribbons. They belonged to a station in life above that of the artisan and mechanic.As they moved down Hall-gate they occupied a large portion of the street. They were accompanied by a band of music playing appropriate melodies. A sight so novel excited universal attention.'


Plough Monday

Forgotten Morris (Davenport)

Kirton Lindsey (Lincs)


'magistrates have  determined to visit with exemplary severity the misconduct of persons who appear as morris dancers or Plough bullocks or under any other name of similar character. The excesses of these persons have arrived at such a pitch that it would be impossible to bear them any longer, and it would be well if the country and the farmers in particular, would second the endeavours of the magistrates.'



Rutland and

Stamford Mercury. 22/1/1821  

Crowland/ Deeping St James (Lincs)

1831 A set of strolling vagabonds from Crowland calling themselves morris dancers, opened the door and entered a respectable persons dwelling in Deeping St james on Thursday evening the 15th inst, and began to perform sans ceromonie, which frightened a little girl, who ran to give an alarm: in the interim they purloined a new cap, just bought for a youth in the house, who had huing it on the pin for the first tim. One of the party called himself Fisher, but most probably it was Fish, and he will be caught in his own trammel. December 15th Stamford Mercury 30/12/1831

‘Old Notts'

Pre 1853

  •  ‘maypoles and morris-dancing were formerly very general'.... ‘was generally prevalent throughout this county (Notts)


Ll Jewitt



 describes Plough Monday celebrations and adds that they are accompanied by ...‘morris dancers when they can be got'

Plough Monday

W. Hone  ‘Everyday Book'.




. ‘to these succeeded a set of morris-dancers, gaily dressed up with ribands and hawk's bells. In this troop we had Robin Hood and Marian, the latter represented by a smooth-faced boy; also Beelzebub with a broom and accompanied by his wife Bessy a termagant old beldam.'

Plough Monday

Washington Irvine.

South Wheatley



‘Nottinghamshire also provided an example of..........curious custom of dancing in the skins or heads of animals. I was told that a long way back ‘The lads of South Wheatley used to go all around the neighbourhood dancing in cowhides, horns and all...scaring folks to death...''

Plough Monday

Nottingham Guardian 12/1/1926 M.W.M



 ‘the morris dancers amused the good folks of Lincoln with their tomfoolery on plough Monday and levied contributions on all who were silly enough to part with anything on such a call. The magistrates have forbidden the people to beg, and have placed strict injunctions with regard to ????? some of whom may beg from want, why ribbon-bedecked sword carrying buffoons and ruffians should not come within the bounds of the restrictions does not seem plain; they do not beg from necessity, but for the sake of getting money to spend in riot and excess.

Plough Monday


Rutland and

Stamford Mercury 12/1/1844



‘Two or three parties of morris-dancers were levying contributions on the public of Lincoln last Monday, for the purpose of closing the day's tomfoolery with drunkenness...'


Stamford Mercury  12/1/1844



‘Plough Monday brought to Lincoln the usual fooleries of the morris-dancers,and two or three bands of scaramouches were performing in various parts of the city and levying ‘blackmail' upon the inhabitants without interruption. After one band a train of two or three hundred boys followed shouting and bawling at ‘Moll with the broom.'  Other beggars, who are a far less nuisance, are taken up and punished.'

Plough Monday

Lincoln, Stamford  Rutland Mercury

17th January 1845



last line of the ‘old morris play' from East Retford......'And show our friends our Morris Dance.

(the whole here concludes with a characteristic song and dance.)'


E. Sutton (1913)



 ‘with less attractive appearances to complete the idea of the Morris-dance of former days....

...a party (of morris-dancers) from Rawcliffe visited Doncaster in 1853.'



D Hatfield :


 mid early C19th

,It ( the Plough Ship) was accompanied by the sword dance


Oliver,iv (from County Folklore Vol 5 Gutch and Peacock)


mid early C19th

Morris Dances... are still practised in this neighbourhood, though not with the zeal of former times. This pastime is a combination of the ancient pageants and the morisco dance; and maid Marion and the Fool are considered as indispensable appendages to the party. It is an antique piece of mummery performed at Christmas, as a garbled vestige of the sports which distinguished the Scandinavian Festival of Yule. The performers repeat a kind of dialogue in verse and prose which is intended to create mirth, and ends in a comic sword dance and a plentiful libation of ale.'


Oliver iii (from County Folklore Vol 5 Gutch and Peacock)
















 Mid C19th 

 ‘Mr Aram ....has stated that ‘the morris dancers went round with the plough boys; they used broomsticks to dance with'.'

 ‘in addition to the play they trailed a plough and performed dances with brooms'.

Nottinghamshire Countryside vol 7 no 3.

‘Brooms ‘borrowed' on the way were used for dancing;........the head of the broom was used to beat a rhythm on the floor, while the handle was tossed from hand to hand between the legs of the dancer.'

Old people to whom Mr Aram and Mr Kennedy spoke said that while performing the play they would carry sticks and at intervals jump over them.

Helpringham (from Helm vol 5)

 The locals insist it was the morris men who gave the play, and won't hear of it being called a Plough Play - it was called the Morris Dance. Performers did a dance with broomsticks.'

‘The play was originally followed by a broomstick dance.'


M. W. Barley



C.H. Aram 


C. H. Aram Nottinghamshire Countryside vol 17 . 







Washingborough/ Heighington/ Lincolon

1852 Plough Monday- This great annual feast-day was fully observed at Washingborough, Heighington and the neighbouring villages on Monday last and as usual a number of country lads levied contributions in Lincoln being bedecked with ribbons, veils, and portions of female attire. These poor silly ‘morris-dancers’ create much amusement in the city and are followed about from place to place by a troop of idle men and boys, who might have been much better employed. In many instances the fellows were most unfortunate in begging money, the sum realised in this way being devoted to a supper or some grand drinking ‘bout’ at the end of the feast. Plough Monday Lincolnshire Chronicle 16/01/1852



; The morris dancers who go from village to village on the twelfth day, have their fool, their Maid Marion (here generally a man dressed in woman's clothes.....) and sometimes a hobby horse, they are dressed in ribbands and tinsels, but the bells are usually discarded.'.'

‘dance performed around the plough.'

(possibly also suggests survival still ‘in neighbourhoods of Newstead, Mansfield and Southwell')  


(twelfth day)

   Ll Jewitt

Louth / Old LeakeLincs


Louth Borough Police Dec 31, before S.Trought, Esq (mayor), Cornelius parker, and J.B Sharpley Esqs., Geo Wilson Of Old Leake, gardener, was charged with being drunk and disorderly, and causing an obstruction in the street. Prisoner stated that he had come to town as one of a party of morris-dancers and had so exhausted himself with dancing and drinking that he laid himself across the footway in order to take a little respose. Being Christmas-time, the bench fined him in the mitigated penalty of 6d, and the costs and in default three days to the treadmill.

December 31st

Stamford mercury 07/01/1853



Country-men, who go about dressed in ribbon etc, as Morris (moorish) dancers on Plough Monday, perform the sword dance etc. One is dressed as ‘Maid Marion' and is called the witch, another in rags, and is called the fool....'

Plough Monday

Thompson ‘

The history and antiquities

of Boston.'

Scothorne (Lincs)


For mant years past, at this season, Richard Ellison Esq., of Sudbrooke Hall near Lincoln, has been in the habit of presenting the poor of the neighbourhood with coals; and on Thursday night last a wagon of these coals was standing by the edge of a brook running through the village of Scopthorne. Some fast ‘bunpkins’, who are in the habit of amusing themselves by going about the villages bedecked in tawdry habiliments and denominating themselves ‘morris dancers’ gratified their penchant for mischief by upsetting the wagon and its contents into the brook, as also an empty wagon belonging to Mr Olivant farmer of Scothorne. The members of this ‘night-jury’ are all known, and they assuredly will be called upon to answer for their foolery.


Lincolnshire Chronicle 02/01/1857




1. ‘...faces raddled and a few bits of ribbon and coloured rags sown on their smocks by their wives and sweethearts etc'

 2.; ‘morris dancers paraded Caunton and other villages near Newark ..'

Plough Monday


Plough Monday

S. R. Hole


P. Herring






 ‘..they were gaily dressed, danced, sang and acted the Mummer's play.

Mummers during Christmas time danced and acted a mummers play with a general dance for all at the end.

Ploughboys here also used to have a dance they performed where jumping over a broomstick was the chief feature.'

(Mr Howden Willoughton)

Christmas Time

Plough Monday

Rudkin Collection 





‘The special dances for the men were ‘The Sailor's Hornpipe' and ‘The Drunken Sailor's Hornpipe,' which was danced between two long churchwarden pipes, much as the Highlanders dance between two swords, the object being, of course, not to break the clay pipes while dancing between them.'

Stixwould Feast - as near St Peters Day, June 29th as it could be.

J.A.Penny ‘Folklore around Horncastle.'




 ‘singing, dancing and horse-play in costume but without dialogue'.

Plough Monday

T. F. Ordish collection




 ‘Ancient customs are all very well in their way, and so long as they are harmless in them selves and yet afford some little amusement and pleasure of association, let them survive; but some are indeed more honoured in the breach than the observance. During the last few days a party of morris dancers or plough-jarks, or both combined, have made Barton their head-quarters, whence to radiate into neighbouring villages, and a great ‘racket' they have made. In the evening the noise and uproar they made was a source of great annoyance, but they now appear to have brought the season to a close.'



Rutland and

Stamford Mercury 15/1/1864 

Market Rasen



‘At Christmas morris dancers dressed in grotesque garb took possession for the time being.'


Watkinson ‘Recollections of

 a clay pipemakers son'

Timberland/ Metheringham


Morris Dancers- John Elkington, John Pottern, Freeman Banks and Geo Elkington, all of Timberland, labourers, were charged with being drunk and disorderly at Metheringham on 22nd Inst –None of the defendants appeared. It seems the defendents formed part of a body of morris dancers and that in the evening in question they went to the house of the Rev Mr Barrnardiston, knocked at the door and on its being opened by the servant girl followed her down the passage. Their strange attire frightened her very much. The men were drunk.On the return of Mr Barnardiston the affair was reported to him and he sent for the police- sergeant Killington and gave him a description of the men. The following morning the men went to Mr Barnardiston’s house and expressed some sorrow for what they had done but he was determined to make an example of those who were drunk. Mr Barnardiston said every year a party of morris dancers from Timberland visit Metheringham, and the inhabitants are compelled to fasten their doors to keep them out.- Each of the defendants was fined 5s and 7s 6d costs.

December 22nd

Lincolnshire Chronicle 08/01/1864


Ingham (Lincs)


The Morris Dancers again- a party of morris dancers named John Carter, John Vickers, John Bird, Joseph Williams, labourers of Ingham, were brought up on remand, charged with stealing. On 23rd ult, the propery of Mr Chas Needham………………………Witness asked him (Vickers0 what they were doing at Willingham, and he said they had been morris-dancing…………………………. They then dismissed the case ordering the defendants to pay the costs..

December 23rd

Winterton Lincs



‘The Cattle Plague v Morris Dancers'

An application was made to the Winterton Magistrates on Wednesday last by several farmers, that they would stop the morris dancers from going round the different villages in their district. The magistrates requested Mr Supt Asling and his men to tell the morris dancers in their several beats that the magistrates wished them not to go about this year as they had been accustomed to do.'


Stamford Mercury 5/1/1866

Market Harborough (Leics)


‘In some places applications were made to magistrates for their assistance to prevent the assembling of ‘plough witches' and morris-dancers on Plough Monday, whose clothes might increase the cattle plague...'

Plough Monday

Stamford mercury 12/1/1866

Thurgarton/ Bleasby (Notts)


Southwell- Petty Sessions, February 5th Before W.H. Barrow Esq.,M.P., Rev T. C. Cane, R. kelham, Esq J –Willaim Wyer, George Hurt, John Spittlehouse, all of Thurgarton, and james buckle, of Southwell, were charged by inspector blasdale with being drunk and disorderly and riotous at Bleasby on 12thult. They all pleaded not guilty. James Gratton, an apprentice to a blacksmith, said that one of the defendants asked him to tip him a quart of ale. He told him he had had plenty. Some of them were drunk. Wyer spoke civily to him. Inspector Blasdale: ‘Did you not say they were drunk and you knew them all?’ Witness; ‘I said they were not drunk. They would have pulled up some rails if it were not for me. It was dark, so I could not see who thet wer’e. Mr Cane told Wyer he had had a narrow escape. The case was dismissed. Mr cane retired from the Bench during the hearing of the case but stated afterwards that a great deal of damage had been done to property, and that 9 persons had had upwards of 26 gallons of ale; they called themselves Morris dancers. Mr Kelham also spoke of the disgraceful proceedings of the drunken party, there being no less than 7 premises damaged. The witness applied for his expenses, but the bench would not allow them. -

January 12th

Nottinghamshire Guardian12/02/1869



Christmas Eccentricities.- An application was made on Monday to the magistrates by a young man, on behalf of himself and five others, for permission to go about the town morris-dancing at Christmas tide. The bench had no objection, but the morris-dancers are to give in their names to Supt. Campbell, and were cautioned not to annoy people.


Lincolnshire Chronicle 09/12/1870



As if to remind us how customs are passing away, a band of mummers or morris dancers visited the lower portion of the city on Saturday night. Their antics caused great amusement and no little surprise in the minds of the many who witnessed their dances at the several inns. Plough Monday is still commemorated in London, the lord mayor giving a dinner on that day to the members of his household and the Corporation officers


Lincolnshire Chronicle 14/01/870

Barton upon Humber


 ‘The ‘Plough Jacks', in their motley dress, mustered strongly at Barton on Plough Monday and paraded the streets, dancing in their uncouth fashion, accompanied by equally rude music. We imagine that if receipt of pence were separated from this ancient custom it would have been amongst the things that were long ago.'

Plough Monday

Stamford Mercury 14/1/1870

North Notts


: ‘a party of mummers visited the towns and villages of North Notts during the past fortnight and highly diverted the inhabitants by their dancing, singing of old songs, and their play of the Hobby Horse........the song and tune which they sang. Viz ‘When Joan's  ale was new'.


Newark Advertiser 18/1/1871



27th Dec

 ‘Some stir was occasioned on Monday by the appearance of a company of morris dancers in the streets of Worksop. The dancers who were from the neighbourhood of Elkington and Beighton in Derbyshire, went through the old and quaint performance in a very pleasing manner.'

Christmas time

Retford and Gainsborough Times1/1/1876




 ‘they go round the towns and villages dragging a plough....stopping occasionally to perform a rude morrice dance round their implement of labour.'


Forgotten Morris (Davenport)

Caistor (Lincs)


Morris-dancing is fast becoming a rarity, even in the rural districts of North Lincolnshire, but last week Caistor and the villages adjacent were visited by a full company of those rustic merrymen, the ‘Plough Jacks',.....



Stamford mercury 4/1/1878

Corringham (Lincs)


George Booth, 17 years old, was charged with stealing a shaving brush, the property of Ward Baines, the blacksmith, of Corringham. Prisoner went to prosecutor’s house with a band of ‘morris dancers’ and took the shaving brush from the pantry. A fellow labourer warned him, but he took it to Northorpe, where he was apprehended. Prisoner said he took the brush without thinking. Discharged with a caution.


Stamford mercury 23/01/1880

Little Bytham



 ‘The ploughmen and morris dancers paraded this and the surrounding villages and went through their performances in a creditable manner. They were well patronised at Grimesthorpe Castle.’ 


Grantham Journal




Despite the wet uncomfortable weather there was a large gathering of holiday people at Spilsby on Monday. A party of morris-dancers, fantastically dressed, visited the various inns during the day. Towards evening it was apparent, some of the visitors had imbibed a little too freely, and fights ensued. As a result summonses to some will issue.

January 1st

Stamford mercury 05/01/1883



Alford new Year’s market on Tuesday was a busy one, and the attendance of farm servants and woman servants was large. A party of morris dancers in ludicrous attire paraded the streets. The day was pleasurably fine and sunshiny – more like spring than winter.

january 2nd

Stamford Mercury 05/01/1883



The new-years market on Monday, although this year falling somewhat later, was largely attended. Being plough-Monday some grotesque ‘morris dancers’ visited the houses.


Stamford Mercury


Frithville (Lincs)


....recounts ploughboys and morris dancers there.



Rudkin Collection NH

Wainfleet (Lincs)

Late C19th

‘The guisers or sword dancers still come round. We had one family in Wainfleet Flats who were especially skilled in the intricacies of the dance, although they flatly refused to let me take down the verses they used, as some harm would happen if they committed them to writing.....last time they visited me at Wainfleet, just ten years ago, one of the company was dressed in a skin with a wisp of straw in his mouth so cut as to represent pigs bristles..............but for many years the Plough Bullocks that are done on Plough Monday have ceased to carry with them the horses skull that they used to represent the white steer Gleipnir of the ancient god. Indeed I do not think I have seen that since 1857 when the general rejoicing at the close of the Crimean war gave a temporary fillip to the winters sports.'

Plough Monday

Heanley ‘

The Vikings, traces

of their folklore

in the Marshland.'



‘I remember when morris Dancers came from Belton...'


Grantham Journal 1878

Brough on Bain


M. S. Carter ‘my brother once took part in morris dancing at Brough.'


Rudkin Collection 


New Brumby



Larceny by morris dancers.

‘On Thursday last four or five men came into the shop dressed as morris dancers and disguised.


Retford and Gainsborough Times14/1/1881




Mr Roberts aged 78, retired joiner, remembered seeing Morris Dancers here as a boy. He didn't know for certain if there was a Willingham team but he thought there was. The morris dancers were gaily dressed, and started going round about 5th November until Christmas. They were a team of eight and carried broomsticks and acted...in their play there was a fight and a man was killed. The doctor came in and gave him a dose that brought him to life again. The doctor had a tall hat with medicine bottles on the brim, ranged round the front of the hat.

On plough Monday the ploughjags came round and brought a plough with them, they ploughed up the doorstep if refused admittance or not given money. They do not seem to have acted a play, but were dressed up ‘ugly' quite the opposite of the morris dancers who were gaily dressed. The same team of men were both morris men and ploughjags.'




1954 E. Rudkin

Rudkin Collection 

Carlton Scroop



 PLOUGH MONDAY,- On Monday and Tuesday evenings a very pleasing and ancient custom was revived in this parish when a party of seven of our villagers, dressed as morris dancers, visited the principal houses in this village, and the adjoining villages of Normanton and Honnington, and went through their performance very creditably. 

Plough Monday


Burgh le Marsh (Lincs)


‘Morris dancers made their last appearance ……at Christmas 1886.’





Footnote p276

Douce had a very curious old cut representing this dance, which Park testifies to having seen performed by the morris dancers in the vicinity of Lincoln.

‘First, with their swords sheathed and erect in their hands, they dance in a triple round; then, with their swords held erect as before: afterwards extending them from hand to hand, they lay hold of each others hilts and points, and while they are wheeling more moderately round and changing their order, throw themselves into the figure of a hexagon, which they call a rose: but, presently raising and drawing back their swords, they undo that figure, in order to form with them a four square rose, that they may rebound over the head of each other. Lastly they dance rapidly backwards, and, vehemently rattling the sides of their swords together, conclude their sport. Pipe or songs (sometimes both) direct the measure, which at first is slow, but, increasing afterwards, becomes very quick towards the conclusion.'


Brand Popular Antiquities

1888 pp276-277.



 ‘..the morris dancers gave up over 65 years ago. In the winter months..busy practising for Christmas time when they would visit farm houses...the farmers invited their men and wives to watch. ...morris dancers always very popular.'

Christmas time

Mrs KClark (1960)


Late C19th

 ‘they danced, tumbled and sang'  

Plough Monday

Mrs F. M. Benton


Lusby (Lincs)



.dancing an integral part of play....E. Rudkin1933

1. The musician plays tune ‘Little Brown jug' and Tom Fool does a step dance.

2. Musician plays 'Pop Goes the Weasel' and they all join in the old country dance ‘Join hands across'.

3. Musician plays ‘Pop goes the Weasel' players arrange themselves in pairs and dance


E. Rudkin1933

Rudkin CollectionH



Late C19th

quoting from Mabel Peacock.

‘Twenty or more ploughmen, with ribbons in their hats , dragged a plough from house to house on Plough Monday, accompanied by a troop of morris dancers including Besom Bet. Some of them wore a bunch of corn ears on their hats.........the dance danced by the Plough Jags was a kind of Country dance.''

Plough Monday

M. W. Barley JEFDSS vol 7 no 4 1955

Clayworth (Notts)

Late C19th

the performers would then dance from house to house,

Plough Monday

M. W. M. Nottingham Guardian 9/1/1926

Moulton Seas End



Mr T H Rower of Boston who is 84 (1953) is quite precise in remembering morris dancers there at Christmas and ploughboys playing on plough Monday.' MWBP





Digby (Lincs)


‘Bloy, who took the part of Tom Fool............before the plough play came in they used to go round doing Morris Dancing.'

... a broom dance performed by Charlie Summer (Bert Summer).

Plough Monday

E. Rudkin 23/5/31

Rudkin Collection 




from Mrs H (at Hemswell) collected by E. Rudkin. 1932.

‘morris dancers came round with a broom, also ploughjags'.

‘morris dancers used to come round the towns near. We used to look forward to them coming because we had some rare fun. Quickly they'd come down the street, all in gay clothes and hats trimmed with jewels. Yes quickly they'd come down the street and into the house afore anyone knew it stopped them. Once in the house the chief man amongst them said a long ditty, very witty it was and then they'd do the dancing.

We had our own morris dancers out of the village too, and they came in with a broom sweeping all before them. The plough lads came round on plough Monday with their play of course.'


Rudkin Collection



‘The plough-jags with no spoken parts, who used to be the bullocks drawing the plough, or sometimes sword-players, it may be, should properly speaking, wear very tall beribboned hats, with white shirts over their clothes.



Heapham and

Blyton (Lincs)


1. Morris dancers dressed in tatters and shreds with broomsticks. They danced very swift and one fell on the floor. They came from Blyton. They danced in the daytime.

            2. Mr Mumby senior, saw morris dancers on the pavement at Heapham, six of them dressed in tatters and shreds, with broomsticks and handkerchiefs. They danced with very swift action, one of them fell on the floor. When the dance was over they went away so far to the next village. The team that was dancing at Heapham had come from Blyton. They danced in the day time.

Mr Mumby senior Willoughton 1954.


Rudkin Collection..



Rural Derbyshire


 ‘the dear old morris dancers are all dead. At any rate Worksop knows them not. It is some years since the last set of morris dancers performed in Golden-Ball square, and their interesting and really clever dance did not seem to be greatly appreciated. The Morris dance is still kept up in some rural districts of Derbyshire, where old customs seem to linger lnoger than in other parts.'


Retford and Gainsborough Times





 ‘bessy rattled his box and the ploughmen dance whilst the country lads blew their bullocks horns.'

Plough Monday

P. Herring  Nottinghamshire Guardian 9/1/1925

Alkborough (Lincs)

Late C19th early c20th

‘all the time a rhythmic dance kept up to a fiddle or concertina.’‘actors danced with each other or with the company’

Plough Monday

M. W. Barley



‘The plough lad's dance performed by 8 dancers, using wooden swords 4 foot long made of witch-elm, is similar to that collected by Cecil Sharpe at Flamborough head, except that it has two rhythms. The first tune is ‘So early in the morning' and the second is a dance version of ‘My father He left me an acre of land.'

Luke Stanley ‘they used to step dance, they used to sword dance, do the cobblers knock and dance the broomshaft, also refers to dance done with two long clay pipes crossed like swords.

Plough Monday

FTX-105 Folktrax



Mrs Ellis brought up at Carlton

‘I remember being taken by my Grandfather to fetch milk and seeing a group of men dancing in a field. I was allowed to watch them before returning home. My Grandma said, ‘Oh , it's only Clayton's men from Snaith doing it for money for drink.'





From the late Mrs Richardson, brought up at Carlton, Headmistress of neighbouring Camblesforth school.

In earlier times they danced in peoples gardens. You would have had to let them pull the plough through the house near Plough Sunday.'



General reference  Notts/Derbyshire



 ‘striking and artistic morris dance has all but disappeared with the close of the century'.



Retford and Gainsborough Times



Pre 1902

‘May\Day has lost its old characteristics. It is unusual to hear see or hear of the May-bush or the morris dancers, who were always seen in the streets  on the first of May; frequently sweeps and female members of their families in fantastic garb.

May Day

Mansfield Advertiser 2/5/1902



account given by Ann Wright's grandmother....‘visits by men with blackened faces. They entered the house and began to dance. They leaped about and the bells on their boots swung and jingled; such that some anxiety was expressed by the onlookers lest they should tangle and cause a dangerous fall.'   Vivid recollection of a ‘tattered man.'


Forgotten Morris (Davenport)

East Holderness


 ‘....farm servants.... who  ...go about from village to village fantastically dressed and dance to rude music, accompanied by the mummery of a clown.'


Forgotten Morris (Davenport)

Early 1900's




 ‘in the locality of Snaith and it's surrounding villages the dancers appear to have moved in procession and seem to have performed some stationary figures at various points. They were led by a man wearing a bull's horns and carrying a club. This figure appears to have shouted throughout the performance. There appear to have been upwards of twelve dancers, mostly teenagers, who danced to the music of a tin whistle. There was no plough and the dances seem to have been organised by members of the Clayton family of Snaith. One informant, Mr A. Walker had danced in the past but said there were onlt two of the old dancers left. The other informant Mr Bill Tredgitt gave information regarding black faces, the wearing of bits of skins and the man with the bull's horns. There seem to have been separate dances and the tunes appear to have included ‘Cock of the North' and ‘Pop goes the Weasel'. 


Forgotten Morris (Davenport)

Burton on Stather, Winterton and WestHalton


Late C19th early C20th

Burton on Stather  ...Osbourne Redhead..'Marched through the village and made our way to Thealby, playing, singing and dancing through the village........to Normanby hall.... Danced in the courtyard with girls from Burton who came to dance with us.'

Broom dance collected from Mr Redhead.

Using two different brooms began with ‘stepping' rather like ‘setting' in normal country dancing either side of the broom handle as it lay on the ground, this occupied first 8 bars of music.

The performer then lifted the broom handle, leaving the head on the ground and passed the handle under and over each leg alternatively in a figure eight. This occupied second eight bars of music. The third eight bars saw a variant of the ‘B' section.

Another version from Sid Holdridge of Winterton...performed by the west Halton team...consisted of the second half only of the Burton one but the head of the broom was kept moving in a semi circular movement so that the outer edge of the head touched the ground alternatively. (survived till 1914).


Rudkin Collection 

Sutton Bridge (Lincs)


Mrs Houghton remembers Morris dancers at Sutton Bridge....boys wore tall hats, girls (sketch). (Alex Helm questions whether this was a Mary neal revival)


Rudkin collection 

Holderness - Anlaby, Driffield, Catwick,

Sproatley, Seaton



References to dancing surviving in these Holderness villages.




Forgotten Morris (Davenport)

North Muskham (Notts)

Pre 1914

Mention of a dance performed over a ‘rake and a poker' as part of Plough Monday celebrations.

Plough Monday





Garton on the Wolds.



early 1920's

Detailed description in Paul Davenport's Forgotten Morris.




Forgotten Morris




Plough Stots were called ‘mummies' up until WW1.

Most of the dancers hailed from the Cayton family. All were male. Leader Sam Clayton was in his 30s but the rest were no older than 20.

SC wore a bull's skull with horns attaches. Carried a cudgel and had his face made up in red and white stripes. The other dancers had blackened faces about half were dressed as women. Men's jackets had ribbons pinned on like streamers and a stripe of ribbon pinned down the leg of trousers.

Dance was done in a single line they advanced using a hop-step but when stationary danced a' reel' facing alternatively up and down the line and using a ‘pas-de-basque' type of step to move in and out. One hand on the hip In this figure.

Aw says they only did this dance. They did not stop but danced the length of a village moving into the reel figure eat a number of stages. Mr walker variously described the leader as the ‘ devil' or as ‘frightening the devil'. No bells were worn.


Andrea Robertson

Field notes 1994 interview with Mr Walker




till 1934

Burringham (plough play survived till 1934) a broom dance performed to the accompaniment of melodeon and side drum although in earlier days a base drum used as well.

Performed by the recruiting sargeant.



Rudkin Collection H

Further bits and pieces.

E. Rudkin   Speaking at Cranwell and Dowsby. ‘Does anyone remember seeing a team of Morris dancers in the village?

A team of eight men with tall hats, all covered all over with coloured tatters. They danced with broomsticks or handkerchiefs.'

Information given by Brian Dawson (formerly of Broadside).

1817/20 last time Lincolnshire pipes played was at Hunsley near Caistor (Mabel Peacock).

Broom dance survivals at  Caistor


Barrow (Luke Stanley),



Grimsby (Rolly Redhead) ,  Chapel Hill - six bangs of brush ends on floor in time  with music to start                                           

Burton Stellar (tune from Osborne Reed) 

Digby (Burt Summer). 

Note below received from Rod Readhead, the grandson of Osbourne Readhead

'My grandfather (you have him listed as Osbourne Redhead Burton on Stather, Winterton and WestHalton Lincs) was from Roxby, Lincs and was part of a local Plough Jaggers team, a tradition that was carried out by several members of his immediate family i.e. brothers who were farm labourers, millers, ferrymen in the late to early part of the 19th/20th century.'

‘History of the County of Lincoln' J Saunders Jnr 1834  reference to the Haxey Hood

‘the next day the plough bullocks or boggins go around the town...................they are dressed like morris dancers.'         

Carving on  outside of Calverton church ‘two figures seem to be dancing a morris dance'.??www.nottshistory.org.uk (Unlikely?)

24/3/2005 further notes made from Rudkin collection.

Letter to ER from Alex Helm 20/9/1965

‘along comes this wealth of material proving conclusively, to my mind, that there was Dance in Lincolnshire.

This makes a revision of our paper* more than ever necessary.'

Helm's underlining of ‘was' 

*referring to EFDSS Journal 1960

also from Helm ‘Cotswold only gained prominence because Cecil Sharp did so much work there.'