Farewell to the World of Richard Bishop

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monkeyarms
Posts: 280
Joined: 28 Jul 2015 14:54
Location: Tredown

Farewell to the World of Richard Bishop

Post by monkeyarms »

A Sydenham-related ballad, in which a convicted murder bemoans the fact that he'll never see Sydenham again, having done in his neighbour from Forest Hill...

http://ballads.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/static ... /18901.gif

Robin Orton
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Re: Farewell to the World of Richard Bishop

Post by Robin Orton »

Fascinating, Monkeyarms. How did you come across this?

I wonder what its date is. Obviously before 1899, because people from here were still being executed in the county town of Kent. The two men were neighbours in Forest Hill, but Bishop complains about never seeing Sydenham again - suggests a time when FH was seen as a suburb of Sydenham? Even if the railways had been built, it seems unlikely that 'the Swiss Cottage' which Cartwright (presumably) commuted to was the one in NW3. More likely to have been the Swiss Cottage in Perry Vale, which was apparently built in the early1840s?

Perhaps some local composer could set the ballad to music and it could become the Town Song. I am sure many of our local villains would sing it with gusto.

monkeyarms
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Joined: 28 Jul 2015 14:54
Location: Tredown

Re: Farewell to the World of Richard Bishop

Post by monkeyarms »

I found it in a paperback book called "The Common Muse", an anthology of popular broadsheet ballads.
I bought it, appropriately enough, from Kirkdale Bookshop, which has an excellent secondhand poetry section (and an aladdin's cave of a basement).

This is the book:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Common-Muse-Ant ... ommon+muse

I am a bit of a folkie – I sing at folk clubs and I do spend an unhealthy amount of time on Bodleian library's ballads website.
There's quite a few broadside ballads that mention local places and events. Especially Crystal Palace, largely because of the Great Exhibition. There's also a good song (which I've sung a few times) about the Croydon Canal. I'll dig a link to that one out...

Thanks for the reply, and that suggestion about Swiss Cottage. I did wonder about that myself - seemed odd that someone would be dragging themselves that far across London.

monkeyarms
Posts: 280
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Location: Tredown

Re: Farewell to the World of Richard Bishop

Post by monkeyarms »

It did occur to me that the words of the ballad share the same rhythm as "I am a poor wayfaring stranger". So would fit the folk/hymn tune...

I did a bit more googling and uncovered some more details of this tale:

http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/print.js ... 680406-385

1868 was the year. Alfred Cartwright was "potman" at the Swiss Cottage.

I would guess a "potman" was someone who served pots - i.e. of beer.

If it was the Swiss Cottage in Sydenham, was that Swiss Cottage therefore once an inn?

pip
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Re: Farewell to the World of Richard Bishop

Post by pip »

A Potman collects the empty glasses. or at that time Pots.

Pat Trembath
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Re: Farewell to the World of Richard Bishop

Post by Pat Trembath »

And the Swiss Cottage was a pub in Stanstead Road near where the petrol station is now.

Steve Grindlay
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Location: Upper Sydenham

Re: Farewell to the World of Richard Bishop

Post by Steve Grindlay »

The Swiss Cottage was, as Pat says, a pub on the corner of Wastdale Road and Stanstead Road. Alfred Cartwright lived in Wastdale Road and his parents Henry, a shoemaker, and Matilda lived round the corner in Malham Road.
Approaching midnight on 2 April 1868 Alfred and his parents left the Swiss Cottage to go to Alfred's home. As they walked along Wastdale Road they saw, in the words of Matilda, a group of men "making a great noise, quarrelling and talking very loud, and talking about fighting - they were challenging each other to fight for a shilling".
An argument over the noise led to a fight, a policeman appeared and tried to "disperse the mob". It was while he was taking Richard Bishop to the police station in Dartmouth Road, with the Cartwright family and others following, that Bishop produced a knife and stabbed Alfred.
Bishop's trial at the Old Bailey began four days later. The evidence against him was apparently overwhelming. In his defence, presumably hoping for a verdict of manslaughter, Bishop admitted that he had "drunk a good deal that night... rum and beer". This didn't help. He was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. Less than four weeks later he was hanged outside Maidstone Gaol.
I think it's unlikely that Richard Bishop had even modest poetic inclinations. However, it seems his mother employed a solicitor to try to get the verdict altered or the sentence reduced. The poem appeared as a broadsheet (a single printed sheet distributed rather like a flyer) before her son's execution and it seems possible that she, or someone she knew, wrote the poem.

Robin Orton
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Re: Farewell to the World of Richard Bishop

Post by Robin Orton »

Good to see you back on the forum, Steve. We need your expert knowledge!

If Bishop was hanged 'outside Maidstone Gaol', would that have been in public? It appears that the last public execution in England was on 28 May 1868. Did Bishop get in just under the wire, as it were? The chronology you give suggests that he might have been executed in the first half of May.

Steve Grindlay
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Location: Upper Sydenham

Re: Farewell to the World of Richard Bishop

Post by Steve Grindlay »

It was a public hanging, Robin.Bishop was, according to this site http://tinyurl.com/gpyajqk, "the last man to be hanged in public [at Maidstone Gaol]... on Thursday, the 30th of April 1868."

Also, several local papers described "a small crowd assembled on the occasion, but their demeanour was orderly".

michael
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Re: Farewell to the World of Richard Bishop

Post by michael »

Pat Trembath wrote:And the Swiss Cottage was a pub in Stanstead Road near where the petrol station is now.
Not exactly where the petrol station is, it is now a block of flats (built in the 1980s) on the other side of the fire station, on the corner of Wastdale road.

ImageSwiss Cottage, from a glass negative by Steve Grindlay, on Flickr

I've only heard the Croydon canal song once, on the 200's anniversary of it's opening.
All hail this grand day when with gay colours flying,
The barges are seen on the current to glide,
When with fond emulation all parties are vying,
To make our canal of Old England the pride.

Chorus :
Long down its fair stream may the rich vessel glide,
And the Croydon Canal be of England the pride.

And may it long flourish, while commerce caressing,
Adorns its gay banks with her wealth-bringing stores;
To Croydon, and all round the country a blessing,
May industry's sons ever thrive on its shore!

And now my good fellows sure nothing is wanting
To heighten our mirth and our blessings crown,
But with the gay belles on its banks to be flaunting
When spring smiles again on this high-favoured town.
source http://www.waterwaysongs.co.uk/all_hail.htm

monkeyarms
Posts: 280
Joined: 28 Jul 2015 14:54
Location: Tredown

Re: Farewell to the World of Richard Bishop

Post by monkeyarms »

There's a recording of the Croydon Canal song on an album by Jon Raven. It's on Spotify.

There's a more light-hearted broadside referencing Sydenham, called 'The Naughty Amorous Coachman of Sydenham and the Gardener's Lady'.

Words for which may be viewed here:

http://ballads.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/static ... /22559.gif

michael
Posts: 1273
Joined: 26 Sep 2006 12:56
Location: Forest Hill

Re: Farewell to the World of Richard Bishop

Post by michael »

Thanks Monkeyarms. Here's a spotify link that might help others:
spotify:track:36OYkOLFud7EwqD2kjWZGf

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