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Derry Down Parodies

Posted on: December 1st, 2009 by hauleymusic No Comments

In the 1770s various overt acts were gradually leading the Colonies and England to the inevitable struggle. March 5th, 1770, saw the Boston Massacre, and soon afterwards an anonymous British sympathizer circulated this song on a broadside, adapted to the Derry Down tune:

You simple Bostonians, I’d have you beware,
Of your Liberty Tree, I would have you take care,
For if that we chance to return to the town,
Your houses and stores will come tumbling down.
Derry down, down, hey derry down.

Our fleet and our army, they soon will arrive,
Then to a bleak island, you shall not us drive.
In every house you shall have three or four,
And if that will not please you, you shall have half a score.
Derry down, down, hey derry down.

The Boston Tea Party occurred in December, 1773, and soon a number of songs were devoted to the subject of tea – The Taxed Tea, Virginia Banishing Tea, and The Blasted Herb.

Early in 1775 the British Parliament rejected the petition of the Colonies, and declared that a state of rebellion existed in America. The Continental Congress appointed Washington head of the American army on June 15th. As yet there was officially no thought of independence from England, but a number of the song poets made no attempt to hide such possibilities. Here is a song to the Derry Down tune written in 1775:

What a court hath old England, of folly and sin,
Spite of Chatham and Camden, Barre, Burke, Wilkes and Glynn!
Not content with the game act, they tax fish and sea,
And America drench with hot water and tea.

Derry down, down, hey derry down.

There’s no knowing where this oppression will stop;
Some say-there’s no cure but a capital chop;
And that I believe’s each American’s wish,
Since you’ve drench’d them with tea, and depriv’d ’em of fish.

Derry down, down, hey derry down.

Three Generals* these mandates have borne ‘cross the sea,
To deprive ’em of fish and to make ’em drink tea;
In turn, sure, these freemen will boldly agree,
To give ’em a dance upon Liberty Tree.

[*Burgoyne, Clinton, Howe]

Derry down, down, hey derry down.

Then freedom’s the word, both at home and abroad,
And _______ every scabbard that hides a good sword!
Our forefathers gave us this freedom in hand,
And we’ll die in defence of the rights of the land.

Derry down, down, hey derry down.