A Yorkshire Dialogue

(George Meriton)

In Meriton’s own words, this is described as: "Being a Miscellaneous Discourse or Hotch-Potch of several Country Affairs begun by a Daughter and her Mother, and continued by the Father, Son, Uncle, Neefe, and Land Lord."

The Glossary supplied below is based on that provided by Meriton himself



Mother our Crockey’s Cawven sine’t grew dark

And Ise flaid to come nar, she macks sike warke,


Seaun, seaun, Barne, bring my Skeel and late my Tee:

Mack hast and hye thee ore to’th Laer to me:

Weefe git a Battin and a Burden Rape,

Though it be mirke, weefe lat it out by grape:

Then wee’l to’th Field and Give the Cow some Hay

And see her Cleen before she come away:

For flaid she get some watter before the Cleen,

And mar her milk, Ise greet out bath my Neen:


Whaugh Mother how she rowts, Ise verra Arfe,

Shee’l pit and rive my good Prunella Scarfe:

(From the original volume printed by J White of York, 1684)




arfe afraid late seek rowt roar


two straw sheaves folded together mar spoil seaun quickly
cawven is calved mirke dark sike such
crockey small Scotch cow nar near sine since
flaid afraid neen eyes skeel milk pale
grape grope put butt with head tee string
greet weep rape rope varra very
laer barn rive tear waugh word of admiration



The Cleveland Lyke-Wake Dirge

There are a number of versions of this song. The following is from John Aubrey’s (1686) Remains of Gentilisme and Judaisme (Cited by Halliday and Umpleby, 1949: 18). Bill Cowley (1982) reproduces yet another variant in dialect form. According to Aubrey, the Dirge was sung at wakes for the dead. The belief among the common people in Yorkshire was that, after death, the soul of the deceased had to pass over Whinney Moor, a land covered in thorns. The final and most difficult part of the soul’s passage, observe Halliday and Umpleby (1949), was the crossing of the Brig o’ Dread described as being “so narrow and treacherous that only the good can cross it safely”.

That great English folk group Steeleye Span include a version on their CD album: The very best of Steeleye Span (Park Records PRKCD64). The first two verses may be heard by clicking here . This recording has been reproduced with the kind permission of Park Records and Peer UK.


This ean night, this ean night

Every night and awle

Fire and Fleet and candle-leet

And Christ receive thy Sawle


When thou from hence dost pass away

Every night and awle

To Whinney-moor thou comest at last

And Christ receive thy Sawle


If ever thou gave either hosen or shoon

Every night and awle

Sitt thee down and put them on

And Christ receive thy Sawle


But if hosen or shoon thou never gave nean

Every night and awle

The Whinnes shall prick thee to the bare beane

And Christ receive thy Sawle


From Whinney-moor that thou mayst pass

Every night and awle

To Brig o’ Dread thou comest at last

And Christ receive thy Sawle


If ever thou gave either Milke or Drinke

Every night and awle

The fire shall never make thee shrink

And Christ receive thy Sawle


But of milk or drink thou never gave nean

Every night and awle

Then Fire shall burn thee to the bare beane

And Christ receive thy Sawle

   ean - one    fleet - floor    shoon - shoes     beane – bone    Brig o’ Dread - Bridge of Dread



The Wensleydale Lad

Halliday, W.J. and Umpleby, (1949) refer to the fact that there are several variants of this song known under such titles as A Country Lad’s Visit to Leeds, Leeds Owd Church, etc. Although the date of the song’s creation is unknown, because of the reference to King George, the suggestion is that it originated at the beginning of the 19th century.


When I were at home wi’ mi father an’ mother, I nivver had na fun;

They kept me goin’ frae morn to neet, so I thowt frae them I’d run.

Leeds Fair were coomin’ on, an’ I thowt I’d have a spree,

So I put on mi Sunday cooat an’ went right merrily.


First thing I saw were t’factory , I nivver seed one afore;

There were threads an’ tapes, an’ tapes an’ silks, to sell by monny a score.

Owd Ned turn’d iv’ry wheel, an’ iv’ry wheel an’ strap,

‘Begor!’ says I to t’maister-man,’ Owd Ned ‘s a rare strong chap.’


Next I went to Leeds Owd Church – I were nivver i’ one i’ mi days,

An’ I maistly ashamed o’ misel , for I didn’t knaw their ways;

There were thirty or forty folk, i’ tubs an’ boxes sat,

When up cooms a saucy owd fellow. Says he, ‘ Noo , lad, tak off thi hat.’

Then in there cooms a great Lord Mayor, an’ over his shooders a club,

An’ he gat into a white sack-poke, an’ gat into t’topmost tub.

An’ then there cooms anither chap, I thinks they called him Ned,

An’ he gat into t’bottommost tub, an’ mocked all t’ other chap said.


An’ then I heard a shufflin’ row, I couldn’t mak what aboot,

An’ t’chap donn’d up i’ t’white sack-poke began a-shootin oot,

Tellin’ o’ t’rich folk’s road to Heaven, an’ t’poor folk’s road to Hell.

Thowt I to misel, tha silly owd fooil, tha doesn’t knaw t’road thisel.


So they began to preach an’ pray, they prayed for George, oor King;

When up jumps t’chap i’ t’bottommost tub. Say he, ‘Good folks, let’s sing.’

I thowt some sang varra weel, while others did grunt an’ groan,

Ivvery man sang just what he wad, so I sand ‘Darby an’ Joan.’


When preachin’ an’ prayin’ were over, an’ folks were gangin’ away,

I went to t’chap i’ t’topmost tub. Says I, ‘ Lad, what’s to pat?’

‘Why, nowt,’ says he, ‘my lad.’ Begor! I were right fain.

So I clicked hod o’ mi gret club stick, an’ went whistlin’ oot again.

(Halliday and Umpleby; 1949: 19-20)



On Ilkla Moor baht ‘at.

Sometimes referred to as The Yorkshire Anthem, the origin of the song is uncertain. Sung to the tune of the Methodist hymn "Cranbrook" (written by Thomas Clark and published in 1805) it was, according to Arnold Kellett (1998), part of oral tradition until published in sheet music form in 1916. Kellett examines the song’s history in detail in his book On Ilkla Mooar baht’at: The Story of the Song. Supposedly a dialogue between a parent and son, the following version is from Halliday and Umpleby (1949: 24).



Wheear wor ta bahn when Ah saw thee?

On Ikla Moor baht ’at.


Then t’worms’ll come an’ eit thee up  

On Ikla Moor baht ’at.


Tha’s been a-courtin’ , Mary Jane.

On Ikla Moor baht ’at.   


Then t’ducks‘ll come an’ eit up t’worms.          

On Ikla Moor baht ’at.






Tha’s bahn ta get thi deeath o’ cowd.   

On Ikla Moor baht ’at.  


Then we sal come an’ eit up t’ducks.             

On Ikla Moor baht ’at.


Then we sal ha ta bury thee.

On Ikla Moor baht ’at    


Then we sal hev etten thee 

On Ikla Moor baht ’at.



Bite Bigger

(John Hartley 1839-1915)


This is perhaps the best known of Hartley’s poems. W.J. Halliday (1940), observes that it was written and presented as part of the evenings entertainment at the Beacon Club, a type of literary organisation which used to meet at the Corporation Arms, Halifax. Halliday also claims that it was inspired by Edwin Waugh’s Come Whoam to thi Childer an mi. The following is a brief extract of the full version given in Halliday and Umpleby (1949: 69-70).


‘Here’s a apple, an’ th’mooast on it’s saand,

What’s rotten Aw’ll throw into th’street,

Worn’t it gooid to lig thear to be faand?

Nah booath on us con have a treat.


Soa he wiped it, an’ rubb’d it, an’ then

Said, ‘Billy, the bite off a bit;

If tha hasn’t been lucky thisen

Tha sal share wi’ me sich as Aw get.


Soa th’little en bate off a touch,

T’other’s face beamed wi’ pleasure all throo,

An’ he said, ‘Nay, tha hasn’t taen much,

Bite agean, an’ bite bigger; nah do!’




The following is an extract of Yorkshire prose taken directly from Walter Turner’s Goodies, a collection of stories in Yorkshire dialect.


It fair caps me what for fooaks want te it goodies i’ Choch! Yan wad reallye think ‘at soomm

fooaks couldn’t saah ther prayers wivoot a goody i’ ther moothes. It caps owt! It dis Ah seer.

T’ parson o’ Soondah ad nobbut joost getten inti t’pew , an a fat oard woman i’ t’seeat i’ froont o’

me thowt sher were fooast te ev a goody. An sher parzels ’er and awaah roond tiv er greeat oard

pockit at t’ back , an’ began scrattin aboot, an’ rattlin kays an paaperan sike like, te see if sher

could finnd a bit o’ goody. An there sher war laatin an scrattin aboot, like a en on a moock midden,

wharl wer gat te t’ Psalms.


An sher gat that vexed, becos sher couldn’t finnd yan o’ onny sooart, sher could scaarce bard. Sher

bleeamed t’ bairns, yer knaw, for gerrin tiv ‘er pockit throof t’ week. Sher knawed sher’d left twe

or tree o’ t’ last Soondah, d’yer see? Or else sher wad a getting soomm mare when she were i’

Pickering Set’dah neet; bud noo sher couldn’t finnd yan, naather a mint, ner a rooase, ner a acid,

ner a anise, ner owt.

(Turner; 1912: 1)




Cowley, Bill. (1982) The Lyke Wake Dirge. In A. Kellett and I. Dewhirst (eds), (1997) A Century of Yorkshire Dialect, Otley: Smith Settle Ltd.

Halliday, W.J.(1940) John Hartley. In A. Kellett and I. Dewhirst (eds), (1997) A Century of Yorkshire Dialect, Otley: Smith Settle Ltd.

Halliday, W.J. and Umpleby, A. S. (eds) (1949) The White Rose Garland, London: Dent and Sons.

Kellett, A. (1998) On Ilkla Mooar baht 'at: The story of the song, Otley: Smith Settle.

Meriton, G. (1959) A Yorkshire dialogue (1683), Kendal: Wilson.

Turner, W. F. (1912) Goodies and other stories in the Yorkshire dialect, London: St Catherine’s Press.