Sacred Texts  Sagas and Legends  English Folklore  Index  Previous  Next 



HERE was a curious custom in the town of Penryn in Cornwall, which long outlived all modern innovations. On some particular day in September or October (I forget the exact date), about when the hazel-nuts are ripe, the festival of nutting-day is kept. The rabble of the town go into the country to gather nuts returning in the evening with boughs of hazel in their hands, shouting and making a great noise. In the meantime the journeymen tailors of the town have proceeded to the adjoining village of Mylor,. and elected one of their number "Mayor of Mylor," taking care the. selection falls on the wittiest. Seated in a chair shaded with green boughs, and borne on the shoulders of four stalwart men, the worthy mayor proceeds from his "good town of Mylor" to his "ancient borough of Penryn," the van being led by the "bodyguard" of stout fellows well armed with cudgels,--which they do not fail to use should' their path be obstructed,--torch-bearers, and two "town serjeants," clad in official gowns and cocked hats,, and carrying each a monstrous cabbage on his shoulder in lieu of a mace. The rear is brought up by the rabble of the "nutters". About mid-day a band of music meets them, and plays them to Penryn, where they are received by the entire population. The procession proceeds to the town-hall, in front of which the mayor delivers a speech, declaratory of his intended improvements, &c. for the coming year, being generally an excellent sarcastic burlesque on the speeches of parliamentary candidates. The procession then moves on to each; public-house door, where the mayor, his council, and .officers, are liberally supplied with liquor; and the speech is repeated with variations. They then adjourn to the "council-chamber," in some public-house, and devote the night to drinking. At night the streets are filled with people bearing torches, throwing fireballs, and discharging rockets; and huge bonfires are kindled on the "Green," and "Old Wall." The legal mayor once made an effort to put a stop to this saturnalia, but his new-made brother issued prompt orders to his body-guards, and the posse comitatus had to fly.

The popular opinion is, that there is a clause in the borough charter compelling the legitimate mayor to surrender his power to the "Mayor of Mylor" on the night in question, and to lend the town sergeants' paraphernalia to the gentlemen of the shears.

Next: The Mayor of St Germans