“Croppies Lie Down (II)”


"In the County of Wexford these rebels did rise." The Orange-men made them retreat. The Vinegar Hill battle is recalled. Esmond, Kay, Harvey and Hay are turned over to General Moore and executed after courtmartial. "Derry down, down, Croppy lie down"


Nine rebels were executed including eight courtmartialled. Esmond, Kay, Harvey and Hay were not among them. Dr John Esmonde, Bagenal B Harvey and Harvey Hay are among those "Patriots of 1798" named on the "1798-1898 Irish Memorial" in New South Wales, Australia. (source: "Memorials, Monuments and Miscellany" _Vinegar Hill_ at the OptusNet site)

Zimmermann: "'Down' might have been chosen as a reply to 'up', which was a pass-word of the United Irishmen." - BS

All of the names in this song do indeed belong to figures from the 1798 Rebellion.

Dr. John Esmond, a leader of the Kildare rebels, was a member of the yeomen, making him a deserter. He was indeed executed by hanging; see the notes to "The Song of Prosperous."

Bagenal Beauchamp Harvey (or Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey; I've seen both forms) was the inept and apparently reluctant United Irish commander at New Ross (for details, see "Kelly, the Boy from Killane"). After the battle, he fled, and was eventually tried and hanged on Wexford Bridge (July 1, according to Robert Kee, _The Most Distressful Country_, being Volume I of _The Green Flag_, p. 124). Also hanged there was Matthew Keogh, a former British officer who had governed Wexford for the rebels; I would guess he is the "Kay" of the song.

I don't know a Harvey Hay, but there were brothers, Edward Hay and John Hay. John was known to have commanded troops during the 1798 rebellion. Edward did not, and lived until 1826, but it's widely felt that he was involved in the rebellion.

Blaming the slaughter on General Sir John Moore is thoroughly unfair; the atrocities of the 1798 campaign were almost all the fault of his superior, General Gerard Lake (1744-1808). Moore in fact seems to have felt that the best approach to the rebellion was to improve conditions for all. - RBW

The ballad is recorded on one of the CD's issued around the time of the bicentenial of the 1798 Irish Rebellion. See:

Franke Harte and Donal Lunny, "Croppies Lie Down" (on Franke Harte and Donal Lunny, "1798 the First Year of Liberty," Hummingbird Records HBCD0014 (1998))

Harte: "This is one of several Orange songs written in 1798, all of them ending with the inevitable chant that is still to be heard on the 12th July Orange marches.... 'Croppies Lie Down.'" - BS

Historical references

  • May 26, 1798 - Beginning of the Wexford rebellion
  • May 27, 1798 - The Wexford rebels under Father John Murphy defeat the North Cork militia
  • June 5, 1798 - The Wexford rebels attack the small garrison (about 1400 men, many militia) at New Ross, but are repelled
  • June 21, 1798 - The rebel stronghold a Vinegar Hill is taken, and the Wexford rebellion effectively ended

Cross references


  1. Zimmermann 94B, "Croppies Lie Down" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. BI, Zimm094B


Author: "Charles Cain, Grenadier in His Majesty's 7th, or Antrim Militia" (Source: Zimmermann)
Earliest date: c. 1798 (Zimmermann)
Found in: Ireland