“The Twelfth of July”


Singer tells how Montreal Irish lick the "yellowbacks." On July 12, Fawcett fires a revolver. Hackett fires back, but is mortally wounded. Listeners are reminded that King Billy "tore down Catholic churches..." but they can't do it in Montreal

Long description

Singer tells how the Irish Catholics of Montreal licked the "yellowbacks." On July 12 an Orangemen's parade clashes with Unionists; one Fawcett fires a revolver, swearing to "kill every papist dog." Hackett fires back, but is mortally wounded. Listeners are exhorted to remember that King Billy and his supporters "tore down Catholic churches from Lewis to Donegal," but they can't get away with it in Montreal


Despite the song, there was no Orangemen's parade on July 12 (the day when Irish Protestants celebrate William III's victory in the battle of the Boyne); according to newspaper accounts, plans for a parade had been dropped due to rising tensions. However, brawling broke out in a mixed crowd of Orangemen and Unionists in Victoria Square; in the fight, Francis Hackett was fatally shot. - PJS

The British had guaranteed Catholic rights in Quebec when they took over the territory in 1760, but the Catholics took many years to believe this. In the aftermath of William Lyon Mackenzie's 1837 rebellion, Governor General John Lambton, Earl of Durham, proposed constitutional changes (e.g. merging Upper and Lower Canada, i.e. Ontario and Quebec) which were viewed as attacking the Canadiens' identity. These and other changes fueled Catholic fears, and the tensions lasted for years. Indeed, the disagreements still persist, though the religious element seems to have largely dropped out.

In addition to the disturbance of 1877 apparently cited here, Graeme Wynn reports that "Limbs were bruised and heads broken when Protestant Orangemen celebrated the victory of William of Orange over Irish Catholic forces at the Battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690, clashed with 'Green' Catholics in and around the Irish districts of several cities [in Canada] in the 1830s and 1840s." (From Craig Brown, editor, _The Illustrated History of Canada_, p. 267).- RBW

Historical references

  • July 12, 1877: Clash between Irish Catholics and Protestants in Montreal

Cross references


  • Tom Brandon, "The Twelfth of July" (on Ontario1)


Author: unknown
Earliest date: c. 1957 (recording, Tom Brandon)
Found in: Canada(Ont)