“The Wednesbury Cocking”


Stories of cockfighting at Wednesbury. The competition is fierce, and many are the addicts of the sport and of gambling on it. The song relates many incidents, concluding when "Jack Baker he whacked his own father, and thus ended Wednesbury Cocking"

Supplemental text

Wednesbury Cocking, The
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

From Geoffrey Grigson, The Penguin Book of Ballads, # 85, pp. 279-282.
Derived from Robert Graves, English and Scottish Ballads.

At Wednesbury there was a cokcing,
  A match between Newton and Scroggins;
The colliers and nailers left work,
  And all to old Spittle's went jogging.
To see this noble sport,
  Many noblemen resorted;
And though they'd but little money,
  Yet that little they freely sported.

(12 additional stanzas)


The curious comment, "I'll pay thee as Paul paid the Ephesians," is hard to understand in context. Ephesus was one of Paul's favorite cities. The reference may be to Acts 19:23-41, where Paul's preaching in Ephesus caused certain locals to turn away from the cult of Artemis (a major source of income in the city). The result was a riot.

The PBB version of this is metrically strange; it does not appear possible to sing all the verses to the same tune.- RBW

Cross references


  • Bodleian, Firth c.19(37) view 1, "Wednesbury Cooking" (sic.), unknown, n.d.; also 2806 c.17(458), "Wednesbury Cocking"; 2806 c.17(459); Douce 3(109)=Harding B 39(43)


  1. PBB 85, "The Wednesbury Cocking" (1 text)
  2. Hodgart, p. 191, "The Wednesbury Cocking" (1 text)
  3. ST PBB085 (Partial)
  4. BI, PBB085


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1957 (Graves, English and Scottish Ballads)
Found in: Britain