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Sea Green Singers - Otmoor For Ever - score and lyrics - click on image for graphic


 

Otmoor forever - by Telling theBees

1. In Otmoor down in Oxfordshire,
"Otmoor forever!"
In Otmoor down in Oxfordshire
The men have worked the land for years,
And "Otmoor forever" was our cry.

2. The men of property they came
"Otmoor forever!"
The men of property they came,
They dug the ditch and they dug the drain,
And "Otmoor forever" was our cry.

3. By methods they were underhand,
"Otmoor forever!"
By methods they were underhand,
They stole our livelihood and land.
And "Otmoor forever" was our cry.

4. The men of Otmoor, we fought back
"Otmoor forever!"
The men of Otmoor, we fought back
With shovels, picks, our faces blacked.
And "Otmoor forever" was our cry.

5. We smashed the ditch and we broke the fence,
I"Otmoor forever!"
We smashed the ditch and we broke the fence,
t was a capital offence.
And "Otmoor forever" was our cry.

.6. But then the town militia came,
"Otmoor forever!"
But then the town militia came,
We took their blows, we took the blame.
And "Otmoor forever" was our cry.

7. And then to Oxford gaol with haste
"Otmoor forever!"
And then to Oxford gaol with haste
The gallows was to be our fate.
And "Otmoor forever" was our cry.

8. Oh God in heaven, hear our prayer,
"Otmoor forever!"
Oh God in heaven, hear our prayer,
That night it was St Giles Fair.
And "Otmoor forever" was our cry.

9. The news went round, the word was out,
"Otmoor forever!"
The news went round, the word was out,
It was a riot, it was a rout.
And "Otmoor forever" was our cry.

10. They stormed the gaol, they sprung the locks,
"Otmoor forever!"
They stormed the gaol, they sprung the locks,
They carried us free to Carfax Cross.
And "Otmoor forever" was our cry.

11. We won the battle, we lost the war,
"Otmoor forever!"
We won the battle, we lost the war,
There's none of us works the land no more.
And "Otmoor forever" was our cry.

  from 'The Wealth of the Commons: A World Beyond Market and State'
edited by David Bollier, Silke Helfrich

Part 2 :Capitalism, Enclosure and Resistance

Catechism by J. W Goethe
teacher : bethinks, thee child, Where do those gifts come from?Someting from yourself
alone cannot come.
Child : Everything is from Papa
Teacher : And he, where does he have them from ?
Child : from grandpa
teacher : Not so ! How to your grandpapa did they befall ?
Child: he took them all.

Anon 18 century : The law locks up the man or woman… etc
The goose and the common.. see 'songs'

Enclosures from the Bottom Up by Peter Linebaugh: excerpt about Otmoor

from https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=vcOgAwAAQBAJ&pg=PT217&lpg=PT217&dq=otmoor+forever&source=bl&ots=Wswa4zoa9d&sig=ACfU3U1NCEoHNdP1yXUA412uWlXF_S2Kzw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjHzuqi9NbnAhUwRxUIHU4JA1U4FBDoATABegQIChAB#v=onepage&q=otmoor%20forever&f=false

.... A few miles from Oxford University are four thousand acres Of
lowland moor, Otmoor. It was inundated every winter. Otmoor people
had a funny walk, "a slouch," which evidently helped them get through
the mud puddles, the ditches, and inches Of water covering the ground.
They were said to have webbed feet. Commoners had their Own language
and a distinct epistemology, most evident in the poetry of John Clare
(1793—1864), himself a laboring commoner. "We have come across...
'balks,' 'fallows,' 'furlongs,' 'furrows,' 'eddings,' 'lands'; and in
addition, 'ground'."

Ground, a word which Clare almost always uses of
an enclosed piece of land, usually meadow-land; close is an enclosed
field, usually for pasturing cattle and plain refers almost always to open
land, usually under grass. In Clare's autobiography, he describes how as a
child he walked across Emmonsailes Heath and got lost. "So I eagerly
wanderd on & rambled along the furze the whole day till J got out of my
knowledge When the very Wild flow'ers seemd to forget me & I imagind
they were the inhabitants Of a new countrys the very sun seemd to be a
new one & shining in a different quarter of the sky" (Barrel 1972).
This points to an orientation dependent on the unenclosed.

Clare puts more into the phrase than just not knowing how to get back.
The sun was in a different place in the sky, and the wild flowers forgot him.
The loss of the common meant the loss of his whole world. Since we are on the
verge of losing ours we might pay those commoners more mind.

Richard Mabey has written Of the need for common ground, a
System of land tenure, in which one party may own the land but others are
entitled to various rights in it such as grazing or cutting This is
a very old system that predates the Norman conquest of 1066 (Mabey
1980). Mabey has identified four major types Of common rights: pasture,
estovers, pannage, and turbary. But there were many others (piscary,
housebote, shack, ploughbote) depending on uses or resources (gorse,
bracken, chalk, gravel, clay, rushes, reeds, nuts and herbs). These
customary rights might provide fuel, meat, milk, tools, housing, and
medicines.

Rights were matched to a comprehensive range of rules and
controls designed to prevent overconsumption and to reward intricacy,
ingenuity, and thrift. It was vital to the community that commons be
maintained and harvested to keep resources self-renewing. Epping Forest
pollards could not be felled because, while they were the property of the
landowner, the commoners had rights to lops and tops. In Selborne
Woods, where the commoners had pasture and pannage, the landowner
could not replant trees unless they were beech, whose mast was necessary
for the pigs. Thirteen cherry balls each with a different name were
distributed by lot for harvest rights in Pixey and Yarnton Meads in
Oxfordshire. The order in which they were withdrawn from a bag
determined the strips in the meadow from which each commoner could
take hay that summer.

Mabey admits that if such a system were re-adopted, a "state Of
impenetrable muddle" could prevail. But how did such a muddle first
come about? The tidy reasoner may pull out his or her hair, but this "state
of impenetrable muddle" was also a sourre of power. The power of the
commoners! Why did it take seven or eight centuries to enclose England
when in Russia it took one generation? Neeson helps uS answer the
question because she describes the various forms of resistance to
enclosure that included petitioning, spreading false rumors. attacking
property, foot-dragging, mischief, anonymous threatening poems,
grumbling, playing football, breaking the squire's gates, fence breaking,
wood stealing, and so forth, She states, me sense of loss, the sense of
robbery could last forever as the bitter inheritance of the rural poor"
(Neeson 1996).

The seven towns around Otmoor — Charlton, Fencot and Murcot,
Oddington, Beckley, Horton, Studley, and Noke — were small; Noke had
fewer than a hundred inhabitants, While Beckley had 370 in 1831. The
Moor Court at Beckley in 1687 defined the relation of the tovms to the
moor as they had been defined in the Domesday Book: mat ye Comon
Of Otmore shall belong to none but ye Inhabitants Of ye seven Townes
belonging to Otmore for commoning any manner of Cattle there."
Commons were of three kinds: the common or open fields of each
village, which rotated year to year; the common rights on them and the
town wastes, in this case, Otmoor.

The only gentleman residing in the area was Alexander Croke, a
gentleman who bitterly attacked the commoners' theory of the origins of
their rights, which they argued stemmed from some queen (perhaps
Elizabeth I) who had granted as much land as she could ride around while
an oak sheaf was burning. Croke indefatigably fought to enclose the moor
for more than fifty years. The struggle began With the proposal in 1801
by the Duke Of Marlborough to drain and allot enclosures Of over four
thousand acres. When notices were affixed on the parish church doors,
they were taken down "by a Mob at each place." The next affixing
attempt Of enclosure notices was in 1815; again it was found
impracticable "owing to large Mobs, armed with every description of
offensive weapons." The humbler people began to bestir themselves. No
records Of any manor enjoying rights Of common could be found; ßthe
custom Of usage Without stint, in fact, pointed to some grant before the
memory of man."

The enclosure bill was passed despite these discoveries, which
"made it unlikely that any lord Of the manor had ever had absolute right
of soil." 'l"he enclosers had Atlantic experience. Croke had been
employed by the government in 1801 as a judge in a vice admiralty court
in Nova Scotia, attaining a reputation as a narrow-minded Tory. He
argued that only proprietors, those who owned their own house, had
common right, while "the poor, as such, had no right to the common
whatever" (Reaney 1970).

In 1830 the dam that had been part Of the drainage effort broke. The
farmers took the law into their own hands and cut the embankments.
Twenty-two of them were indicted and acquitted. This made a profound
impression on the cottagers, and for a week parties Of enthusiasts paraded
the moor and cut down its fences. Assembling by the light Of the full
moon, blackening their faces, and dressing in women's clothing, the
commoners stepped forth to destroy the fences, the hedges, the bridges,
the gates — the infrastructure Of enclosure. The high sheriff, the
Oxfordshire militia, and Lord Churchill's Yeomanry Cavalry were
summoned. Yet the inhabitants were not overawed. They determined to
perambulate the bounds Of Otmoor in full force, in accordance With Old
Custom. On Monday, September G, five hundred men, women, and
children assembled from the Otmoor towns, joined by five hundred more
from elsewhere.

They decided to "perambulate the whole circumpherence
Of Otmoor, in the manner which they State it was customary for them in
former times to do, and that abandoning their nocturnal sallies, they
would in open daylight go possessioning and demolishing every fence
which obstructed their course.... Armed with reap-hooks, hatchets, bill-
hooks, and duckets, they marched in order round the seven-mile-long
boundary Of Otmoor, destroying all the fences on their way.'
Wheelwrights, hatters, and hay dealers, along with shoemakers, bakers,
tailors, butchers, basket makers, masons, plumbers, and grooms — the full
panoply Of Village artisans were evident. The commoners were organized.
(6. SebMemERr l, 1830. I dm't what a ducket is,
the Oxford English Dicttonary is of no help with that particular knowledge.)

There were retaliatory efforts, of course. Sixty or seventy
commoners were seized by the cavalry, and forty-four were sent to
Oxford jail under the escort of the yeomanry. But the protests happened
to take place on the day of Saint Giles's Fair. The streets were crowded
With folk. When the cry was raised, "Otmoor forever," the crowds took it
up and hurled brickbats, sticks, and stones from every direction. All
forty-four prisoners escaped.

The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from Off the common
But leaves the greater villain loose
Who steals the common from the goose.

the entiæ of Secticm Boyle adds
that the poem probably dates from the 18th century.)
James Boyle has tracked these lines to 1821, tacked as a handbill in
Plaistow as a caution to prevent support for the intended enclosure of
Hainault or Waltham Forest (Boyle 2003). Its very ease may cause us to
overlook two themes Of utmost importance, namely, incarceration and
reparations. It was Lord Abingdon who openly opposed Crake's first
attempt to get a parliamentary act enclosing Otmoor. A leading
eighteenth-century Whig, though not a resident, Abingdon argued that
hundreds Of families would lose their subsistence that depended on "the
Right which they now enjoy, Of breeding and raising geese upon the
Moor" (Reaney 1970)

In the fall of 1832 riots broke out in Oxfordshire. Philip Green was a
chimney sweeper and an Oxfordshire leader Of anti-enclosure and anti-
mechanization. He was "an old man of wars" and was "not afraid." If
wages were not raised, Green predicted, commoners would unite to
"break all the machines in the Neighbourhood and stop the Labourers
from work." As Croke, the encloser, was an Atlantic figure, so Green, a
commoner, was conscious of world affairs. Sailors like him would have
paid special attention to the Nat Turner rewolt of 1831 in Virginia or to
the huge Christmas revolt Of twenty thousand slaves in Jamaica during
the same year. The Enclosure Act was fifteen years old in 1830. For two
mow years Otmoor would remain in rebellion. A detachment of
Coldstream Guards was dispatched to the area. In August 1831 the Home
Office sent some London policemen.

The church door riots Of September 1831 demonstrated the ability of locals to organize
an attack during which notices of the financial rates to pay for the work of enclosure were removed.
The police officer attempting to put up the notice was stoned as he fled to the clergyman's house.
"Damn the body snatchers" was the cry.

What did it mean? It was widely believed that the authorities were
complicit in "burking," the grim practice Of kidnapping and suffocating
people and selling their bodies to medical schools. The practice takes its
name from an Edinburgh resurrection man, William Burke, who was
hanged in 1829. In 1831, five hundred medical students in London would
have needed three bodies apiece for their anatomical training, about
fifteen hundred cadavers a year. Seven resurrection gangs of body
snatchers flourished in London at the time, and one man, John Bishop,
sold between five hundred and a thousand over the course Of his career.

The year 1831 also saw the foundation of the Metropolitan Police in
London, where more than a thousand uniformed and armed men patrolled
the streets. They were hated and believed by many to be unconstitutional,
in violation Of the prohibition of a standing army. The taking of land and
the taking of bodies were thus closely associated, As the horror of the
deed rapidly spread, the police were widely belien.'ed to be in league with
the surgeons Of many Of London's distinguished medical colleges.
The commoners turned out on the moor whenever there was a full
moon and pulled down the fences.

In January 1832 a local magistrate wrote Lord Melbourne that,
"The mood in the villages was one Of open defiance Of the law."
The constabulary was helpless and more soldiers were dlspatched.
"Any force which Government may send down should not remain for a length Of time together,
but that to avoid the possibility Of an undue connexion between the people and the Military" (Reaney 1970).

This was the way revolutions were prevented: no fraternization.
Marx wrote in the preface to the first edition of Das Kapital that "the
English Established Church Will more pardon an attack on 38 Of
its 39 articles than on 1139th of its income" (Marx 1976). It is not clear
whether or not Marx had reviewed the text of the Thirty-Nine Articles
established under Elizabeth I during what have been called the "rvligious"
wars Of the sixteenth century. The thirty-eighth article in fact reads, "the
riches and Goods of Christians are not common, as touching the right,
title, and possession of the same, as certain Anabaptists do falsely boast."

Anti-communism thus formed an essential part Of the doctrine Of the
English establishment. At the time Marx was writing, the portals Of
power opened only to the propertied and to the communicants of the
Church of England. There is a long association in English history
between religion and enclosure going back to the Protestant Reformation.
TO Marx this separation Of people from the land — he called it primary Or
primitive accumulation — played "the same pan as original stn in
theology."

The red cloth Of the magistrate and the black cassock Of the priest
combined in Oxford to enclose Otmoor. Four clergymen Of the Church of
England — the curate of Beckley, the rector of Oddington, and the vicars
of Charlton and Noke — were strong supporters of enclosure.
Two of them became commissioners, which actually took away land from seventeen
hundred people and reassigned it to seventy-eight. Much of the land went
to clergymen and to three of the Oxford colleges, Balliol, Oriel, and
Magdalen. Lloyd, besides being a professor, was also a clergyman of the
Church Of England. Without having traced his personal property relations
or those of his Oxford college to the struggles Over the Otmoor Enclosure
Act, it nevertheless seems clear that his arguments responded to the
struggles Of the common people, those nocturnal and those occurring by
daylight, those protracted and those immediate, those urban and those
rural. Like Malthus before him and Hardin after him, he was an encloser,
not a commoner.

Bottom-up history requires that we must attend not to the
completeness Of the wall but to its chinks. Lest we forget, the Bristol
Radical History Group has renewed the History Workshop tradition in
many ways, not least in its pamphlet series, and two of these publications
concern enclosures and resistance to them (Wright 2008; Mills 2009).
They bring to life again the real history on the ground when the Concrete
is the enemy of the abstract and when the historian, or people's
remembrancer, is a cultural worker serving the people in struggle.

 

Otmoor forever - by Telling theBees

1. In Otmoor down in Oxfordshire,
"Otmoor forever!"
In Otmoor down in Oxfordshire
The men have worked the land for years,
And "Otmoor forever" was our cry.

2. The men of property they came
"Otmoor forever!"
The men of property they came,
They dug the ditch and they dug the drain,
And "Otmoor forever" was our cry.

3. By methods they were underhand,
"Otmoor forever!"
By methods they were underhand,
They stole our livelihood and land.
And "Otmoor forever" was our cry.

4. The men of Otmoor, we fought back
"Otmoor forever!"
The men of Otmoor, we fought back
With shovels, picks, our faces blacked.
And "Otmoor forever" was our cry.

5. We smashed the ditch and we broke the fence,
I"Otmoor forever!"
We smashed the ditch and we broke the fence,
t was a capital offence.
And "Otmoor forever" was our cry.

.6. But then the town militia came,
"Otmoor forever!"
But then the town militia came,
We took their blows, we took the blame.
And "Otmoor forever" was our cry.

7. And then to Oxford gaol with haste
"Otmoor forever!"
And then to Oxford gaol with haste
The gallows was to be our fate.
And "Otmoor forever" was our cry.

8. Oh God in heaven, hear our prayer,
"Otmoor forever!"
Oh God in heaven, hear our prayer,
That night it was St Giles Fair.
And "Otmoor forever" was our cry.

9. The news went round, the word was out,
"Otmoor forever!"
The news went round, the word was out,
It was a riot, it was a rout.
And "Otmoor forever" was our cry.

10. They stormed the gaol, they sprung the locks,
"Otmoor forever!"
They stormed the gaol, they sprung the locks,
They carried us free to Carfax Cross.
And "Otmoor forever" was our cry.

11. We won the battle, we lost the war,
"Otmoor forever!"
We won the battle, we lost the war,
There's none of us works the land no more.
And "Otmoor forever" was our cry.


 

Otmoor forever - by Telling theBees

1. In Otmoor down in Oxfordshire,
"Otmoor forever!"
In Otmoor down in Oxfordshire
The men have worked the land for years,
And "Otmoor forever" was our cry.

2. The landlords and the polce they came
"Otmoor forever!"
The landlords and the police they came
They stole our livelihood and land.
"Otmoor forever" was our cry.

 


They dug the ditch and they dug the drain,

3. By methods they were underhand,
"Otmoor forever!"
By methods they were underhand,

And "Otmoor forever" was our cry.