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The King and Squire Cherry
James II & William Cherry

At Brick-bridge in White Waltham, Royal parties frequently came at the time of hunting in Windsor Forest. A little way from this bridge was a very large and pleasant oak, said to be the biggest in England, called "Nan's Oak," because tradition reported that King James II's first wife, Anne, was much delighted with it; that she sickened under it, and, some say, this sickness proved mortal. The tree was cut down in the beginning of King James II's reign (to the no small resentment of the country people) by order of William Cherry Esq.

Cherry planted the Hawthorn tree near to Brick-bridge
And wronged the poor people of their privilege.
He cut down the oak-tree, where Queen Anne did dine,
And said of the common, "All this shall be mine."

White Waltham was troubled, their common ta'en in;
So quick they resolved to make suit to the King.
'Twas one Master John Berry, who at Windsor did live,
That direct to the King their petition did give.

Said the King, when hunting one day very merry,
"Who took in this common?" They said, "'Twas Squire Cherry.'"
"Then pray," quoth the King, "Why not throw it out?
It is a great wrong to my subjects no doubt."

They answered the King, "That we dare not pursue,
Cherry is a great man, and he will us undo,"
"Go, throw it out quickly, without any fail,
And if anyone trouble you, I'll be your bail."

So they all went to work by the leave of their King,
And dug up the quicksets and filled the ditch in.
Then up came Squire Cherry, pretending great power,
And threw them in prison as strong as a tower.

They hired a brave fiddler to play them along;
And he played till they came to the prison so strong.
They bade him play briskly, and spare not the string,
For they were resolved to dance to the King.

The King heard the news, and from prison away
He brought them to Windsor, and caused them to stay
And to each of them he ten guineas did give,
T'enable them better thereafter to live.

A dinner was given, so at Berry's they dined,
And pushed about briskly good ale, punch and wine.
They ate and they drank, and did merrily sing,
"May Cherry be damned, but God save the King!"


 

    Nash Ford Publishing 2001. All Rights Reserved.