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Doncaster Features: Famous Doncastrian: Francis Fawkes

Francis Fawkes (1721–1777) was an English poet and well repected translator.

Fawkes translated Anacreon, Sappho, and other classics, modernised parts of the poems of Gavin Douglas, and was the author of the well-known song, The Brown Jug, and of two poems, Bramham Park and Partridge Shooting.

His translation of the Argonautica in rhymed couplets appeared in 1780.

Fawkes was born near Doncaster, the son of Jeremiah Fawkes, for twenty-eight years rector of Warmsworth St Peter. Francis was baptised at Warmsworth 4 April 1720.

He was educated at Bury Free School, and on 16 March 1738 he was admitted as a sizar to Jesus College, Cambridge. He took his degree of B.A in 1742, and proceeded M.A. in 1745.

He was ordained in the Church of England, and took the curacy of Bramham in Yorkshire. Later he became vicar of Orpington, Kent, and also chaplain to the Princess Dowager of Wales.

This is his famous song The Brown Jug, the opening lines which have been heard in the House of Commons:

Dear Tom, this brown jug that now foams with mild ale,
(In which I will drink to sweet Nan of the Vale)
Was once Toby Fillpot, a thirsty old soul,
As e’er drank a bottle, or fathomed a bowl;
In boosing about ’twas his praise to excel,
And among jolly topers he bore off the bell.

It chanced as in dog-days he sat at his ease,
In his flower-woven arbour, as gay as you please,
With a friend and a pipe puffing sorrows away,
And with honest old stingo was soaking his clay,
His breath-doors of life on a sudden were shut,
And he died full as big as a Dorchester butt.

His body when long in the ground it had lain,
And time into clay had resolved it again,
A potter found out in its covert so snug,
And with part of fat Toby he formed this brown jug;
Now sacred to friendship, and mirth, and mild ale,
So here’s to my lovely sweet Nan of the Vale!

More Doncastrian Poets»

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