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THE TARGETS OF ‘ROUGH MUSIC’:

On Midsummer’s day, 1883, in the Yorkshire village of Welburn, a villager, who ‘had become notorious as a wife-beater’, was treated to ‘the almost obsolete practice’ of stangriding, the traditional northern version of ‘rough music’, a noisy custom of popular protest intended to demonstrate collective disapproval of local offences against communal norms. According to the Folklore Journal’s correspondent, ‘five young men’ mounted a masked effigy of the offender in a cart, yoked ‘a lot of juveniles’ to the shafts and paraded through the village chanting an old doggerel rhyme and beating the effigy, which was later burnt in the fields. At various spots on the road a speech was recited, and a police constable reported that about two hundred spectators gathered. The men called at the offender’s house and asked him ‘to pay for it’. When the case was brought to the Malton Sessions on 14 July the magistrates insisted that the demonstration was a ‘silly old custom which ought to be put a stop to’ and had constituted an illegal obstruction of the highway. Despite that they dismissed the case, agreeing that the men ‘thought they were not creating an obstruction’. They also recommended that the case should be recorded in the Folklore Journal.1