Thursday, November 5, 2009

Guy Fawkes Day in Colonial Boston

November 5, 1765

"This was the anniversary of the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, in which Guy Fawkes figured, in 1605.

Pope's day, however, originated in 1558, on the accession of Queen Elizabeth.

At first, the Pope and the Devil were the only pageants, but it afterwards became somewhat changed. These anniversaries had long been celebrated in Boston, and for several years the competition between the North and South Ends, had caused two celebrations.

The programme on these occasions, was to form processions at headquarters, and march through the streets, collecting contributions as they passed, to carry on the celebration ; and woe to them who did not contribute.

A pageant accompanied the procession, consisting of figures mounted on a platform on wheels, and drawn by horses. These figures generally represented three characters, — the Pope, Devil, and Pretender, with sometimes the addition of obnoxious political characters.

(The Pretender was James Francis Edward, and his effigy was added in 1702.)

Under the platform were placed half-grown boys, with rods extending up through the figures, to cause them to face to the right or left, and to rise up and look into people's windows. In front of the procession might be seen a fellow with a bell, who notified the people of their approach, and who would chant something like the following: —

Don't you remember the fifth of September,
The Gunpowder treason and plot?
I see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.

From Rome to Rome the Pope is come, amid ten thousand fears,
With fiery serpents to be seen, at eyes, nose, mouth, and ears.

Don't you hear my little bell, go chink, chink, chink?
Please give me a little money, to buy my Pope some drink

The two celebrating parties in Boston, after having marched about town, generally met near the Mill Creek, where a desperate fight would ensue for the possession of the effigies, and bloody noses and broken bones were often the result.

If the South (End) were victorious, the trophies went to the Common;
if the North (End), Copps Hill was the rendezvous, where the pageantry was burnt.
This year the two parties formed a union, and union Pope was celebrated till the Revolution."

- From A Chronological History of the Boston Watch & Police by Edward Hartwell Savage

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