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This song is based on a true event. The Rev John Jackson, who was Rector of Ledbury, was suspended from duty from 1869 to 1871, under suspicion of having fathered one of his servant’s children. He was exonerated but little did he know that a ballad of his deeds would still be current in the area over 130 years later. A contemporary ballad was written on the theme entitled The Crafty Clergyman Outwitted. Charlie’s song seems to be a reworking of this broadside ballad, set to a version of the tune Richard of Taunton Dean.
Sam Bennett, the Ilmington singer and Morris dancer, knew part of the song, but Charlie Clissold’s is the only full copy to have been collected. There are still some singers in the area that remember and can sing the ballad, having learnt it from Charlie. Charlie’s tune is a version of “Richard of Taunton Dean”.
The classical composer Julius Harrison wrote a Worcestershire suite in 1918 which included a piece called “The Ledbury Parson”, which has nothing to do with our song