Miles Weatherhill


This traditional broadside ballad is based on an historical event. Pat Broaders performs with fiddler Liz Knowles as part of Celtic Legends on Tour. They also form 2/3rds of the band Open the Door for Three along with piper Kieran O’Hare.

From the all-knowing Wikipedia:

A double murder took place at Christ Church, Todmorden, Lancashire on March 2, 1868. The victims’ graves lie in the churchyard. Miles Weatherhill, a 23-year-old weaver from the town, was forbidden from seeing his housemaid sweetheart, Sarah Bell, by the Reverend Anthony John Plow. Armed with four pistols and an axe, Weatherhill took revenge first on the vicar and then on Jane Smith, another maid who had informed Plow of the secret meetings. Miss Smith died at the scene, while the vicar survived another week before succumbing to his injuries. Weatherhill also seriously injured the vicar’s wife. On 4 April 1868 Weatherhill became the last person to be publicly hanged in Manchester, at the New Bailey prison. Local legend has it that the face of a young woman is sometimes seen in the window of the vicarage, now in private ownership.

Miles Weatherhill

Miles Weatherhill was a brisk young weaver
And at Todmorton he did dwell
He fell in love with a handsome maiden
The parson’s servant Sarah Bell
It was at Todmorton where these true lovers
At the parson’s house their love did tell
And none in the world will be more constant
Than Miles Weatherhill and Sarah Bell.

But they were parted, broken hearted
Separated were those lovers far
Those constant lovers adored each other
And love will penetrate through iron bars
They would have married, tales were carried
They caused displeasure as you shall hear
Miles was refused to meet his lover
She left Todmorton, Lancashire.

She left her true love broken hearted
And to her mother at York did go
And all the distance they were parted
Caused sorrow and grief and pain and woe
All through his sadness, Miles in madness
He made a deep and solemn vow
Separated from his own true lover
He’d be revenged on Parson Plough.

Four loaded pistols, a fit of frenzy
Miles to the vicarage went forthwith
And with a weapon wounded the master
And shot the maiden named Jane Smith
To the lady’s chamber, raging anger
Bent on destruction, intent to kill
Miles took a poker and he beat her
Till crimson blood on the floor did spill.

If Miles and Sarah had not been parted
Those in the grave would be living now
And Miles would not have died on the gallows
For slaying the servant and Parson Plough
At the early age of three and twenty
In the shades below where the worms do dwell
Come all you people and consider
Miles Weatherhill and Sarah Bell.

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