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Title: Chap-Books and Folk-Lore Tracts, Vol. 1 (of 5) - The History of Thomas Hickathrift
Author: Various
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Chap-Books and Folk-Lore Tracts, Vol. 1 (of 5) - The History of Thomas Hickathrift" ***

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  Folk-Lore Tracts._

  _Edited by
  G. L. Gomme, F.S.A.
  H. B. Wheatley, F.S.A._

  _First Series._








There seems to be some considerable reason for believing that the hero
of this story was a reality. The story tells us that he lived in the
marsh of the Isle of Ely, and that he became “a brewer’s man” at Lyn,
and traded to Wisbeach. This little piece of geographical evidence
enables us to fix the story as belonging to the great Fen District,
which occupied the north of Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.

The antiquary Thomas Hearne has gone so far as to identify the hero
of tradition with a doughty knight of the Crusaders. Writing in the
_Quarterly Review_ (vol. xxi. p. 102), Sir Francis Palgrave says:--

“Mr. Thomas Hickathrift, afterwards Sir Thomas Hickathrift, Knight,
is praised by Mr. Thomas Hearne as a ‘famous champion.’ The honest
antiquary has identified this well-known knight with the far less
celebrated Sir Frederick de Tylney, Baron of Tylney in Norfolk, the
ancestor of the Tylney family, who was killed at Acon, in Syria, in
the reign of Richard Coeur de Lion. Hycophric, or Hycothrift, as the
mister-wight observes, being probably a corruption of Frederick. This
happy exertion of etymological acumen is not wholly due to Hearne, who
only adopted a hint given by Mr. Philip le Neve, whilome of the College
of Arms.”

There does not seem to be the slightest evidence for Hearne’s
identification any more than there is for his philological conclusions,
and we may pass over this for other and more reliable information.

We must first of all turn to the story itself, as it has come down
to us in its chapbook form. It is divided into two parts. The first
part of the story is the earliest; the second part being evidently a
printer’s or a chapman’s addition. Our reprint of the former is taken
from the copy in the Pepysian Library at Magdalene College, Cambridge,
and which was printed probably about 1660-1690; the latter is taken
from the British Museum copy, the date of which, according to the
Museum authorities, is 1780.

In trying to ascertain something as to the date of the story apart from
that of its printed version, it will therefore be necessary to put out
of consideration the second portion. This has been written by some
one well acquainted with the original first part, and with the spirit
of the story; but in spite of this there is undoubted evidence of its
literary origin at a date later than the first part. But turning to the
first part there are two expressions in this early Pepysian version
which have not been repeated in the later editions--those of the
eighteenth century; and these two expressions appear to me to indicate
a date _after which_ the story could not have been originated. On
page 1 we read that Tom Hickathrift dwelt “in the _marsh_ of the Isle
of Ely.” In the earliest British Museum copy this appears as “in the
_parish_ of the Isle of Ely.” Again, on page 11 Tom is described as
laying out the giant’s estate, “some of which he gave to the poor
for their common, and the rest he made pastures of and divided the
most part into _good ground_, to maintain him and his old mother Jane
Hickathrift.” In the earliest British Museum copy the expression
“good ground” is displaced by “tillage.” Now it is clear from these
curious transposition of words in the earliest and latest editions that
something had been going on to change the nature of the country. The
eighteenth-century people did not know the “marsh” of Ely, so they read
“parish”: they did not know the meaning of “good ground” so they read
“tillage.” And hence it is clear that at the printing of this earliest
version the fen lands of Cambridge and Norfolk had not yet been
drained; there was still “marsh land” which was being made into “good

But I think there is evidence in this printed chap-book version of the
story which tells us that it was taken from a traditional version. Let
any one take the trouble to read aloud the first part, and he will at
once perceive that there is a ring and a cadence given to the voice by
the wording of the story, and particularly by the curious punctuation,
which at once reminds us of a narrative from word of mouth. And besides
this there is some little evidence of phonetic spelling, just such as
might have been expected from the first printer taking the story from
the lips of one of the Fen-country peasantry.

Now this internal evidence of the once _viva-voce_ existence of
the printed legend of Tom Hickathrift has a direct bearing upon
the question as to the date of the earliest printed version. The
colloquialisms are so few, and the rhythm, though marked and definite,
is occasionally so halting and approaches so nearly a literary form,
that we are forced to observe that the earliest printed edition now
known is certainly not the earliest version printed. There are too
few phoneticisms and dialect words to make it probable that the print
in the Pepysian collection is the one directly derived from popular
tradition. As the various printers in the eighteenth century altered
words and sentences here and there, as different editions were issued,
so did the seventeenth-century printers; and therefore it is necessary
to push the date of the printed version farther back than we can hope
to ascertain by direct evidence. There is no reason why there should
not have been a sixteenth-century printed version, and to this period I
am inclined to allocate the earliest appearance of the story in print.

And then prior to the printed version was the popular version with
its almost endless life, perhaps reaching back to that vague period
indicated in the opening words of the story, “in the reign before
William the Conqueror.” Already internal evidence has, it is suggested,
pointed to a popular unwritten tradition of Tom Hickathrift’s life
and exploits. But we must ask now, Is there, or was there, any
tradition among the peasantry of Lyn and its neighbourhood about Thomas
Hickathrift? And, if so, how far does this popular tradition reach
back, and how far does it tally with the chap-book version? Again,
is this popular tradition independent of the chap-book story, or has
it been generated from the printed book? To answer these questions
properly we must closely examine all the evidence available as to the
existence and form of this popular tradition.

Turning first of all to the historian of Norfolk, Blomefield,[A]
writing in 1808, gives us the following account:--

“The town of Tilney gives name to a famous common called Tilney Smeeth,
whereon 30,000 or more large Marshland sheep and the great cattle of
seven towns to which it belongs are constantly said to feed. Of this
plain of Smeeth there is a tradition, _which the common people retain_,
that in old time the inhabitants of these towns [Tilney, Terrington,
Clenchwarton, Islington, Walpole, West Walton, Walsoken, and Emneth]
had a contest with the lords of the manors about the bounds and limits
of it, when one _Hickifric_, a person of great stature and courage,
assisting the said inhabitants in their rights of common, took an
axle-tree from a cart-wheel, instead of a sword, and the wheel for a
shield or buckler, and thus armed soon repelled the invaders. And for
proof of this notable exploit they to this day show, says Sir William
Dugdale [Dugd. _Hist. of Imbanking_, &c. p. 244; Weever’s _Fun. Mon._
p. 866], a large grave-stone near the east end of the chancel in
Tilney churchyard, whereon the form of a cross is so cut or carved as
that the upper part thereof (wherewith the carver hath adorned it)
being circular, they will therefore needs have it to be the gravestone
of _Hickifric_, and to be as a memorial of his gallantry. The stone
coffin, which stands now out of the ground in Tilney churchyard, on
the north side of the church, will not receive a person above six
feet in length, and this is shown as belonging formerly to the giant
_Hickifric_. The cross said to be a representation of the cart-wheel
is a cross pattée, on the summit of a staff, which staff is styled an
axle-tree. Such crosses pattée on the head of a staff were emblems or
tokens that some Knight Templar was therein interred, and many such are
to be seen at this day in old churches.”

Now the reference to Sir William Dugdale is misleading, because, as
will be seen by the following quotation, the position of the hero is
altered in Dugdale’s version of the legend from that of a popular
leader to the tyrant lord himself:--“Of this plain I may not omit
a tradition which the common people thereabouts have, viz., that in
old time the inhabitants of the neighbouring villages had a fierce
contest with one Hickifric (the then owner of it) touching the bounds
thereof, which grew so hot that at length it came to blows; and that
Hickifric, being a person of extraordinary stature and courage, took an
axletree from a cart instead of a sword, and the wheel for his buckler,
and, being so armed, most stoutly repelled those bold invaders: for
further testimony of which notable exploit they to this day show a
large gravestone near the east end of the chancel in Tilney churchyard,
whereupon the form of a cross is so cut as that the upper part thereof
by reason of the flourishes (wherewith the carver hath adorned it)
sheweth to be somewhat circular, which they will, therefore, needs have
to be the wheel and the shaft the axletree.” This version, taken from
Dugdale’s _History of Imbanking_, 1772, p. 244, though differing in
form, at all events serves to carry us back to 1662, the date when Sir
William Dugdale’s _History_ was first published.

But the local tradition can be carried further back than 1662,
because the learned Sir Henry Spelman, in his _Icenia sive Norfolciae
Descriptio Topographica_, p. 138, and written about 1640, says, when
speaking of Tilney, in Marshland Hundred: “Hic se expandit insignis
area quæ à planicie nuncupatur Tylney-smelth, pinguis adeo et luxurians
ut Paduana pascua videatur superasse.... Tuentur eam indigenæ velut
Aras et Focos, fabellamque recitant longa petitam vetustate de
Hikifrico (nescio quo) Haii illius instar in Scotorum Chronicis, qui
Civium suorum dedignatus fuga, Aratrum quod agebat, solvit; arreptoque
Temone furibundus insiliit in hostes victoriamque ademit exultantibus.
Sic cum de agri istius finibus acriter olim dimicatum esset inter fundi
Dominun et Villarum Incolas, nec valerent hi ad versus eum consistere;
redeuntibus occurrit Hikifricus, axemque excutiens a curru quem agebat,
eo vice Gladii usus; Rotâ, Clypei; invasores repulit ad ipsos quibus
nunc funguntur terminos. Ostendunt in cæmeterio Tilniensi, Sepulcrum
sui pugilis, Axem cum Rota insculptum exhibens.”

A still earlier version is to be found recorded by Weever in 1631. The
full quotation is as follows: “Tylney Smeeth, so called of a smooth
plaine or common thereunto adioyning.... In the Churchyard is a ridg’d
Altar, Tombe, or sepulchre of a wondrous antique fashion, vpon which
an axell-tree and a cart wheele are insculped. Vnder this Funerall
Monument the Towne dwellers say that one Hikifricke lies interred; of
whom (_as it hath gone by tradition from father to the sonne_) they
thus likewise report: How that vpon a time (no man knowes how long
since) there happened a great quarrell betwixt the Lord of this land or
ground and the inhabitants of the foresaid seuen villages, about the
meere-marks, limits, or bondaries of this fruitfull feeding place; the
matter came to a battell or skirmish, in which the said Inhabitants
being not able to resist the landlord and his forces began to giue
backe; Hikifricke, driuing his cart along and perceiuing that his
neighbours were fainthearted, and ready to take flight, he shooke the
Axell tree from the cart which he vsed instead of a sword, and tooke
one of the cart-wheeles which he held as a buckler; with these weapons
he set vpon the Common aduersaries or aduersaries of the Common,
encouraged his neighbours to go forward, and fight valiantly in defence
of their liberties; who being animated by his manly prowesse, they
tooke heart to grasse, as the prouerbe is, insomuch that they chased
the Landlord and his companie to the vtmost verge of the said Common;
which from that time they haue quietly enioyed to this very day. The
Axell-tree and cart-wheele are cut and figured in diuers places of
the Church and Church windowes, which makes the story, you must needs
say, more probable. This relation doth in many parts parallell with
that of one Hay, a strong braue spirited Scottish Plowman, who vpon
a set battell of Scots against the Danes, being working at the same
time in the next field, and seeing some of his countreymen to flie
from that hote encounter, caught vp an oxe yoke (Boëthius saith, a
Plough-beame), with which (after some exhortation that they should
not bee faint-hearted) he beate the said straglers backe againe to
the maine Army, where he with his two sonnes (who tooke likewise such
weapons as came next to their hands) renewed the charge so furiously
that they quite discomfited the enemy, obtaining the glory of the day
and victory for their drad Lord and Soueraigne Kenneth the third,
King of Scotland; and this happened in the yeare 942, the second of
the King’s raigne. This you may reade at large in the _History of
Scotland_, thus abridged by Camden as followeth.”--Weever’s _Funerall
Monuments_, 1631, pp. 866-867.

And Sir Francis Palgrave, quoting the legend from Spelman,
observes,--“From the most remote antiquity the fables and achievements
of Hickifric have been obstinately credited by the inhabitants of the
township of Tylney. Hickifric is venerated by them as the assertor of
the rights and liberties of their ancestors. The ‘monstrous giant’
who guarded the marsh was in truth no other than the tyrannical lord
of the manor who attempted to keep his copyholders out of the common
field, Tylney Smeeth; but who was driven away with his retainers by the
prowess of Tom armed only with his axletree and cart-wheel.”[B] This
does not appear to me to put the case too strongly. A tradition told
so readily and believed so generally in the middle of the seventeenth
century must have had a strong vitality in it only to be obtained by

Let us now turn to the other side, namely, the existence of a
traditional version in modern days, because it is important to note
that the printing of a chapbook version need not have disturbed the
full current of traditional thought. In a note Sir Francis Palgrave
seems to imply that the story was still extant without the aid of
printed literature. He writes:

“A Norfolk antiquary has had the goodness to procure for us an
authentic report of the present state of Tom’s sepulchre. It is a
stone soros, of the usual shape and dimensions; the sculptured lid or
cover no longer exists. It must have been entire about fifty years ago,
for when we were good _Gaffer Crane would rehearse Tom’s achievements_,
and tell us that he had cut out the moss which filled up the
inscription with his penknife, but he could not read the letters.”[C]

And Clare, in his _Village Minstrel_, tells us that:--

  “Here Lubin listen’d with awestruck surprise,
  When Hickathrift’s great strength has met his ear;
  How he kill’d giants as they were but flies,
  And lifted trees as one would a spear,
  Though not much bigger than his fellows were;
  He knew no troubles waggoners have known,
  Of getting stall’d and such disasters drear;
  Up he’d chuck sacks as we would hurl a stone,
  And draw whole loads of grain unaided and alone.”

And this view as to the existence still of a traditional form of the
story is almost borne out by what the country people only recently
had to say relative to a monument in that part of the country over
which Sir William Dugdale travelled, and of which he has left us such
a valuable memorial in his _History of Imbanking_. A writer in the
Journal of the Archaeological Association (vol. xxv. p. 11) says:--“A
mound close to the Smeeth Road Station, between Lynn and Wisbech, is
called the Giant’s Grave, and the inhabitants relate that there lie the
remains of the great giant slain by Hickathrift with the cart wheel
and axletree. A cross was erected upon it, and is to be seen in the
neighbouring churchyard of Torrington St. John’s, bearing the singular
name of Hickathrift’s Candlestick.”

It appears, then, that the following may be considered the chief
evidence which we have obtained about the existence of the story:--

  That a chapbook or literary form of the story has existed from the
  sixteenth century;

  That a traditional story existed quite independently of the literary
  story in the seventeenth century;

  That a traditional story exists at the present time, or until very

And knowing what folk-lore has to say about the long life of
traditions, about their constant repetition age after age, it is not, I
venture to think, too much to conclude that a story which can be shown
by evidence to have lived on from mouth to mouth for two centuries
is capable of going back to an almost endless antiquity for its true

Let us now consider what may be the origin of this story. There is
one theory as to this which has gained the authority of Sir Francis
Palgrave. The pranks which Tom performed “must be noticed,” says Sir
Francis, “as being correctly Scandinavian.” He then goes on to say,
“Similar were the achievements of the great Northern champion Grettir,
when he kept geese upon the common, as told in his Saga. Tom’s youth
retraces the tales of the prowess of the youthful Siegfried detailed
in the Niblunga Saga and in the book of Heroes. It appears from Hearne
that the supposed axle-tree, with the superincumbent wheel, was
represented on ‘Hycothrift’s’ grave-stone in Tylney churchyard in the
shape of a cross. This is the form in which all the Runic monuments
represent the celebrated hammer or thunderbolt of the son of Odin,
which shattered the skulls and scattered the brains of so many luckless
giants. How far this surmise may be supported by Tom’s skill and
strength in throwing the hammer we will not pretend to decide.”[D]

Now this takes the story entirely out of the simple category of local
English tradition, and places it at once among those grand mythic tales
which belong to the study of comparative mythology and which take us
back to the earliest of man’s thought and belief. In order to test this
theory let us have before us the passages in Tom Hickathrift’s history
which might be said to bear it out, and then let us compare them with
the stories of Grettir.

The analysis of the story based upon the plan laid down by the
Folk-Lore Society is as follows:--

  (1.) Tom’s parents are nobodies, “a poor man and day labourer” being
  his father.

  (2.) Tom was obstinate as a boy.

  (3.) Loses his father, and at first does not help his mother, but
  sits in the chimney corner.

  (4.) Is of great height and size.

  (5.) Strength is unknown until he shows it.

  (6.) Commits many pranks, among which is the throwing “a hammer five
  or six furlongs off into a river.”

  (7.) Kills a giant with a club, Tom using axletree and wheel for his
  shield and buckler.

  (8.) Takes possession of the giant’s territory and lives there.

  (9.) Commits more pranks, “kicks a football right away.”

  (10.) Escapes from four thieves and despoils them.

  (11.) Is defeated by a tinker.

It will not be necessary to analyse the whole of the stories to which
we are referred for the mythic parallels of Tom Hickathrift; but I will
take out the items corresponding to those tabulated above. In the story
of “Grettir the Strong” we have the following incidents:--

  (1.) Grettir’s father “had his homestead and farm land.”

  (2.) Grettir was obstinate as a boy (does nothing on board ship.)

  (3.) Plays pranks upon his father, and returns from attending the
  horses to the fire-side (Iceland).

  (4.) Is short, though strong, and big of body.

  (5.) He had not skill to turn his great strength to account.

  (6.) He wrestles with other lads, and commits many pranks, flings a
  rock from its place.

  (7.) Wrestles with Karr, the barrow dweller; and

  (8.) Takes possession of Karr’s weapons and wealth.

  (9.) Fights with and conquers robbers.

Now it cannot be denied that there is a great similarity in the thread
of these two stories. Norfolk, the colony of the Northmen of old, may
well have retained its ancient tradition until the moving incidents
of English economic history brought about the weaving of it into the
actual life that was pressing round men’s thoughts. It would thus leave
out the great mass of detail in the old northern tradition, and retain
just sufficient to fit in with the new requirements; and in this way it
appears to me we have the present form of the story of Tom Hickathrift,
its ancient Scandinavian outline, its more modern English application.
Now it is curious to note that the cart-wheel plays a not unimportant
part in English folk-lore as a representative of old runic faith. Sir
Henry Ellis, in his edition of Brand’s _Popular Antiquities_ (vol. i.
p. 298), has collected together some instances of this; and whatever
causes may have led to this survival there is nothing to prevent us
from looking upon the wheel and axle in the story of Tom Hickathrift as
a part and parcel of the same survival.

There now remains to notice one or two points of interest outside the
narrative of the story itself. Of curious expressions we have--

  fitted (p. 3), to pay any one out, to revenge one’s self;

  buttle of straw (p. 3);

  shift (p. 3), to support, to make shift. See Davies’s _Supplementary
  Glossary_, _sub voce_ “make-shift,” “shiftful”;

  bone-fires (p. 11). See Ellis’s _Brand’s Popular Antiquities_, vol.
  i. p. 300, note;

  cocksure (p. 14), quite sure.

Of proverbs there are--

  to win the horse or lose the saddle (p. 8);

  to make hay while the sun did shine (p. 10).

Of games there are mentioned--

  cudgells (p. 4);

  wrestling (p. 4);

  throwing the hammer (p. 4);

  football (p. 13);

  bear-baiting (p. 13).

It will be observed that the spelling of the name in the Pepysian copy
is specially divided thus--Hic-ka-thrift; and though it seems probable
that some good reason must be assigned to this, I cannot find out
points of importance. But about the dubbing him Mr. (p. 7) or Master,
as it would be in full, there is something of great interest to point
out. This was formerly a distinct title. In Harrison’s _Description
of England_ we read, “Who soeuer studieth the lawes of the realme,
who so abideth in the vniuersitie, or prefesseth physicke and the
liberall sciences, or beside his seruice in the roome of a capteine
in the warres can liue without manuell labour, and thereto is able
and will beare the post, charge, and countenance of a gentleman, he
shall be called master, which is the title that men giue to esquiers
and gentlemen and reputed for gentlemen.”--Harrison’s _Description
of England_, 1577 (edited by F. J. Furnivall for the New Shakspere
Society, 1877), p. 129.

Of yeomen he says, “And albeit they be not called master as gentlemen
are, or sir as to knights apperteineth, but onelie John and Thomas,”
&c. (p. 134): and of “the third and last sort,” “named the yeomanrie,”
he adds, “that they be not called masters and gentlemen, but goodmen,
as goodman Smith, goodman Coot, goodman Cornell, goodman Mascall,
goodman Cockswet,” &c. (p. 137).

Mr. Furnivall’s note (p. 123) is as follows:--“_Every Begger almost is
called Maister._--See Lancelot’s ‘MAISTER Launcelet’ in the _Merchant
of Venice_, II. ii. 51, and the extract illustrating it from Sir Thomas
Smith’s _Commonwealth of England_, bk. I. ch. 20 (founded on Harrison,
i. 133, 137), which I printed in _New Sh. Soc.’s Trans._ 1877-9, p.
103-4. Also Shakspere getting his ‘yeoman’ father arms, and making him
a ‘gentleman’ in 1596.--(Leopold Shakspere, Introduction, p. ciii.).”
We thus get still further indication of the early date of the story,
the significance of the title “Master” having died out during the
seventeenth century.

The following is a bibliographical list of some of the editions, many
others having been printed from the beginning of this century:--

  (1.) The history of Thomas Hickathrift. Printed for the booksellers.
  London [1790.] 12mo. pp. 24.

  Cap. i. Of his birth, parentage, and education, ii. How Thomas
  Hickathrift’s strength came to be known, iii. How Tom came to be
  a Brewer’s man; and how he came to kill a giant, and at last was
  Mr. Hickathrift. iv. How Tom kept a pack of hounds; his kicking a
  football quite away; also how he had like to have been robbed by four
  thieves, and how he escaped.

  (2.) The Pleasant and delightful history of Thomas Hickathrift.
  Whitehaven: printed by Ann Dunn, Market Place [1780], pp. 24.

  (3.) The History of Thomas Hickathrift. Printed in Aldermary
  Churchyard, London. [1790.] 12mo. Part the first, pp. 24.

  Similar contents to No. 1, with addition of cap. v. Tom meets with a
  Tinker, and of the battle they fought.

  (4.) The most pleasant and delightful history of Thomas Hickathrift.
  J. Terraby, printer, Market Place, Hull. [1825.] 2 parts. 12mo. pp.
  24; 24.

  Same as No. 1. Second part, cap. i. How Tom Hickathrift and the
  Tinker conquered ten thousand rebels. ii. How Tom Hickathrift and the
  Tinker were sent for up to court, and of their kind entertainment.
  iii. How Tom, after his mother’s death, went a-wooing, and of the
  trick he served a gallant who affronted him. iv. How Tom served two
  troopers whom this spark had hired to beset him. v. Tom, going to be
  married, was set upon by one and twenty ruffians, and the havock he
  made. vi. Tom made a feast for all the poor widows in the adjacent
  houses, and how he served an old woman who stole a silver cup at the
  same time. vii. How Sir Thomas Hickathrift and his lady were sent
  for up to court, and of what happened at that time. viii. How Tom
  was made Governor of the East Angles, now called Thanet, and of the
  wonderful achievement he performed there. ix. How the Tinker, hearing
  of Tom’s fame, went to be his partner, and how he was unfortunately
  slain by a lion.

  (5.) The history of Thomas Hickathrift. Printed for the Travelling
  Stationers. 12mo. pp. 24.

  Same as No. 3.




  _Printed by J. M. for W. Thackeray and T. Passinger._


  What honour Tom came unto.

  How Tom Hic-ka-thrift’s strength came to be known.

  How Tom came to be a Brewers man, and how he came to kill a gyant,
  and at last was Mr. Hic-ka-thrift.

  How Tom kept a pack of hounds and kickt a foot-ball quite away, and
  how he had like to have been robbed with four thieves, and how Tom



_His Birth and Parentage, and the true manner of his performing many
manly acts, and how he killed a gyant. Young man, here thou mayest
behold what honour Tom came unto._

  And if that thou dost buy this Book,
  Be sure that thou dost in it look,
  And read it o’re, then thou wilt say,
  Thy money is not thrown away.

In the reign before William the conqueror, I have read in ancient
histories that there dwelt a man in the marsh of the Isle of Ely, in
the county of Cambridge, whose name was Thomas Hic-ka-thrift, a poor
man and day labourer, yet he was a very stout man, and able to perform
two days works instead of one: He having one son and no more children
in the world, he called him by his own name, Thomas Hickathrift. This
old man put his son to good learning, but he would take none, for he
was as we call them now in this age, none of the wisest sort, but
something soft, and had no docility at all in him.

God calling this old man his father out of the world, his mother being
tender of him, and maintained him by her hand labour as well as she
could; he being sloathful and not willing to work to get a penny for
his living, but all his delight was to be in the chimney corner, and
would eat as much at one time as might very well serve four or five
ordinary men; for he was in length when he was but ten years of age
about eight foot, and in thickness five foot, and his hand was like
unto a shoulder of mutton, and in all parts from top to toe he was like
a monster, and yet his great strength was not known.


_How Tom Hic-ka-thrifts strength came to be known, the which if you
please but to read will give you full satisfaction._

The first time that his strength was known was by his mothers going to
a rich farmer’s house (she being but a poor woman) to desire a buttle
of straw to shift herself and her son Thomas. The farmer being an
honest charitable man, bid her take what she would. She going home to
her son Tom, said, I pray thee go to such a place and fetch me a buttle
of straw, I have asked him leave. He swore a great oath he would not
go: nay, prithee, Tom go, said his old mother. He swore again he would
not go, unless she would borrow him a cart rope. She being willing to
please him, because she would have some straw, went and borrowed him a
cart rope to his desire.

He taking it went his way; so coming to the farmer’s house, the master
was in the barn, and two men a thrashing. Said Tom, I am come for a
buttle of straw. Tom, said the master, take as much as thou canst
carry. He laid down his cart rope, and began to make his buttle;
but said they, Tom, thy rope is to short, and jeer’d poor Tom, but
he fitted the man well for it: for he made his buttle, and when he
had made it, there was supposed to be a load of straw in it, of two
thousand weight. But said they, what a great fool art thou, thou canst
not carry the tith on’t? but Tom took the buttle and flung it on his
shoulder, and made no more of it then we do of an hundred weight, to
the great admiration of master and men.

Tom Hic-ka-thrift’s strength being known in the town, then they would
not let him any longer lie basking by the fire in the chimney corner,
every one would be hiring him to work; they seeing him to have so much
strength, told him that it was a shame for him to live such a lazy
course of life, and to lie idle day after day, as he did. So Tom seeing
them bait at him in such a manner as they did, he went first to one
work then to another; but at length came a man to Tom and desired him
to go with him unto the wood, for he had a tree to bring home, and he
would content him. So Tom went with him, and he took with him four men
beside; but when they came to the wood, they set the cart by the tree
and began to draw it up with pullies; but Tom seeing them not able to
lift it up, said, stand away, you fools, and takes the tree and sets it
on one end, and lays it in the cart. Now, says he, see what a man can
do. Marry, it is true, said they. So when they had done coming through
the wood they met the woodman, Tom asked him for a stick to make his
mother a fire with. I, said the wood-man, take one what thou canst
carry. So Tom espyed a tree bigger then was in the cart, and lays it on
his shoulder, and goes home with it as fast as the cart and six horses
could draw it. This was the second time that Tom’s strength was known.

So when Tom began to know that he had more strength then twenty men
had, he then began to be merry with men and very tractable, and would
run, or go, or jump, and took great delight to be amongst company,
and to go to fairs and meetings, and to see sports and pastimes. So
going to a feast, the young men were all met, some to cudgels, some
to wrastling, some throwing the hammer, and the like; so Tom stood
a little to see their sport, and at last goes to them that were a
throwing the hammer; and standing a little by to behold their manlike
sport, at last he takes the hammer in his hand to feel the weight of
it, and bid them stand out of the way, for he would throw it as far
as he could. I, said the smith, and jeer’d poor Tom, you’l threw it a
great way I’le warrant you; but Tom took the hammer and flung it; and
there was a river about five or six furlungs off, and flung it into
that; so when he had done, he bid the smith go fetch his hammer again,
and laught the smith to scorn; but when Tom had done that, he would go
to wrastling, though he had no more skill than an ass had, but what he
did by strength; yet he flung all that came, for if once he laid hold
they were gone. Some he would throw over his head, some he would lay
down slyly, and how he pleased; he would not lock nor strike at their
heels, but flung them two or three yards from him, ready to break their
necks asunder; so that none at last durst go into the ring to wrastle
with him, for they took him to be some devil that was come amongst
them; so Tom’s fame was spread more in the country.


_How Tom came to be a Brewer’s man; and how he came to kill a Giant,
and at last was Mr. Hic-ka-thrift._

Tom’s fame being spread abroad in the country, there was not a man
durst give Tom an angry word for he was something foolhardy, and he did
not care what he did at them; so that those that knew him would not in
the least displease him. But at length there was a brewer at Lyn, that
wanted a good lusty man to carry his beer in the marsh and to Wisbech;
so hearing of Tom went to hire him, but Tom seemed coy and would not
be his man, until his mother and friends did perswade him, and his
master intreated him; and likewise promised him a new suit of clothes
and cloath him from top to toe; and besides he should eat and drink of
the best. So Tom at last yielded to be his man, and his master told him
how far he should go; for you are to understand there was a monstrous
Gyant, who kept some part of the marsh, and none durst go that way; for
if they did he would keep them or kill them, or else he would make bond
slaves of them.

But to come to Tom and his master, that he did more work in one day
then all his men would do in three; so that his master, seeing him so
tractable, and to look so well after his business, made him his head
man to go into the marsh, to carry beer by himself, for he needed no
man with him. So Tom went every day to Wisbich, which was a very great
journey, for it was twenty mile the road way.

Tom going so long that wearisome journey, and finding that way which
the Gyant kept was nearer by half, and Tom having gotten more strength
by half then before by being so well kept, and drinking so much strong
ale as he did; one day he was going to Wisbich, and without saying
anything to his master or to any of his fellow servants, he was
resolved to make the nearest way to be a road or lose his life, to win
the horse, or lose the saddle; to kill or be killed; if he met with
the Gyant; and with this resolution he goes the nearest way with his
cart, flinging open the gates for his cart and horses to go through;
but at last the Gyant spying him, and seeing him to be so bold, thought
to prevent him, and came intending to take his beer for a prize, but
Tom cared not a fart for him, and the Gyant he met Tom like a lyon,
as though he would have swallowed him. Sirrah, said he, who gave you
authority to come this way? Do you not know that I make all stand in
fear of my sight, and you like a rogue must come and fling my gates
open at your pleasure! How dare you presume to do this? Are you so
careless of your life? Do you not care what you do? I’le make thee an
example for all rogues under the sun; dost thou not see how many heads
hang upon yonder tree that have offended my law! But thy head shall
hang higher then all the rest for an example. But Tom made him answer,
A turd in your teeth for your news, for you shall not find me like one
of them. No, said the Gyant, why thou art but a fool, dost thou come to
fight with such a one as I am, and bring no weapon to defend thyself
withal? Said Tom, I have a weapon here will make you to know you are a
traytorly rogue. I, sirrah, said the Gyant, and took that word in high
disdain, that Tom should call him a traytorly rogue, and with that he
ran into his cave to fetch his great club, intending to dash out Tom’s
brains at the first blow.

Tom knew not what to do for a weapon, for he knew his whip would do but
little good against such a monstrous beast as he was, for he was in
length twelve foot, and six foot about the waste; but while the Gyant
went for his club, Tom bethought himself of a very good weapon, for he
makes no more ado, but takes his cart and turns it upside down, and
takes the axletree and the wheel for his shield and buckler, and very
good weapons they were in such time of need.

The Giant coming out again, began to stare at Tom, to see him take the
wheel in one hand and the axle tree in the other to defend himself
with. O! said the Gyant, you are like to do great service with those
weapons; I have here a twig, said the Gyant, that will beat thee and
thy wheel and axle tree at once unto the ground; that which the Gyant
called a twig was as thick as some mill posts are, but Tom was not
daunted for all that, for he saw there was but one way to kill or be
killed; so the Giant made at Tom with such a vehement force that he
made Tom’s wheel crack again, and Tom lent the Gyant another as good,
for he took him such a weighty blow on the side of the head that he
made the Gyant reel again. What, said Tom, are you drunk with my strong
beer already.

The Gyant recovering laid on Tom most sad blows; but still as they came
Tom kept them off with his wheel so that he had no hurt at all. Tom
plyed his work so well, and laid such huge blows at the Giant, that
the sweat and blood together ran down his face, and he being fat and
foggy, and fighting so long, was almost tired out, asked Tom to let
him drink a little, and then he would fight with him again. No, said
Tom, my mother did not teach me that wit; who’s a fool then? Tom seeing
the Gyant begin to be weary, and finding him to fail in his blows, he
thought best to make hay while the sun did shine, for he laid on so
fast as though he had been mad, till he had brought the Gyant to the
ground. The Gyant seeing himself down, and Tom laying so hard on him,
roared in a most sad condition, and prayed him not to take away his
life and he would do anything for him, and yield himself to him and be
his servant; but Tom having no more mercy on him than a dog of a bear,
laid still at the Gyant ’till he had laid him for dead, and when he had
done he cut off his head and went into his cave, and there he found
great store of silver and gold which made his heart to leap. But when
he had done, he loaded his cart and went to Wisbich and delivered his
beer; and coming home to his master, he told it to him; but his master
was so overjoy’d at the news that he would not believe him till he had
seen; and getting up the next day he and his master went to see if he
spoke true or no, and most of the town of Lyn. But when they came to
the place and found the Gyant dead, he shewed them where the head was,
and what silver and gold there was in the cave, all of them leapt for
joy, for the Gyant was a great enemy to all the country.

This news was spread all up and down the country how Tom Hic-ka-thrift
had kill’d the Gyant, and well was he that could run or go to see the
Gyant and the cave; then all the folks made bonefires for joy; and
Tom was a better man respected than before. And Tom took possession
of the cave by consent of the country, and everyone said that he did
deserve twice as much more. So Tom pulled down the cave and built him
a brave house where the cave stood; all the ground that the Gyant kept
by force and strength, some he gave to the poor for their common, and
the rest he made pastures of and divided the most part into good ground
to maintain him and his old mother Jane Hic-ka-thrift. And Tom’s fame
was spread both far and near throughout the country; and then it was no
longer Tom, but Mr. Hickathrift, so that he was now the chiefest man
amongst them, for the people feared Tom’s anger as much as they did the
Gyant before. So Tom kept men and maids, and lived most bravely; and
he made him a park to keep deer in; and by his house, which is a town,
he built a famous church and gave it the name of St. James’ Church,
because he killed the Gyant on that day, which is so to this hour and
ever will be; and many more good deeds he did which is too tedious to
write in this column, but to tell the chief I shall do my endeavour.


_How Tom kept a pack of Hounds; and kickt a Foot-ball quite away;
and how he had like to have been robbed by Four Thieves, and how he

Tom having so much about him and not used to it could hardly tell how
for to dispose of it, but yet he did use a means to do it, for he kept
a pack of hounds, and men to hunt with him; and who but Tom then. So
he took such delight in sport that he would go far and near to any
meetings, as cudgel-play, bear-baiting, football play, and the like.
But as Tom was riding one day, he seeing a company at football play he
lighted off his horse to see that rare sport, for they were playing
for a wager; but Tom was a stranger there and none did know him there;
but Tom soon spoiled their sport, for he meeting the football took
it such a kick that they never found their ball no more; they could
see it fly, but whither none could tell, nor to what place; they all
wondered at it, and began to quarrel with Tom, but some of them got
nothing by it, for Tom gets a spar which belonged to a house that was
blown down and all that stood in his way he either killed or knocked
down, so that all the country was up in arms to take Tom, but all in
vain, for he manfully made way wherever he came. So when he was gone
from them, and was going homeward, he chanced to be somewhat late in
the evening. On the road there met him four lusty rogues that had
been robbing of passengers that way, and none could escape them, for
they robbed all they met, both rich and poor. They thought when they
met Tom they should get a good prize, they perceiving he was alone,
made them cocksure of his money, but they were mistaken, for he got a
prize by them. When they met with Tom they straight bid him stand and
deliver. What, said Tom, what should I deliver? Your money, sirrah,
said they. But, said Tom, you shall give me better words for it first,
and be better armed too. Come, come, said they, we do not come hither
to prate, but we come for money, and money we will have before you stir
from this place. I, said Tom, is it so? Nay then, said he, get it, and
take it.

So one of them made at him, but he presently unarmed him, and took away
his sword which was made of good trusty steel, and smote so hard at the
others that they began to set spurs to their horses and begone, but
he soon stayed their journey, one of them having a portmantle behind
him, Tom perceiving it to be money fought with more courage then he
did before, till at the last he had killed two of the four, and the
other two he wounded most grievously that they cryed for quarter. So
with much intreating he gave them quarter, but he took all their money
which was two hundred pounds to bear his charges home. So when Tom
came home he told them how he had served the football players and the
four thieves which caused a laugh from his old mother, and to refresh
himself went to see how all things did, and what his men had done since
he went from home. And going to the forest he wandred up and down, and
at last met with a lusty tinker that had a good staff on his shoulder
and a great dog to carry his bag and tools. So Tom asked the tinker
from whence he came, and whither he was going, for that was no highway.
But the tinker being a sturdy fellow bid him go look, and what was that
to him, but fools must be meddling. No, says Tom, but I’le make you
to know before you and I part it is to me. I, said the tinker, I have
been these three long years and have not had one combat with any man.
I have challenged many a man but none durst make me answer; I think,
said he, they be all cowards in this country, but I hear there is a man
in this country which is called Tom Hickathrift that killed a gyant;
him I would fain see, said the tinker, to have one combat with him. I,
said Tom, but methinks, said he, it might be master with you; I am the
man, said he, what have you to say to me? Why verily, said the tinker,
I am glad we are so happily met together, that we may have one single
combat. Sure, said Tom, you do but jest. Marry, said the tinker, I am
in earnest. A match, said Tom. ’Tis done, said the tinker. But, said
Tom, will you give me leave to get me a twig? I, said the tinker, hang
him that will fight with a man unarmed, I scorn that.

So Tom steps to the gate and takes one of the rails for his staff; so
to it they fell, the Tinker at Tom, and Tom at the Tinker, like two
giants they laid on at each other. The Tinker had a leathern coat on,
and at every blow Tom gave the Tinker, his coat roar’d again, yet the
Tinker did not give way to Tom an inch. But Tom gave the Tinker a blow
on the side of the head, which felled the Tinker. Now, Tinker, where
are you? said Tom.

But the Tinker being a nimble fellow, leapt up again, and gave Tom a
blow, made him reel again, and followed his blows, and took Tom on the
other side which made Tom’s neck crack again. So Tom flung down his
weapon and yielded the Tinker the better on’t, and took him home to his
house, where I shall leave Tom and the Tinker till they be recovered of
their sad wounds and bruises.









_Tom Hickathrift and the Tinker conquered and overcame three thousand
rebellious subjects._

In and about the Isle of Ely, many disaffected persons, to the number
of ten thousand and upwards drew themselves up in a body, presuming to
contend for their pretended ancient Rights and Liberties, insomuch that
the Gentry and civil Magistrates of the Country was in great danger;
at which time the Sheriff, by night, privately got into the house of
Thomas Hickathrift, as a secure place of refuge, in so eminent a time
of danger: where before Thomas Hickathrift, he laid open the villainous
intent of this headstrong giddy-brained multitude, Mr. Sheriff, quoth
Tom, what service my brother, meaning the Tinker, and I can perform,
shall not be wanting. This said, in the morning by day-break, with
trusty clubs they both went forth, desiring the Sheriff to be their
guide, in conducting them to the place of the rebels’ rendezvous,
when they came there Tom and the Tinker marched up to the head of
the multitude, and demanded of them the reason why they disturbed
the Government? To which they answered with a loud cry, Our will’s
our law; and by that alone will we be governed. Nay quoth Tom if it
be so, these trusty clubs are our weapons, and by them you shall be
chastised. Which words were no sooner out of his mouth but the Tinker
and he put themselves both together in the midst of the throng and with
their clubs beat the multitude down, trampling them under their feet
every blow which they struck laid twenty or thirty sprawling before
them. Nay, remarkable it was, the Tinker struck a tall man just upon
the nape of the neck, with that force that his head flew off, and was
carried violently fourteen foot from him, where it knockt down one of
their chief ringleaders; Tom on the other hand still pressing forward,
till by an unfortunate blow he broke his club; yet he was not in the
least dismay’d; for he presently seized upon a lusty stout rawbon’d
miller, and made use of him for a weapon, till at length they clear’d
the field; so that there was not one found that dare lift up a hand
against them, having run into holes and corners to hide themselves
shortly after some of their heads were taken and made public examples
of justice, the rest being pardoned at the humble request of Thomas
Hickathrift and the Tinker.



_Tom Hickathrift and the Tinker was sent for to Court and of their kind
entertainment there, etc._

The King being truly informed of the faithful services perform’d by
these his loving Subjects, Thomas Hickathrift and the Tinker, he was
pleased to send for them to his Palace, where a Royal banquet was
prepared for their entertainment, most of the Nobility being present.
Now after the banquet was over, the King said unto all that were
there, these are my trusty and well-beloved subjects, men of approved
courage and valour, they are the men that overcame and conquer’d ten
thousand which were got together to disturb the peace of my realm;
according to the character that hath been given to Tho. Hickathrift
and Henry Nonesuch, persons here present, they cannot be matcht in any
other kingdom in the world; were it possible to have an army of twenty
thousand such as these, I dare venture to act the part of Alexander
the Great over again: yet in the meanwhile, as a proof of my Royal
favour, kneel down and receive the antient order of knighthood, Mr.
Hickathrift, which was instantly perform’d. And as for Henry Nonesuch,
I will settle upon him, as a reward for his great service, the sum of
Forty Shillings a year, during life. Which said, the King withdrew, and
Sir Thomas Hickathrift and Henry Nonesuch the tinker, returned home,
attended by many persons of quality, some miles from the Court. But to
the great grief of Sir Thomas, at his return from the Court, he found
his aged Mother drawing to her end, who in a few days after died and
was buried in the Isle of Ely.



_Tom after his old Mother’s death went a wooing; and how he served a
young Gallant who affronted him before his Mistress._

Tom’s mother being dead, and he left alone in a large and spacious
house, he found himself strange and uncouth, therefore he began to
consider with himself that it would not be amiss to seek out for a
wife; and hearing of a young rich widow, not far from Cambridge, to her
he went, and made his addresses: and at the first coming she seem’d to
shew him much favour and countenance; but between this and his coming
again, she had given some entertainment to a more genteel and airy
spark, who happened likewise to come while honest Tom was there the
second time; he look’d wishfully at Tom, and he star’d as wishfully
at him again; at last the young spark began with abuseful language to
affront Tom, telling him he was such a great lubberly whelp, adding
that such a one as he should not pretend to make love to a Lady, as he
was but a Brewer’s servant. Scoundrel quoth Tom better words should
become you, and if you do not mend your manners, you shall not fail
to feel my sharp correction. At which the young Spark challenged him
forth into the back yard; for, as he said, he did not question but to
make a fool of Tom in a trice. Into the yard they both walk together,
the young spark with a naked sword, and Tom with neither stick nor
staff in his hand, nor any other weapon. What says the spark, have you
nothing to defend yourself? well I shall the sooner dispatch you. Which
said, he ran furiously forward, making a pass at Tom, which he put by,
and then wheeling round to his backside, Tom gave him such a swinging
kick on the breech, which sent the spark like a Crow up into the Air,
from whence he fell upon the ridge of a thatcht house, and then came
down into a large fish pond, and had been certainly drown’d if it had
not been for a poor shepherd who was walking that way, and seeing
him float upon the water, dragged him out with his hook, and home he
returned like a drowned Rat; while Tom enjoy’d the kind embraces of his
fair Mistress.



_Tom served two Troopers, whom the young Spark had hired to beset him,

This young galland being tormented in his mind to think how Tom had
conquered and sham’d him before his Mistress, he was now resolved for
speedy revenge; and knowing that he was not able to coap with a man of
Tom’s strength and activity, he therefore hired two lusty Troopers,
well mounted, to lie in ambush in a thicket which Tom had to pass
through from his home to the young lady, and accordingly they attempted
to set upon him: How now quoth Tom Rascals, what would you be at? Are
you indeed weary of the world, that you so unadvisably set upon one who
is able to crush you in like a Cucumber; the Troopers laughing at him,
said, that they were not to be daunted at his high words, High words
quoth Tom, no I will come to action; and with that he run in between
these armed Troopers, catching them under his arm. Horse and Men, with
as much ease as if they had been but a couple of Baker’s babbins,
steering his course with them hastily towards his own home, and, as
he pass’d thro’ a meadow, in which there was many Haymakers at work,
the poor distressed troopers crying out, Stop him stop him he runs
away with two of the King’s troopers. The hay-makers laught heartily
to see how Tom hugged them along; ever and anon he upbraided them for
their baseness; declared that he would make minced meat of them to feed
the Crows and Jackdaws about his house and habitation. This was such
a dreadful lecture to them, that the poor rogues begg’d that he would
be merciful, and spare their lives, and they would discover the whole
plot, and who was the person that employ’d them; which accordingly they
did, and gain’d favour in the sight of Tom, who pardon’d them upon
promise that they would never be concern’d in such a villainous action
for the time to come.



_Tom going to be married, was set upon by one-and-twenty Ruffians in
Armour, and of the havock he made amongst them, etc._

In regard Tom had been hinder’d by these troopers, he delay’d his
visit to his Lady till next day, and then coming to her, gave her a
full account of what had happen’d; she was pleased at heart at this
wonderful relation, knowing it was safe for a woman to marry with a
man who was able to defend her against all assaults whatsoever, and
such a one she found Tom to be. The day of marriage was accordingly
appointed, friends and relations invited. Yet secret malice which is
never satisfied without sweet revenge, had like to have prevented the
solemnity for having three miles to go to church, where they were
to be married, the aforesaid Gentleman had provided a second time
Ruffians in armour to the number of twenty-one, he himself being then
present either to destroy the life of Tom, or put them into strange
consternation; however thus it happened, in a lonesome place they
bolted out upon them, making their first assault upon Tom, and with
a Speer gave him a slight wound, at which his love and the rest of
the women shrieked and cry’d like persons out of their wits, Tom
endeavour’d all that he could to pacify them, saying, stand you still
and I will show you pleasant sport. And with that he catch’d a back
sword from the side of a Gentleman in his own company, with which he
so bravely behaved himself that at every stroke he cut off a joint,
loth he was to touch the life of any, but aiming at their legs and
arms, he lopt them off so fast, that in less than a quarter of an hour,
there was not one in the company but what had lost a limb, the green
grass being stained with their purple gore, and the ground strew’d
with legs and arms, as ’tis with tiles from the tops of the Houses
after a dreadful storm. His Love and the rest of the company standing
all the while as joyful spectators, laughing one at another, saying,
What a company of cripples has he made, as it were in the twinkling of
an eye! Yes, quoth Tom, I believe that for every drop of blood that I
lost, I have made the Rascals pay me a limb as a just tribute. This
done, he stept to a Farmer’s hard by, and hired there a servant giving
him twenty shillings to carry these cripples home to their respective
habitations in his dung-cart; and then did he hasten with his love to
the church, where they were married, and then returned home, where they
were heartily merry with their friends, after their fierce and dreadful


_Tom made a feast for all the poor Widows in the adjacent towns; and
how he served an old Woman who stole a Silver Cup at the same time,

Now Tom being married, he made a plentiful feast, to which he invited
all the poor widows in four or five parishes for the sake of his
mother, which he had lately buried, this feast was kept in his own
house, with all manner of varieties that the country could afford for
the space of four days, in honour likewise of the four victories which
he lately obtain’d. Now when the time of feasting was ended, a Silver
Cup was missing, and being ask’d about it, they every one deny’d they
knew any thing of it. At length it was agreed that they should all
stand the search, which they did, and the Cup was found upon a certain
old woman, named the Widow Stumbelow; then was all the rest in a rage,
some was for hanging her, others were for chopping the old woman in
pieces, for her ingratitude to such a generous soul as Sir Thomas
Hickathrift; but he entreated them all to be quiet, saying they should
not murder a poor old Woman, for he would appoint a punishment for her
himself; which was this; he bor’d a hole thro’ her nose and tying a
string therein, then order’d her to be stript stark naked, commanding
the rest of the old women to stick a candle in her fundament, and lead
her by the nose thro’ all the streets and lanes in Cambridge, which
comical sight caused a general laughter. This done, she had her cloaths
restor’d her again, and so was acquitted.



_Sir Thomas Hickathrift and his Lady was sent for to Court, and of what

The tydings of Tom’s wedding was soon nois’d in the Court, so that the
King sent them a royal invitation to the end he might see his Lady,
they immediately went, and were received with all demonstrations of
Joy and Triumph. But while they were in their mirth, a dreadful cry
approached the Court which proved to be the Commons of Kent who were
come thither to complain of a dreadful Giant that was landed in one of
the Islands: And brought with him abundance of Bears and young Lyons,
likewise a dreadful Dragon on which he himself rid, which monster and
ravenous beasts had frighted all the inhabitants out of the Island.
Moreover they said if speedy course was not taken to suppress them
in time, they might over-run the whole land. The King hearing this
dreadful relation was a little startled, yet he perswaded them to
return home and make the best defence they could for themselves at
present, assuring them that he should not forget them, and so they


_Thomas Hickathrift was made Governor of the Island of the East Angles,
now called Thanet, and of the wonderful Achievements he performed

The King hearing the aforesaid dreadful Tydings, immediately sate
in Council to consider what was to be done for the overcoming this
monstrous Giant, and barbarous savage Lyons and Bears that with him had
invaded his Princely territories. At length it was agreed upon that
Thomas Hickathrift was the most likeliest man in the whole kingdom,
for undertaking of so dangerous an enterprise; he being not only a
fortunate man of great strength, but likewise a true and trusty subject
one that was always ready and willing to do his King and country
service, for which reason it was thought necessary to make him Governor
of the aforesaid Island; which place of trust and honour, he readily
received, and accordingly he forthwith went down with his wife and
family, to take possession of the same, attended with a hundred Knights
and Gentlemen, who conducted him to the entrance of the Island which he
was to govern. A castle in those days there was, in which he was to
take up his head-quarters, the same being situated with that advantage
that he could view the Island for several miles upon occasion; the
Knights and Gentlemen at last taking their leave of him, wish’d him all
happy success and prosperity. Many days he had not been there before it
was his fortune to behold the monstrous Giant mounted upon a dreadful
Dragon, bearing upon his shoulder a club of Iron, having but one eye,
the which was placed in his forehead, and larger in compass than a
barber’s bason, and seem’d to appear like a flaming fire; his visage
was dreadful, grim and tawny; the hair of his head hanging down his
back and shoulders, like snakes of a prodigious length; the bristles of
his Beard like rusty wire: And lifting up his blare eye, he happened to
discover Sir Thomas Hickathrift, who was looking upon him from one of
his windows of the castle; the Giant then began to knit his brow, and
breath forth threatening words to the Governor, who indeed was a little
surpriz’d at the approach of so monstrous a brute; the Giant finding
that Tom did not make much haste down to meet him, he alighted from the
back of the dragon, and chained the same to an Oak tree, then marching
furiously to the castle, setting his broad shoulder against a corner of
the stone walls, as if he intended to overthrow the whole building at
once which Tom perceiving, said is this the game you would be at; faith
I shall spoil your sport, for I have a delicate tool to pick your teeth
withal; then taking his two handed sword of five foot long, a weapon
which the King had given him to govern with taking this I say, down he
went, and flinging open the Gates, he there found the Giant, who by an
unfortunate slip in his thrusting was fallen all along, where he lay
and could not help himself. What, quoth Tom, do you come here to take
up your Lodging? This is not to be suffer’d, and with that he ran his
long broad sword in betwixt the monstrous Giant’s brawny Buttocks and
out at his Belly, which made the monstrous Brute give such a terrible
groan that it seemed like roaring thunder, making the very neighbouring
trees to tremble; and then Tom pulling out his sword again, at six or
seven blows he separated his head from his unconscionable trunk, which
head, when it was off, seemed like the root of a mighty Oak. Then
turning to the Dragon, which was all this while chain’d to a tree,
without any farther discourse, with four blows with his two-handed
sword, he cut off his head also. This fortunate adventure being over,
he sent immediately for a team of horses and a waggon: which he loaded
with these heads, and then summoning all the Constables in the Country
for a guard, sent them to Court, with a promise to his Majesty, that he
would rid the whole Island likewise of Bears and Lyons before he left



_The Tinker hearing of Tom s Fame went down to be Partner in his
Enterprize; and how he was unfortunately slain by a Lyon._

Tom’s victories rang so long, that they reach’d the ears of his old
acquaintance, the Tinker, who, desirous of honour, resolved to go down
and visit Tom in his new government, when coming there he met with kind
and loving entertainment, for they were very joyful to see one another:
Now after three or four days’ enjoyment of one another’s company, Tom
told the Tinker that he must needs go forth in search after wild Bears
and Lyons, in order to rout them out of the Island. Well, quoth the
Tinker, I would gladly take my fortune with you, hoping that I may be
serviceable to you, upon occasion. Well, quoth Tom, with all my heart,
for I must needs acknowledge I shall be right glad of your company.
This said, they both went forward, Tom with his two handed sword, and
the Tinker with his long pike-staff. Now after they had travelled
about four or five hours, it was their fortune to light of the whole
knot of wild beasts together, being in number fourteen, of which six
of them were Bears, the other eight young Lyons now when they had
fastened their eyes upon Tom and the Tinker, these ravenous beasts
began to roar and run furiously, as if they would have devoured them
at a mouthful; but Tom and the Tinker stood side by side with their
backs against an Oak, and as the Lyons and Bears came within their
reach, Tom with his long sword clove their heads asunder till they were
all destroyed, saving one lyon, who, seeing the rest of his Fellows
slain, was endeavouring to make his escape: now the Tinker being
somewhat too venturous, ran too hastily after him, and having given
the Lyon one blow, he turn’d upon him again, seizing him by the throat
with that violence, that the poor Tinker fell dead to the Ground; Tom
Hickathrift, seeing this, gave the Lyon such a blow that it ended his

Now was his joy mingled with sorrow for tho’ he had cleared the Island
of those ravenous savage beasts, yet his grief was intolerable for
the loss of his old friend. Home he returned to his lady, where in
token of Joy for the wonderful success which he had in his dangerous
enterprizes, he made a very noble and splendid Feast, to which he
invited most of his best Friends and Acquaintance, to whom he made the
following Promise.

  My Friends while I have Strength to stand,
    most manfully I will pursue
  All Dangers, till I clear this Land,
    of Lions, Bears, and Tygers too;
  This you’ll find true, or I’m to blame,
    let it remain upon Record;
  Tom Hickathrift’s most glorious fame,
    who never yet has broke his word
  The Man who does his Country bless,
    shall merrit much from this fair land;
  He who relieved them in Distress,
    His Fame upon Record shall stand:
  And you my Friends who hear me now,
    let honest Tom, for ever dwell,
  Within your Minds and Thoughts I trow,
    since he has pleas’d you all so well.




[A] Blomefield’s _History of Norfolk_, vol. ix. pp. 79-80; the same
story is related by Chambers in his _History of Norfolk_, vol. i. p.
370. The parishes of W. and N. Lynn, though lying in marshland, are
excluded from any right of pasturage on the Smeth Common.

[B] _Quarterly Review_, vol. xxi. p. 103.

[C] _Quarterly Review_, vol. xxi. p. 102, note.

[D] _Quarterly Review_, vol. xxi. pp. 102-103.


  Italicized text is surrounded by underscores: _italics_.

  Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

  Inconsistencies in hyphenation have been retained from the original.

  Archaic or alternate spelling has been retained from the original.

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