From the album The English Lament

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English Folk-Heritage

This is another English Folk-Heritage song that documents a murder. Not far from Manchester in the Lancashire Pennines is a town called Todmorden which, like many Pennine towns, over the centuries has been sometimes in Lancashire and sometimes in Yorkshire. I know it well.
Miles Weatherhill fell in love with Sarah Bell who was a servant in employ of the Vicar Of Christ Church. The vicar refused permission for Miles to call on Sarah and she was sent back to her family in York. Miles followed her to persuade her to return to Todmorden but she refused, which suggests that Miles’ love may have been unrequited and thus these lyrics may have been written by one of Miles’ supporters. Anyhow, Miles returned to Todmorden in a violent rage, broke into the vicarage and killed the vicar, the vicar's baby daughter, and a servant. He was tried and has the distinction of being the last person to be publicly hanged at Strangeways jail in Manchester in 1868, where, as my family history tells it, my great granddad worked as a bricklayer.

Lyrics

English Folk-Heritage

Miles Weatherhill was a brisk young weaver
And at Todmorden he did dwell
He fell in love with a handsome maiden
The parson's servant Sarah Bell
It was at Todmorden where these true lovers
At the parson's house their love did tell
And none in the world'll 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
Caused displeasure as you shall hear
Miles was refused to meet his lover
And she left Todmorden Lancashire

She left her true love broken hearted
And to her mother at York did go
And o'er 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 a solemn vow
Separated from his own true lover
He'd be revenged on Parson Plow

Four loaded pistols, a fit of frenzy
Miles to the vicarage went forthwith
And with a weapon wounded the master
And he shot the maiden named Jane Smith
To the lady's chamber, rage and anger
Bent on destruction intent to kill
He took a poker and he beat her
'Til 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 Plow
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

© PhilDrane Music 2016