All Things Green Man & The Traditional Jack-in-the-Green

Historical Jack-in-the-Green – September

May Day by George Cruikshank from Charles Dickens the First of May 1836

May Day by George Cruikshank from Charles Dickens the First of May 1836

Each month we publish a random newspaper article that featured the traditional Jack-in-the-Green. Each of these articles is a magical window into a bygone era. For more information about the Jack in the Green both current and historical visit our main website at:

1st May 1835 MAY-DAY.

There was but a very limited show of sable masqueraders on the 1st instant. The sweeps, in fact, have become too enlightened for such wulgar exhibitions. Jack Scroggins, who is “up and down to every move,” did not let the chance go by, and was out as “grand Serag,” to a tolerably decent set of Carnivalists. He displayed a cocked-hat, bag wig, nankeen decencies, silk stockings, and a dress-coat, with brick-dust varnish to his mug. Mrs. Scroggins was, of course, with him, carrying the ladle, and wore a complete full dress suit of the “good old days of Queen Bess.” Her carroty locks induced many persons to believe she meant to assume the appearance of the virgin Queen. Josh Hudson was “Jack in the Green,” but was little seen save when he poked his sooty bill through the wentilator to receive his reglars of heavy wet. All three complained that their pumps were out of order from the disorderly state of the pavement ; but they forgot all their troubles when seated at the Half Moon in the evening, where there was the customary May-day ball and trimmings. Scroggins on this occasion played his celebrated solo on the salt-box ; and Mrs. Scroggins sung “Had I a heart for falsehood framed,” with a degree of pathos that made poor Josh, who has naturally a feeling heart, blubber like a bull in convulsions. All the elite of Leadenhall were present, and continued to “foot it merrily,” till summoned by the calls of the carcase butchers to their customary duties on market morning. Lord Winchester, although invited, did not attend. It is clear there is “a screw loose” between him and Josh. Old Frank Hobler, his chief secretary, was, however, as usual, among the happiest of the happy, and, as “Billy Waters,” stumped it right jollily upon his timber toe. Being incog., he was only known to the marshalmen who were observable in the maizy throng. Frank being a musical genus [sic], acted as cat-gut scraper for the night, and it was clear had “enough of it,” for he did not mount his perch at the Mansion till one o’clock, and then could scarcely see a hole through London bridge without his glass.

Bell’s Life in London, and Sporting Chronicle, 3 May 1835, page 3.

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