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gloss - stunner a person of outstanding ability in

the turf horse racing and its associated activites [CPB]

[Note 036.1] "But left home with the Dart":- the Dart was a stagecoach that ran from the Swan in Sutton Coldfield [Dr Laura Wright, Word of Mouth, BBC Radio 4, 24Oct2107]

[Note 036.2] "To live with young Lord Chesterfield":- Probably George Stanhope 6th Earl of Chesterfield 1805-1866 [Ref,_6th_Earl_of_Chesterfield], The Stanhope family owned Bretby Hall near Burton-on-Trent [ref:] so Bob may have taken the Dart from London to Sutton Coldfield and then travelled the 25 miles or so to Bretby (probably just a day's walk for a fit young man of the time)

gloss tiger A person of very great activity, strength, or courage. [OED]

gloss knowing

gloss Knave: A male attendant, page, or other servant; (also more generally) a man of low rank or status [OED] An unprincipled or dishonest person; a rogue, a scoundrel

gloss wide awake":- aware of events, vigilant, watchful, on the alert; understanding

gloss tip - Insider knowledge [OED] A small present of money given to an inferior, esp. to a servant or employee of another for a service rendered or expected;

[Note 036.3] "But though they often took me out, I often took them in":- To "take someone in" is to play some sort of confidence trick upon them; maybe Bob is taking a bribe (the tip) but not honouring the bargain. "they often took me out" may mean they often engaged him to ride their horses.

gloss rummy Inventive unconventional ruses with a suggestion of illegality [CPB]

[Note 036.4] nailed the beans, the hay and corn":- "nailed" seems to imply some sort of swindle but no defintion of it has been found.

[Note 036.5] "Next was seen in Smithfield run,":- Below; A View of the Horse Fair at Smithfiled Market by Charles Pye


gloss "I ginger'd 'em". To introduce ginger into a horse's anus to make it move in a lively manner, with the tail held high, and thus appear youthful and spirited [OED]

[Note 036.6] "Then I returned to Regent Street, And with Newmans got employ":- A. Newman and Co., job and postmaster, 121 Regent Street. [Ref: The Post Office London Directory 1843 p307] The OED gives defines jobmaster as "a man who lets out horses and carriages by the job or for a limited time". It gives one meaning of postmaster as "The person in charge of a posting station, who provides horses for posting; the proprietor or manager of a posting establishment". It also gives one meaning of job as "A cartload; the amount that a horse and cart can bring at one time".

gloss - post boy". A post rider. One of a relay of riders delivering the Royal Mail;

[Note 036.7] "the rail, it cooked my goose":- The railway has ruined me. Post riders were superceded by the railway. The railway from London to Dover opened in 1844 and mail was soon being sent by train.

[Note 036.8] "So I got a ticket and a place To water a coach stand":- to provide water for the horses at a place where horse drawn coaches wait for hire [OED]. The phrase "I got a ticket" suggests that some sort of licence was required.

[Note 036.9] "I drove a 'bus for seven days":- Below Omnibus passing the Compasses Inn Clapton, London 1850 by Charles Pye


[Note 036.10] "And I drove the parcel mail":- The parcel mail Bob drove would be much the same as this one from the end of the century


[Note 036.11] "But now I hold the horses":- Look after the horses for their owners. Below a detail from a broadside of Bob the Groom printed in London [Bodleian Harding B 11(361)]


gloss - Pall Mall is a street in central London where several clubs for rich, mainly aristocratic, men were established in the early 19th century. [Ref:,_London]

gloss "So while you post the road of life":- Post : To travel in the manner of a post-rider, i.e with relays of horses [OED]

The British Library record suggests that this was one of a collection of songs called "Bonny Boys" printed around 1850.
The Roud Broadside Index includes 23 entries for Bob the Groom which suggests it was a popular song; an idea supported by the existence of the broadside John the Coachman, A sequel to Bob the Groom (Roud V10197)

Updated 25th October 2017

gloss flash Dashing, ostentatious, swaggering, 'swell'

Hack A horse used for hire. Also: an inferior or worn out horse, a nag


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