Saxon Shilling

  • liliput

    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    A shilling is an old coin. In this song it seems to refer to the payment made to Irish recruits to the British Army (the British being the Saxons, presumably).
     

    Waylink

    Senior Member
    English (British)
    A "shilling" was a coin in British currency but here "Saxon Shilling" is a alliterative term meaning money/material wealth offered/given by the English to some Irish people.

    I believe this was in an attempt to persuade them to change allegiance and fight for the British occupying Ireland at that time.

    In the poem given, it is clear that the writer considers anyone who accepted the money was traitor and bad person.

    See also: "King's Shilling".
     

    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    To "take the King's Shilling" in England was to enlist as a soldier in the army, once upon a time. The shilling, equivalent to £0.05 in modern currency, was an inducement to enlist.

    In Ireland, of course, the English King was not recognised/acknowledged.
    So when an Irish man enlisted in the English Army, he was said to have taken the Saxon Shilling (with the implications Waylink suggested).

    The term is still alive today, used with reference to the suggestion that the British Government is seeking to secure co-operation of Irish Republicans with promises of government money.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    A shilling is an old coin. In this song it seems to refer to the payment made to Irish recruits to the British Army (the British being the Saxons, presumably).
    A little off-topic but I hope you'll find it interesting.

    You can still find beer tankards made of pewter that were often used in pubs. Some have glass in the bottom and it was explained to me "That's so you can see if there is a shilling in the bottom before you take the drink from the "generous visitor in the pub" because he might be a recruiter. If you "took the shilling", you just unwittingly enlisted , so the glass lets you check to make sure there's no shilling at the bottom. Possibly some truth to the story :)
     
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