Before the new police force was established, watchmen or bellmen used to parade the streets at night, and at Easter a copy of verses was left at the chief houses in the hope of obtaining an offering. These verses were the relies of the old incantations sung or said by the bellman to keep off elves and hobgoblins. The town crier.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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