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Who Were They?

And who were the drovers? 

P G Hughes paints a picture of a Welsh boy, half-starved on a poor upland farm, who, hearing the jingling of a pony’s harness, looks up to see a well-fed, confident man on his well-fed pony coming over the hill; he has a smart coat, new boots and (doubtless) money in his pockets; he calls out ‘Hello, Boy.  Where’s your father?’ 

A few minutes later the boy is sitting in the kitchen.  He looks at his gaunt, overworked father in worn-out clothes at one end of the table; he sees the sleek stranger at the other end, talking about the latest news from London, the latest fashions, the excitement, the meat and drink – and decides! 

Maybe he will drove cattle for only five or ten years before settling down on his father’s farm – but he has to give it a try… And the itinerant lifestyle must have been highly appealing to a young man with a yearning for adventure.

If he stayed in the trade, he may have become a cattle-dealer, hiring his own men and boys.  Some of the former would have been 'men of the road' who liked the itinerant life.  (See #2)

(Picture #1 is of a drover's boy, taken around 1900 at Canons Ashby, home of the Dryden family.  Alice Dryden bribed the boy to pose for the photo; the bribe was an apple: you can it see clasped tightly in his right hand.)

Who Were They? image 2
Drovers from Montgomery