Gary Miller Songs

"As a song poet there are few in the world today to match him"
Green Man Review, USA


"Shoot the Bishop!"



Who has come to disturb my sleep,
These three nights?
And rouse my antipathies festering deep,
These three nights?

A heavenly visitor,
Bow in hand;
Come to deliver
God's fierce command.

First night:
He smiled sweetly;
He looked upon me kindly,
He glanced upon me tenderly,

And he said:
Shoot the Bishop!”

But I did nothing,
I said nothing;
I was embarrassed and perplexed.

Who has come to disturb my rest,
These three nights?
And put my earnestness to the test,
These three nights?

God’s holy messenger,
To set out my mission
Against the sins of the clergy,
And their lack of contrition.

Second night:
He did not smile;
He gazed upon me mournfully,
He stared upon me sorrowfully,

And he cried:
Shoot the Bishop!
Shoot the Bishop!”

I loaded my pistol,
But resolved nothing;
I was strengthened, yet unwilling.

“I passed another miserable day;
I wanted to do what was right
- I was afraid of doing what was wrong,
And another night came.”

Third night:
He was displeased;
He frowned upon me angrily,
He glared upon me dreadfully;

And he thundered:
Shoot the Bishop!
Shoot the Bishop!
Shoot the Bishop!”

My scruples were removed,
My purpose was now clear;
To betray the scriptures and do murder.

I talked of blood and the field of Armageddon;
It was clear that I was to be the hand,
that was “To pour out the cup of the wine
Of the fierceness of the wrath of God”.

I confided in my wife,
But to my plan she then attested;
Betraying me to the magistrate,
Who then had me arrested.

Yet, as they led me to my cell,
Sure as a doom-laden bell,
Once more the mandate fell,
As I heard the angel yell:

Shoot the Bishop!
Shoot the Bishop!
Shoot the Bishop!
Shoot the Bishop!”

(Lyrics & Music: Gary Miller / incorporating quotes attributed to Jonathan Martin)

© 2017 Whippet Records

Copyright Control MCPS/PRS


Background Text

Jonathan Martin left the Navy when his ship was broken up in 1810, returning to Norton, near Stockton-on-Tees, where he worked as a tanner and married his first wife, Martha, who bore him a son, Richard, in 1814. Jonathan’s time in the Navy, however, had given him a love of roving, “which prevented him from settling down to regular employment”.

After his parents died, he became a Wesleyan preacher in 1814, strongly denouncing the Church of England and gaining a reputation for disrupting church services. His passionate religious fervour led him to indulge in frequent fits of rage against the clergy, coming to a head with his plot to assassinate the Bishop of Oxford, Edward Legge, at a confirmation service in Stockton in 1817, for which he was arrested, tried and committed as a lunatic at West Auckland asylum.

Jonathan described the Bishop of Oxford thus, “I was astonished at the wonderful size of the bishop. I had never seen so corpulent a man before. Surely he hath drunk a great deal of wine for his stomach’s sake.”



This song is part of the 'Mad Martins' project.

'Mad Martins' depicts the extraordinary lives and times of the Martin brothers, William (self-proclaimed “natural philosopher and philosophical conquerer of all nations”), Jonathan (incendiary of York Minster) and John (eminent painter, engraver, town-planner and host), who were born in the late eighteenth century in the South Tyne area of Northumberland.

Other songs from 'Mad Martins' include : -

'A Painting for Charles', 'A Thin Veneer', 'At the Assizes', 'The Dandy Horse', 'Drainage Scheme', 'Four Bare Walls', 'God and Air', 'In Dreamtime', 'In the Navy (Jonathan's Chantey & Hornpipe)', 'The Leaping Swordsman', 'Madhouse Martin', 'Maria's Testimony', 'Medals''My 'Life'', 'The Paint and the Pain', 'Pandemonium', 'Picture the Scriptures', 'Searching for the Waters of Oblivion', 'Three Mad Martins (Epitaph)', 'Three Mad Martins (Prophecy)', 'Wicked Old World', 'William, You Were Really Something'.


Releases (on Whippet Records unless otherwise stated)


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