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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