Because He was a Bonny Lad
X:1 T:Because I was a bonny Lad M:C| L:1/8 R:Reel B:David Young – Drummond Castle/Duke of Perth Manuscript (1734, No. 34) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:Amix e|Tc>Baa faef|TcAec B/B/B Be|Tc>Baa faef|TcAec A/A/A A:| |:e|Tc>BAc defd|TcAec B/B/B Be|Tc>BAc defg|a/^g/f/e/ ac A/A/A A:|]
A popular country dance dating back to at least 1752, according to Alburger (1983), when fiddler and dancing master John McGill of Girvan wrote down the instructions for his pupils. Glen finds its earliest appearance in print in Robert Bremner's 1757 collection (p. 14), in which year it also appeared in London publishers Charles and Samuel Thompson's first country dance collection (London, 1757). The tune appears, however, in the somewhat earlier Drummond Castle Manuscript, inscribed "A Collection of Country Dances written for the use of his Grace the Duke of Perth by David Young, 1734." Dancing master and musician Young's MS was in the possession of the Earl of Ancaster at Drummond Castle in the early 1970's, and hence its present-day title. Nearly simultaneously, the melody was printed in London by John Walsh in his Third Book of the Compleat Country Dancing Master (1735). John Oswald included it in his Caledonian Pocket Companion (London, 1760). It retained its popularity through that century and into the next, for the title appears in Henry Robson's list of popular Northumbrian song and dance tunes, which he wrote c. 1800, and is a core tune in Northumbrian piping repertory. The tune, attached to an alternate second strains, turns up in southwestern Pa. as 1) a fife tune (4/4 time) in the repertory of Hiram Horner (1944) who had the tune from a Scottish fifer, and known simply as "Old Bagpipe Air" [Bayard, 1981; No. 252, p. 216], and 2) as a jig called Nancy Fat
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Bcd G2G|gfg dcB|BdB G2G|A3 A2z|
played by fifers in Greene County, Pa., and by one "crippled Jack Anderson" in particular [Bayard, 1981; No. 566, p. 503]. A reel setting of the melody appears in the large mid-19th century music manuscript collection of County Cork cleric and uilleann piper Canon James Goodman under the title "Bonny Lads" (vol. 3, p. 107). See also Highland Ladies Fishing
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, a version of the tune from Glasgow piper, pipe teacher and pipe-maker William Gunn from his Caledonian Repository of Music Adapted for the Bagpipe (1848).
County Leitrim fiddler and piper Stephen Grier's "Peggy Reilly" is cognate in the first strain with "Because He was a Bonny Lad."