Black Mary Hornpipe (2)

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X:1 T:Black Mary's Hornpipe B:Walsh M:3/2 L:1/8 K:D AFDF AFDF G2 E2| AFDF ABcd e2 E2| AFDF AFDF G2 E2| afdf ecAc d2 D2:| ecAc ecAc d2 B2| ecAc efge a2 E2| AFDF AFDF g2 e2| afdf gecA d2 D2:||



BLACK MARY('S) HORNPIPE [2]. AKA - "Black Mary's Hole." AKA and see "Shields Hornpipe (The)." English, "Old" Hornpipe (3/2 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. This melody, re-published in John Offord's Greeny Cheshire Way and Tony Doyle's The Plain Brown Wrapper Tune Book, is a variant of "Shields Hornpipe (The)," which appears in William Vickers' 1770 Northumbrian dance tune collection. Vickers' title ("Shealds Hornpipe") is probably a reference the town of North Shields on the north bank of the River Tyne in Northumberland, eight miles north-east of Newcastle upon Tyne (and not to English composer, violinist and violist, William Shield, 1748-1829, who, like Vickers, was from the northeast of England). It also appears in the Thomas Hammersley music copybook (London, 1790). The original appearance of the melody is in John Walsh's Third Collection of Lancashire Jiggs, Hornpipes, Joaks etc. (London, 1735), Walsh's Compleat Country Dancing Master, vol. 3 (London, 1735, reprinted in 1749), and Daniel Wright's Compleat Collection of Celebrated Country Dances (London. C. 1740), published by John Johnson, where it appears as "Black Mary's Hole." The tune appears in a few American musicians' manuscripts, including those of Whittier Perkins (Massachusetts, 1790) and Edward Murphey (Newport, 1790).

John Ashton's The Fleet; its river, prison and marriages [London, 1888, pp. 77-80], gives the following account of what seems to have been the original title of the tune, "Black Mary's Hole":

The Gentleman's Magazine of 1813 (part ii, p. 577), in an "Account of the Various Mineral Waters around London" gives: Lastly...may be mentioned the spring or conduit on the eastern side of the road leading from Clerken Well to Bagnigge Wells, and which has given name to a very few houses as 'Black Mary's Hole'. The land here was, formerly, called Bagnigg Marsh, from the river Bagnigg, which passes through it. But, in after-time, the citizens resorting to drink the waters of the conduit, which was then leased to one Mary, who kept a black cow, whose milk the gentlemen and ladies drank mixed with the waters of the Conduit, from whence, the wits of the age used to say, 'Come let us go to Black Mary's hole.' However, Mary dying, and the place degenerating into licentiousness, about 1687, Walter Baynes Esqre, of the Inner Temple, enclosed the Conduit in the manner it now is, which looks like a great oven. He is supposed to have left a fund for keeping the same in perpetual repair. The stone with the inscription was carried away during the night some ten years ago. The water (which formerly fed two ponds on the other side of the road) falls into the old Bagnigge River.

This etymon, however, is contested in a pamphlet called An experimental enquiry concerning the Contents, Qualities, Medicinal Virtues of the two Mineral Waters of Bagnigge Wells &c. by John Bevis M.D. This pamphlet was originally published in 1767, but I quote from the third edition of 1819. "At what time these waters were first known cannot be made out with any degree of evidence. A tradition goes that the place of old was called Blessed Mary's Well, but that the name of the Holy Virgin having, in some measure, fallen into disrepute during the Reformation, the title was altered to Black Mary's Well, as it now stands upon Mr. Rocque's map, then to Black Mary's Hole; though there is a very different account of these latter appellations; for there are those who insist they were taken from one Mary Woolaston, whose occupation was attending at a well, now covered in, on an opposite eminence, by the footway from Bagnigge to Islington to supply the soldiery, encamped in the adjacent fields, with water. But waiving such uncertainties, it may be relied on for truth, that a late proprietor, upon taking possession of the estate, found two wells thereon, both steaned in a workmanlike manner; but when, or for what purpose, they were sunk, he is entirely ignorant.

But Black Mary's Hole, during the first half of the last [18th] century, had a very queer reputation. There was a little public house, with the sign "The Fox at Bay" which probably had something to do with the numerous highway robberies that occurred thereabouts.

In Cromwell's History of Clerkenwell pp. 318, 319, we hear the last of Black Mary's Hole. He says, "Beneath the front garden of a house in Spring Place, and extending under the foot-pavement almost to the turnpike gate called the Pantheon Gate, lies the capacious receptacle of a mineral spring, which in former times was in considerable repute, both as a chalybeate, and for its supposed efficacy in the cure of sore eyes...About ten years back, when Spring Place was erected, the builder removed the external appearance of Walter Baynes's labours and converted the recepticle beneath into a cesspool for the drainage of his houses. The spring thus degraded, and its situation concealed, it is probable that the lapse of a few more years would have effaced the memory of it forever, had not an accident re-discovered it in the summer of 1826. Its covering, which was only of boards, having rotted, suddenly gave way, and left a large chasm in the footpath. After some efforts, not perfectly successful, to turn off the drainage, it was arched with brickwork, and a leaden pump placed over it, in the garden where it chiefly lies. But the pump being stolen in the following winter, the spring has again fallen into neglect, and possibly this page alone will prevent its being totally forgotten.



Additional notes

Source for notated version: - the c. 1847 ms. of Ellis Knowles (Radcliffe, Lancashire) [Doyle].

Printed sources : - Doyle (Plain Brown Tune Book), 1997; p. 4. Wright (Wright's Compleat Collection of Celebrated Country Dance Tunes), 1740; p. 34.

Recorded sources: -



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