Bobby Shaftoe (1)

Find traditional instrumental music
Jump to: navigation, search

Back to Bobby Shaftoe (1)[edit]


BOBBY SHAFTOE/SHAFTO [1]. English, New England; Polka, Reel or Sword Dance. England, Northumberland. C Major (Karpeles, Peacock): D Major (Brody, Raven): G Major (Barnes, Miller & Perron {polka}, Raven {sword dance version}): B Flat Major (Stokoe). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Raven & Karpeles {sword dance versions}, Bruce & Stokoe): AAB (Brody): AABB (Miller & Perron): AABBC (Barnes): AABBCCDD (Raven): AABBCCDDEEFFGG (Peacock). "Bobby Shaftoe" is better known to recent generations as a nursery rhyme and jump-rope song. There is a morris dance {called "Castlering"} from Lichfield, England, which is performed to an altered version of this tune (tune and dance printed in Raven, pg. 87). The 'B' part of the tune is the same as "Ladies Briest Knot/Lady's Breast Knot(s)," "Bonny Breast Knot (1)," and, in America, "Jaybird," "Skip to My Lou," and "Daddy Shot a Bear." The sword dance version is from the village of Askham Richard, England (Karpeles). Perhaps the oldest known version of the tune is in the manuscript of Henry Atkinson, dated 1694/95, under the title "Brave Wille Forster." Atkinson was a fiddler from Hartburn, Northumberland, in the North East of England (as evidenced by the bow markings in the manuscript, and the local place names). See also the musically distanced Lichfield, Staffordshire, morris variant "Castlering".

Bobby Shaftoe was a real person--one Robert Shafto (1732–1797), who was MP for County Durham from 1760 to 1768. He was a man of fashion who married two heiresses in turn and was known for his charm and elegance. His sister was Doroty, Countess of Lisburne, who married the 4th Viscoutn Lisburne, later (1766) the Earl of Liburne. Her portrait was painted by Joshua Reynolds (however, the Robert Shafto whose portrait was also painted by Reynolds was not Bonny Bobby Shafto—rather he was the eldest son of Robert Shafto of Benwell and died in 1780). Researcher Matt Seattle notes: "The tune was taken up by Robert Shaftoe along with the old words as an electioneering song in 1761" [1].

Bobby Shaftoe's gaen to sea, Siller buckles on his knee;
He'll come back and marry me, Bonny Bobby Shaftoe.
Bobby Shaftoe's bright and fair, Combing down his yellow hair;
He's me awn for ever mair, Bonny Bobby Shaftoe. .... (Northumbrian, Bruce & Stokoe)

Bobby Shaftoe's gone to sea,
Silver buckles at his knee:
He'll come back and marry me,
Bonny Bobby Shaftoe!

Bobby Shaftoe's tall and slim,
Always dressed so neat and trim;
The ladies they all look at him,
Bonny Bobby Shaftoe!

Bobby Shaftoe's gone to sea,
Silver buckles at his knee:
He'll come back and marry me,
Bonny Bobby Shaftoe! ..... (English, Time Hart)

Bobby Shaftoe's gone to sea,
With silver buckles on his knee;
He'll come back and marry me,
Bonny Bobby Shaftoe.

Bobby Shaftoe's bright and fair,
Combing down his yellow hair,
He's ma' ain for ever mair,
Bonny Bobby Shaftoe.

Bobby Shaftoe's getten a bairn,
For to dandle in his airm;
In his airm, and on his knee,
Bobby Shaftoe loves me. .... (Scottish)

Source for notated version: Dudley Laufman (N.H.) [Brody].

Printed sources: Barnes (English Country Dance Tunes, vol. 2), 2005; p. 8 (appears as "Beamish Hall Revisited," the name of a dance set to the tune). Brody (Fiddler's Fakebook), 1983; p. 50. Bruce & Stokoe (Northumbrian Minstrelsy), 1882; p. 115. Karpeles & Schofield (A Selection of 100 English Folk Dance Airs), 1951; p. 32. Kennedy (Fiddlers Tune Book), vol. 1, 1951; No. 52, p. 26. Miller & Perron (101 Polkas), 1978; No. 100. Peacock (Peacock's Tunes), c. 1805/1980; No. 44, p. 20. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 161, p. 87. Topliff (Selection of the most popular melodies of the Tyne and the Wear), c. 1815.

Recorded sources: Front Hall 03, Dudley Laufman- "Swinging on a Gate." Front Hall 010, Fennigs All Stars- "The Hammered Dulcimer Strikes Again."




Back to Bobby Shaftoe (1)[edit]