Bonny Boatman (The)
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BONNY BOATMAN, THE. Scottish, Air or Country Dance (cut time). C Major (Walsh): D Major (Oswald). Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The air is one of fifty in William Thomson's (c.1690–1756) Orpheus Caledonius (1725), where it is ascribed to Queen Mary's secretary David Rizzio, a renowned lutenist and singer (murdered at the hands of his political rivals). Thomson removed the ascription from his second edition and it is in some doubt whether Rizzio had anything to do with the tune. "Bonny Boatman" appears also as an air in John Mitchell's ballad opera The Highland Fair, or the Union of the Clans (1731), and Charles Coffey's The Merry Cobler, or the Second Part of the Devil to Pay (London, 1735). In country dance form, in London publisher John Walsh's Third Book of the Compleat Country Dancing-Master (1735, p. 33, and in the subsequent edition of 1749). It was also included in the 1790 music manuscript collection of London musician Thomas Hammersley.
Source for notated version:
Oswald (Caledonian Pocket Companion, Book 2), 1760; p. 28 (with variations).
William Thomson (Orpheus Caledonius), 1725; p. 8.
Walsh (Caledonian Country Dances), c. 1745; p. 54.