Britons Strike Home

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X:1 T:Britons Strike Home M:3/4 L:1/8 R:Air S:William Clark of Lincoln music manuscript collection (1770, No. 40) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:D d2d2e2|(Tf3g) a2|d2e2f2|e2f2g2|a2g2f2|Te6:| |:Te6|e2e2f2|Te6|Tf6|f2f2g2|f2g2a2| a2g2f2|Tf3g e2|Tf6|Ta6|a2 (ba)(gf)|Tg6|Ta6| e2f2g2|f2g2a2|b2a2g2|f2g2a2|(gf)Te3d|d6:|]

BRITONS, STRIKE HOME. English, Air (3/4 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB: AAB (Cahusac). The air appears in John Gay's Beggar's Opera (1729), although it had originally been composed by Henry Purcell for his opera Bonduca. It appears in the [James] Gillespie Manuscript of Perth (1768) and a great many song folios and song-sheets, instrumental tutors, music collections, and musicians' manuscript copybooks of the 18th century. The melody was popular in the Revolutionary War with the British army, and presumably their Tory sympathizers. Sir Henry Clinton, one of the British commanders, called for it to be played at a ball in occupied New York, to which an American girl in attendance retorted he must have made a slip and should have said 'Britons, Go Home'" (Winstock, 1970, p. 73). Still, many Americans of the period identified with Britain, even if in a state of rebellion, and the tune perhaps had the meaning for them of supporting a just rebellion as Britions should. It appears, for example, in the music manuscript copybooks of flute player Henry Beck, and that of flute player Henry Livingston, Jr., along with many other British tunes and songs. Livingston purchased the estate of Locust Grove, Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1771 at the age of 23. In 1775 he was a Major in the 3rd New York Regiment, which participated in Montgomery's invasion of Canada in a failed attempt to wrest Quebec from British control. An important land-owner in the Hudson Valley, and a member of the powerful Livingston family, Henry was also a surveyor and real estate speculator, an illustrator and map-maker, and a Justice of the Peace for Dutchess County. He was also a poet and musician, and presumably a dancer, as he was elected a Manager for the New York Assembly's dancing season of 1774-1775, along with his 3rd cousin, John Jay, later U.S. Chief Justice of Governor of New York.

English song and stage composer Charles Dibdin [1] (1745-1814) produced an opera in 1804 that he named Britons Strike Home, based on songs contained in his publications of British War Songs (published monthly from June, 1803 to January, 1804). The patriotic songs were inspired by Bristish arms in the Wars with France and Napoleon of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, for which a grateful government awarded him a penison of £200.

Additional notes

Printed sources : - William Cahusac (The German Flute Preceptor), c. 1814; p. 23. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 69. Winstock (Songs and Music of the Redcoats), 1970; p. 74.

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