Cheshire Rounds (1)

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CHESHIRE ROUNDS [1]. English, "Old" or Triple Hornpipe (3/2 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Thompson): AABB (Chappell, Raven): AABBCCDD (Callaghan, Doyle). The name Cheshire is an ancient contraction of Chestershire. This melody appears in Henry Playford's [1] (1657-c. 1707) Dancing Master (11th edition of 1701 and subsequent editions through the 18th, in 1728), Walsh's Compleat Country Dancing Master (editions of 1718, 1731 and 1754), Johnson's Wrights Compleat Collection of Celebrated Country Dances, vol. 2 (London, 1742), and the Neal's Dublin-printed collection of 1726. The melody was used for songs in John Gay's Polly (1729) and other early 18th century ballad operas.

Manuscript versions include that of Henry Atkinson (Morpeth, Northumberland, 1694), which may predate Playford's printed version. See also the melody "Our Cat has Kitted" from the Joseph Kershaw manuscript for a 19th century version from North West England. "Cheshire Rounds" was included in the music manuscript copybooks of William Wooball (c. 1720), London musician Thomas Hammersley (1790) and American musician Ebenezer Parkman (Cambridge, Mass., 1721).

There are many variations of this popular and widespread melody. Pete Stewart, in his article "The Triple Time Hornpipe from 1550 to 1800" says: "Indeed, some actors became renowned for particular dances; George Daniel in his Merrie England in the olden time mentions in particular the actor Thomas Doggett (c. 1640-1721) who was probably responsible for the popularity of the Cheshire Rounds (see p. 68)." The Cheshire Rounds was a once-popular dance, and a precursor to the English hornpipe. Graham Christian (2015, p. 16) remarks: "The tune is almost the locus classicus of the 'Lancashire' or 'English' hornpipe in its early form, with its four-bar phrases and syncopations, and was likely already in use for solo dances. By the early 1700's, "Cheshire Rounds" had become a byword for hearty and even 'rough' dance, rather as "Trenchmore" had been in the previous generation." In Memorials of Old Cheshire (1910) it was recorded:

Doggat.jpg

"Cheshire Rounds" was a celebrated tune and dance sometimes danced by a couple (whose gyrations resembled the movements of the sun and moon) and sometimes by a single person. The only known portrait of Doggett (who founded the celebrated waterman's badge) shows him dancing the "Cheshire Round."

Chappell (1859) found several references to its performance:

In Bartholomew Fiar, at the Coach-house on the pav'd stones at Hosier-Lane end, you will see a Black that dances the Cheshire Rounds to the admiration of all spectators." (Play-bill by Dogget, 1691. In fact, the only known portrait of Dogget shows him dancing the Cheshire Round.)

John Sleepe now keeps the Whelp and Bacon in Smithfield Rounds, where are to be seen a young lad that dances a Cheshire Round to the admiration of all people." (Playbill)

It is one of the tunes called for by "the hobnailed fellows" in A Second Tale of a Tub (8vo, 1715).


Printed sources: Callaghan (Hardcore English), 2007; p. 76. Chappell (Popular Music of the Olden Time, vol. 2), 1859; p. 167. Christian (The Playford Assembly), 2015; p. 17. Doyle (Plain Brown Tune Book), 1997; p. 5 (Chappell's setting, preceded by two other parts). Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 15. Thompson (Compleat Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. 2), 1765; No. 188. Walsh (Complete Country Dancing-Master, Volume the Fourth), London, 1740; No. 114.

Recorded sources: BGOCD 354, Albion Country Band - "Battle of the Field (1997 reissue of 1976 Island recording). Island Records HELP25, Albion Country Band - "Battle of the Field" (1976).




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