Dorsetshire March (The)

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DORSETSHIRE MARCH, THE. AKA - "Dorchester March," "Dorcestershire March." AKA and see "Captain Reid's Delight," "Third Buffs March (The)." English, Scottish; March. England; Lincolnshire, North-West. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Huntington, Miller): AABB (Knowles, Sumner). The name Dorset stems from the Latin term Dornsaete, signifying the people whom made their homes around the Roman city of Dorchester (Matthews, 1972). Early printings of the melody appear in the Gillespie Manuscript (Perth, Scotland, 1768, pg. 112), a volume entitled "A Collection of the Best and Most Favourite Tunes for the Violin," (appears as "Dorchester March"). This was followed by numerous printings in London music publications around the year 1770, particularly fife and flute tutors, and march collections (see listing at EASMES [1]). Winstock (1970) says the march was common in the Revolutionary War period in the British army, and was in use for many decades afterwards, as attested by its inclusion in turn-of-the-19th century music manuscript copybook of 37th Regiment (British) fifer John Buttery (as an untitled "A Slow March, or Long Troop"). A copy of a single-sheet printing of the melody [2], set for two violins along with a separate part for a guitar, was printed c. 1775, probably by London publisher William Forester (c.f. the initials "W.F." that appear at the foot of the page). Forster (1739-1808), and later his son, also William (1764-1824), maintained a business that printed and sold, among other works, Haydn's string quartets.

The melody was also very popular in America in the Revolutionary and post-war eras, as attested to the number of times it appears in musicians copybooks, including those of Sally and Eliza Marchant (Newport, 1783), Lucy Muzzey (Vermont, 1795), George Willis (1795), fluters Henry Beck (1786) and John Greenwood, and John Curtiss (Cheshire, Connecticutt, 1800), to name just a few. "Dorsetshire March" appears in the music manuscript copybook of Henry Livingston, Jr. 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 Québec 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.

The first strain of the melody is shared with "The Wiltshire militia's march or Ld Bruce's", which appears in a manuscript collection by musician William Crawshaw entitled English airs, possibly written in the 1760s or 1770s. Lord Bruce is known to have had a connection with the Wilshire militia. The march was entered into the mid-19th century music manuscript collection of County Cork uilleann piper and Church of Ireland cleric James Goodman, under the title "Third Buffs March (The)."

Sources for notated versions: the 1823-26 music mss of papermaker and musician Joshua Gibbons (1778-1871, of Tealby, near Market Rasen, Lincolnshire Wolds) [Sumner]; the c. 1800 music copybook of William Litten, a ship's fiddler with the British East India fleet, a volume that made its way to the island of Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. [Huntington].

Printed sources: Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs), vol. 6, 1803; pp. 72-73. Huntington (William Litten's), 1977; p. 38 (appears as "Dorchester March"). Johnson (A Further Collection of Dances, Marches, Minuetts and Duetts of the Latter 18th Century), 1998; p. 14 (set as a duet). Knowles (Northern Frisk), 1988; No. 116 (includes harmony part). Miller (Fiddler's Throne), 2004; No. 335, p. 197. Sumner (Lincolnshire Collections, vol. 1: The Joshua Gibbons Manuscript), 1997; p. 73 (originally set in the key of 'C' major). Thompson (The Compleat Tutor for the Fife), 1760; pp. 32-33.

Recorded sources:




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