Annotation:Drunken Wives in Pearson's Close (The)

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X:1 T:Drunken Wives of Pearson's Close M:C| L:1/8 R:Reel K:Amix f|eaca e/e/e g2|dgBg d/d/d Tf2|eaca e/e/e f2|dfec A/A/A A:| |:f|ecAc e/e/e g2|d/c/B/A/ GB d/d/d Tf2|ecAc e/e/e Tf2|dfec A/A/A A:|]

DRUNKEN WIVES IN PEARSON'S CLOSE, THE. AKA and see "Carnoucie's Rant." Scottish, Country Dance Tune (4/4 time). The melody appears in the Bodleian Manuscript (in the Bodelian Library, Oxford) and is inscribed "A Collection of the Newest Country Dances Performed in Scotland written at Edinburgh by D.A. Young, W.M. 1740." The first strain of "Drunken Wives..." was also included in Edinburgh fiddler and writing master Young's MacFarlane Manuscript (c. 1741, No. 118, p. 182), as the second strain of a tune entitled "Carnoucie's Rant." Young gave the alternate name "Boga 'n Lochan" for the tune in the index to one of his collections, but the later "Bòg an Lochan" is a very different tune. A ballad entitled "The Four Drunken Wives of Belsiehil"[1] was published in 1710 by printer John Reid whose shop premises was in Pearson's Close; perhaps there is a connection with Young's title.

A 'close' is an alleyway that lets out into a courtyard surrounded by buildings. Pearson's Close was in Edinburgh, where printing and bookselling businesses were located, but it was (not quite) demolished to make way for the New Town construction in the mid-18th century. To save time and money, it was decided to build upon the new Royal Exchange building on pre-existing closes: Mary King’s Close, Stewart’s Close, Pearson’s Close and Allan’s Close, rather than completely demolishing them; constructing an even foundation at the same level as the Royal Mile and using first storeys of the closes as the substructure of the Royal Exchange building.

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  1. "To the Tune of The Four drunken Maidens at the Nether-bow."