Free Masons (2)

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FREE MASONS [2]. AKA - "Free Mason's March." AKA and see "Clegg Lane," "Come Let Us Prepare, "Free Mason's Health." English, Jig or March. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AA'BB. The second strain bears some resemblance at the end to "Irish Washerwoman (The)." A tune by this title appears listed in William Vickers' 1770 Northumbrian dance manuscript, but is one of the "missing tunes." According to Henry Evans (Masonry and Magic in the 18th Century), Freemansonry in 18th century England was frankly humanitarian and convivial, with business being swiftly concluded the assembly thereafter smoking churchwarden pipes, emptying bowls of bishop, singing songs and glees, and speechifying. Although the English Masons traced their roots rather benignly to the medieval building guilds, on the Continent the order took on a much more mystical and sinister aspect, with claims attempting to tie it to ancient and obscure Egyptian mysteries.

The march was also entered (as "Free Masons/Freemason's March") into the c. 1730 music copybook of Rev. James Pike (Somersworth, N.H.) and the c. 1776-1778 music copybook of fifer Thomas Nixon Jr. [1] (1762-1842), of Framingham, Connecticut. Nixon was a thirteen-year-old who accompanied his father to the battles of Lexington and Concord, and who served in the Continental army in engagements in and around New York until 1780, after which he returned home to build a house in Framingham. The copybook appears to have started by another musician, Joseph Long, and to have come into Nixon’s possession. American flute player Henry Livingston entered it into his music copybook as "Free Mason's Health," a title also used by John Buttery (1784-1854), a fifer with British army's 37th (North Hampshire) Regiment of Foot (so designated in the army reorganization of 1782), who served from 1797-1814. The march is contained in his large music copybook collection [2]. Later in life Buttery emigrated to Canada, where he died. The first strain of "Free Mason's [2]/Free Mason's March" is cognate with that of "Weaver's Jig (The)" in the large music manuscript collection of County Cork cleric and uilleann piper Canon James Goodman, and "Bundle and Go (3)."

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 1), 1782; p. 60. Howe (First Part of the Musician's Companion), 1842; p. 12. Trim (The Musical Legacy of Thomas Hardy), 1990; No. 34.

Recorded sources:




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