Jockey to the Fair (1)
X:1 T:Jockey to the Fair  M:6/8 L:1/8 R:Country Dance B:T. Skillern -- Twenty-Four Country Dances for the Year 1780 Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:G D|G2A B2c|d2g d2c|BdG GFG|A/B/cB A2d| d^cd efg|faf e2g|fed Ad^c|d3-d2:| |:d|afd c2c|dgd B2B|e2f g2f|e^de B2A| G2G G2B|d3g3|B2g BcA|G3-G2:|]
JOCKEY/JOCKIE TO THE FAIR  (An Riamanaige/Marcac ag an Aonac, Marcach chuig an aonach (An)). AKA – "Jogging to the Fair." AKA and see "General Action." English (originally), Morris Dance Tune (6/8 time) and March; Irish, Jig or Set Dance; American, Country Dance (6/8 time). G Major (most versions): A Major (Bacon & Karpeles–Headington): D Major (Bacon–Longborough). Standard tuning (fiddle). ABCB (Bacon–Ascot Under Wychwood): AAB (Harding): AABB (S. Johnson, Kershaw, Morrison, O'Neill): AABBB, x4 (Bacon & Mallinson–Bledington): ABCBCB' (Karpeles–Headington): ABCDCD (Mallinson–Headington): ABCBCBC (Bacon–Headington): AABBA'A'B'B' (Karpeles): ABCBCB (Bacon–Bampton, Bledington, Longborough): AAABBAAABBCCCB (Bacon–Ducklington): ABABCBABCBA (Bacon–Sherborne). The melody, dating at least from the mid-18th century, was a popular tune throughout England and served several functions, including dancing and marching. Morris dance versions are wide-spread and numerous and have been collected from the villages Adderbury, Ascot-Under Wychwood, Bampton, Bledington, Brackley, Ducklington, Headinton, Longborough, and Sherborne areas of England's Cotswolds. In the north, the title appeared in Henry Robson's list of popular Northumbrian song and dance tunes (The Northern Minstrel's Budget), which he published c. 1800. One version of the tune was used as a march in the British army during the Revolutionary War period (Winstock). The word 'jockey' is Scots in origin and derives from the word 'joculator', which by the 17th century meant an itinerant minstrel. T. Straight printed the tune in his 24 Favourite Dances for 1779 under the title "General Action." See also the derivative set dance "Hurling Boys (The)."
Novelist Thomas Hardy (1840–1928) mentioned "Jockey to the Fair" a few times in his novel Far from the Madding Crowd (1874, p. 46), where the melody was played by his protagonist Gabriel Oak, a bachelor shepherd who attended a country fair to look for work:
Gabriel’s hand, which had lain for some time idle in his smock-frock pocket, touched his flute which he carried there. Here was an opportunity for putting his dearly bought wisdom into practice. He drew out his flute and began to play "Jockey to the Fair" in the style of a man who had never known moment’s sorrow. Oak could pipe with Arcadian sweetness and the sound of the well-known notes cheered his own heart as well as those of the loungers. He played on with spirit, and in half an hour had earned in pence what was a small fortune to a destitute man.
In Ireland "Jockey to the Fair" (An marcach chuig an aonach) is the name of both traditional and contemporary solo set dances, one on the "approved" set dance list for Munster competitions. The jig was entered as "The Jockey" in American musician M.E. Eames' music manuscript book, frontispiece dated Aug. 22nd, 1859 (p. 78).