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KENTISH CRICKETEERS. English, Country Dance Tune (2/4 time); New England, Polka. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. Kent is the oldest county name in England, probably derived from the Celtic root word canto, meaning an edge or rim. The name Kantion was first recorded by seamen referring to the south-east corner of the island, bordered by the sea. Kent became one of the first Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England (Matthews, 1972). The English game of cricket is said to have originated in the sheep-raising country of the South East, the animals having nubbed the pastures into functional gaming grounds. The first recorded cricket match took place in Kent either in 1646 or in 1709 (when a Kent team played Surrey at Dartford). Cricket in Kent was further developed under the patronage of MP Sir Horace Mann (1744-1814) a member of the Hambledon club and several Kentish organizations. James Pycroft, in his 1854 book The Cricket Field: or, The History and the Science of Cricket, remarks:
In the last century, when the wagon and the packhorse supplied the place of the penny train, there was little opportunity for those frequent meetings of men from distant counties that now puzzle us to remember who is North and who is South, who is Surrey or who is Kent. The matches then were truly county matches, and had more of the spirit of hostile tribes and rival clans. "There was no mistaking the Kent boys," said Beldham, "when they came staring in the Green Man. A few of us had grown used to London, but Kent and Hampshire men had but to speak, or even show themselves, and you need not ask them which side they were on."
The melody appears in numerous printed country dance collections and musicians' manuscripts from the mid-to-late 18th century. Printed versions (usually under the spelling "Kentish Cricketters" include those in London publishers John Johnson's Choice Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. 3 (1744 p. 100), Walsh's Compleat Country Dancing Master (vol's 3 & 4, 1747, p. 106), Walsh's Fourth Book of the Compleat Country Dancing Master (1747), David Rutherford's Compleat Collection of 200 of the Most Celebrated Country Dances (1756, p. 100), and Longman and Broderip's Compleat Collection of 200 Favorite Country Dances (1781, p. 102). "Kentish Cricketters" appears in Bride's Twenty Four Country Dances for the Year 1769, "With proper Tunes & Directions to each Dance, as they are Performed at Court, at Almack's, and all other Publick Assemblies." This volume was also printed in London "for R. Bride, Successor to Mr. Waylett at ye Exeter'Change in ye Strand..." Manuscript versions appear in William Vicker's 1770 Northumbrian copybook, the Thomas Hammersely manuscript (London, 1790), and Joseph Barnes music manuscript (Carlisle, Cumbria, 1762, appearing as "The Honley Cricketers"). In America "Kentish Cricketeers" appears in Jeremiah Brown's commonplace book of melodies and country dances (Seabrook, New Hampshire, c.1782).
Source for notated version:
Printed sources: Barnes (English Country Dance Tunes), 1986. Callaghan (Hardcore English), 2007; p. 40 (appears as "Kentish Krickiters"). Miller & Perron (101 Polkas), 1978; No. 103.
Recorded sources: Pukka Records, The Oysterband - "20 Golden Tie Slackeners" (1984). Topic TSCD 752, The Oysterband - "Stepping Up" (2004. Compilation CD).
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