X:1 T:Lilly, The M:6/8 L:1/8 R:Jig Q:"Allegretto" N:"Perform'd by Mr. Rickets B:John Watlen - The Celebrated Circus Tunes (Edinburgh, 1791, p. 7) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:D A|Add def|g2g g2e|(f/g/a)f ged|c(e/d/c/B/) A2A| Add def|g2g g2e|f/g/af gec|ddd d2:| |:f/g/|afd dcd|ecA A2f/g/|afd dcd|Ace g2e| faf eae|dad cac|Bgf edc|ddd d2:|]
LILLY, THE. Scottish, Country Dance Tune or Jig (6/8 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The tune appears first in print in John Watlen's Celebrated Circus Tunes (Edinburgh, 1791), where it was danced by "Mr. Rickets", a reference to John Bill Ricketts, a the star equestrian at Edinburgh's Royal Circus during the 1790-1792 seasons. The circus was a venue that was an expansion of Phillip Astley's London-based Royal Circus, and as such provided an alternative entertainment to concerts, opera and the theater, where equestrian acts, acrobatics, songs and dances, and pantomime were performed.
In 1792, the the year after Watlen's publication, the Scots-born Ricketts emigrated to America, where he became a circus promoter himself and flourished through the 1790's till about 1800, when his Philadelphia enterprise was destroyed in a fire on Dec. 17, 1799. He reportedly delighted his audiences by dancing hornpipes on the backs of galloping horses (Tribe), and toward the end of his career hired another famous American hornpipe dancer, John Durang, to produce pantomimes for him. Alan Jabbour (in "American Fiddle Tunes") says that circuses under his name appeared in New York City, Philadelphia, Norfolk, Charlestown, Albany, Boston, Hartford, and Montreal. Thus we have a performing and circus connection with three of the most popular hornpipes of all time: "Astley's Hornpipe," "Rickett's Hornpipe" and "Durang's Hornpipe (1)." See Rickett's Hornpipe for more.