Litchfield Races

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LITCHFIELD RACES. English, Jig. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The melody (with dance instructions) first appeared in John Hinton's periodical Universal Magazine of Knowledge and Pleasure (London, 1755). Dance instructions were published that same year in Peter Thompson's Twenty Four Country Dances for the Year 1755. The tune was later published by Charles and Samuel Thompson in their first country dance collection (London, 1757) and again in their Complete Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. 3 (London, 1773). John Johnson included it in his 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. 8 (London, 1758). In manuscript form it was entered in the copybook collections of Northumbrian musician William Vickers (1770), Benjamin Cooker (c. 1770) and Perthshire fiddler John Fife (who also appears to have taken his book to work on while at sea). In America, "Litchfield Races" appears in the c. 1825 music commonplace book of fifer Ebenezer Bevens (Middletown, Conn.). The Litchfield race ground was at Whittingdon Heath, and the races, held in September, were one of the largest and best attended meets in the 18th century in the Midlands. There, in 1748, was a riot at the races, in which "the late Duke of Bedford, and other gentlemen, where insulted and beaten. The rioters (the chief of whom was a Mr. Toll, a dancing-master) were afterwards tried at Stafford assizes, and fined 6s. 6d. each for this offence" [explanatory note to "The Litchfield Defeat" in John Almon, The New Foundling Hospital for Wit, 1786).

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Thompson (Compleat Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. 1), 1757; No. 100.

Recorded sources:

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