Little Nabob

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LITTLE NABOB, THE. Scottish, Country Dance Tune (2/4 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The tune was first published by John Watlen in his Celebrated Circus Tunes (Edinburgh, 1791), and reprinted five years later by Glasgow publisher James Aird in his Selections of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 4 (1796). In fact, Aird reprinted the whole of Watlen's collection without mentioning the source or giving credit. Watlen noted the tune was "Performed by the Little Devil," a reference to a performer at the Royal Circus by the name of Giles Sutton, a late 18th/early 19th century equestrian, acrobat and dancer who often entertained at the Royal Circus and similar venues. Sutton began his career with Hughes' Royal Circus in St. George's Fields around 1785. He was advertised in 1793 with Astley's Royal Circus as "Mr. Giles Sutton, the original Little Devil," who would "ride with his head upon the saddle, full speed, likewise will leap over a garter placed in four different parts of the riding school." Tragedy struck in December, 1797, when his mother, actress and singer Miss Froment (1756-1797, who had married an obscure performer named Sutton at the age of 16) drowned along with members of Astley's troupe while crossing St. George's Channel. Giles Sutton also danced in the chorus of British Amazons, and danced Health in Fire and Sprit, pantomimes given at Sadler's Wells in 1803. He was back with the Royal Circus in 1806, acting in pantomimes and performing on horseback, where he continued for some years. [Highfill, Burnim, Langhans, A Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers & and Other Stage Personnel in London: 1660-1800, 1991]

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 4), 1796; No. 157, p. 59.

Recorded sources:




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