Man of Kent (The)
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MAN OF KENT, THE. English, Air (4/4 time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. The authors of The Kentish Garland, vol. 1 (1881), Julia H.L. De Vaynes and J.W. Ebsworth, in overheated prose explain the popularity of the song in southeast England:
Probably no Kentish song has ever attained such popularity throughout the length and breadth of the County as Tom D'Urfey's "Brave Men of Kent," which, in some rural districts, being handed down from father to son by tradition, has acquired such a flavour of age in its transit, that local Dryasdusts, who are the proud possessors of a printed or written copy, treasure it as carefully and handle it as tenderly as if it were an undoubted contemporary ballad on their valiant ancestors who successfully opposed the Conqueror at Swanscombe. ... [p. 133]
Chappell (1859) states this air was written by Leveridge ("Roast Beef of Old England (The)"), who appears to have written it on or before the year 1690 (for it is mentioned in The Essex Champion of that year). Not one but two sets of lyrics were written by Thomas D'Urfey—one by the above name and one in praise of fishing beginning "Of all the world's enjoyments" (which appeared in his play Masaniello). The latter begins:
Then who a jolly fisherman, a fisherman will be,
His throat must wet
Just like his net,
To keep out cold at sea.
"The Men of Kent" appears in D'Urfey's volume under the title "A New Song. Inscribed to the brave men of Kent: made in honour of the Nobility and Gentry of the Renowned and Ancient County." It begins:
When Harrold was Invaded,
And falling lost his Crown;
And Norman William waded
Through Gore to pull him down:
When Countys round with fear profound,
To mend their sad Condition;
And Lands to save, base Homage gave,
Bold Kent made no submission.
Sing, sing in praise of Men of Kent;
So Loyal, brave and free;
'Mongst Britain's race, if one surpass,
A Man of Kent is he.
Source for notated version:
Chappell (Popular Music of the Olden Time, vol. 2), 1859; p. 112.
D'Urfey (Pills to Purge Melancholy, vol. 2), 1719; pp. 4–5.