Merry Girls of York (The)
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MERRY GIRLS OF YORK, THE. AKA and see "Harrogate Lodge." English, Country Dance Tune (6/8 time). B Flat Major (McGlashan): D Major (Aird): B Flat Major (Aird). Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The title perhaps refers to the young ladies who frequented the Assembly Rooms near York Minster, built in 1730 for the 3rd Earl of Burlington in the Palladian neo-classical style. They featured elegant interiors and sumptuous decoration, and were a center of social life in the 18th century.
The melody appears in a few late 18th century published collections and musicians' manuscripts from lowland Scotland. It was included in Alexander McGlashan's A Collection of Scots' Measures, Hornpipes, &c. (Edinburgh, c. 1780), with the caption "Danc'd by Aldridge," referring to a famous dancer who graced the English popular stage in the latter 18th century. In addition to James Aird's printing (see below), "Merry Girls..." also appears in Neil Stewart's Select Collection of Scots, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, Jiggs & Marches (Edinburgh, 1788, p. 100). New York publisher G. Gelfert issued the tune as "Merry Girls of New York" in his Gentleman's Pocket Companion for the German Flute or Violin (1820, p. 21), altering the title to insert the word "New" before York.
A tune also called "Merry Girls of York" appears in the music copybook, dated 1801, of John Beach, of Gloucester, Massachusetts, who appears to have arranged music for bands, but this is a duple-time, unrelated meldody. However, another American manuscript, compiled c. 1825 by Ebenezer Bevens of Middletown, Conn., gives this same duple-time tune as "Merry Girls of New York," and thus continues the tendency for American musicians/publications to identify the title with their city.
Frank Kidson notes the tune is in Hodsall's A Collection of the most Fashionable Country Dances for the Year 1810 for the Piano Forte or Harp under the title "Harrogate Lodge," but this has not been able to be verified. A search of the contents on EASMES finds the volume in question, but the title is not in the index.
Source for notated version:
Printed sources: Aird (Selections of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs), vol. II, 1782; No. 88, p. 32 & No. 89, p. 33. Kidson (Old English Country Dances), 1890; p. 17. McGlashan (Collection of Scots Measures), c. 1780; p. 16.