Norfolk Freeholders (The)

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NORFOLK FREEHOLDERS, THE. English, Jig. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The melody appears in print in Charles and Samuel Thompson's third collection of country dance tunes (London, 1773), and in the 1770 music manuscript collection of Northumbrian fiddler William Vickers (about whom little is known). There is an old song called "The Norfolk Freeholders" with a different melody, issued on various late 18th century songsheets. The ballad was originally published in The Court Parrot (London, 1734), "a new miscellany of prose and verse," in which it is directed that it be sung to the tune of "Hogan of Houghton." It supports the interests of Sir Edmund Bacon and William Woodhouse for a county election, and begins:

Ye Norfolk Freeholders, whose generous hearts
Are proof against bribes, and the Courtiers mean arts,
Of your Freedom and Power, express a true sense,
And bravely stand up in your country's defense.
Let no insignificant censures affright,
Nor deter you from acting what's honest and right;
For wise men agree (and 'tis sure the same thing)
That serving our country is serving our king.

Whig candidates Bacon and Woodhouse won their seats in 1734 despite the influence of Walpole, who had spent £10,000 of his own money to prevent the outcome. "Norwich citizens observed the victory with traditional sylvan festoons and a cheering accompaniment to the Norfolk freeholders, who rode out of town bedecked with gilt cockades" (quoted from Kathleen Wilson's The Sense of the People, 1995, p. 395).

Source for notated version: The 1770 music manuscript collection of musician William Vickers [1], Northumberland [Seattle].

Printed sources: Seattle (Great Northern/William Vickers), 1987, Part 3; No. 565. Thompson (Compleat Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. 3), 1773; No. 34.

Recorded sources:

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