X:1 T:Pedlor, The, A Retreat M:6/8 L:1/8 R:Retreat March S:The Buttery Manuscript (c. 1784-1820, No. 5) N:John Buttery (1784-1854) joined the 34th Regiment in Lincoln, N:Lincolnshire, England, in 1797 and served as a fifer until discharged in N:1814. His large ms. contains marches, duty calls, dance tunes and airs. Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:G GAG G2e|dBG ABA|ABd e3|GAG gfe| dBG ABc|d3 G E2:||:g2g gag|fed e2e| efg a3|g2g gag|fed efg|dBG A3:|
PEDLAR, THE. AKA "Pedlor, The." English, Air (3/4 time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. "The Pedlar" was a song composed for the ballet-pantomime Oscar and Malvina (1791) at the end of the 18th century. Oscar and Malvina were characters in the story of the bard Ossian; Oscar was Ossian's son (and the grandson of Irish hero Finn McCool, or, in the Scottish version, Fingal), while Malvina was Oscar's wife, and, after he died, the caretaker for the blind bard. Music for Oscar and Malvina was initially composed by the famous theatrical composer William Shield, however, he abruptly left his position as Covent Garden's house composer in the autumn of 1791, and William Reeve completed the score (which borrowed in part from existing melodies).
The air was set with directions for a country dance in Thompson's Twenty-four Country Dances for the Year 1796 (London). "The Pedlar" also saw service in the British army as a retreat (signalling end-of-the-day duties), as evidenced by its appearance in the music copybook  of John Buttery (1784-1854), a fifer with the 37th Regiment, British army, who served from 1797-1814 and who late in life emigrated to Canada. It also appears as a retreat in the c. 1780-1804 music copybook of fifer John Fife, who may have been from Perthshire and who may have served at sea. John Hoff, a flute player from Lancaster, Pa., also entered it into his own 1797 copybook (No. 139).