Peggy Bawn (1)

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PEGGY BAWN (Mairgreadin Ban). AKA - "Peggy Ban," "Peggy Bawd." Irish, Scottish, English; Slow Air (3/4 time). D Major (most versions): G Major (O’Farrell/Pocket). Standard tuning (fiddle). One part (Aird): AB (O’Farrell, O'Neill): ABB (Gow/Repository): AABB (Gow/Carlin). “Old,” says Gow (1806), and, as a song [Roud 661], it dates at least to the second half of the 18th century, where the words appear in the Vocal Companion (1796, wherein the song is dated to c. 1772). William Shield used the song in his opera Marian (1788), as did Thomas Dibdin in his comedy Five Miles Off; or, The Finger Post. Mike Yates finds "Peggy Bawn" in a chapbook dated 1764, probably printed in Belfast (although no printer's imprint appears). The song's provenance is unclear, and it appears in English, Scottish and Irish collections of essentially the same era. It is often described as "Irish" and seems to have been popular in Ulster and the West of Scotland. Anne Gilchrist discussed "Peggy Bawn" in the Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society (Dec., 1936):

Duffy, writing in 1845, remarks that "the existence of this ballad is traceable for a century - it is probably much older. It bears strong evidence of having been written in Ulster, where it holds its ground with undiminished popularity to this day." A scrap of a Manx-Gaelic version (probably a translation from the Ulster song), to a simpler form of the tune, was noted by Dr. Clague in the Isle of Man. See Journal, vol viii, p 308. Moore wrote his "Song of Innisfail" (They came from a land beyond the sea) to the tune "Peggy Bawn" but as far as I am aware this is the first time the original song and its tune have been printed together, under its proper title. It is possible that this tune was also sung to the "Peggy Bawn" or "Molly Bawn (or Vaughn)" ballad best known in England as "The Shooting of his Dear." ... It seems probable that the "Peggy Bawn" tune is a modernized version of the Scottish ballad-air "Earl Richard". [Ed. - The connection with "Molly Vaughn" is disputed].

The lyric in the Scots Musical Museumm (1803) begins:

As I went o'er the Highland hills,
To a farmer's house I came;
The night being dark and something wet,
I ventur'd into the same.
Where I was kindly treated,
And a pretty maid I spied,
Who ask'd me if I had a wife?
But marriage I deny'd.

"Peggy Bawn" was one of the English-language songs arranged by Ludwig van Beethoven. Robert Burns wrote his poem "Man was made to Mourn" (beginning, "When chill November's surly blast") as a song to be sung to the air of "Peggy Bawn," and it is dated 1785 in his manuscript commonplace book. The melody (as "Pegey Band") was also entered as a retreat march (signalling end-of-day in military camp) into the music copybook [1] 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.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 5), Glasgow, 1801; No. 170, p. 63. Carlin (The Gow Collection), 1986; No. 554 (appears as “Peggy Bawd”). Gow (Complete Repository, Part 3), 1806; p. 12. Hughes (Gems from the Emerald Isles), London, 1867, No. 62, p. 15. Johnson (Scots Musical Museum, vol. 6), 1803; p. 525 (appears as "As I went o'er &c."). O’Farrell (National Irish Music for the Union Pipes), 1804; p. 17. O’Farrell (Pocket Companion, vol. IV), c. 1810; p. 92. O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 207, p. 36.

Recorded sources:

See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]
See notes to the song at Mainly Norfolk [3]




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