Pretty Betty Martin (1)

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X:1 T:Pretty Betty Martin [1] M:C| L:1/8 K:A efed cdec|B2e2B2e2|efed...



PRETTY BETTY MARTIN. AKA and see "Tip Toe Pretty Betty Martin," "High Betty Martin," "Tip Toe Fine," "Very Pretty Martin," “Betty Martin,” "Fire on the Mountain (1)," "Granny Will Your Dog Bite? (1)," "Old Mother Gofour," "Hog Eye (1)." American, Reel (cut time). USA, Kentucky. A Major. Standard or AEae tuning (fiddle). ABC. "Pretty Betty Martin" is an old and widespread song dating to the mid-18th century in America. The tune associated with it has numerous variations and titles, as indicated above. Jeff Titon (2001) suggests that “High Betty Martin” was the original title for the tune, and that “Fire on the Mountain” (the most well-known title today) originally went to another group of tunes that included “Granny Will Your Dog Bite?” Source Hiram Stamper (1893-1991) had these lyrics for the melody:
Hiram Stamper

Pretty Betty Martin, she tiptoe, tiptoe,
Pretty Betty Martin, tiptoe fine.
Fire on the mountain, run boys run,
Fire on the mountain, run boys run.

Jim Dixon posted the following in the Mudcat Forum [1] in Nov., 2009:

I found a brief fragment in a book entitled The Youth of Jefferson, Or, A Chronicle of College Scrapes at Williamsburg, in Virginia, A.D. 1764 by John Esten Cooke (New York: Redfield, 1854), page 64:

"Jacques uttered an expiring assent, and Belle-bouche commenced singing with her laughing voice the then popular ditty, "Pretty Betty Martin, tip-toe fine."

[That's just to establish how old it is.]



From American Notes and Queries, Volume 3 (Philadelphia: The Westminster Publishing Co., July 13, 1889) page 132:

The bit of "an old song" quoted on p. 110 would seem to be a corruption. There was a famous Maryland belle and beauty, Elizabeth Martin, familiarly known as "Pretty Betty Martin," in whose honor a song was written, beginning with or having for a refrain, I am not sure which, the lines:

Pretty Betty Martin
Tip-toe! tip-toe!
Pretty Betty Martin
Tip-toe fine!

Betty Martin's grandson was William Paca, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and Chief Justice of Maryland, and Chief Judge of the U. S. Court of Appeals, besides filling other places of honor, and the ancestral home was on Wye Island, in one of the rivers tributary to the Chesapeake.

From Colonial Mansions of Maryland and Delaware by John Martin Hammond (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1914), page 39:

William Paca, builder of the Paca House, and who deserves and has received far more study than this memoir can give, was born in Harford County, Maryland, October 31, 1740. His father was John Paca; his mother, Elizabeth Smith Paca. The name is Italian in origin, family tradition asserts, and there is a touch of the Roman in the features and olive skin of the Signer as they appear in his portraits. Elizabeth Smith, wife of John Paca, father of William, was a daughter of that "pretty Betty Martin" with whose name an old nursery rhyme is so free. It runs as follows:

Pretty Betty Martin,
Tip-toe! Tip-toe!
Pretty Betty Martin,
Tip-toe fine!

Pretty Betty Martin,
Tip-toe! Tip-toe!
Couldn't find a husband
To suit her mind!

The story is that "Pretty Betty Martin" was born in England and when she came to this country, a young woman, had so many suitors on the ship in which she made the voyage that she could not choose among them, so, consequently, rejected all. It has been said that she was a niece of the Duke of Marlborough, but even this reflected effulgence of glory can add little to her fame as the heroine of the jingle just quoted.

As recorded by the newspaper the Atlanta Constitution, the tune was played at the April, 1913, Atlanta fiddlers’ convention by M.Y. Robinson, of Dunwoody, Georgia.


Additional notes
Source for notated version : - Hiram Stamper (Hindman, Knott County, Kentucky, 1977) [Titon].

Printed sources : - Titon (Old Time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes), 2001; No. 130, p. 157.






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