Queen's Shilling (The)

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QUEEN'S SHILLING, THE (Scilling na Bainriogna). AKA and see “Boy in the Gap,” “Forget Me Not (3),” "Kilkenny Boys," "Lady Mary Ramsey (2)," “Miss Ramsay (2).” Irish, Reel. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. Prospective soldiers were often enticed with a bounty to Reel. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. Prospective soldiers were often enticed with a bounty to enlist, to accept the bounty was known as “taking the King’s/Queen’s shilling.” It is said that the style of tankard with a glass bottom was developed so tavern patrons could guard against unscrupulous recruiters who might drop the coin surreptitiously into a drink, thus ensnaring the unwary. The story in undoubtedly apocryphal, and it has similarly been proffered that the glass-bottomed tankard enabled one to keep a watchful eye on an untrustworthy drinking companion.

The scilling or scylling was used in Anglo-Saxon times as money of account, even though no coins of that denomination existed. The word possibly derives from the Teutonic root skil meaning to 'divide', and indeed ancient shillings from Würzberg had crosses deeply indented on them to facilitate splitting the coin for ‘change’. Anglo-Saxon poems mention the scylling, and the 13th century poet Langland also mentions the coin by name. Formerly considered to be worth five pence, king William I fixed its value at twelvepence, and that value continued until 1971 when the currency was abandoned.

1708 shilling with a portrait of Queen Anne. Anne reigned from 1702 to 1714, and during her reign, the Act of Union formalized the unification of England and Scotland which had effectively taken place during the reign of James I of England.

O’Neill (1922) notes similarities with parts of the American reel “Arkansas Traveler.” “Queen’s Shilling (The)” shows up in Ireland as the third tune in a medley of flings called “Four Provinces Flings (3).”

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: O’Neill (Dance Music of Ireland: 1001 Gems), 1907; No. 752, p. 131. O’Neill (Waifs and Strays of Gaelic Melody), 1922; No. 238-C.

Recorded sources:




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