Shew's the Way to Wallington (1)

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X:1 T:Shew’s the Way to Wallington [1] L:1/8 M:9/8 S:Bruce & Stokoe – Northumbrian Minstrelsy (1882) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:G B2f ede f3|cAf cAA ABc|B2d fef g3| dBg dBG ABc:||:dBd cAc B2G|Acf cAA ABc| dBd cAc B2G|dBg dBG ABc:||:B/c/dg B/c/dg B2G| A/B/cf cAc ABc|B/c/dg B/c/dg B2G|B/c/dg B/c/dg ABc:| |:G2g fed f3|cAf cAc ABc|G2g fef g3|B/c/dg dBG ABc:|



SHEW'S THE WAY TO WALLINGTON [1]. English, Slip Jig and Air (9/8 time). England, Northumberland. G Major (Bruce & Stokoe): A Major (Cocks). Standard tuning (fiddle). AABBCCDD. "'Shew's the Way to Wallington' has always held a premier position as a pipe tune in the fancy of small-pipe players. The tune is, to use a colloquial expression, as old as the hills, but the ballad that was first adapted to it is lost. The verses here appended were composed by a person of the name of Anderson, a miller at Wallington, who hunted with his landlord (Mr. Blackett) upon a certain grey mare. On rent-days Anderson, who was a good piper, used to go with the other tenants to pay his rent—but not with money. Taking the pipes under his arm, he struck up and amused the landlord and tenants with his favourite tunes and songs the whole day long. The result of his piping was that he returned home with a receipt in full for his rent in his pocket, singing in triumph all the way to his little grey mare—'Show Me the Way to Wallington'" (Bruce & Stokoe).

O canny man, O shew me the way to Wallington,
I've got a mare to ride, and she's a trick o' galloping,
I have a lassie, beside, that winna give o'er her walloping,
O canny man, O shew me the way to Wallington. ..... [Bruce & Stokoe]

The tune was contained in the Northumbrian music manuscript collection of John Smith, dated 1752, which is unfortunately now lost. The contents were copied by 19th century folk-music collector John Stokoe in 1887, when the manuscript was in the possession of Lewis Proudlock. Stokoe's volume Northumbrian Minstrelsy had been printed five year prior, and his interest in Smith’s ms. demonstrates Stokoe's continuing commitment to older Northumbrian music.

A.L. Loyd in the forward to the 1965 edition of Northumbrian Minstrelsy (1882) relates an anecdote of William Whitaker (1876–1944), a Newcastle-born professor of music at the University of Glasgow:

"Whitaker tells of a German musician when confronted with ["Shew's the way to Wallington"], who asked incredulously: "Do you really tell me that the peasants in your district sing these songs?" Whitaker asked him why he doubted it. The German answered: "If your peasants can sing such songs they must be the most musical race in the world." Whitaker's reply was: "Who told you they weren't?"[1]


Additional notes

Source for notated version: -

Printed sources : Bruce & Stokoe (Northumbrian Minstrelsy), 1882; pp. 166–167. Cocks (Tutor for the Northumbrian Half-Long Bagpipes), 1925; No. 13, p. 10.

Recorded sources: -



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  1. Quoted in Stephen Campbell, PhD Thesis "Reconsidering and Contextualizing the Vernacular Tradition: Popular Music and British Manuscript Compilations 1650–2000", 2012.