Three Jolly Sheepskins (1)
X:1 T:Three Jolly Sheepskins  M:C| L:1/8 S:Fiddler John Locke, Herefordshire, collected by "Mrs. Leather." S:The tune was substituted by Sharp in place of an unknown tune S:played by the Flamborough dancers in December, 1910. B:Cecil Sharp - The Sword Dances of Northern England, Book II (1912, p. 10) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:A ABcd efec|BGEG BGEG|ABcd efec|BG (3EFG A2 (3EFG| ABcd efec|BGEG BGEG|ABcd efec|BG (3EFG A2 A2|| fgag fgag|fg (3agf [d2b2]ag|f^efg f2=e2|BcdB A2A2| fgag fgag|fg (3agf [d2b2]ag|f^efg f2=e2|c2 dB [E2A2][E2A2]||
THREE JOLLY SHEEPSKINS . English, Sword Dance Tune (2/2 time). A Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. Bayard (1981) in tracing the ancestry of the American tune "Black Eyed Susie," dates the tune to the 17th century and says it was popular then and throughout the 18th century. Versions have appeared in Aird (1778, vol. 1, No. 178), Oswald (1760, Caledonian Pocket Companion, vol. 2, p. 10), Dauney (1838, No. 31, p. 228), Walsh (1731, Compleat Country Dancing Master, vol. 1, No. 20), John Gay's Polly (Air 24), Moffat and Kidson (Dances of the Olden Time, 1912, p. 18) and Kidson (Old Country Dance and Morris Tunes, 1913, p. 4).
The sword dance is from the seaside village of Flamborough, east riding Yorkshire, England, however, the tune printed with the dance by Cecil Sharp in his Sword Dances of Northern England Book II (1912) was not the one the Flamborough musicians played that day, by rather one collected from a “gipsy fiddler in Herefordshire.” Sharp’s “gipsy fiddler” was named John Locke, of Leominster, Hereford, and Sharp had made wax cylinder recordings of his playing in 1909 (although he gave credit to "Mrs. Leather" for collecting the tune). In his small volume Sharp justified this tinkering with 'tradition' in the preface: “the tunes played on that occasion were neither particularly interesting nor suitable, and were not, moreover, in any way traditionally associated with the dance.” He does not even mention what melody was played by the Flamborough musicians in 1910.
A sheepskin reel involves a line of three dancers moving around three stationary objects, dancers or other target. See also "Three Sheepskins."