Virgin Pullets

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VIRGIN PULLETS. English, Reel. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). ABB. The melody was first published in John Young's Second Volume of the Dancing Master [1] (3rd edition), published in London in 1718. It also was published in Young's 4th edition of 1728, and Walsh and Hare's The Second Book of the Compleat Country Dancing-Master (1719). A pullet is a young hen, but the title is a reference to young women or, derisively, to an opponent's cockfighting entry. In the 19th century 'Virgin-pullet' was a term for a prostitute as: 'a woman who, though often trod, has never laid'. The term had sexual connotations in the 17th century as well, as in this excerpt from this pamphlet, purported to be James Batson's jailhouse autobiography, published as "A Rogue who became a pretty Soldier and saw much of Europe, finally dying by the Rope at home in 1666." [2]

I left the jail with a full resolution never more to disoblige my master. I lived so sedate and modest for a little time after this that it surprised my master, who continually heaped new favours upon me, and I, leaving off drinking for the present, grew amorous. To this purpose I made choice of a waiting maid, a country lass in dress, but a courtier in keeping her word. She was young in years, but old in cunning, carried all her fortune about her, and, being fatherless, for the more decency and security of her person served an aunt of hers, who kept a tavern, where I was acquainted. I set my heart on this virgin pullet, and one day, putting my hand upon her soft bubbies, she gave me such a kick that I defy the best Flanders mare to have outdone her. She withdrew into her chamber, and from that time fled from me as if I had been the devil. I was up to the ears in love, and knew not what to do. However, at last, I wrote a billet doux, and accompanied it with a present. The poor harmless creature, who had been several times upon trial before, and still pleaded, "Lord, I know not what you mean," bit at the bait, received the present, heard the message, and gave me leave, under the pretence of quenching my thirst, to pay her a visit, which I did, and from that moment she began to fleece me, and her aunt to pluck my feathers. Our love grew so hot that the customers who used the tavern took notice of it; therefore, to save her reputation, for she passed for a maid, I took lodgings for her, and by that means got her from her aunt.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Williamson (English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish Fiddle Tunes), 1976; p. 31.

Recorded sources:




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