Well Done Jack (2)

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WELL DONE JACK [2]. English, Country Dance Tune (cut time). A Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The melody was composed by dancing master Nathaniel Kynaston (1683-1757). Although very little is known about him, Kynaston appears to have been active from 1705 to about 1722 in the Shropshire/Wales border area. The Selattyn parish register in Shropshire records that a “Nathanial Kynaston, gent., & Mrs. Elizabeth Davies, both of Oswestry” married on August 25th, 1719—although whether this was the dancing master is unknown. Kynaston appears to have been a not uncommon name in Shropshire, and the family includes Sir Humphrey Kynaston, a notorious 16th century highwayman and Robin Hood figure, who preyed on the wool merchants of Shrewsbury.

London publisher John Walsh (the elder) published some 120 of Kynaston’s tunes and dances over several publications. "Well Done Jack" appears in Walsh’s Twenty-Four Country Dances for the Year 1718 and his Second Book of the Compleat Country Dancing Master (London, 1719, republished in 1735 and 1749). London musician Thomas Hammersley also included the melody in his 1790 music copybook. The title perhaps honors the "Jack Tar" who manned the British fleet in engagements during the War of the Spanish Succession (1702–13), or perhaps the naval victory over the Spanish fleet at the Battle of Cape Passaro [1] (1718). Graham Christian (2015) suggests the name Jack may refer to John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough, the most famous general, diplomat and politician of his era who was the subject of numerous tunes and dances.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Barnes (English Country Dance Tunes, vol. 2), 2005; p. 140. Christian (A Playford Assembly), 2015; p. 129.

Recorded sources: Wild Goose Records WGS 314, Belshazzar’s Feast – “Mr. Kynaston’s Famous Dance, vol. 2” (2003).




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