Yorkshire Bite (2) (The)
Back to Yorkshire Bite (2) (The)
YORKSHIRE BITE , THE. English, Country Dance Tune (2/4 time). A Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The melody is from T. Skillern's Twenty-Four Dances for 1788. Dance instructions along with the music were printed in Samuel, Ann and Peter Thompson’s Twenty Four Country Dances for the Year 1789. No relation to "Yorkshire Bite (1) (The).” The “Yorkshire Bite” was a broadside ballad published in 1782, which relates the tale of a farm lad who, flush with money from selling his master’s cow, frustrates a robber by throwing it into the woods after he is accosted. While the villain thrashes through the brush for the loot, the boy makes off with the felon’s horse and the accumulated booty packed on it. Such stories (i.e. youths outwitting outlaws, i.e. the trickster tricked) are apparently known throughout Europe. An American a derivation of the song is found in “The Crafty Farmer." The term ‘Yorkshire Bite’, meaning a condition of overreaching, or trapping/being trapped in a profitless bargain, probably stems from this. The term ‘bite’ used as a synonym for ‘trick’ (as both noun and verb) was in common use in England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries but was obsolete by 1890. Yorkshire persons of business, like proverbial Yankees, were reputed to have been shrewd and astute in their practices.
Another view of the origin of the term is presented by John Nicholson (Folk Lore of East Yorkshire, 1890, p. 98, a view supported by Samuel Maunder in The Treasury of Knowledge and Library Reference, 1853):
When George IV said to Jemmy Hirst, “So you are a Yorkshire bite?” Jemmy replied, “Yes, but not for thee!” and thought the term signifies keenness in the way of overreaching, it probably had its origin in the proverbial Yorkshire hospitality, which decreed “You mun hev a bite o’ summat afooar y’u gan,” and that meant the best the house could provide.
Source for notated version:
Printed sources: Kidson (Old English Country Dances), 1890; p. 17.