BELLMAN, THE. English, Reel. England, Northumberland. A Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The title may refer to any number of individuals who in the course of their duties rang a bell, but surely one of the most bizarre was the figure known as 'The Fatal Bellman'. In 1605 a wealthy merchant and tailor named Robert Dow bequeathed the sum of £50 to the church of St. Sepulchre, near Newgate Prison in London, with the direction that it was to be rung outside the cell of the condemned at midnight before the day of execution. A clerk at the church was known as 'The Bellman of St. Sepulchre' and performed his duty at the appointed hour, ringing a handbell and reciting:
All you that in the condemned hole do lie,
Prepare you for tomorrow you shall die;
Watch all and pray: the hour is drawing near
That you before the Almighty must appear;
Examine well yourselves in time to repent,
That you may not to eternal flames be sent,
And when St. Sepulchre's Bell in the morning tolls
The Lord above have mercy on your soul.
Printed source: Seattle (William Vickers), 1987, Part 3; No. 560.
X:1 T:Bellman, The M:C| L:1/8 S:William Vickers' music manuscript collection (Nothumberland, 1770) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:A A2 ce feca|ecca ec B2|A2 ce fefa|ecBA F2A2:| |:agfe face|BABc ac B2|A2 ce fefa|ecBA F2A2:||