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Jockey to the Fair (Tune not from William Hathaway)

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Source: Copy of Stagg manuscript
Place Collected: Hampstead
Collector: Sharp, Cecil

Cecil Sharp’s chance encounter with two workmen then living in Hammersmith, whom he heard whistling Morris tunes, had far-reaching consequences.  William Charles Stagg was one of the workmen.  He was the eldest son of the Lower Swell fiddler William Hathaway (see below) and had danced Morris at Stow-on-the-Wold.  Stagg gave Sharp information as to how to find Morris musicians in Gloucestershire and later copied 18 tunes which Sharp collected from his father, possibly with a view to using them with Mary Neal’s Espérance Club dancers.  Stagg gave his tunebook to Helen Kennedy and the manuscript was copied: the original is now lost. Our copy was given to us by Peter  Kennedy. Stagg’s no 19, Old Trunk Hoe, is the same as John Mason’s Old Trunko (Sharp no 1249).  We have not found an equivalent of Stagg’s no 20 Jockey to the Fair (this tune), in which the timing and placing of barlines are erratic.
Sharp’s interview with Stagg sent him to Gloucestershire on his next collecting trip, in March 1907.  The day after meeting John Mason at Stow-on -the-Wold he visited William Hathaway at 8 Burton Street, Cheltenham and noted many of the tunes used by the Lower Swell Morris Dancers, some of which he published in Folk Airs.
Paul Burgess, ‘The Mystery Of The Whistling Sewermen: How Cecil Sharp Discovered Gloucestershire Morris Dancing’, Folk Music Journal, 8, 2002, 178-94.

Jockey to the Fair
The oldest occurrence of this tune in print is reported to be in T. Straight’s 24 Favourite Dances for the Year 1779, under the title “General Action”. Skillern (Twenty Four Country Dances for the Year 1780), 1780 missed first place by just one year. He called it by the name we know.
The Traditional Tune Archive gives a list of printed sources. It was also published in Riley’s second Sett (sic) of Cotillions, New York, 1824. Many morris villages had the tune, usually as a solo dance (“jig” in morris parlance), though in Abingdon and Brackley it is used for a set dance. Search this website for the Gloucestershire versions. For others, see the Morris Ring.
The tune is used in Ireland for traditional solo “set dances”, which resemble clog dancing.

The tune is associated with a song. For a nice version, see Archer Goode. The 14 bars, which occur in the 2nd strain (B music) of many versions of the tune, are also a feature of the song.

notes by Paul Burgess and Charles Menteith