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Princess Royal

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Source: Clive Carey ms, Cecil Sharp ms № 2488 both at Vaughan Williams Memorial Library
Place Collected: Longborough
Date collected: 22 March 1913, 13 May 1910

Henry “Harry” Taylor was 68 in 1910. He had led the Longborough morris. The last time that Taylor danced with a side was at the Jubilee of 1887. Cecil Sharp noted his dances with the tunes, which Taylor sang to him; he is said to have never learnt an instrument, though Kenworthy Schofield implies that he was a fiddler. Clive Carey also noted some of his tunes.

Princess Royal was composed by Irish harper Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738), who called it “Miss MacDermott, or The Princess Royal”.  The MacDermott princes traditionally presided at the inauguration of the kings of Connacht. Hence the reference to the “Princess Royal”.
William Shields adapted the tune for his song “The Arethusa,” in his opera The Lock and Key, performed in 1796. In the Cotswolds it is used as a solo morris dance from several different villages, and in Abingdon as a set dance. O’Carolan’s original composition is in the minor mode. Some of the versions found in the tradition are in the major.
note by Charles Menteith