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Tunes from William Hathaway

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Place Collected: Cheltenham
Date collected: 1911
Collector: Sharp, Cecil

William Hathaway and William Charles Stagg

Cecil Sharp’s chance encounter with two workmen then living in Hammersmith, whom he heard whistling, 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, and two others, 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, 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.

Title pdf page ABC X:№
Belle Isles March 4 10
British Grenadiers, The 2 5
Constant Billy 5 13
Country Gardens 2 3
Cuckoo’s Nest, The 1 4
Gallant Hussar 6 16
Greensleeves 1 1
Hey diddle dis 6 18
Highland Mary 3 7
Jockey to the Fair 7 21
London Pride 1 2
Maid of the Mill 5 14
Marriage Vow, The 6 17
Monk’s March 4 10
Nutting Girl, The 3 9
Old Trunk Hoe 4 12
Old Woman Tossed up in a Blanket, The 5 15
Princess Royal 2 6
Shepherd’s Hey 4 11
Sherbourne Jig 7 19
Swaggering Boney 7 20
Trunkles 4 12
Young Collins 3 8

Notes on the Tunes

Belle Isles March The same tune as Heel and Toe or Monk’s March. Another episode in the Seven Years War, Belle Isle is off the south coast of Brittany and was occupied by the British and handed back to the French at the end of hostilities.

The British Grenadiers The dotted a in bar 9 is not dotted in the ms, although it is followed by a quaver.

Country Gardens Country Gardens is the name used in CJS’s notes of WH’s playing. In the Stagg ms the same tune is called Morning Star. CJS noted that WH played the quavers in bar 3 dotted, but not those in bar 2. Neither is dotted in the Stagg ms. CJS also noted that the e in bar 12 was played “neither flat nor natural.”

Greensleeves CJS noted of Wm Hathaway’s version: “Jig danced over bacca pipes”, for which this tune was widely used.

Hey Diddle Dis was a “morris off”.

Highland Mary Wm Hathaway (or perhaps Cecil Sharp) called this tune Country Gardens, and it is named as such in the copy of Stagg’s ms, which gives Highland Mary (the widespread name for the tune) in brackets. Mason had no name for this tune, so Sharp suggested the name Country Gardens. On 01.08.07 WH played for CJS a version of the usual Country Gardens tune, named as such (no 1375); in the Stagg ms the same tune is called Morning Star.

Old Trunk Hoe/Trunko  Stagg’s version is the same as John Mason’s.

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 Coswolds it is used as a solo morris dance from several different villages, and in Abingdon as a set dance. It occurs in both minor (as the original) and major versions.

Sherbourne Jig [sic] “The dance is a morris jig for 2. At the second part, which is played very deliberately, instead of capering, the dancers bump down on the knee.”