Sheila Gordon, while looking through Giggleswick Parish records on microfilm at North Yorkshire County Record Office, came across the following hand-written ballad1.
The Three Settle Beaus in high glee -
1st. Three bucks of high renown And character so so sirs All met in Settle town About three weeks ago sir The first of these smart blades (A dasher ’mongst gay fellows,) Sells razors, scissors, spades, Pans, kettles, nails & bellows Chorus Too ral loo ral loo Widdle waddle widdle Whack fal la ral loo Oh Settle is the Devil
4th. Suppose this Trio met To ply about the glasses Each toper rather wet With toasting round the lasses Alas the luckless night! A night deep fraught with woe sirs Lord Mansfield vow’d he’d fight With Gally-pot3 the beau sirs, Too ral loo ral loo Widdle waddle widdle Whack fal la ral loo Oh Settle is the Devil
The ballad was undated and appeared amongst Giggleswick churchwardens’, overseers’ and vestry record books and papers dating from the mid-1700’s. This cannot definitely be taken as its date, however, as it had been written on both sides of a single loose sheet of paper interleaved with other records. The song is in the style of the penny or halfpenny broadside ballads popular from the 16th century onwards, which were sold on the streets and performed at such places as inns and fairs. Glees, convivial part songs usually for three or more unaccompanied male singers, were also popular.
Enquiries were made in two local publications for any further information about the origins of the ballad but a blank was drawn. However, Pat Smith contacted the English Folk Dance and Song Society in London, and was advised by Elaine Bradtke, Assistant Librarian, that she had found a reference to the tune “Lunnun is the Devil” in an article on Shakespeare in Nineteenth-Century Songsters, as being in a book called Davidson’s Universal Melodist.
Mary Slater decided to get down to some serious detective work, and via an internet library search found an 1847 copy of Davidson’s Universal Melodist “consisting of the music and words of popular standard and original songs etc. arranged so as to be equally adapted for the sight-singer, the performer on the flute, cornopean, accordion, or any other treble instrument” in Manchester Central Library. A visit there found the tune accompanying a song called “Hamlet”. The song was a burlesque version of the Shakespearean play. Another song set to this tune, “Hodge and his Leather Breeches”, a ballad about a countryman’s trip to London and the ridicule he is subjected to due to his leather breeches, can be seen in facsimile (lyric only) on the website of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, at www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/ballads, and dates from the first half of the 1800s.
The first verse of the Settle ballad, set to the tune “Lunnun is the Devil”7 as found in the “Universal Melodist”, is shown here.
Pat Smith, on seeing the tune, recognised it as being very similar to that of a well-known traditional Irish song, “Courtin’ in the kitchen”. Various versions of this can be seen on the internet, with slight notational variations, but basically it is the same tune.
So what of the characters in the ballad? The “hero of our song”, the nicknamed “Lord Mansfield” in verse four, is a “retailer of the law”, i.e. probably an attorney. Lord Mansfield was Lord Chief Justice for thirty two years between 1756 and 1788 and died in 1793. If he was still in the popular consciousness when the Settle ballad was written, this could have been the late 18th or very early 19th century. Similarly “Galen” (being the name of a Greek physician) or “Gally-pot” could be a physician or apothecary. “Rough Hard-ware” speaks for itself. Relevant professionals and tradesmen listed in The British Directory, 17848, are Wm. Carr and also Christopher Picard, attorneys at law, Thomas Hargraves and also Thomas Wilson, hardwaremen, James Kenyon, nail manufacturer, James Rawsthorne, apothecary and Abraham Sutcliffe, MD. The Universal British Directory, Yorkshire Names, 1793-17988, lists surgeons Joseph Hall and William Sutcliff, and attorneys William Carr, Hartley & Swale, and John Peart. Tradesmen include Jonathan Baldwin, nailer, Thomas Wilson, ironmonger and William Twisleton, tinman. Later, Baines’s Directory of 18228 lists Richard and William Carr, J. and W. Hartley, Rd. Leeming and William Robinson as solicitors, William Sutcliffe, physician, John Tatham and Son, druggists, William Bowskill, black- and whitesmith, John Ralph, whitesmith, Richard Maudsley, tinner, Robert Lancaster, ironmonger, and Chr. Redmayne, furnishing ironmonger. Our three “beaus” might be any of these or their apprentices or employees.
Finally - who might Sergeant Time-piece have been? There are references to Edward Parkinson, clock and watchmaker (Directory 1793-1798 and Baines). But more tellingly Thomas Hargraves, clockmaker, is listed in the directory of 1793-1798, and Thomas Hargrave, clock and watch maker, in Baines in 1822. The family of Hargrave, also variously spelt Hargraves or Hargreaves, were well-known Settle clockmakers - William worked from 1710 to 1750 approximately, Thomas from around 1790 to 1834, and John was working in 18409. There is a reference to a Serjt. Hargro(?a)ves in a pension list loosely inserted in the 1779-1785 volume of the Settle Town Book10 . Following an Act passed in 1757, a certain number of men from each county, with a quota from each parish, were picked by ballot to serve in the militia for three years, called up yearly for training with expenses to be borne by the township. There are references in the Settle Town Book (August 1801-April 1802) to Thomas Hargraves being a balloted militia man and his wife and children receiving payments in consequence. In 1798 one Robert Hargraves from Settle was listed as being enrolled in a yeomanry troop called the Yorkshire West Riding Cavalry, first raised in 179411. Could one of these be the pensioned Serjt. Hargraves, and Sergeant Time-piece?
At which hostelry did all the action take place - Golden Lion, New Inn, Talbot, Spread Eagle, White Horse, Naked Man, Royal Oak, or Joiners Arms - all listed in Baines?
Who wrote this ballad, and how did it come to be mixed up with Giggleswick records? The lyricist was clearly classically well educated, (referring to Galen, and to the “medean cup” - the cup of poison offered to Theseus by Medea). For example, a local poet of the period was Robert Kidd, who had been writing master at Giggleswick School and wrote a patriotic poem in 1794 on the subject of the volunteer cavalry12. Could he have been involved with record-taking in Giggleswick, but also liked to record his nights out in Settle?!
So some extremely circumstantial evidence does seem to suggest a date for the ballad of perhaps 1780 to around 1800. Has anyone any further knowledge or ideas?