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The 'barbarous old English jig': the 'Black Joke' in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

This article explores the series of tunes, songs, and dances entitled the Black Joke' (or joale'), or similar variant, tracing their origins, distribution, popularity, and influence, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The historical meaning of the word yoke' as used in the context of this song/tune is investigated. Furthermore, offshoots and variations from the 'Black Joke' tune/song are examined, including the collection of tunes arising from the 'Black Joke' that incorporated the word yoke' in their title.

Evidence is adduced that the 'Black Joke' became extremely popular from the early eighteenth century, entering many areas of cultural life, including the theatre, as both a lewd song and a dance, and ballad operas and songbooks of the day. The tune also became popular in society for country dancing at court, public balls, and masquerades. Additionally, sets of variations on the tune were composed and used as a method of demonstrating musical virtuosity.

'The Black Joke' was published in the eighteenth century both as a country dance and as a bawdy song. It is feasible that the bawdy nature of the song caused the tune to become a signifier for lewdness and, as a consequence, to become extremely popular. Letters, anecdotes, and advertisements in newspapers from the collections of the British Library demonstrate the tune's popularity, distribution, and cultural significance. These newspapers also point to the tune's use in military music, and provide examples of horses and ships named after the tune.

The earliest known version of the 'Black Joke' (or loak) and associated songs is a single sheet in the Bodleian Library entitled The Original Black Joke, Sent from Dublin (c.1720) (Figure 1).(1) This bawdy song describes a range of men from varying professions and their desire for a lady's 'coal black joke, & belly so white'.

The Original Black Joke, Sent from Dublin (c.1720)

No mortal sure can blame ye man,
Who prompted by Nature will act as he can,
Wth a black joke, & belly so white:
For he ye Platonist must gainsay,
that will not Human Nature obey,
in working a joke, as will lather like soap,
& ye hair of her joke, will draw more yn a rope,
with a black joke, & belly so white.

The first yr came in was an English boy,
& then he began for to play & toy,
With her black &c.
He was well vers'd in Venus's School,
Went on like a Lyon came off like a fool,
From her Coal black &c.

Then Shonup a Morgan from Holly-head
Was stark staring mad to go to bed,
To her black &c.
His Cruper her saddle did not fit,
So out of door she did him hit;
With her Coal black &c.

Then hastily came in a Hilland man,
His Chanter & Pipe both in his hand,
To her black &c.
But his main spring it was not strong
For he could only flash in the pan
Of her Coal black &c.

A Frenchman oh yn wth ruffles & wig
With her he began for to dance a Jig
With her black &c.
& wn he felt wt was under her smock,
Begar said Mounsier 'tis a fine Merimot
With a Coal black &c.

A rich Dutch Skiper from Amsterdam
He came wth his gilt ready in his hand,
To her black &c.
He fancy'd himself very fit for ye game,
She sent him to Holland all in a flame,
By her Coal black &c.

The good Irish Man he cou'd not forbear
But yt he must have a very good share,
Of her black &c.
Madam said he for money I have none
But I'll play a tune on ye jiging bone
Of your Coal black &c.

Then next came in a brave Granadeer,
& calls in for plenty of Ale & beer,
For her black &c.
The curling sly Jade show'd him a trick
& sent him away wth fire in his stick
From her Coal black &c.

Traverse ye Globe 8c you'l find none,
Who is nott addicted & very much prone,
To a black &c.
The Prince, ye Priest, ye Peasant do love it,
& all degrees of Mankind do covet,
A Coal black &c.

The rigid recluse wth his meager face,
From fasting & prayer wd quickly cease,
For a black &c.
Let ye Clergy Cant & say wt they will
They stop ye mouth & tickle the Gill
Of a Coal black &c.

The Bishop in his Pontifical Gown,
Wou'd tumble another Susanna down,
For her black &c.
The Lawyer his Client & cause wd quit
To dip his Pen in ye bottomless Pit
Of a Coal black &c.

Edgar V. Roberts states that 'the word joke was a bawdy name for the female genitalia'. (2) Francis Grose's Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue defines 'Black Joke' thus: 'A popular tune to a song, having for the burden, "her black joke and belly so white"; figuratively, the black joke signifies the monosyllable.' (3) The definition given under 'Monosyllable' is 'a woman's commodity'. John S. Farmer, in Slang and its Analogues Past and Present has this entry for 'Black Joke': 'the female pudenda. See Monosyllable for synonyms. Said to have been the burden of an obscene song, circa 1811.' (4) Both these sources support Roberts's conclusion.

Roberts himself cited a version of the song entitled The Original Coal-Black Joak (c.1730). (5) This is a truncated version of the song and reproduces just the first, ninth, tenth, and eleventh stanzas of The Original Black Joke, Sent from Dublin, condensing the missing material into one new stanza.

The Original Coal-Black Joak(c.1730)

No moralist since can blame ye Man
that's prompted by nature to act as he can
with a Coal-black Joak 8c Belly so white
for he the Platonist must gainsay
that will not human Nature obey
in working a Joak that will lather like Soap
& ye hair of her Joak will draw more than a Roap
& her black Joak & Belly so white.

Traverse the Globe and you'l find none
That are not addicted & very much prone
To a Coal-black Joak & Belly so white
The P--e, the P--t, the Peasant do love it
And all Degrees of Mankind do S--e it
With a Coal-black Joak yt will make a Man roar
And ye H--s of her Joak will draw Ship to Shore
With her black Joak and Belly so white.

The Rigged recluse with his Magger face,
From fasting & praying will quickly cease,
For a black Joak and Belly so white,
Let the C--y cant and say whoat they will
They'd stop the Mouth and tickle the Gill
Of a Coal-black Joak yr will make a Man roar,
And the H--r of her Joak will draw more yn a Roap
And her black Joak and belly so white.

The B--p in his pon--al Gown,
Will tumble another Susanna down,
For a black Joak and Belly so white,
The Lawyer his Cause & Chart would quit,
To dip his Pen in the bottomless pit,
Of that Coal-black Joak that will make a Man roar,
And ye H[--]rs of her Joak will draw Ship to ye Shoar,
With her Black Joak and Belly so white.

On the basis of this shortened version, Roberts was led to assert that the song is permeated with anti-Catholic sentiment. Certainly, this is possible if just considering The Original Coal-Black Joak, which highlights stanzas with an anti-clerical theme. However, if The Original Black Joke, Sent from Dublin is also taken into account, then the argument is much weakened. The Original Black Joke, Sent from Dublin does indeed mention the bishop in his pontifical gown, but the canting clergy and the recluse fasting and praying suggest a much more general anti-clericalism. Other characters named in the song include an English boy, a Welshman from Holyhead, a Highland Scotsman, as well as a Frenchman, Dutchman, and Irishman, all partaking of her 'coal black joke and belly so white', so the targets of the song's satire are very broad indeed.

Vic Gatrell has a slightly different take on the song in his book City of Laughter, where he connects the lines 'No mortal sure can blame the man, / Who prompted by Nature will act as he can [...] For he the Platonist must gainsay, / That will not human Nature obey' to the libertine movement of the eighteenth century. (6) He describes this movement and its general ideology as turning on three assumptions. 'The first was that the pursuit of sexual pleasure was justified by the urgent promoting of "Nature". The second was that because women were beings as "natural" as men, the sexes' desires and pleasures were identical. The third assumption followed, that woman hungered for the penis, and that the penis was the tree of life.' (7) So the song could be seen as one that proclaims sexual desire to be entirely natural. The nationalities and professions of the men seeking the 'black joke' are simply exemplars of the essential nature of desire.

The Original Black Joke, Sent from Dublin also has the Dutchman with 'his gilt ready in hand', ready to pay for the 'coal black joke', whereas the Irishman has no money and offers instead to 'play a tune' on her 'jig[g]ing bone', leading to the hypothesis that the song refers to a prostitute and a selection of her clientele. Vic Gammon notes that to jig had the connotation to have sex. (8) Further evidence that the song could refer to a prostitute is found in A New Flash Song-Book (c.1725), in which a song describes one 'Miss Kitty' who is renowned for her 'Black Joak and Belly so white', which she refuses to surrender for a crown but willingly gives up in exchange for a purse of gold. (9) Another ballad, The Harlot Unmasked (1720?), says about the prostitute of the title: 'all her concern's to supply her black joke'. (10)

More evidence for a connection with prostitution can be gleaned from a booklet titled The Female Glossary (c.1732), ostensibly written by an 'Old Trader'. This purports to be a dictionary of slang names for prostitutes, and describes the 'Black, White, Red, and Brown Jokes' (all of which are found as titles for 'joke' tunes) as prostitutes of varying degrees of merit:

  The Joke is the noblest of all the vendible Species, and very seldom
  to be got under half a Piece, the Ladies who sell these, will use you
  much better than most of the trading Community, frequently giving you
  a good Song into the Bargain. There are no Jokes on tiother Side of
  the Water, and very few in Drug-Lane: So let young Chapman [sic] take
  care they are not bit, for the Merchants of both of these Places will
  pretend to furnish them with very good ones. There are several sorts
  of Jokes, all distinguish by their Complexions. I shall say
  something of the Nature of each of them.

  The Black Joke, according to Albumazar, and Erra Pater, is the best
  for Service, as those who dispose of them are the most honourable:
  They will neither force their Wares upon you, nor refuse 'em at a
  tolerable Price. It is commonly of a proper Temperature.

  The White Joke is generally young and tender, there being very few
  that continue of this Colour after they are full grown; I should
  rather chuse to call it a foquette.

  The Red Joke is very apt to take Fire, and is much more chargeable
  than any of the Rest, it being commonly Work enough (and often too
  much) for any one Man, tho' never so laborious, to supply it;
  inexperienced Dealers ought in an especial manner to be caution'd
  against being too busy with this Sort.

  The Brown Joke is fittest for those who are afraid of Expenses, for a
  Man may satisfy it without endangering his Substance. 'Tis very
  proper for all that are turn'd all of Fifty, and for young Men that
  are Consumptive. I could say much more on this jocular subject... (11)

The same publication also lists 'Coal-Hole' and 'Kitty-my-Shaw', (12) recalling 'Miss Kitty' and her 'Black Joak and Belly so white' in A New Flash Song-Book, and the lady's 'coal black joke' in The Original Black Joke, Sent from Dublin. Additionally, in The Musical Miscellany, there is a song under the title 'The Nut-Brown Joke; or, K--y's Magick Circle'. (13) A further instance of the name Kitty used in connection with prostitution is found in the ballad opera adaptation of Hogarth's Harlot's Progress, presented at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, in October 1738, which includes a character called Kitty, who is an associate of the eponymous harlot. Later in the century, the name Kitty is inexorably linked with the celebrated courtesan Kitty Fisher (Catherine Maria Fischer) (1741?-67). Marcia Pointon states that 'the name "Kitty" appears to have been popular for actual or fictitious courtesans, perhaps as a consequence of May Fisher's success'. (14)

Some other 'Black Joke' songs include The Coal Black Joke (c.1730), a single sheet which, in the British Library copy, is heavily over-scored, rendering some of the words unintelligible. (15) This is not the same song as The Original Coal-Black Joak: the words are somewhat different, and the lady picks her customer's pocket quite clean, but the 'black joke and belly so white' refrain and general lewdness of tone remain constant. The New Black Joke (c.1775) is a reworking of The Original Black Joke, Sent from Dublin, which again lists a selection of men and their desire for a 'black joke and belly so white'. (16) Here, though, there is no direct suggestion of a monetary transaction, so the song is somewhat distanced from the prostitution theme, particularly when the last stanza declares: 'I'm sure it is easier far to withstand, / A purse of bright Guineas put into your hand, / Than a coal black joke'. The first stanza states: 'I have reason to think that as sure as we eat and as sure as we drink we love black jokes and bellies so white'. The New Black Joke thus lends additional substance to Gatrell's argument that these songs relate to the eighteenth-century libertine movement.

'The Red Joke' in Mad Tom's Garland (c. 1775) tells the story of a musician's encounter with a bonny lass, 'buxom and gay', who lets him lie with her for the price of a crown. (17) In the last stanza she refers to her genitals as 'my red Joke that's above my white Knee'. Mad Tom's Garland does not name a rune for the song, so it is not known whether it went to a version of the tune known as the 'Red Joke', but since the words do not readily fit the tune, this is perhaps unlikely.

Unlike the bawdy 'Black Joke' songs, The White Joak (c.1725), sung at the Drury Lane Theatre, sings the praises of the virtuous 'Gay Myri. (18) Nevertheless, although the subject of the song is seemingly innocent, the title still relates to the theme of a man's efforts to gain a lady; The Female Glossary describes a 'White Joke' as a 'generally young and tender' woman, seemingly of greater virtue than the 'Black Joke', but associated with the same trade--that of prostitution--nonetheless.

Finally, 'The True Joke', printed in The Bacchanalian; or, Choice Spirits Feast (c.1755), is given 'To the Tune of, The Black Joke'.(19) Here, the song plays upon dual meanings of the word 'joke'.

The True Joke

To the Tune of, The Black Joke

  THAT life is a joke by the wise 'tis confess'd,
  The not one in ten can tell where liest the jest;
  The critical turn of a delicate joke.
  We are got in a joke, in a joke we are born,
  From a joke we proceed, to a joke we return;
  The Cxsar best fought, and the Tully best spoke,
  Yet their wars, and their words, ended all in a joke.
  In a--I'll not be rude, for I mean but a joke.

  The king, and the commoner, equal invoke,
  And equal Ml subject, I m sure, to a joke;
  To the critical turn of a delicate joke.
  Alexander that conquer'd the devil, and all,
  Yet Thais convinc'd him at last he must Fall;
  And Socrates foremost in wisdom's deep school,
  Was proved by Xantippe to be but a fool.
  At a--I'll not be rude, I mean but a joke.

  The cardinal, abbot, and mendicant priest,
  Tho' they preach about fasting. yet fervently feast;
  On the critical turn ola delicate joke.
  They enter the pulpit, and kneeling prepare,
  To stoutly hold forth, splitting texts to a hair;
  Their doctrines are good, but their deeds I'll not name,
  For clergy and laity all are the same.
  At a--I'll not be rude, for I mean but a joke.

  What makes Tintoretta, each day at her toilet,
  Her complexion bemoan, least cosmetics shou'd spoil it;
  But for fear they shou'd hinder the sale of her joke.
  Curling locks, coral lips, cherry cheeks and black eyes,
  'Prentice poets may praise, and lovers may prize;
  But each female from fifteen to fifty will own,
  There still wants a beauty, those beauties to crown.
  And where is that beauty? Ay there lies the joke.

Lines such as 'We are got in a joke, in a joke we are born, / From a joke we proceed, to a joke we return', or Tut for fear they shou'd hinder the sale of her joke', seem to refer once again to the female genitalia. However, the refrain declares: 'I'll not be rude, for I mean but a joke'--as if, rather knowingly, to avert any possible bawdy meaning.

Without exception, all of these 'Black Joke' and associated songs are structured around male desire. They portray different degrees of lewdness, usually (The White Joak is an exception) involving some form of monetary transaction. The 'joke' or 'Oak' of the title refers to the female genitals, frequently available through the trade of prostitution.

The 'Black Joke' Tunes

With the birth of the ballad opera, beginning in 1729 with John Gay's The Beggar's Opera, popular tunes of the day began to play a more central role in theatrical performances. Both the tunes known as the 'Black Joke' and the 'White Joke' were employed in ballad operas, the former to a greater extent than the latter. An online database shows that of 155 eighteenth-century ballad operas, twenty-two included the 'Black Joke' tune and twelve the 'White Joke'. (20) Although not the most widely used tune, the 'Black Joke' still rates as one of the most popular, while the 'White Joke' is about average.

In The Beggar's Wedding (1729), the first ballad opera to use the 'Black Joke' tune, Charles Coffey seems to distance the tune from the bawdy song. (21)

AIR X. Coal-black Joak

Of all the Girls in our Town,
Or black, or yellow, or fair, or brown,
With their soft Eyes and Faces so bright;
Give me a Girl that's blith and gay.
As warm as June and as sweet as May,
With her Heart free and faithful as Light:
What lovely Couple then cou'd be
So happy and so blest as we,
On whom eternal Joys wou'd smile,
And all the Cares of Life beguile,
Entranc'd in Bliss each rapturous Night.

On the whole, when the tune is used in ballad operas the texts of the songs are generally unrelated to the bawdy theme of the 'Black Joke' songs. Nevertheless, the bawdy connotations of 'black joke could still subvert the content of even seemingly innocent words.

The popularity of the tune extended to broadside ballads and songbooks of the day. There are simply too many for individual discussion and analysis to be practical, but, as with the ballad operas, most of the songs appear to be just using a tune that was popular at the time, without any overt bawdy connotation. Sir John Browne, in The Lucubrations of Sallmanazor Histrum, Esq.; together with The Plain-Dealer (1730), sets out deliberately to distance the tune from the bawdy song: 'I some time ago took pity on that poor tune the "Black Joke" and released it from its bondage, by the following set of words, which I think proper to communicate to the world, that they may no longer be offended at those most innocent and agreeable sounds.' (22)

In addition to songs that merely use the 'Black Joke' as a popular tune, there is a series of political satirical songs set to the tune, where the bawdy association might be thought to add a further element of parody to the political theme. Perhaps the most compelling example is a satirical piece titled The Blackest of All Black Jokes; or, No Joke Like a True Joke, to the tune of 'The Old Black Joke' (c.1753)," a mid-century libel apparently aimed at the High Sheriff of Oxford, which provoked a reply in a pamphlet titled Mr. Boots's Apology for the Conduct of the Late H--h Sh--ff in answer to a late infamous libel, intituled, The Blackest of All Black Jokes.24 No doubt the precise circumstances surrounding this exchange would bear detailed investigation. In general, though, the 'Black Joke' tune does not seem to have been aligned with any particular political faction; rather, it was used in a spectrum of songs to satirize the powerful, including church officials.

All this poses the question: was the tune composed for the song or vice versa? It is difficult to date the origin of-either song or tune. For instance, in the course of a discussion that ran over several issues of Notes and Queries, G. Percival-Kaye argued for a seventeenth-century date for the song, stating that naval dispatches show that the first news the Admiralty had of the Battle of Sole Bay in 1672 was brought to England by the lugger Black Joke. (25) Aloys Fleischmann, on the other hand, in Sources of Irish Traditional Musk, ascribes the tune to 1730 and John Walsh's Third Book of Celebrated Jigs, Lancashire Hornpipes, Scotch and Highland Lilts, Northern Frisks, Morris's and Cheshire Rounds, with Hornpipes in the Bagpipe Manner; to which is added The Black Joak, The White Joak, The Brown, The Red and The Yellow Joke. (26)

The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, however, holds a copy of volume 1 of Daniel Wright's Compleat Collection of Celebrated Country Dances which includes the 'Black Joak'. (27) Although the book itself is not dated, Margaret Dean-Smith dates it to c.1715, in a book review which addresses the dating of this and several other tunes. (28) Further evidence for this dating can be found in an advertisement in the Post Man and the Historical Account for 19 December 1717 where Daniel Wright announces: 'A new country dance book for the year 1718, the tunes are all entirely new.'(29) This can be taken to indicate that volume 1, which includes the 'Black Joak', appeared before that date. Daniel Wright's volume also includes the 'Blue Joak', Joak', 'Red Joak', 'White Joak', and 'True Joak'. An examination of the engravings shows that the 'Black Joak' is of a different style from the others. This could be simply due to the use of a different engraver, or it could indicate that the tune is part of a section of the book that used engravings that had been previously published, which was common practice at the time.

This evidence would suggest that the tulle predates the c.1720 date of the earliest known copy of the song, The Original Black Joke, Sent from Dublin. This is of particular relevance because of the tune's unusual form: it has an A strain of six bars and a B strain of ten bars. If the tune predates the song, then it is probably not the case that this form was adopted simply to tie in with the words of the song. Conversely, The White Joak takes the 'White Joak tune, which is in the same six-bar/ten-bar form as the 'Black Joke', and fits it to the words of the song, making it into an A strain of eight bars and a B strain of twelve bars.

Thus the term (joale takes on another meaning which refers to the form of these tunes. An advertisement in the Daily Advertiser in 1731 announces the comedy A Bold Strokefbr aWife to be presented at Mr Fielding's theatrical booth as a benefit for 'Charles the trumpeter of Oxford', at which performance he will play 'The Black and White Joak [...] and also a joak of his own'. (30) Unless the word loak' here has a meaning that refers to the type of tune to be played, there would seem to be little point to this advertisement, which apparently means that Charles is to play a 'joak' of his own composition. Moreover, the title of John Walsh's Third Book of CelebratedJigs, etc. (cited above) seems to treat the 'Oak' as something different from the other dance forms listed there.

However, it is not simply the case that all 'Oaks' conform to the six-bar/ten-bar form. Certainly, the 'Black Joak' and 'White Joak' in Daniel Wright's Compleat Collection of Celebrated Country Dances do so; and Walsh's version of the 'Yellow Joak' (which in Wright is in 3/2 time) is in 6/8 time and in the six-bar/ten-bar form.

Fleischmann's Sources of Irish Traditional Music groups all of the tunes according to their form, however, and it can be seen from this that not all 'joaks' are in the same form or even in the same time signature (Table 1); but it can be said that all tunes of six-bar/ten-bar form are 'looks'.

This ambiguity in terminology does not necessarily undermine the view that the term 'joale refers to a tune form, since such ambiguity can be found with other dance and musical forms of the period. A 'jig', for instance, could be almost any dance, a 'reel' refers to any figure of eight, and 'hornpipes' could be in duple or triple time. Thus a whole series of tunes arose around the 'look' title, published in country dancing and music tutor books. The country dances were not limited to the social elite. Gatrell states that by the end of the eighteenth century a significant proportion of the London population could be termed 'middle-class'--about 30,000 such families in 1801, one in seven of the total--and could afford significant cultural consumption. (34) These 'middling' sorts, with their new-found disposable income, along with the dancing masters who travelled the country teaching social dancing, would have been the consumers of these printed books.

Table 1

'Joak' tunes, with time signature and form

Tune         Source                        Time signature  Form

Black Joak   Wright's Compleat Collection             6/8  6-bar/10-bar
             (c.1715), p. 29

Blue Joak    Wright's Compleat Collection             6/8  8-bar/12-bar
             (c.1715). p. 172

Red Joak     Wright's Compleat Collection             cut  8-bar/8-bar
             (c.1715), p. 12                               /8-bar

True Joke    Wright's Comp/eat Collection             6/8  8-bar/8-bar
             (c.1715), p.14

White Joak   Wright's Compleat Collection             6/8  6-bar/10-bar
             (c.1715), p. 40

Yellow Joak  Wright's Campleat Collection             3/2  4-bar/4-bar
             (c.1715), p. 170

Original     The Original Black                       6/8  6-bar/10-bar
Black Joke   Joke, Sent from Dublin

Coal-Black   Charles Coffey, The Beggar's             6/8  6-bar/10-bar
Joke         Wedding (1729), p. 10

Royal Joak   Daniel Wright, A Collection              6/8  6-bar/10-bar
             of Scots and Other Airs
             (1730), p. 21

Nut Brown    The Musical Miscellany                   6/8  6-bar/10-bar
Joke         (1729-31), vi. 86

Brown Joak   John Walsh, Third Book of                6/4  6-bar/6-bar
             Celebrated Jigs (1730), p. 7

Yellow Joak  John Walsh, Third Book of                6/8  6-bar/10-bar
             Celebrated figs (1730), P. 9

Unfortunate  John Johnson, A Choice                  12/8  4-bar/4-bar
Joak         Collection of 200 Favourite
             Country Dances, vol. 3
             (c.1744), p. 166

Bunters      John Walsh, The Second Book              6/8  8-bar/16-bar
loke         of the Compleat Country
             Dancing Master (1735), p. 23

Gray joke    John Johnson, 200 Favourite              6/8  6-bar/10-bar
             Country Dances, vol. 5
             (1744), p. 11

Hampton      John Simpson, The Compleat               4/4  8-har/8-bar
Court Joke   Tiaor for the German Flute
             (1746), p. 25

Widows Joak  John Johnson. 200 Favourite              cut  4-bar/4-bar
             Counny Dances, vol. 4
             (1748), p. 35

Black Jock   Oswald, Volume of Airs,                  6/8  6-bar/10-bar
             Lowland and Highland [...]
             most of 6/8 which are
             published in Oswald
             Caledonian Pocket Companion,
             vol. 1 (c.1750), p. 17

Burlesque    Oswald, Volume of Airs,                  3/4  12-bar/16-bar
on Black     Lowland and Highland, vol.
Joke         7 (c.1750), p. 18

Marine Joak  John Johnson, 200 Favourite              6/8  4-bar/8-bar
             Country Dances, vol. 6
             (1751), p. 148

Smutty Joak  John Walsh, The Complete                 6/8  8-bar/8-bar
             Country Dancing-Master, vol.
             5 (c. 1755), p. 29

Worn Out     John Walsh, Complete                     6/8  8-bar/8-bar
loak         Country Dancing-Master, vol.
             5 (c.1755),  p. 19

Irish Joak   John Walsh, The Sixth Book               6/8  8-bar/8-bar
             of the Complete Country
             Dancing-Master (1756),
             p. 13

White Jack   Gosforth Records Office,                 6/8  8-bar/12-bar
             William Vickers MS tune book
             (1770), p. 50

New Black    New Black Joke (r.1775)                  6/8  6-bar/10-bar

White Joke   Giles Gibbs, Jr, 'His Book               2/4
March        for the Fife' (commonplace
             book) (c.1777), p. 29

Pleasant     Edward Light, Introduction               6/8  6-bar/10-bar
Joke         to Playing the Harp-lute &
             Apollo Lyre (1785), p. 13

White Joke   Penuel Clarke, [commonplace              6/8
Quickstep    book] (c.1800), p. 15

Green Joke   Daniel Steele, New and                   6/8  8-bar/8-bar
             Complete Preceptor for the
             Fife (1815), p. 15

Pale Blue    John Gaylord, Jr, 'Majr. John
Joak         Gaylord Jr. Owner of this
             Musick Book' [copybook] (c.
             1816), P. 8

The 'Black Joke' tune spread widely, with examples from England, Scotland, and Ireland. In Scotland, the tune appears in the McFarlane Manuscript (c.1740) in a long variation set of thirty strains under the title 'Black Jock', which, David Johnson suggests in Scottish Fiddle Music in the Eighteenth Century, could either be just a mistake in pronunciation or else an attempt to distance the tune from the bawdy song. (32) In Shetland the tune is known as 'But the House and Ben the House' and was used in wedding ceremonies. (33)

Other variations on the title include 'Black Jack' and 'White Jack' in the William Vickers MS tune book, from north-east England (1770). (34) 'Black Jack' also appears in the H. S. J. Jackson MS tune book, from Wyresdale, Lancashire (1823). (35) (John Playford also published a tune tided 'Black Jack', but it bears no relation to the 'Black Joke' tune. (36)) In the John Clare collection, the 'Black Joke' tune is called 'Sprig of Shillelagh'. A song sheet titled Sprig of Shillelah and Shamrock So Green (1807), sung at the theatre Royal, Drury Lane, names the tune as 'Black Joke'. (37)

The 'Black Joke' was not published for country dancing alone. The tune was also used for performance, with variations on the theme enabling musicians to show off their prowess. A single sheet, The Black Joak as [']tis performed at Dublin (1760) contains twenty-two variations on the tune. (38) Furthermore, the tune crossed over into what is today called 'art music' when in 1777 the composer Muzio Clementi (1752-1832) published twenty-one variations for pianoforte or harpsichord. (39) This set of variations takes the fairly basic dance tune and elaborates on it by adding complex harmonic structures and passages which require virtuoso skill for their performance.

The 'Black Joke' as Entr'acte and Theatrical Dance

The early eighteenth-century theatre seems to have embraced the 'Black Joke' tune. Besides ballad operas and virtuoso variations for musical performance, another use of both the 'Black Joke' and the 'White Joke' was for dances performed during the entr'acte, or between one-act entertainments, in the theatre. Most theatrical performances of the period contained some kind of pre- and post-performance entertainments, which would be announced in newspaper advertisements alongside the performance to be presented.

Between the years 1730 and 1736, the 'Black Joke' is named in advertisements for at least forty-three different shows, and for a further ten shows in the period 1738 to 1750. (40) What stands out is that both the 'Black Joke' and 'White Joke' tunes are mentioned by name in these advertisements, whereas other entertainments are simply given generic descriptions--danced to a country dance, Scottish tune, hornpipe, wooden shoe dance, and so forth. This suggests the general public would have been familiar with the 'Black Joke' and 'White Joke' tunes.

These entr'actes were not merely inconsequential entertainments. One piece of research into the 1735-36 season at the Covent Garden Theatre found that, in round figures, dance accounted for close to a quarter of the budget for performers; the public were paying to see the dancers,

and they were compensated accordingly. (41) When in 1732 a benefit was mounted at Covent Garden for the dancer Mr Nivelon, with a performance of John Kelly's Married Philosopher, the bill was filled with entr'actes of various dances and entertainments, including 'a Grand Dance of Momus, concluding with the Black Joke, between Mr. Nivelon and Mrs. Laguerre' to round out the evening. (42)

Greene and Clark in The Dublin Stage, 1720-1745 give an idea of what these dances may have entailed when they describe the 'Black Joke' and 'White Joke' as comical peasant dances. (43) On 9 April 1730 the 'Black Joke' was performed in the dress of a man and a woman from the Fingal district of Co. Dublin. The 'White Joke', the only dance to be mentioned by name in the 1730-31 season, is described in rather more detail:

  On Monday 8 March 1731, Mr Cummins executed the White Cole Joke Dance
  in the character of 'the Old woman with Pierrot in the Basket'. This
  is significant, it represents one of the rare examples of a
  specifically named dance performed in Dublin [...] For the dance,
  Cummins would have entered wearing a woman's skirt, with the upper
  half of his body dressed in a Pierrot costume. The woman's rather
  stooped head and shoulders would have been made of a dummy figure
  attached in front of the Pierrot's 'real' head to the basket [...]
  This masked peasant stands inside a basket without a bottom* and
  performs the pas de rigaudon, with strong stamps of the foot on the
  ground. Then he takes the position shown above and performs bailones
  and contretemps in a peasant, though technically correct manner.
  Meanwhile the air is played four times.

  * The man is wearing a woman's skirt. The woman's head and shoulders
  is a dummy figure attached to the basket.

This Mr Cummins was a member of Signora Violantes' dance troupe, who had set up in Smock Alley a rival company to Dublin's Theatre Royal. This rivalry is apparent from an epilogue presented at the Theatre Royal on 23 March 1731, containing a satirical song, set to the 'Black Joke' tune, aimed at Signora Violates:

  Lo! In our Town what Raree--Shows
  Engage the Ladies, and eke the Beaux!
  With a long Pole, and with Limbs so bare,
  See! the Bold Amazon mounts on high,
  To dance, and to bound, to frisk and to fly!
  With her Sinews strong, and Motion so rare!
  Now swinging, with the Rope so slack,
  She Modestly lies upon her Back,
  Content that all Mankind may see
  How Folks make Love in Italy;
  With a Long Pole, and with Limbs so bare. (44)

The 'Black Joke' tune and its association with the bawdy song could only have served to highlight the accusation levelled against Signora Violantes and her immodest performances.

This 'Black Joke' dance entertainment was not limited to the major theatres in London and Dublin. A show at the New Wells theatre in London, advertised in the Daily Advertiser for 7 November 1743, featured singing and dancing, which included the 'Black Joke', along with tumbling, rope-dancing, morris dancing, and other spectacles. (45) The 'Black Joke' dance was advertised at fairs such as St Bartholomew's; and although I have not found newspaper advertisements to support the idea, it is likely that it also appeared at fairs that travelled around the country, in shows similar to the one described in the advertisement for the New Wells theatre.

An open letter to the Bishop of London, published c.1750, criticizes the lewd nature of the dance presented by young performers to the tune of the 'Black Joke':

  Some Time ago I was at one of the Theatres, when between the Acts of
  a Play, I was greatly shock'd at the Manner and Behaviour of a Boy
  and Girl who danced a Dance which they called the Black joak, where
  the Gestures were so indecent, that they could only be suffer'd from
  a Consideration of the Youth of the Actors, who might very well be
  supposed to be entirely ignorant of the Meaning they were taught to
  convey to the Spectators. (46)

This criticism echoes an article published in the Grub-Street Journal in 1733 entitled 'Of the Use and Abuse of the Stage', where the 'Black Joke' is singled out as a bad influence on the morals of the young:

  If a son, a daughter, a relation, or a servant is to be treated in
  the play, a night is chosen, wherein generally the most immoral
  pieces are perform'd. An entertainment is what all must see; which,
  as now generally managed, is the very thing, from the sight of which
  they ought to be debarr'd. A mimical dance, a black joke, & c. will
  often have a very great effect, and leave a very bad impression upon
  the minds of young people: and the more ingeniously and dextrously
  the immodesty is carry'd on, the deeper root it takes, and produces
  the greater plenty of the most corrupt and pernicious fruit. (47)

Alexander Pope in The First Epistle of the Second Book of Horace Imitated (1737) points to the popularity of the 'Black Joke' when he complains of the unruly behaviour of the audience in the pit.

There still remains to mortify a Wit,
The many-headed Monster of the Pit:
A sense-less, worth-less, and unhonour'd crowd;
Who to disturb their betters mighty proud,
Clatt'ring their sticks, before ten lines are spoke,
Call For the Farce the Bear or the Black-joke.

This picture of the audience demanding their favourite material is in some ways similar to the modern practice when audiences at popular music events shout out for their favourite pieces. The distinction, however, is that the 'Black Joke' belonged to many different kinds of theatrical event, without reference to a particular performer or theatrical presentation. Today there is no comparable tune, song, or dance that enjoys such indiscriminate popularity.

Military music

Another area where the 'Black Joke' tune has been used is in military music, with an example as early as 1729 which reports the Coldstream Guards marching through London to the 'Black Joke':

  This Week a Battalion of the Coldstream Regiment of Guards, who were
  ordered for Duty at Kensington, under the Command of the Right
  Honourable the Earl of Albemarle, marched from the Parade, as usual,
  the Musick playing all the Way the new famous Tune of The Coal Black
  Joke, instead of the Regimental March, which was taken Notice of by
  great Numbers of Persons. (48)

It was not uncommon at the time for popular music to enter into the military repertoire. What is particular to the 'Black Joke', though, is that it raised questions as to whether, with its bawdy associations, the tune was a suitable piece for a military band:

  As it is the custom to have music when the guard is mounted, or
  returns to the parade to be dismissed, it were indeed to be wished,
  that they were ordered to play some marches, rather than Nancy
  Dawson, the Black Joke, or such other tunes very improper for
  Sundays. And as many officers in those regiments are men of strict
  morals, it is hoped they will give orders accordingly.' (49)

  A Protestant remarks, that the tune of the Black Joke, lately
  played on a Sunday
  before some Soldiers at St. James's Park, in their march to the
  Parade, was very unsuitable to the day, and highly offensive to every
  hearer; he therefore hopes, through this hint the indecency will be
  corrected.' (50)

The bawdy associations of the 'Black Joke' were evidently common knowledge. Even when played out of context, these letter writers considered it highly indecent.

Newspaper Anecdotes

Some anecdotes from the British Library's newspaper collections offer a further insight into the significance that attached to the 'Black Joke' in the eighteenth century. This story appeared in Reads Weekly Journal; or, British Gazetteer on 23 January 1731, and several other newspapers at the same time, demonstrating that the tune was highly recognizable and that its connection to lewd behaviour was generally understood:

  Broadway, in Gloucestershire, Jan. 16. This Week a Fidler that had
  been playing here pretty late, in his Way home, being sleepy, stept
  into a Barn to take a Nap, and was no sooner laid down but in came a
  Man and a Woman, who presently became very familiar with each other,
  and struck a Bargain; the Man desied the Woman to pull off her
  Petticoat, she answeed, she would, if he pull'd off his Breeches,
  accordingly they both agreed, and to it they went, and as soon as the
  Fidler heard they had done, he strikes up the Black Joke, which they
  thought was the Devil, come to play them a Tune to the Dance they had
  been at, so out they both run, the Woman without her Hoop, the Man
  without his Breeches, in which was 50 s. and a silver Watch. The
  Fidler has had both cry'd but nobody owns them. (51)

The 'Black Joke' is mentioned again in 1734 in a story about the mugging in London of a Mr Seedo, a church organist, whose assailants robbed him and went off singing the 'Black Joke.' (52) As late as 1831, a syndicated account appeared in the Humber Mercury describing the London Stock Exchange and the way in which tension is suddenly released at the end of trading: 'the whole frolic generally ends with "The Black Joke", or some other popular tune, sung in full chorus by all present; even those who have been ruined in the course of the morning mingling with wild mirth with the rest, partly from habit, and partly to conceal their distress from their companions'. (53)

G. Percival-Kaye noted that naval dispatches referred to a lugger called the Black Joke. The newspapers of the time contain numerous other references to ships, both naval and commercial, bearing the name Black Joke. The Daily Journal in 1731 reported a brig called the Black Joak sailing from Bristol. (54) The ships in question range from small racing gigs, to naval brigs, pirate ships, and ships involved in policing the slave trade.

Additionally, the newspapers reveal the name used in connection with horse racing, with several horses named, Black, White, or Red Joke over the period 1730-1834 (the newspapers report only horses that were placed in their races, so less successful ones do not get mentioned). One Mr Smith owned both a White Joak and a Black Joke. Other miscellaneous references include a report from 1737 that mentions a newly invented gambling game played at fairs, called 'The Black Joak', 'one of the greatest Cheats that ever was invented'. (55) In 1849 the Preston Chronicle and Lancashire Advertiser reported a calceolaria called 'Black Joke' winning third prize in its class at a flower show in Blackburn. (56) While such references are in one sense irrelevant to the tune, they nonetheless suggest its widespread popularity and influence right across the social spectrum.

Literary References

There are numerous literary references to the 'Black Joke' in the eighteenth century. It is mentioned, for instance, in Old Poor Robin's almanac for 1790, (57) and in John Hall-Stevenson's fable of 'The Black Bird' (1772). (58) There are references to rowdy audiences calling for the tune during theatrical performances in The Upper Gallery, A Poem (1753), (59) in a verse epistle addressed to the dramatist George Colman by Robert Lloyd (1761), (60) and in a satirical view of the theatre titled The Dancers Darnra or, The Devil to Pay at the Old House (1755). (61)

A number of works refer to 'Black Joke' in a way that, either implicitly or explicitly, alludes to its negative connotations, as a tune that is not altogether socially acceptable. There is an example in chapter 6 of Tobias Smollett's The Adventures of Sir Launcelot Greaves (1760). Another occurs in The Young Hypocrite; or, The Country Poet (1762), which is a free translation of the French dramatist Philippe Nericault Destouches's La fausse Agnes; ou, le Poete campagnard.62 In The Solitary Castle, A Romance of the Eighteenth Century (1789), the author, who is known as 'Nicholson', describes the following incident in the early life of his character Mr Le Fleur, who is introduced as the fruit of an illicit amour between an Italian opera girl and an English peer: 'Before he was three years old, the barbarous old English jig "The black joke" being accidentally played on a barrel organ under his window, produced such an effect on his nerves that he overset a tea-table, and destroyed a set of porcelain of considerable value.' (63) In the Memoirs of his Own Life (1790), by Tate Wilkinson, patentee of the Theatres Royal at York and Hull, there is an incident when an old lady, who is concerned to protect her daughter's innocence, is enraged by hearing the tune played on the violin:

  Mr. Barrett, as he was traversing to and fro, unfortunately took up
  the violin, and quickly played the Black Joke; the old lady's eyes
  were instantly inflamed, and a violent storm arose, which hung with
  impregnant clouds that hovered over our heads, and burst at last in
  thunder and impetuous showers.

 'Master Barrett, Sir, no more of that tune Sir! I won [']t suffer
  that tune of dol-di-di-dily, for it's b--dy, Sir; I am thrill'd
  throfout when I hear it for it[']s b--dy, Sir!'--'But,
  my dear Ma'am,' says the Counsellor--'My dear devil!'--
  says the lady--'Don't dear me! the poor girl could not
  sleep all last night for that d--mn--n tune.' (64)

The anecdote continues in the same vein.

Robert Burns wrote a new set of words, 'My girl she's airy, she's buxom and gay', to the tune 'Black Jock' (1784). Byron, in the prefatory epistle to his satirical poem The Waltz, An Apostrophic Hymn (1813) refers to 'a d--d see-saw up-and-down sort of tune, that reminded me of the "Black Joke'.

Prints and Engravings

The 'Black Joke' features in a number of eighteenth-century prints, where it signifies bawdy behaviour at large. Plate 3, 'The Tavern Scene', of Hogarth's A Rake's Progress (1735) shows a ballad singer, heavily pregnant, with the ballad of the 'Black Joke' in her hand, while the rake himself is surrounded by prostitutes (Figure 2). James Wicksteed's The Black Joke (1787) shows a young chimney sweep who has been tripped up, with his head stuck underneath a lady's skirt. The caption says 'Sweep saw the Joke with half a peep'. Thomas Rowlandson's print Washing Trotters (1800) depicts a woman exposing her lower body to a wide-eyed older gentleman who is washing her feet. Suggestively pinned to the wall behind diem is a sheet with the title 'The Black Joke'.


It would be hard to overstate the popularity and dissemination of the 'Black Joke' in the eighteenth century. It was known at all levels of society, from courtly dances through to ballad singers at fairs. It was embraced as a song, both bawdy and polite, appearing in ballad operas and popular songbooks, and was taken up both for social dancing and for bawdy and comical dances in the theatre, performed by some of the leading theatrical dancers of the time. The tune was used in 'art music', with variations like those of Muzio Clementi, to display virtuoso performance skills, and it was heard in military music.

The word 'joke' or 'joak' had multiple meanings: a humorous tale, the female genitalia, a form of tune and/or dance. However, the bawdy connotations diminish as society changes and the eighteenth century gives way to the Victorian morality of the mid-nineteenth century. Different meanings appear to predominate at different times. The link to prostitution is closely related to the 'joke' songs of the 1720s to 1750s and later seems to be dropped. The association with the female genitalia, however, is maintained into the nineteenth century, with the prints of Rowlandson and Wicksteed demonstrating this continuing connotation; and the general association with bawdy behaviour can be traced into the nineteenth century. Today, though, the bawdy associations of the 'Black Joke' and the specific reference to the female genitalia are generally not well known.

The tune, however, maintained its popularity throughout the nineteenth century. In an article discussing barrel-organ music in 1907, Frank Kidson complains of hearing the 'Black Joke', 'The Washerwoman', and 'Father O'Flynn' on every street corner. (65) Today, despite no longer being part of popular culture, the tune can be heard regularly at folk music events, used both for musical performance and for dancing. It is common as a morris dance tune and Lionel Bacon's Handbook of Morris Dances lists the tune in seven distinct traditions. (66)


It has not been possible to provide a definitive list of the use of the 'Black Joke' in each of the categories discussed here, since the tune's popularity would give rise to prohibitively large lists. Rather, selected examples have been chosen to demonstrate the tune's distribution. Similarly, the anecdotes from newspapers provide sample selections.

Two further areas are not discussed in detail: no detailed musical analysis of variations of the 'Black Joke' tune have been attempted; and neither has any investigation of the historical use of the tune for morris dancing. These omissions have been reluctantly made in order to allow space for a full investigation into the historical use of the term 'joke' (or 'joak') and an adequate demonstration of the tune's ubiquity at all levels of eighteenth-century society.


This article had its origins in a dissertation for Newcastle University. As Er as possible the research has used primary source collections from across Britain. The Bodleian Library, British Library, British Museum, and VWML, along with the special collections at Birmingham University's Barber Institute, have all provided useful source materials. In addition, I would like to thank Dr Desi Wilkinson and Dr Vic Gammon for their help and support with the project.


(1.) The Original Black Joke, Sent from Dublin ([London, c.17201) [Oxford, Bodleian Library, Harding Mus. G.O. 41(1)].

(2.) Edgar V. Roberts, (An Unrecorded Meaning of "Joke" (or "Joak") in England', American Speech, 37 (1962), 137-40 (p. 137).

(3.) Francis Grose, A Classical Dictionaiy of the Vulgar Tongue, 2nd edn (London: S. Hooper, 1788).

(4.) John S. Farmer, gang and its Analogues, Past and Present,7 vols (printed for subscribers, 1890-1904).

(5.) The Original Coal-Black Joak ([London, c.17301) [London, British Library, Music Collections G.316.e.(99.)].

(6.) Vic Gatrell, City of Laughter: Sex and Satire in Eighteenth Centuly London (London: Atlantic Books, 2006), p. 298.

(7.) Gatrell, pp. 297-98.

(8.) Vic Gammon, Desire, Drink and Death in English Folk and Vernacular Song, 1600-1900 (Farnham: Ashgate, 2008) pp. 71.

(9.) A New Flash Song-Book; or, The Bowman Priggs Delight, being a collection of songs adapted to the humours of the blades of the town (London: D. Ryley, 1725), p. 2.

(10.) John Wardroper, Lovers, Rakes and Rogues: Amatory, Merry and Bawdy Verse from 1580 to 1830 (London: Shelfmark Books, 1995), p. 270.

(11.) The Female Glossary being a particular description of the principal commodities of this island wherein the various names, qualities, and properties of each are very handsomely handled, 'by an Old Trader' (London: W. Shaw, [1732?]), pp. 21-22.

(12.) The Female Glossary, p. 16.

(13.) The Musical Miscellany, being a collection of choice songs and lyrick poems, 6 vols (London: John Watts, 1729-31), vi, 72-73.

(14.) Marcia Pointon, 'The Lives of Kitty Fisher', British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, 27 (2004), 77-97 (p. 78).

(15.) The Coal Black joke ((London: c.1730) [London, British Library, Music Collections G.315.(99.)]

(16.) New Black Joke ([London], P. H[odgson], [c.1775]) [London, British Library, Music Collections G.307.(122.)].

(17.) The Red Joke', in Mad Tom's Garland, Composed of Six Excellent Songs: Old Mad Tom of Bedlam; Jack a Lattonis Courtship to a Blythe, Bonny, Scotch Lass; Comical Kate's Answer and Denial to her Waggish Master; The Farmer's Wish for a Good Spring and a Plentifizl Harvest; Sylvids Cruelty to her Kind Lover; The Red Joke ([Newcastle upon Tyne, 1755?]), p 8.

(18.) The White Joak, sung by Mrs Roberts, the words by Mr Davis ([London, c.1725]) [London, British Library, Music Collections G.308. (12.)].

(19.) The True Joke', in The Bacchanalian; or, Choice Spirits Feast, containing all the most celebrated new songs, and favourite airs, duetts, cantatas, &a sung at the theatres, VauxhalL Ranelagh, the Musical Societies, and other places of public resort, to this day to which is added The Choice Spirits Feast, a comic ode, written by George Alexander Stephens, 2nd edn (London: J. Towers, [c.1755]), pp. xiv--xv.

(20.) Early American Secular Music and its European Sources, 1589-1839; An Index, compiled by Robert M. Keller, Raoul F. Camus, Kate Van Winkle Keller, and Susan Cifaldi (Annapolis, MD: The Colonial Music Institute, 2002) <> [accessed 13 March 2012].

(21.) Char. Coffey, The Beggar's Wedding, A New Opera, as it is acted at the Theatre in Dublin, with great applause (London: James and John Knapton, 1729), pp. 17-18.

(22.) Sir John Browne, The Lucubmtions of Sallmanawr Histrum, Esq.; together with The Plain-Dealer, as they were publish'd weekly (Dublin: George Risk, 1730), pp. 311-13.

(23.) The Blackest of All Black Jokes; or, No Joke Like a True Joke ([c.1753]) [Oxford, Bodleian Library, Gough Oxford 39 (9)].

(24.) Mr. Booth Apology for the Conduct of the Late H--h Sh--ff in answer to a late infamous libel, intituled, The Blackest of All Black Jokes (London: S. Crowder and H. Woodgate, [1755]).

(25.) G. Percival-Kaye, 'Black Joke', Notes and Queries,185 (1943), 27.

(26.) Aloys Fleischmann, Sources of Irish Traditional Music, c.1600-1855 (New York and London: Garland Publishing, 1998), p. 119.

(27.) [Daniel] Wright's Compleat Collection of Celebrated Country Dances, both old and new that are in vouge [sic], vol. 1 ([London: I. Iohnson, c.1715]), p. 29.

(28.) Margaret Dean-Smith, review of Sources of Moore's Melodies by Veronica Ni Chinneide, Journal of the International Folk Music Council, 13 (1961), 133-34.

(29.) Post Man and the Historical Account, 19 December 1717-21 December 1717 (no. 16542).

(30.) Daily Advertiser, Monday, 27 September 1731 (no. 203).

(31.) Gatrell, p. 7.

(32.) David Johnson, Scottish Fiddle Music in the Eighteenth Century. A Music Collection and Historical Study (Edinburgh: John Donald, 1984), p. 103.

(33.) Peter Cooke, The Fiddle Tradition of the Shetland Isles (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), pp. 86-88.

(34.) Gosforth Records Office, William Vickers MS tune book (1770) <> [accessed 13 March 2012].

(35.) <> [accessed 13 March 2012].

(36.) [John Playford], The Dancing Master; or, Directions for Dancing Count?), Dances, 4th edn (London: John Playford, 1670) p. 138.

(37.) Sprig of Shillelab and Shamrock So Green (London: Laurie and Whittle, [18071). The online Irish Traditional Music Tune Index lists the following titles for the tune 'Sprig of Shillelagh': 'The Sprig of Shillelagh / Sprig of Shillelah / A Sprig of Shillelah / Black Joke / Darling Nedeen / Irish Dragoon / Irish Oak / 0! Love Is the Soul of a Neat Irish Man / Paddy McShane / Shandrum Boggoon / Sublime Was the Warning / Thistle Sae Green / When the Bright Spark of Freedom <> [accessed 13 March 2012].

(38.) The Black Joak as [']tis performed at Dublin ([London, 1760]).

(39.) Muzio Clementi, Black Joke, with Twenty One Variations for Piano Forte or Haypsicord (London: Longman and Broderip, 1779).

(40.) Based on the newspaper collections of the British Library. The gap in 1737 is due to the introduction of the theatre licensing act in that year, which closed down all but two of London's theatres.

(41.) Judith Milhous, 'The Economics of Theatrical Dance in Eighteenth-Century London', Theatre Journal, 55 (2003), 481-508 (p. 489).

(42.) Leo Hughes and A. H. Scouten, 'John Rich and the Holiday Seasons of 1732-3', Review of English Studies, 21(1945) 46-52 (p. 50).

(43.) John C. Greene and Gladys L. H. Clark, The Dublin Stage, 1720-1745: A Calendar of Plays, Entertainments, and Afterpieces (Bethlehem, PA: Lehigh University Press, 1993), p. 60.

(44.) Grainne McArdle, 'Signora Violanre and her Troupe of Dancers 1729-32', Eighteenth-Century Ireland/Iris an dd chulttir, 20 (2005), 55-78 (p. 69).

(45.) Daily Advertiser, Monday, 7 November 1743 (no. 3995).

(46.) An Epistle to the Bishop of London, Occasion'd by his Lordship's Letter to the Clergy and Inhabitants of London and Westminster, on the Subject of the Two Late Earthquakes, by a Foreigner (London: J. Newbery, 1750), p. 30.

(47.) 'Of the Use and Abuse of the Stage', Grub-Street Journal, Thursday, 8 November 1733 (no. 202).

(48.) Universal Spectator and Weekly Journal, Saturday, 13 September 1729 (no. 49).

(49.) The Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, Saturday, 3 November 1764 (no. 11,128).

(50.) The Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, Thursday, 14 June 1770 (no. 12,882).

(51.) Read's Weekly Journal; or, British Gazetteer, Saturday, 23 January 1731 (no. 305).

(52.) London Evening Post, Saturday, 28 December--Tuesday, 31 December 1734 (no. 1110).

(53.) 'A Peep into the Stock Exchange', The Hull Packet and Humber Mercuty; or, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Advertiser, Tuesday, 11 October 1831 (no. 2447).

(54.) Daily Journal, Thursday, 3 June 1731 (no. 3248).

(55.) Daily Gazetteer, Tuesday, 29 March 1737 (no. 548).

(56.) Preston Chronicle and Lancashire Advertiser, Saturday, 30 June 1849, p. 7 (no. 1922).

(57.) Old Poor Robin: An Almanack for the Year of Our Lord, 1790 aLondonl: printed for the Company of Stationers, [1790]), p. 5.

(58.) John Hall-Stevenson, Crazy Tales, to which are prefixed Macarony Fables; Fables for Grown Gentlemen; Lyrick Epistles; and Several Other Poems (Dublin; Thomas Ewing, 1772), p. 13.

(59.) The Upper Gallery, A Poem (London: W. Owen, 1753), p. 7.

(60.) Robert Lloyd, Poems (London: printed for the author, 1762), p. 91.

(61.) The Dancers Damn4 or, The Devil to Pay at the Old House (London: R. Griffiths, 1755), p. 5.

(62.) The Comic Theatre, being a fire translation of all the best French comedies, by Samuel Foote and others, 5 vols (London: J. Coote, G. Kearsly, and S. Crowder, 1762), 1,52.

(63.) [Nicholson], The Solitary Castle, A Romance of the Eighteenth Century, by the author of The Village of Martindale, 2 vols (London: W. Lane, 1789), i, 125-26.

(64.) Tate Wilkinson, Memoirs of his Own Life, 4 vols (York: printed for the author, 1790), 146-47.

(65.) Frank Kidson, 'The Vitality of Melody', Proceedings of the Musical Association, 34th sess. (1907-08), 81-99 (p. 92).

(66.) Lionel Bacon, A Handbook of Morris Dances (Henlow: Morris Ring, 1974).
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Publication:Folk Music Journal
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Date:Jan 1, 2013
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