Author Archives: Jacob and Nancy

Black Dance

We found Black Dance in a manuscript written by Jeremiah Brown of Seabrook, New Hampshire, in 1782.  It was described in several manuscripts in the United States late in the eighteenth century and early in the nineteenth, and various versions appear in English sources (sometimes called “Black Dance”, and sometimes “The Black Dance”). Continue reading

Swiss Allemande

The tune The Swiss Allemande was published in London by Mr. Werner in Humbly Dedicated to the Gentlemen & Gentry Subscribers in 1780, and by Charles and Samuel Thompson in 24 Country Dances of 1782, published in 1781, as well as in Thompson’s compleat collection of 200 favourite country dances: etc. (Volume 5) published in 1788. It crossed the Atlantic rapidly and Continue reading

Allemande Swiss

The tune Allemande Swiss, and the dances written to go to it, were extremely popular in late eighteenth century America.  (It is not to be confused with the tune “Swiss Allemand”, and the dances which were written to go to it.)   Approximately 20 dance manuals and hand-written manuscripts from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century include both country dances and a cotillion with the name Allemand Swiss.  As spelling was not standardized in the 18th century, we find many varied spellings of the title, like Continue reading

Penington’s Rant

Penington’s Rant was published in London by John Johnson around 1748 and by Samuel and Charles Thompson in their Two Hundred Country Dances Vol. 1, published in 1758 (or, according to the Tune Archive, published in 1757). It was likely published in Thompson’s Twenty Four Country Dances for 1751 or 1752,  We have not found any written record of this dance in the colonies, but it is likely that it was enjoyed on both sides of the Atlantic! Continue reading

Thanks to American Antiquarian Society and Lawrence Library in Pepperell, MA

We spent some hours at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts photographing the tune and dance manuscript of Jeremiah Brown of Seabrook, NH from approximately 1782, as well as a dance publication from 1801 which was owned by William Turner, a well-known dance instructor (and son and grandson of dancing masters) of Boston. It was inscribed:

William Turner his property presented by a friend Cate Farna

It was exciting to handle a book which he had owned!

We wish to thank all the staff members at the Antiquarian society for their help. We will be making a return trip in the future!

Just a few days later, on Saturday, October 8, we stopped at the Lawrence Library in Pepperell, Massachusetts, hoping to learn more about Nancy Shepley of Pepperell, who wrote a manuscript of dances ca. 1794. The librarians allowed us access to their History Room, and we spent more than half an hour browsing through their holdings. We tried to find out more about Nancy Shepley, and discovered that there were Shepleys in Pepperell at the correct time, but they had no daughter listed as ‘Nancy’. They did have both a daughter named Anna and a daughter named Hannah, both of which might have been called Nancy. We will need to return, as the library closed at 2 pm that day. We wish to thank the librarians for allowing us to look through their historical treasures.

Thanks to Natalie at the Vaughn Williams Memorial Library

It was exciting in the past few days to be in contact with Natalie, a librarian of the Vaughn Williams Memorial Library, at the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) in London. As we continue to research dances from the 18th century, we wanted to get hold of a copy of Twenty-Four Country Dances published by John Walsh in 1764 in London and Jacob and I understood that EFDSS had a copy. After some back and forth, Natalie was able to send us a complete copy of the work and we downloaded it (it took a bit of extra time as the copy EFDSS had bound as Walsh 1764 was actually incomplete and had bound together some pages from Walsh’s 1764 publication and some from his 1763 publication of the same name.) Thankfully, Natalie was exceedingly helpful – and we thank her for her help.