Jemmey’s Fancy

Jemmey’s Fancy was published by Charles and Samuel Thompson in Twenty Four Country Dances for the Year 1757 in London, and in Thompson’s Compleat Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, Vol. 1.  A different version of the dance was published by John Johnson in 1751. 

Here’s how we have reconstructed the dance:

Jemmey’s Fancy (Triple Minor Longways)
The dance is 48 bars long. The music is played without repeats, ABABAB.

A1:    Couples 1 and 2 right hands across
B1:    Couples 1 and 2 left hands across
A2:    First couple cast off one place, second couple moving up. The first man circles left with the third couple while the first woman circles left with the second couple.
B2:    First man heys with the third couple while the first woman heys with the second couple.
A3:    First man sets in place to the third woman, then the second woman while the first woman sets in place to the second man, then the third man. The first couple two-hand turns once around.
B3:    First couple leads through the third couple, and casts back to the middle then leads through the second couple and casts back to the middle.


For A1 and B1 (the right and left hand stars), pas de bourrees work best.  Pas de bourrees also work well for most of the rest of the dance.  However, the lead throughs in B3 cannot be done in eight bars of music using pas de bourrees.  The period-correct alternative that covers enough ground is a ‘chassee forward’ (in modern terms, a skip-change step.)


The tune is available (under the title Jemmy’s Fancy) in both the Traditional Tune Archive and JC’s ABC Tune Finder.

Here’s the original description of the dance from Thompson:

The 1st and 2nd Cu. hands across
Left hands back again
1st Cu. cast off, the Man hands round with the 3rd. Cu. and the Wo. with the 2nd
the 1st Man heys with the 3rd Cu. and the Wo. with the 2nd Cu.
Set contrary corners and turn
lead thro’ Bottom & Top and turn

The strain markings with the description indicate the music is to be played AAABAB. The musical notation has repeat signs at the end of both the A and the B music. The strain markings in other tunes in the collection seem unreliable – for example, some of them show the dance being done to the A music played four or six times through, without using the B music at all. Since the strain markings seem unreliable, we have chosen to do the dance to music played AB throughout, since that only requires assuming that one of the strain marks with the dance description is mistaken, and because asking musicians to play the tune as AAABAB would place an unreasonable burden on the musicians.

As for the footwork, a skip-change step is necessary in order for the dancers to comfortably cover enough ground for leading through the bottom and top couples. Since Kellom Tomlinson described the chassee forward in a way that matches a skip-change step in his book The Art of Dancing Explain’d (written in 1724 and published in 1735), the step is period-appropriate, and it fits well with the feel of the music. The dance will work if a skip-change step is used for the entire dance, but if it were used for the right hand and left hand stars, the stars would turn more than once around, which is unusual.  Doing the stars with pas de bourree steps will lets the stars turn just once around in each direction.

Even with a skip-change step for the lead throughs at the top and bottom, we did not find there to be enough music for the first couple to turn with partner at the end of the B3 music. We have left it out of our interpretation of the dance.

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