Notes for Bonnie Lass of Fyvio/Peggy of Darby/Dandy
This text here is slightly modified from that in a small
chapbook type songster, <
original readings in brackets. The imprint has been shorn on a
copy in Library of Congress, Music Div. Another copy at Harvard
(Cat no. 1655,) has the address '42 Long Lane' (London). The Library
of Congress dates this 179-. A few broadsides issued from this
address, that of Howard and Evans, and J. Evans, were dated 1794,
and a piece by Howard and Evans about Napolean was issued at that
address about 1805, but I have no additional information
regarding a possible date for the printing of this text, which is
certainly not the original. J. Evans seems to disappear about
1805, and in 1807 T. Evans appears at 79 Long Lane. [Frank
Purlsow, in a book review in <
mentions his favourite [John] Pitts' broadside ballad is "Pretty
Peg o' Derby." This I have not found, but being by Pitts it can
be dated as 1802 or later. For another mention of this Pitts
broadside, a traditional version and references to others, see H.
M. Belden <
The song is the 10th of 25 songs cramped into 7 pages of song
texts. The song is not divided into verses, and some long lines
are continued on a following line, while others are continued at
the end of the preceding line, while the second line of the 5th
verse is not completed at all. The text was obviously taken down
from recitation, and is corrupt in several places, and has here
been amended. The song is an early version of that now known as
"The Bonnie Lass O' Fyvie, O," and some lines have here been
corrected from parallel verses among the numerous traditional
versions of the latter in P. Shuldram-Shaw and Eleanor Lyle's
1981. [Much the earliest text of this song appears to be in
Peter Buchan's MSS in the British Library, but this text I have
not seen.] The amended readings are in parenthesis and the
originals are given in brackets, except for the second line of
the first verse which reads "They were all marching to Derby, O."
The amendment here is from a medley mentioned below.
The earliest copy of the tune which I have found is for a song
in a play published in 1785, Two to One, written by George Colman
(the younger), and produced the previous year. The music for the
play, composed and/or arranged by Dr. Samuel Arnold, was
published separately from the play text, but with the play title,
on July 5, 1784. The tune is Air V, p. 16, with the title
"Peggy of Derby O!". The tune is a vocal arrangement with
instrumental introduction and conclusion, and is a setting for
Colman's song on "Little Tippet." This song is without title in
the play, and without title or tune direction in a songbook, The
New Vocal Enchantress, London, 1789, p. 275, but Colman's song
was also published with the title "The Dandy O!" in the same
year in The Charms of Chearfulness, p. 11, London, again without
tune direction. This song, one of Colman's earliest, is not one
of his better efforts, even to this tune, as we shall see later.
In the same meter, and although without tune direction, but
obviously to the same tune, are two other songs entitled "The
Dandy, O." A song, "The Dandy-O," fitting the tune, but without
music, and noted to have been sung by Mr. [Joseph Shepherd]
Munden, is in The Festival of Momus, p. 152, London: W. Lane.
n.d. [c 1791-2]. Munden was known primarily as an actor, rather
than singer, but there are a few other songs also credited to
Munden's performances. We may thus suspect his song was sung in a
play. According to William Montgomerie's 'Bilbiography of
Scottish Ballad Manuscripts' in Studies in Scottish Literature,
V, p. 132, 1967, there is a copy of this song with title "Dandy
O" in the Scottish song collection known as the Mansfield/ St.
Clair Manuscript. I strongly suspect it was Mr. Munden's song
from which the tune came to be called "The Dandy, O."
Mr. Munden's song in Festival is as follows:
I presume that Jacob and Caleb mentioned in the song are
characters in a play in which the song appeared.
Another "Dandy, O" is reprinted in de Sola Pinto and Rodway's
The Common Muse, no. 67, from an early nineteenth century broadside,
seemingly too late to be the source of the tune title "Dandy-O."
The national origin of the tune is explicit in the heading of
a copy of it entitled "Peggy Darby. or the Dandys. Irish." This
is tune no. 431, p. 166, of A Selection of Scotch, English, Irish
and Foreign Airs, III, James Aird, Glasgow, n.d. . Except
for unnecessary note splitting in the last measure of each
strain, this score is a good vocal version of the tune, without
instrumental elaborations or variations. I have not found the
song corresponding to the title "The Dandys," although a seeming
imitation of it, "The Lady Dandies," will be cited below.
Another printing of the tune appears as "Peggy Derby or Dandy
O." on p. 22 of John Brysson's <Favourite Tunes>>. Edinb., n.d. [June, 1791]. This score is an
extended instrumental version of 36 measures, and is not suitable
as a vocal score.
Yet another song to the tune is a broadside printed by J.
Pitts, and thus to be dated after 1802, and given in Holloway and
are those of "Pretty Peggy of Derby," which is the tune direction
for the next song given by Holloway and Black, No. 111, "The Lady
Dandies, Or, Daniel Dewhoofs Luck in London." This is again a
Pitt's issue. The rhyme is 'handy, O/ dandy, O,' in all verses of
these latter two songs.
The tune later acquired some other titles from a single song
which was known by several titles. "The Landlady of France," was
the tune direction for the American naval ballad "The
Constitution and the Guerriere," (G. M. Laws, Native American
Balladry, A6; C. H. Firth, Naval Ballads and Songs, Naval
Record Soc., 1908). The song "The Landlady of France" is in Wm.
Dimond's play, <
published in 1809. The incidental music in the play is there
stated to be by Michael Kelly. A footnote to the song in
the play credits the song to George Colman. In the article on
Michael Kelly in <
score published for the play, consequently the tune for the song
does not seem to be known with certainty in the British Isles.
The Dictionary statement is not quite true. The songs and the
music for them were printed in an American publication <
'Written by Wm. Dimond Esq.r, Composed by Mich.l Kelly.'
Philadelphia, Published by G. S. Blake, n.d. [before 1820]. [The
only traditional version of Coleman's song that I know of is an
unpublished one collected without tune from a singer in Antioch,
Virginia in 1942, "Brandy O."] Colman's song was probably
suggested by that of Munden.
The works I've seen on American historical ballads which give
"The Constitution and the Guerriere" trace the tune, at best, to
this work and ascribe the tune to Kelly, or note the tune is that
of an 'old English drinking song,' doubtlessly Colman's. The
title page of the musical score, as quoted above, implies that
the songs are all by Dimond, and the song in this work is headed
"Brandy, O, a favourite Comic Song sung by Mr. Jefferson in the
Foundling of the Forest. Composed by Michael Kelly." It seems
quite obvious that the American publication of the songs for
unauthorized, because the song is not by Dimond, and the
tune is certainly not by Michael Kelly. The copy of the tune
there differs little from that used earlier by Colman, as
published by Arnold.
Colman's song was printed in an undated songster of c 1810-15,
direction "The Dandy O." In an undated songbook of about 1814,
unfortunately without title page, <
by Mr. Fawcett in The Privateer. Tune- Pretty Peggy of Derby,"
and on p. 188, "Love and Brandy [Brandy O/ Landlady of
France]. Written by Mr. George Colman, Esquire. Tune-Pretty Peggy
of Derby, O." Even without the tune in the songs for Dimond's
play, there is solid evidence for the tune for Colman's song.
None of the published texts of "The Constitution and
Guerriere" listed by G. M. Laws, <
(A6), are accompanied by a tune that is clearly traditional,
although the tune, when given, in those works cited by Laws, is
"The Landlady of France/ Brandy O/ Pretty Peggy of Derby, O". The
version recorded by Sidney Robertson Cowell from Warde Ford in
Central Valley Ca, Dec. 1938, is on a tape in the Library of
Congress Folklore Archive, Record No. 4202 A4, entitled on the
recording "Proud Dacres and Capt. Hull." In an introduction to
the song Mr. Ford says that he 'is not quite sure about the
words or the tune,' and could recollect only one verse of the
song at that time. He later learned the rest of the song from
print. Although his tune is somewhat worn down, it is
recognizable as "The Landlady of France", except for
the music for the third line of the verse, which Mr. Ford
apparently didn't remember, and simply improvised.
The battle of the Constitution and the Guerriere was fought in
1812 and in the following year the English won the battle of the
Chesapeake and the Shannon, and an English ballad using the same
tune commemorated the event. All three traditional versions of
"The Chesapeake and Shannon" listed by G. M. Laws, American
Balladry from British Broadsides, (J20) are sung to this same
tune, which Cecil Sharp named, for the version he collected,
"Pretty Peggy of Derby." John Harrington Cox, Folk-Songs of the
South, p. 257  1964, lists many early printings of this
A version of the tune was arranged by Sir John Stevenson for
Thomas Moore's song "Eveleen's Bower." Thomas Moore's song is in
the second number of <>, n.d.
[1807/8TUNE FILE: the second and last part of Vol. I. The title of
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the air is given as unknown, but a footnote states, "Our
claim to the melody has been disputed; but they who are best
acquainted with National Melodies pronounce it to be Irish. It is
generally known by the name of "The Pretty Girl of Derby, O"."
Alfred Moffat, <
n.d.  states that the tune "The Dandy, O" in O'Farrell's
according to Moffat, but more correctly called Vol II, part 2) c
1811, is the same tune as in Brysson's <
I have not yet been able to locate the fourth part of this
O'Farrell's collection, of which the index is in the third part,
and lists the tune as being on p. 105. A copy of the tune with
O'Farrell's title "The Dandy O," is in <
(enlarged edition), no. 114, 1915, and since O'Neill mentioned the
song by title and source in <
Irish Music) were taken from O'Farrell's volume.
The tune was again printed in the United States as "Brandy O
or Peg of Darby," an instrumental setting being on p. 43, of
third part of the six parts comprising Vol. I, which was
completed in Apr. 1816, and this third part would be of late 1814
or early 1815. The dual title here shows that Edward Riley
recognized the "Brandy, O" tune as a version of "Pretty Peggy of
Derby." Riley also included the tune as "Eveleen's Bower" on p.
30 of the second volume of his collection, 1819-20.
Another American song using the tune is one on the American
Civil War naval battle of the Monitor and the Merrimac, fought
Mar. 9, 1862, and called "The Iron Merrimac." This was collected
at the Library of Congress from Judge Learned Hand in 1942. It is
available on Library of Congress recording AFS L29. It may be
related to a broadside ballad I have not seen. The latter is
mentioned by John Harrington Cox in Folk-Songs of the South, p.
257,  1964, as "Yankee Boys so Handy, O," which Cox terms
an imitation of "The Constitution and the Guerriere."
Thomas Lyle, a Scottish surgeon and songwriter of Perth,
collected a version of "Pretty Peggy of Derby, O" in Scotland,
but unfortunately he rewrote the song (as well as the others he
collected) before he published it as "Pretty Peg of Derby" in
book contains no tunes. Since he noted that it was to the same
tune as Moore's "Eveleen's Bower," he obviously collected the
tune also. Lyle's note at the end of the song is ambiguous. He
said he never saw the song in print, yet says his version is
'collated with a copy taken down from recitation.' The verse he
gives at the end of his note, then, is probably the first verse
that he actually collected. He says it is 'in its original
dress.' This verse he gives as follows:
O there was a regiment of Irish dragoons,
And they were marching through Derby, O.
The Captain fell in love
With a young chamber-maid,
And her name it was called pretty Peggy, O.
This verse is quite similar to the first verse of the songster
text. Lyle's rewritten six verse text is roughly parallel to the
songster text after deletion of the fourth verse of the latter.
Lyle's rewritten version, however, has the regiment going to
Kilkenny, rather than Killarney. Lyle also wrote a new song for
the tune, given in the work cited, and printed earlier with
music. Lyle's song was "The Bonnie Blue Forget-Me-Not,"
which had been given in R. A. Smith's <
n.d. [1825, the original, supposedly suppressed, edition]. The
title of the tune is there given as "The Maid of Derby." While
Lyle's text "Pretty Peg of Derby" is worthless as a traditional
song, we can be certain that "Pretty Peggy of Derby" was sung in
Scotland in the first quarter of the 19th century with a text
very similar to that in the songster. [Incongrously, Lyle's text
rather than a chapbook or broadside copy appears Roy Palmer's
Perhaps slightly earlier "Pretty Peggy of Derby, O" was
rewritten as "The Bonnie Lass o' Fyvie" as evidenced by a copy in
Peter Buchan's MSS in the British Library, which are thought to
date about 1828.
The following lines are from 'An Irish Medley' in <
'A regiment of Irish dragoons,
And they were all quartered at Derby, O!
And they fell in love__'
The first line and a half, almost the same as those above, are
also in a medley in Vol. I, p. 4, 1825. There are songs to the
tune "Pretty Peggy of Derby, O" on p. 107 and 276 of Vol.
III, 1828, and the first line of "Peggy of Darby" is in a medley
on p. 284.
T. Crofton Crocker in <
London, 1839, p. 124 (p. 121 of 1886 reprint), says, "The pretty
Maid of Derby, O!" is known to be the production of an Irishman,
but be provides no particulars whatever, not even mentioning
where a copy of the text or tune could be found. It would appear
that Crocker expected his readers to be familiar with the song
and tune. The evidence cited above seems to me to be quite
conclusive for taking "Pretty Peggy of Derby" to be an Irish song
and tune. Lacking this evidence, however, there were
counterclaims. Wm. Chappell in <
tune was not Irish, however, he supplied no direct evidence.
Chappell's statement that Bunting rejected it is without
foundation. Bunting didn't mention the tune, which is certainly
not the same as saying he rejected it. Donnal O'Sullivan, concurs
with Chappell in his article on Irish Folk Music in the 5th ed.
we do not know what evidence he had seen, if any.
The tune of the rewritten American version of "Pretty Peggy of
Derby," 1880, found by Ed Cray at Harvard, in <
Peggy, O" in Folklore Archive, Library of Congress. Copy of book
also in Library of Congress) is unrelated to the original tune.
This American version of 1880 is readily recognized by the
lame third line in the first verse, "Our Captain fell in love
with a lady like a dove". This is obviously the source of the
song collected by Cecil Sharp in the Southern Applachains, and by
a few others in the United States.
"Drops of Brandy" is a much older unrelated tune of similar
title, also called "Dribbles of Brandy."
"The Dandy, O," Thomas Moore's tune for his song "Young May
Moon" in 5th number of Irish Melodies, n.d.  is a different
tune in 6/8 time with identical title, evidently supplied by
Moore from the chorus of a song in <
appeared without title.
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