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Lyr Add: Isabella, the Barber's Daughter (Clifton)


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In Mudcat MIDIs:
Isabella, the Barber's Daughter [Harry Clifton]

Artful Codger 14 May 10 - 10:59 AM
Joe Offer 14 May 10 - 05:29 PM
GUEST, Sminky 27 May 10 - 11:58 AM
Steve Gardham 27 May 10 - 03:01 PM
GUEST, Sminky 28 May 10 - 01:02 PM
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From: Artful Codger
Date: 14 May 10 - 10:59 AM

A song by the famous music hall performer, Harry Clifton. The lyrics were transcribed by Steve Gardham from period sheet music.

    Written and Composed by Harry Clifton. [1863]

When you hear my ditty my woes you will pity,
I'm engaged in the City from ten till three,
But I've been betray'd by a fascinating maid,
Who was Bosen in a bonnet shop at Battersea....
Her eyes were as black as the pips of a pear,
No rose in the garden with her cheeks could compare,
She'd a gingham umbrella,
Her name was Isabella
And her father kept a barber's shop at Islington....
On a Monday afternoon in the latter part of June,
From Waterloo I started for a ride to Battersea,
And as we drew Hungerford pier.....
A lovely lady I chanced to see...
In her hands a nosegay, 'twas a bundle of stocks,
A brown paper parcel and a blue bonnet-box,
A gingham umbrella,
Her name was Isabella
And etc.
I rush'd to the gangway and proffer'd my assistance,
Oh the smile that she gave me as I handed her a seat,
I sat down beside her she offer'd no resistance
We talk'd of the weather the rain and the heat..
I asked her--her parents--I asked her their trade,
I asked her, her name, with a look half afraid
She rais'd her umbrella
"my name is Isabella,
And my father keeps a barber's shop at Islington."
Before we parted she'd all my affection
I enquired, "Should I see her at some future day!"
She simpered and smiled, and said, "she'd no objection"
As light as a fairy she tripped it away.
So we were engaged in a regular way,
My time passed as happy as the flowers in May,
When I thought of Isabella
And her gingham umbrella,
And her father's little barber's shop at Islington.
I took her to the Palace with a ticket of admission,
I took her to Richmond and the Gardens at Kew,
I took her to Madame Tussaud's exhibition,
Eight hours by the sea at Brighton too.
Oh! the presents I made and the letters I wrote,
From the first time I met her on a Citizen boat.
My darling Isabella,
And her gingham umbrella,
Whose father kept a barber's shop at Islington.
When you hear the sequel, you'll say it has no equal
In all the annals of woman's deceit,
I went one night to meet my Isabel,
But no Isabel was there to meet---
I searched far and wide till I happened to drop
In near the Angel, at a "sixpenny hop"---
Oh! there was Isabella
With a ginger-whiskered fellow
Doing "double shuffles" up at Islington!
I staggered with surprise then exclaimed...."Isabella!
"Do I look like a fool? Do you take me for a flat?"
She coolly replied, "Well I rather think I do,
And if you don't like it, take it out of that.
I rushed at my rival, satisfaction to get,
But found that my troubles had not ended yet---
For up jumped Isabella,
With her gingham umbrella,
And smashed my new "six and six" at Islington.
I rushed from the sight of the faithless spinster,
In the Thames dirty water repose for to find:
But before I reached the bridge of Westminster,
My opinions altered, and I changed my mind.
For folly must be paid for and wisdom bought:
There are fishes in the sea that have never been caught
So a fig for Isabella
And her gingham umbrella,
And her father's little barber's shop at Islington.

You can find an Americanized version at the John Hopkins University Lester S. Levy site. That version is titled "Isabella and Her Gingham Umbrella". Judging from a brief comparison, the localizations are rather clumsy, resulting in a weaker song. The score, however, is virtually the same as in the Clifton sheet music. Nevertheless, when preparing a MIDI for your delectation, I followed the Clifton score.

Steve Gardham's notes:
Written & Sung With Tumultuous Applause By
London, Hopwood & Crew, 42 New Bond St W.
Litho: by Conanen, Lee & Siebel of Clifton in smart suit and top-hat carrying cane, hand out to help Isabella off the gangway onto the Citizen boat.

Written and composed by Harry Clifton
Copyright and property of the Author and not to be sung in Public without his written permission.
H&C 485

In this post in the "Harry Clifton songwriter" thread, Sminky established the composition date at 1863, based on a notice in a contemporaneous publication (extract quoted).

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Isabella, the Barber's Daughter (Clifton)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 May 10 - 05:29 PM

MIDI from Artful Codger posted. See link above. Thanks, AC.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Isabella, the Barber's Daughter (Clifton)
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 27 May 10 - 11:58 AM

The song led to a case of wife beating in Lambeth:

"On the night in question the complainant ['a comely and well-attired person, with a most ladylike demeanour'] obtained leave from her husband to sing in a tavern in which they met a familiar ditty, to the end of which was the "refrain" or chorus:

She'd a gingham umbrella.
And her name was Isabella,
And her father keeps a barber's shop in Islington.

Hull Packet, Aug 7 1863

Afterwards, the husband followed his wife outside and beat her up. He got 3 months hard labour.

The song was soon plagiarised:

"New Music

Words by Bedford Renter. Music by W.Cox. London: B.Williams - This is a companion song to 'The Dark Girl Dressed in Blue' and by this time is nearly as well known, as we very frequently hear reference made in the streets to Miss Isabella, who carries a gingham umbrella, and whose father is a perfumer [sic] up at Islington."

Era Magazine, Nov 15 1863

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Isabella, the Barber's Daughter (Clifton)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 May 10 - 03:01 PM

Wonder what the Hull Packet was doing giving info on a relatively minor incident in Lambeth! The events described would have been regular events in Hull in 1863 as they are now!

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Isabella, the Barber's Daughter (Clifton)
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 28 May 10 - 01:02 PM


Having once lived in Hull, I know what you mean!

Isabella, the Barber's Daughter at the British Library

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