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Help: How about the Dulcimer (James Tunnicliff)

Malcolm.Smith@durham.ac.uk 18 Nov 99 - 09:07 AM
Áine 19 Nov 99 - 08:58 AM
Jim Dixon 05 Dec 09 - 09:32 PM
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Subject: James Tunnicliff
From: Malcolm.Smith@durham.ac.uk
Date: 18 Nov 99 - 09:07 AM

Can I please forward this request sent to a local history list in England.

Thanks, Malcolm Smith.

From: Susan Hoyle Subject: "How about the dulcimer" To: VICTORIA@LISTSERV.INDIANA.EDU

Please forgive any cross-postings.

I am trying to trace a song which was printed in England in 1856 or possibly 1857. It was called "How about the dulcimer", and although I have a passing reference to its being printed, I have no idea whether it was words only ("to be sung to the tune of 'xyz' "), or tune only, or both. It was by a farm labourer called James Tunnicliff, who lived near Abbots Bromley (a farmer called Charlesworth paid for the printing); I don't know where it was printed, but a local place seems likely---Rugeley or Stafford perhaps, or even Abbots Bromley itself? And having it printed may not be the same as 'published': perhaps the song/tune/verse got no further than the Charlesworths' parlour---though I would expect it was printed in order for it to have a wider circulation than that

Further---I have seen references to the dulcimer in connection with the Horn Dance at Abbots Bromley. I know of no connection between the people I have mentioned and the dance, although they must have known about it and seen it, perhaps even taken part. But the song "How about the dulcimer" may have been written with the dance in mind---or maybe not. .


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Subject: RE: James Tunnicliff
From: Áine
Date: 19 Nov 99 - 08:58 AM


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Subject: RE: Help: How about the Dulcimer (James Tunnicliff)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 05 Dec 09 - 09:32 PM

Nothing to do with a dulcimer, but interesting nonetheless:

From Annual Register of 1857 (London: F. & J. Rivington, 1858).

20. WITCHCRAFT IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY.—Stafford Assizes.—A case remarkable not only from the length and absurdity of the imposition practised, but also from the apparent respectability of the dupe, has created great interest at these assizes. Indeed, the story resembles a legend of the dark ages, rather than a statement of what has actually taken place in this age of boasted light and knowledge. A substantial farmer, named Thomas Charlesworth, residing on a small farm of his own at Bromley Hurst, near Rugeley, married, a few months ago, a young woman in his own station of life. The marriage displeased his widowed mother, who had been living with him, and she left, cautioning him, however, before her departure not to attempt to make cheese, as it would be sure to tumble to pieces. Heedless of the widow's caution, cheese-making was prosecuted, but with little or no success, the milk refusing to turn, or, if a cheese perchance were made, it was certain to fall to pieces. The farmer and his wife then were taken ill, and the dairymaid also became unwell, without any ostensible cause. The farmer, coupling these things with his mother's prediction, came to the conclusion that he was "bewitched." Bemoaning his condition to a neighbour, Sammons, a tollgate keeper, and who at times worked on the farm, Sammons recommended him to go to a "wise-man," James Tunnicliff, also living in the neighbourhood, who "could do anything." The farmer and his wife immediately set off to Tunnicliff's house, and the cause of their journey told, Tunnicliff proffered his services to relieve them of the dire calamity under which they were suffering, and next morning he made his appearance on the farm. Without seeing the cows, he pronounced them bewitched, and the horses, the farmer himself, his wife and maid, and, above all, the cheese-kettle, he declared to have fallen under the same curse. He could remove the enchantment, but money would be necessary; and forthwith the simple farmer paid him 5s. for himself, 5s. each for some horses, 5s. for the cheese kettle, and 3s. 6d. each for the cows, in all amounting to about 7l., for removing the spell. Things, however, did not mend at the farm; on the contrary, the wife was occasionally seized with sickness, the husband suffered from unaccountable aches and pains, especially after Tunnicliff had been on the farm, and at night there were mysterious noises, accompanied by the shaking of the house, bellowing of the cattle, howling of dogs. Application was again made to Tunnicliff, who represented the state of the farmer and his wife, and the extraordinary noises, to have arisen from the "widow's curse," and the enchantment put upon them, through her instrumentality, by wizards living at Longton, Burton-on-Trent, and Derby. More money was required to remove the enchantment, and to pay the expense of the journeyings to the wizards, in order to neutralise the effect of their spells. Charlesworth freely parted with his money to the amount of 30l., but the farmer and his wife derived no benefit from the expenditure. Tunnicliff at length went to live on the farm, and resided with the farmer and his wife several months, during which period he was engaged at intervals in making crosses on all the doors with witch hazel, and in burning blue and other lights to overcome the power of those who had bewitched the farmer and his wife. On one night, according to the evidence of Mrs. Charlesworth and her dairymaid, when the master of the house was very ill, a sound like that of a carriage was heard in the yard, then a rush of wind was felt through the passage, and the housedog was seen to enter the room, followed by the shape of another dog all on fire. The frightened inmates said the Lord's Prayer, and the fiery dog disappeared, leaving the watch-dog in a sad state, with his tongue out and his paws hanging down. Things continued in this position for some ten or eleven months, when a suspicion being at last entertained that Tunnicliff was himself the cause of all their misfortunes, the farmer recovered his senses, and instituted a prosecution against him for obtaining money under false pretences. At the trial the theory of the prosecution was, that the prisoner had administered some noxious drug to the farmer, his wife and cattle; and as a proof, it was shown that briony root had been found in his house; but the medical testimony did not support this part of the case. Tunnicliff, however, was found guilty, and sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment, with hard labour.


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