Tunes in the Hampton MS – Part 1

As revealed in the previous blog, the first three pages of the Hampton manuscript were written by Walter Soobroy. Walter’s taste appears consistent with the popular contemporary repertoire of mid-late 19th century England. It is possible that Soobroy was using these familiar items, coupled with the more technical, pedagogic items (see below) to teach Thomas, either to read music or teaching him to play or improve his ability on the violin.

The first tune is an untitled and unidentified contemporary waltz by Frank Musgrave. The item which follows was originally thought to be an independent melody due to the re-drawing of treble clef, key and time signatures, however, the trend of contemporary popular melodies to have a second modulating section makes the tune a likely second section of Ham.1.1.[1]





Little existing information can be found written about the composer Musgrave, although Worldcat provide biographical dates of 1834-1888 and a publication timeline spanning 1850-1883.[2] The 1861 census does not reveal a Frank Musgrave fitting these dates, although Lewis Musgrave, listed as artist, and born c1836 (Middlesex), can be found lodging in St Pancras, London, perhaps indicating a name change or pen-name as he became better known.[3] In the 1871 census, reference can be found to a Musical Compositor called Frank Musgrave, born c1839 in Middlesex, London, and lodging in a house in Southampton Row, Bloomsbury.[4] By the 1881 census, aged 45, Musgrave has elevated to the status of Professor of Music, lodging in Fulham Road.12

The large number of newspaper advertisements which make mention of Musgrave, suggests he was a prolific composer throughout the latter half of the 19th century, with many magazines and tune books containing his new compositions. Scowcroft, writing the only other reference to Musgrave that I could find, states that he was Musical Director of the Strand Theatre in 1865 and by 1873 was the ‘lessee of the Theatre Royal, Nottingham.’ Throughout the 1870s he was touring with various self-composed operettas. Prior to his appointment at The Strand Theatre he wrote, ‘mostly dance music (quadrilles, valses and polkas…), arrangements and “nigger songs”’,[5] suggesting therefore that this waltz dates from pre-1865.

The omission of a title could indicate that Soobroy or Hampton were unaware of the exact title, learning the tune by ear, although the accuracy and neatness of transcriptions makes me doubt this, an area which will be explored in more depth in a later blog. The melody is in keeping with the popular composed waltz of the sort in fashion in the later 19th century:- simple yet lyrical and ‘popular’ sounding, built around an 8 bar phrase which is repeated with a very slight alteration in the final 3 bars of the repetition. The melodic simplicity strengthens the argument that these initial tunes had a pedagogic function.

The octave doubling, added afterwards by the same hand may be a musical embellishment. However, I believe it could corroborate the theory that the book was, initially at least, used as a pedagogic tool. In this section, the melody extends beyond the reach of a violinist’s normal hand position, known as 1st position, and would require either a 4th finger extension to reach the high ‘c’ or, more likely a change of hand position into 3rd position. This requires a higher level of technical skill, hence the inclusion of a lower octave as an option for a player who is not so advanced.

Aural transmission could be implied by the very slight inaccuracies regarding musical theory and notation.  In bar 16, a minim would be expected in order to accommodate the upbeat of the next musical phrase. Instead, a dotted minim fills the entire bar and the transcriber has given the crotchet upbeat a complete bar. Furthermore, the last bar contains a crotchet, rather than a minim to balance out the anacrusis at the start of the piece. That said, I believe the inaccuracies to be copying errors as the neatness, ornamentations and bow markings all point towards replication from a direct source as a means of transmission. Throughout this research I have considered methods of transmission very closely and will explain and justify my methods and theory of transmission in a later blog.

A direct source for the tune remains unidentified, although a potential source, given the pedagogic nature of some of Soobroy’s inclusions would be a contemporary violin tutor, perhaps by Farmer or Westrop. This assumption is supported by the lack of unique title as a similar trend was noted in other contemporaneous tutor books. Two potential tutors were examined at the British Library but neither proved the direct source.[6]





Using the given title of ‘Mama’s Little Pet Waltz’, this tune was traced in two c1860 records in the British Library catalogue, a piano music-sheet,[7] and an inclusion in Farmer’s Orchestral Journal.[8] Both sources verify the composer as Farmer, who Scowcroft lists as living between 1819-1891, working as a composer and owner of a music warehouse in Nottingham.[9] The tune was also viewed, unexpectedly in the British Library archives, as part of the collection of tunes in Williams’s 105 Popular Dances for the Cornet-a-Piston in A natural,[10] giving an example of the problems encountered when researching 19th century popular music without an existing catalogue of printed material and their contents for this genre.

Williams’ transcription, being in a different key from Soobroy’s, is likely not his direct source. However, the notational stylistics, such as dynamics, phrasing etc., suggest Soobroy had access to a similar source – perhaps from the same publisher (see figure below),[11] the difference in key perhaps indicating an arrangement for an alternative instrument.


Figure 1 : William’s 105 Dances for Cornet in A. Image taken at BL (e.271).

Once again, the new stave and treble clef shown in Ham.2.1 could be thought to indicate a new tune, yet following an examination of the tune at the British Library, it can be confirmed to be a second section of Ham.1.3 written on the previous page.



Generically titled yet identified as the traditional Scottish song melody of ‘Blue Bells of Scotland’. The origins of the melody are tricky to ascertain as considering the rudimentary musical structure and the simplistic, gently lyrical nature of the melody, the tune could be considered to have historic origins, yet it was popular (and possibly composed) circa1800. Chappell discusses the song in his chapter entitled, ‘Traditional tunes of uncertain date’, informing that the version popular today, ‘”The blue bell of Scotland, a favourite ballad, as composed and sung by Mrs Jordan at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane,” was entered at Stationers’ Hall on the 13th of May, 1800, and the music published by Longman and Co.’.[12]

However, the originality of Jordan’s tune is in dispute. Laura Vosika, suggests the tune is a modified version of an earlier tune and further states that Ritson ‘noted on copies of his version that, “The song has lately been introduced upon the stage by Mrs. Jordan, who knew neither the words nor the tune.”’.[13] I have found a version of the tune in Jackson’s 1798 manuscript which is a close variant of both the tune in the Hampton manuscript and the tune found in Chappell.[14] The uneven structure (6AA10B), and repeated use of the main theme suggests Jackson may have copied this out from memory. It comes towards the end of his manuscript so matches with the dates of Mrs Jordan’s performance.

To see the same tune appearing seventy to eighty years later in the Hampton manuscript, suggests remarkable longevity. Turner, in The Parlour Song Book, describes how until the explosion of popular songs in the 1870s, ‘songs could have an active life in the parlour of sixty years or more’.[15] More plausibly perhaps, this is an example of a tune being ‘recycled’ by one of the publishing houses such as Hopwood & Crew, or Charles Sheard etc., offering for sale cheap music sheets and books containing a mix of genres, re-igniting the tune’s popularity.

Soobroy’s source is likely to be contemporaneous as the tune was popular at that time and can be found in many publications of that period. Numerous forms of the tune were viewed in the British Library archives and a version also exists in Soobroy’s printed collection.[16] The British Library archives revealed a copy showing astounding similarities and only slight melodic variation at phrase endings, (see figure 2 below). This tune is also named with the same curiously generic title and the addition in the collection title of ‘composed for the use of amateurs’, perhaps indicates Soobroy’s source for these initial items was a tutor book.[17]


Figure 2 ‘Scotch Melody’, taken from The Violinist’s Portfolio Composed for the Use of Amateurs by A R Reinacle, D’Almaine & Co 20, photograph taken at BL, (h.217).

Ham.2.3 & Ham.2.4


These two items are pedagogic exercises based around a D major scale detailing position changes and bowing technique. Similar but not identical items were found in contemporary tutor books viewed at the British Library.



‘The Liverpool Hornpipe’ is a popular hornpipe which appears in several manuscripts including Winder, (1834-42),[18] and Winter, (1848).[19] Kuntz’s earliest find in the Gibbons manuscript, dated 1823-26, in which it is called ‘London Hornpipe’,[20] can be preceded by a close variant called ‘Manchester Hornpipe’ in the Jackson manuscript dated 1798.[21]

Sharp and Vaughan Williams, amongst others, collected this tune during the first decade of the 20th century,[22] showing its popularity. However, this does not necessarily indicate a long aural or oral tradition, and could be the result of recycling the tune in the same sort of publications as discussed above. Kuntz states that the tune, was, ‘printed endlessly in collections since the mid-19th century’,[23] and based on the surrounding material, popularity and proliferation of the tune seen in contemporary publications in wider literature and at the British Library, Soobroy’s source is likely a contemporary collection of violin music.



‘The Weddin Galop’, bears the hallmarks of a Victorian composition for the dance music market. Soobroy attributes this tune to composer C. Coote and in the 19th century both Charles Coote Senior (1809-1880),[24] and Charles Coote Junior, (1831-1916), are listed as composers and arrangers.[25] The archival visit to the British Library and a lithographed front cover of a published arrangement of the tune, published by Hopwood and Crew in 1867, found online, (see figure below),[26] confirms Charles Coote Junior as composer.

The Wedding Gallop

Figure 3 Music Sheet Cover of ‘The Wedding Galop’ by Charles Coote Junior. Image taken from

The version found in Hampton’s manuscript bears remarkable similarity, (apart from omitting a repeated section of the opening eight bars), to a printed version of the tune found in Soobroy’s collection of Hopwood and Crew’s Selection of Quadrilles, Waltzes, Polkas &c. Book 4. , (see figure 4 below),[27] suggesting he used this as a direct source.

The printed copy bears no date, and a search of newspaper advertisements reveals little, however, advertisements naming Robert Coote, who worked for Hopwood and Crew, editing and arranging this publication, would suggest a date of early 1860s.[28] The British Library do not hold a copy of this book, but do have copies of books 5, 6 and 8 which they date between 1870-87.[29]


Figure 4 ‘The Wedding Galop’, by Charles Coote taken from Hopwood & Crew Selection…Book 4

As the title suggests, the music is intended for a dance called a Galop: – ‘one of the most popular ballroom dances of the 19th century’.[30]

The next blog will continue examining the content of Hampton’s manuscript and introduces Thomas’ repertoire which combines more historic dance tunes with the popular tunes of the day.

[1] This is also seen in Ham.1.3 and Ham.2.1.

[2] OCLC Worldcat Identities, ‘Musgrave, Frank 1834-1888’,  <; [accessed 10th December 2015].

[3] ‘Lewis Musgrave’, 1861 England Census Return England Census Return (Class: RG 9; Piece: 99; Folio: 3; Page: 38; GSU roll: 542573), <;[accessed 26 September 2017].

[4] ‘Frank Musgrave’, 1871 England Census Return England Census Return (Class: RG10; Piece: 340; Folio: 3; Page: 1; GSU roll: 824605), <;[accessed 26 September 2017].

[5] Philip L.  Scowcroft, ‘A Forty-Eighth Garland of British Music Composers’, MusicWeb International  <; [accessed 1st September 2015].

[6] Henry Farmer, Henry Farmer’s Violin School,  (London: Paxton, No date); T. Westrop, Universal Violin Tutor,  (London: Charles Sheard / MB, No date).

[7] British Library Catalogue, ‘Mama’s Little Pet. Valse. [P. F.]’, British Library (No date) <; [accessed 30 April 2017 2017].

[8] British Library Catalogue, ‘Mama’s Little Pet. [Valse Facile.] [Orchestral Parts.]’, British Library (No date) <; [accessed 30 April 2017].

[9] Philip L Scowcroft, ‘A Thirty-Seveth Garland of British Light Music Composers’, Music Web International (No date) <; [accessed 30 April 2017].

[10] Joseph Williams and Hugh Shimmells, Williams’s 105 Popular Dances, Arranged for the Cornet-à-Piston in a by H. Shimmells.,  (London: Joseph Williams, 1859).

[11] Ibid. p. 21.

[12] William Chappell, The Ballad Literature and Popular Music of the Olden Time,  (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1965), p. 739.

[13] Laura Vosika, ‘Blue Bells the Folk Song’, The World of the Blue Bells Trilogy (2010) <; [accessed 20 March 2017].

[14] Robin Shepherd and Rosalind Shepherd, Mr Joshua Jackson Book 1798 : Tunes, Songs & Dances from the Manuscript of a Yorkshire Corn Miller and Musician Volume Two, 2 vols (West Yorkshire: R & R Shepherd, 2011), p. 104.

[15] Michael R. Turner, The Parlour Song Book,  (London: Michael Joseph Ltd, 1972), p. 21.

[16] Boosey, Boosey’s Hundred Reels, Country & Other Dances. For the Violin,  (Boosey, c1859), p. 8.The two versions of the tune are not identical, furthermore Boosey’s version has the correct title, indicating that Soobroy did not copy from this particular edition.

[17] Parkinson dates Reinacle’s book to between 1834-1858. John A. Parkinson, Victorian Music Publishers : An Annotated List,  (Michigan: Harmonie Park Press, 1990), p. 70.

[18] Andy Hornby, The Winders of Wyresdale,  (Andy Hornby, 2013), p. 147.

[19] Kennedy Grant Memorial Library Halsway Manor, William Winter Music Manuscript Book (1848-50).

[20] Andrew Kuntz and Valerio Pelliccioni, ‘Liverpool Hornpipe (1)’, Traditional Tune Archive (2017) <; [accessed 1 October 2015].

[21] Geoff Bowen and others, Tunes, Songs & Dances from the 1798 Manuscript of Joshua Jackson North Yorkshire Corn Miller and Musician, Volume One, 2nd edn, 2 vols (Bowen & Shepherd, 2015), p. 47.

[22] Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, ‘Liverpool Hornpipe’, English Folk Dance and Song Society (No date) <; [accessed 26 September 2017].

[23] Kuntz and Pelliccioni.

[24] Frank Greene, ‘People Coote Charles’, TheMusicSack (2017) <; [accessed 26 September 2017].

[25] Musopen, ‘Charles Coote’, (No date) <; [accessed 26 September 2017].

[26]Look and Learn, ‘Pictures of Charles Coote’, Look and Learn (2017) <; [accessed 26 September 2017]. BL hold two arrangements, one for piano dated 1866 and published by Hopwood and Crew, (British Library Catalogue, ‘The Wedding Galop by Charles Coote Junr’, British Library (No date) <; [accessed 26 September 2017].), and a later one, c1887 arranged as a duet and published by Edwin Ashdown, British Library Catalogue, ‘Coote’s Wedding Galop. Duet’, British Library (No date) <; [accessed 26 September 2017].

[27] Robert Coote, Hopwood & Crew’s Selection of Quadrilles, Waltzes, Polkas &C. Edited and Expressly Arranged for the Violin Book 4,  (Hopwood & Crew, c1860s).


[29] British Library Catalogue, ‘Hopwood & Crew’s … Quadrilles, Waltzes, Galops, Polkas, Etc., for the Violin. Arranged … By R. Coote. [Bk. 5, 6 and 8 by C. Minasi.]’, British Library (No date) <; [accessed 17 April 2015].

[30] Andrew Lamb, ‘Galop’, Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online,  (2017), <; [accessed 4 April 2017].


Thomas Hampton – Man and Manuscript

Hampton MS c1870

About 25 years ago, my grandfather proudly presented me (his only fiddle-playing grandchild), with this unassuming, soiled and torn manuscript which he told me had been compiled by my great-great grandfather, Thomas Hampton. Back then, my passion for fiddle playing was fuelled mainly by fast-paced Irish reels and jigs, so, somewhat ashamedly I put the manuscript on one side. Some 20 years later, with both my age and musical tastes mellowing, I have begun to realise what a treasure trove manuscripts like these are.

Not only do they contain long forgotten gems of tunes, some of interest to current musicians, they are also able to inform on an as yet, little explored Victorian musical practice. They reveal personal historical narratives whilst also provide evidence of wider social and cultural events and effects. The story and secrets these dusty old manuscripts reveal, turn them into valuable historical artefacts and primary sources not just for current musicians, but for those interested in historic music studies and wider Victorian social and cultural history.

Before examining the content of the manuscript in detail, I will introduce both the man and his manuscript.

References to tunes found within the manuscript are denoted as, for example ‘Ham.3.1’. ‘Ham’ refers to the specific manuscript, ‘3’ to the page number and ‘1’ to the item number on that page.

Thomas Hampton 1844-1896

Thomas Hampton was baptised in the rural Gloucestershire village of Blaisdon, in March 1844.[1] He was the fifth child of Elizabeth and John Hampton,[2] a charcoal runner,[3] who had one more child, William in 1847.[4] When Thomas was aged 5, in 1849, his mother died and the 1851 census lists him as a scholar, lodging with William Blewett in Blaisdon alongside his older sister Ann and younger brother, William.[5]

In 1861, despite no record of Thomas’ whereabouts, his father and brothers, William and John are found in Hereford, at the canal wharf, living on a charcoal barge, ‘Mary’, which travelled the Gloucester-Hereford Canal.[6] Records show that Thomas married Ann Wyatt, the daughter of another boatman, from Droitwich in March 1870 at Hereford’s Register Office.[7] In view of Thomas’s father and brothers’ work, and the connection between the Wyatt family it is plausible to suggest that Thomas was also employed as a boatman. The family’s relocation from a rural village to an urban centre could be indicative of the effects of industrialisation during the period.

The Hereford-Gloucester canal was growing in the early to mid-19th century, 1860 being the most successful financial year.[8] Ironically this was due in part to extra traffic resulting from building the railways and there followed a long decline, starting in 1862, when the canal company agreed to the Great Western and West Midland railways taking over the canal for future conversion to a railway,[9] eventually leading to the canal’s closure in 1881. Clearly this would have had a severe impact on the boat trade and possibly played a part in John and his sons’ relocation into the city to seek alternative employment. Thomas’ wedding certificate in 1870 indicates both him and his father working as general labourers and Thomas and Ann residing at 3, Victoria Street, Hereford.[10]

Thomas and Ann’s first child, Charles was born in Holmer, a rural village two miles north of Hereford city centre and was baptised in the parish church there, in March 1871.[11] Later that same year, the family are residing in 7, Harrison’s Gardens,[12] Bath Street, Hereford,[13] only a third of a mile away from Hereford’s canal wharf where Thomas’ father and two brothers were based in the 1861 census. Thomas is listed as a skinner. Bath Street’s location near the prison and the workhouse indicate it was not the most salubrious location to inhabit and this, coupled with his occupation creates an image of an underprivileged and modest existence. This is reflected in the rudimentary, home-bound manuscript. Thomas and Ann remained living in Bath Street raising four children, until his death, aged 52 in 1896.[14] Judging by the publishing dates of some of the content, the manuscript was compiled when Hampton lived in Hereford, although some of the melodies, namely the potential step-dancing and morris influenced tunes possibly represent a repertoire known to him as a boy in rural Blaisdon.

The final items in the manuscript, especially Ham.15.1 onwards, demonstrate a scruffier writing style. Whilst possibly indicating a different pen nib or a more hurried transcription, this could be evidence of this section of the manuscript being compiled towards the end of Hampton’s life. The cause of death listed on his death certificate is chronic pneumonia and asthma, along with phthisis, a progressive wasting disease.[15] In the earlier part of the manuscript the word hornpipe is written thus:

And yet on the penultimate page the word appears to be written with less control or neatness:-


arguably indicating that these items are later additions, when increasing years, deteriorating eyesight or arthritis and the effects of phthisis are affecting his transcription. If so, this provides insightful evidence of the manuscript going beyond the scope of a mere repository of tunes, hinting at every-day and yet intimate life events.

Further personal events may also be inferred through the inclusion of specific items which again widen the value of the manuscript from a simple tune book to a personal historical narrative. From Ham.10.3 a religious tone can be identified, influenced by Moody & Sankey’s writing and interspersed with contemporary songs. Four hymns, with titles and lyrics suited to a funeral surround five popular songs which would either appeal to a child’s taste, or whose lyrics strongly express melancholic sentiment and the choice of material in this section is indicative of the death of a child.

Whilst this section could represent a later stage of compilation than previously thought (c1890), coinciding with the death of Thomas’ son, also named Thomas, who died in 1890 aged 18,[16] a more plausible hypothesis with regards to dates and tune titles, is the birth and subsequent death of baby George Thomas Hampton, baptised on 22nd August 1878 in St Peter’s, Hereford and who died within two months of his birth.[17] The baby’s father was Thomas’ younger brother, William Hampton and the mother, merely being listed as Agnes, suggests they were unmarried.[18] In 1871 William was living with their older sister, Mary and her husband in 4 Monkmoor Street, Hereford,[19] a short walk away from Thomas and his family,[20] suggesting close family ties. William cannot be found in the 1881 census but in 1891 is still lodging with his sister and her husband and remains unmarried.[21]

The figure below shows the transcription of these tunes, commencing at Ham.10.3, ‘Safe In The Arms of Jesus’, followed by ‘Sun Of My Soul’, ‘‘Tis But A Little Faded Flower’, ‘The Little Brown Jug’, ‘My Grandfather’s Clock’, ‘Valse’, ‘The Empty Cradle’, ‘Come To the Saviour’ and concluding with ‘Tell Me The Old Old Story’, Ham.12.2. The inclusion of these tunes could be indicative of Thomas playing the fiddle at his nephew’s funeral, creating a personal connection which abruptly changes the perception of the manuscript from a detached, dispassionate archival artefact to a highly personal object, enabling a sense of the sadness and grief to be identified with.

Suggested Instrumentation

Throughout the manuscript all tunes are written in the treble clef and favour the keys of D and G major. This, coupled with the range, manuscript title and family knowledge corroborate that the violin was the intended instrument. A small number of the tunes are written in A major and C major possibly hinting at the compiler playing with other instrumentalists, or capable of playing other instruments perhaps a fife or whistle.[22]

Number of Scribes

A cursory glance at the writing style in the manuscript quickly reveals that two chief scribes are responsible for its compilation, (see images below). The first writes the opening nine items, (Ham.1.1 – Ham.3.2), and demonstrates a neater, well-educated hand in comparison to the later writing. (Aspects of musical and general literacy will be discussed in a later blog).

Fortuitously, some printed music handed down to me alongside the manuscript provided the key to identifying this initial scribe. The name ‘Walter Soobroy’ appears on the printed music in a neat, smart and well-educated hand,[23] the first four letters of which (‘Walt’) are identical to those found in the word ‘Waltz’, (Ham.1.1), the first four letters in the book:-

walter soobroy printed

Furthermore, the ‘S’ of Soobroy matches the initial letter of ‘Scotch Melody’, and two more identical occurrences of the letter ‘W’ indicate that the first scribe of the manuscript is Walter Soobroy, (1851 – 1931).[24] Based on the style of the ‘F’ from the composer’s name in Ham.1.1, it is apparent that this scribe also wrote the title of the book.

A distinct change in writing style is seen from Ham.4.1 onwards, and the writing of both music and words is rougher than Soobroy’s, perhaps more hurried and suggestive of a lower level of education, (see above). I believe this to be the hand of Thomas Hampton. A sharp contrast in genre accompanies the contrasting hand, as the repertoire moves from Soobroy’s predominantly contemporary 19th Century dance tunes to tunes stylistically indicating an earlier provenance.


How the book transferred from Soobroy to Hampton can only be left to supposition. Soobroy’s superior hand and the inclusion of some pedagogic items conceivably indicates him in the role of an instructor, and is perhaps representative of the Victorian auto-didactic movement (more on this in a later blog!). However, a simpler explanation such as Soobroy offering the remaining empty pages of his manuscript to Hampton remains entirely feasible.

Before discussing Soobroy in more depth, it is worth presenting an additional ‘guest’ scribe whose identity remains unknown. The transcription style of Ham.11.3, is more erratic and untidy, perhaps demonstrating a hurried approach suggested by the ‘squeezed-in’ positioning of the tune and title, which is incorrectly added before the end of the previous tune. Stylistic variance of clef and stem transcription, conspicuous by its convention in comparison to the remainder of the stems in the manuscript, further upholds this tune being transcribed by a different scribe.


Walter Soobroy

Records suggest Walter Soobroy to be the son of Mary Soobroy, a laundress, herself the daughter of Mary Gough and step-daughter of Richard Gough.[25] Richard, Walter’s step-grandfather with whom he lived from birth, was from Ireland, a journeyman and cabinetmaker. Mary, Walter’s grandmother is listed as ‘Cabinet Maker’s wife’, signifying a pride in not working, and hence perhaps more time to spend with a young boy helping in his education.[26] It is also indicative of the family not being in desperate poverty, perhaps with disposable income affording to send Walter to a local school. In 1871, at the approximate date of compilation, Walter lived in Gaol Street, Hereford, (a minute’s walk away from Thomas’ 1871 address), working as a brush-maker’s assistant.[27] Despite the subsequent census of 1881 indicating that Walter, now married, had moved, he remained only a short walk from Thomas.[28]

Although the circumstances pertaining to the relationship between the two men are inconclusive, it is relatively safe to assume that 26 year old Thomas and 20 year old Walter knew each other, perhaps socially or through church. The initial items hint at a pedagogic role, although whether Walter was teaching Thomas the violin and notation or whether the book was taken over by Thomas independently is not known.

Hampton MS c1870-1880

The manuscript book is the largest of my case-study sources, measuring 315mm by 245mm.[29] The cover is made of folded heavy-weight paper and exhibits an uneven fibrous texture bearing similarities to handmade paper. It is brown in colour and slightly specked with black fibres. The book has clearly been conceived as a complete entity as the manuscript pages have been stitched together and into the cover before it was folded, suggesting the book existed as a whole, rather than being added to throughout time. The stitching visible on the frontpiece, suggests the book was home-bound.

inside cover hampton

Internally, the book is constructed from 4 bifolium sheets, creating a single gathering consisting of 8 leaves resulting in 16 individual folios. The bifolium appear to be large pre-lined purchased music manuscript sheets comprising 12 staves and a blank border around each folio edge and have been stitched together in a rudimentary way. Although now largely detached, evidence exists to show the pages were bifolium and originally conjoint as the central biofolium is still partially attached. The majority of the biofolium pages have become detached and there is extensive scuffing and tearing to the outside edges of each leaf. The book is now in a relatively fragile state but remains legible and usable to an extent.

A neatly inscribed ink title on the front cover reads:- Dances For violin and an illegible inscription exists on the top right hand corner of the cover and an illegible stamped mark on the bottom right hand front cover.

1. Front Cover

The book contains 57 items, comprising a thorough mix of repertoire, spanning contemporary popular songs and dance tunes, older tunes and some non-conformist hymns.

The main ink colour is black, the density of which varies throughout, although initially, red ink is used for titles, clefs and composers. Evidence from Soobroy’s writing suggests that he was using a dip pen rather than a fountain pen as under magnification the red ink used for clef, time and key signatures shows through slightly as the black ink is used in Ham.1.1 as if the nib was not quite clean.


Where he starts line 3 without coloured ink, this colour contamination is not visible. It is also possible to observe by looking at ink density that he wrote note-heads, stems and beaming in one movement, (see Ham.3.1, bar 2, where the ink fades towards the end of the bar suggesting he has written the first four notes, (note-heads, stems and beaming), followed by the subsequent set of four quavers, only to be refreshed and dark again in the next bar).


Hampton frequently appears to write in the same fashion although sometimes demonstrates a different writing style in which he appears to draw the note heads of the bar or group first and then goes back to complete beaming and stems as these are more faded, (see Ham.5.1).

hampton stemming

Throughout the manuscript the ink density becomes more consistent possibly indicating that the second scribe had access to a fountain pen towards the end of the book, rather than a dipping pen. Fountain pens were being mass produced by the 1880s, [30] which might indicate a gap in the period of time from the earlier items in the book, corroborating the suggestion that the book was compiled over a period of ten years.

The manuscript is solely a repository for music with no marginalia perhaps showing a respect for the contents of the book. The cover has staining to the front and back suggesting it was well used and not considered as overtly precious and the leaves show staining at the bottom and sides where they have been turned by frequent use and possibly soiled hands.

This post hopes to have given you some background to Thomas Hampton and general attributes about his manuscript, giving an indication as to the wealth of material which can be gleaned from treating the manuscript as a historical artefact. The next post will focus on the tunes Hampton and Soobroy were choosing to transcribe.

[1] The village was small with a population of 280 in 1851 (‘Blaisdon’, Post Office Directory of Gloucestershire, Bath & Bristol,  (1856), (p. 242) <; [accessed 4 December 2016].) and 282 in 1861 (‘Blaisdon’, Slater’s Directory of Glos, Herefs, Mon, Shrops & Wales,,  (1868 ), (p. 252) <; [accessed 2 April 2017].  ).

[2] ‘John Hampton’, 1841 England Census Return (Class: HO107; Piece: 369; Book: 1; Civil Parish: Blaisdon; County: Gloucestershire; Enumeration District: 1; Folio: 7; Page: 8; Line: 2; GSU roll: 288780), <;[accessed 3 October 2015]; ‘Elizabeth Hampton’, Baptism Record for Elizabeth Hampton, 22 January 1843 (Fhl Film Number: 91516) <>[accessed 21 April 2017]; Baptism Record for Thomas Hampton.

[3] ‘John Hampton’, Certified Copy of Death Certificate for John Hampton, 29 February 1884 (Application Number 3114128-2: Hereford Register Office, 2011). A copy of the death certificate has kindly been provided by Audrey Bottomley.

[4] ‘William Hampton’, Baptism Record for William Hampton, Oct-Nov-Dec 1847 (Gloucestershire, Vol. 11, Page 433) <>[accessed 4 October 2015].

[5] ‘Thomas Hampton’, 1851 England Census Return (Class: HO107; Piece: 1959; Folio: 420; Page: 2; GSU roll: 87359), <>[accessed 4 October 2015].

[6] ‘John Hampton’, 1861 England Census Return (Class: RG 9; Piece: 1821; Folio: 107; GSU roll: 542873), <>[accessed 17 October 2015].

[7] ‘Thomas Hampton’, Certified Copy of Marriage Certificate for Thomas Hampton and Ann Wyatt, 7 March 1870 (Application Number 8111747/1: Hereford Register Office, 2017).

[8] David E. Bick, The Hereford & Gloucester Canal,  (Newent, Glos: The Pound House, 1979), p. 34.

[9] Ibid. pp. 37-41.

[10] Certified Copy of Marriage Certificate for Thomas Hampton and Ann Wyatt.

[11] ‘Charles Hampton’, Baptism Record for Charles Hampton, 24 March 1871 (Fhl Film Number: 1041604) <>[accessed 4 October 2015].

[12] Also known as Harrison’s Yard.

[13] ‘Thomas Hampton’, 1871 England Census Return (Class: RG10; Piece: 2698; Folio: 27; Page: 47; GSU roll: 835344), <>[accessed 4 October 2015].

[14] ‘Thomas Hampton’, Certified Copy of Death Certificate for Thomas Hampton, 19 December 1896 (Application Number FC 509473: Hereford, 2004). A copy of the death certificate has kindly been provided by Audrey Bottomley.

[15] Certified Copy of Death Certificate for Thomas Hampton.

[16] ‘Thomas Hampton’, Death Record for Thomas Hampton, 1890 (Herefordshire Volume: 6a Page: 266) <>[accessed 24 October 2015].

[17] ‘George Thomas Hampton’, Baptism Record for George Thomas Hampton, 22 August 1878 (Fhl Film Number: 1041602) <>[accessed 4 October 2016]; ‘George Thomas Hampton’, Death Record for George Thomas Hampton, Jul-Aug-Sep 1878 (Herefordshire Volume: 6a Page: 288) <>[accessed 4 October 2016]. St Peter’s is the same parish in which Thomas lived.

[18] This is corroborated by no record of a marriage being found.

[19] ‘William Hampton’, 1871 England Census Return (Class: RG10; Piece: 2698; Folio: 21; Page: 36; GSU roll: 835344), <>[accessed 4 October 2016].

[20] Google Maps, ‘4 Monkmoor Street – 17 Bath Street, Hereford’, Google (2017) <; [accessed 4 March 2017].

[21] ‘William Hampton’, 1891 England Census Return (Class: RG12; Piece: 2061; Folio: 14; Page: 21; GSU roll: 6097171), <>[accessed 4 October 2016].

[22] Corroborated by the instruments handed down along with the manuscript, two wooden fifes and a collection of metal whistles.

[23] Coote, Hopwood & Crew’s Selection of Quadrilles, Waltzes, Polkas &C. Edited and Expressly Arranged for the Violin Book 4.

[24] ‘Walter Soobroy’, Marriage Record for Walter Soobroy, 2 July 1874 <>[accessed 6 October 2015]; ‘Walter Soobroy’, Death Record for Walter Soobroy, 1931 (Herefordshire Volume: 6a Page: 571) <>[accessed 7 October 2015].

[25] There is some ambiguity as the 1861 census shows Walter as Walter Gough, Richard and Mary Gough’s son, and the 1871 census as Richard’s grandson. ‘Walter Soobroy’, 1861 England Census Return (Class: RG 9; Piece: 1821; Folio: 84; Page: 8; GSU roll: 542873), <>[accessed 16 September 2015]; ‘Walter Soobroy’, 1871 England Census Return (Class: RG10; Piece: 2700; Folio: 36; Page: 22; GSU roll: 835344), <>[accessed 16 September 2015].

[26] ‘Richard Gough’, 1851 England Census Return (Class: HO107; Piece: 1978; Folio: 301; Page: 29; GSU roll: 87379), <>[accessed 7 October 2015].

[27] ‘Walter Soobroy’, 1871 England Census Return.

[28] ‘Walter Soobroy’, 1881 England Census Return (Class: RG11; Piece: 2594; Folio: 80; Page: 35; GSU roll: 1341625), <>[accessed 4 Novemeber 2015].

[29] These sizes (doubled width as the paper was biofolium), do not tally with the paper sizes given in Tomlinson’s Cyclopedia of Useful Arts:- Charles Tomlinson, Cyclopedia of Useful Arts (London: Virtue, 1854) <  > [Accessed 20 April 2017]. On page 369 he lists a ‘short demy for music’, measuring 20 ½” x 14” which does not match the 19 ¼” (biofolium size) x 12 ½” of the manuscript paper. I have found advertisements for ‘Universal Music Paper’, ‘Acme Music Books (music size)’ and ‘Music Paper’, but with no actual sizing given. However, the ‘Guernsey Packet of Manuscript Music Paper’, is listed as having 18 sheets of 12 staves (priced at 1 shilling), which is the same number of staves as Hampton. ‘Advertisement for Hartwell’s Music Warehouse’, The Star : Guernsey,  17 November 1883, p. 5.

[30] Griselda Pollock, ‘Sarah Kofman’s Father’s Pen and Bracha Ettinger’s Mother’s Spoon’, in Objects and Materials : A Routledge Companion, ed. by Penny Harvey, et al. (Oxon: Routledge, 2014), (p. 167).

The ‘Archive’

‘Fiddlers’ Tunebooks’ are hand-written, personal musical texts which are scattered across the country. There is no central location or building in which the archive is held – some are owned privately, others can be found in museums, record offices and libraries. They are the remaining documents of a musical practice occurring over past centuries which make up a virtual archive or catalogue, maintained online by Folkopedia and The Village Music Project, (see and

The manuscripts are not uniform in their content as they are a personal collection of pre-existing tunes compiled, generally, by amateurs. So whilst some might be exclusively made up of historic dance tunes, perhaps considered as folk or traditional tunes, others include songs, more modern dance tunes, religious music, military marches and so on. Likewise, they are not exclusively compiled by fiddle players but represent the culture of other monophonic instrumentalists playing instruments such as flute and cornet.

The manuscripts are of the sort owned by Thomas Hardy, and in the preface to his book Under The Greenwood Tree he writes specifically of these mid-19th century musical texts and their contents:

‘Their music in those days was all in their own manuscript, copied in the evenings after work, and their music-books were home-bound. It was customary to inscribe a few jigs, reels, horn-pipes, and ballads in the same book, by beginning it at the other end, the insertions being continued from front and back till sacred and secular met together in the middle, often with bizarre effect…’

Thomas Hardy, Under the Greenwood Tree (Ware, Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions Limited, 2004), xxiv.

The manuscripts currently generate interest within the folk music genre. However, it becomes clear that imposing strict boundaries in which to place the manuscripts is not helpful and my research reveals that the manuscripts’ content, transmission method and sources prove the manuscripts to be of value across an interdisciplinary spectrum and have an important role to play as primary sources in popular music studies, 19th century musicology, social and cultural history disciplines in addition to traditional music studies.

The featured image is a painting by Thomas Webster (1800-1886), entitled ‘The Village Choir’, taken from


This blog introduces my PhD research project on mid-late 19th century handwritten music manuscripts. The topic was inspired by my love of fiddle playing and awareness of several hundred manuscripts scattered around the country containing the musical repertoire of largely amateur musicians. Included in this ‘archive’ is a manuscript given to me by my fiddle-playing grandfather, Charles Hampton (1913-1999) which belonged to my great-great grandfather, also a fiddle player, Thomas Hampton (1844-1896) from Hereford.

Using two further case-study manuscripts as primary sources alongside supporting evidence from a broader range of manuscripts, parish records, newspapers, wider literature and archival research carried out in the British Library, the aim of my research is to investigate the origins and types of tunes favoured by these musicians, their demography, the soundscape in which they lived, discussing issues of musical literacy, examining the sources used by the compilers and so on.

Five key research questions form the basis of the investigation which aims to reveal a much neglected musical practice which appears to have been commonplace amongst mid-late 19th century working class men, of both urban and rural habitats.

Research Questions

  1. ‘Fiddlers’ Tunebooks’, often considered as repositories of ‘folk’ music, conjure up images of rural, humble, village musicians. To what extent is this image reflected by the manuscript compilers?
  2. From where were the compilers acquiring the skills and resources to facilitate creating a personal tune repository?
  3. In his seminal 1984 paper, Gammon was struck by the musicological exception of the Turner manuscript, which was the latest of his sources, (1840-1850), containing ‘more up to the moment dance tunes and quadrille sets from the mid-nineteenth century’,  as opposed to a more traditional repertoire. Does the evidence from my research validate a similar musicological difference?
  4. From where were the compilers sourcing the contents and what does this tell us of the inward transmission into the manuscripts?
  5. What can be revealed about the outward transmission and wider soundscape these manuscripts were part of and clues as to their function?

The blog will start by introducing the ‘archive’. The case studies will then become the focus, concentrating first on Thomas Hampton’s manuscript. After an introduction to the man and the manuscript, the tune history for each transcribed melody will be investigated. A similar examination of two further manuscripts hope to be uploaded (copyright dependent). These are the manuscripts of Gloucestershire labourer and musician, George Clutterbuck/Till (1845-1906) and George Wilkins Bennett (1831-1892), musician and blacksmith from Chedzoy, Somerset.

Following the detailed examination into the three manuscripts, wider themes will be discussed including an analysis into the tune histories and types, demographic traits of compilers, inward transmission method and sources of the tunes, outward transmission and wider soundscape of the musicians and an investigation into the acquisition of musical skills amongst the musicians.

Any questions, comments or additional information you can provide regarding these manuscripts, musicians and Victorian popular music in general, please send to