the Pipe and Tabor compendium

the Pipe and Tabor compendium

essays on the three-hole pipe

England: history of the pipe and tabor

'Regency' literature (1810 - 1829)


Mentions of the pipe and tabor in Regency times, poems often printed in newspapers; songs and plays at London theatres.



1811 story

“…a troop of gypsies almost immediately engaged my attention : they were dressed in a fantastic manner,
their garments marked with magic figures-: one of these females flourished a tambarine, and gingled the bells
with inconceivable vivacity, while another sounded the pipe and tabour…”

'A winter in Paris; or, Memoirs of Madame de C****': by C., Madame de

1811 comic song

“The little wily conqueror beckons us to come,
The pipe is his trumpet, the tabor, his drum. “

From ‘The Knight of Snowdoun’ a musical drama, in three acts:
as performed at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden,
by Thomas Morton

1811 story

“…the round full notes of the flagellet, and the shrill,
but lively tones of the pipe and tabor, were wafted
on the breeze, interrupted now and then by the distant
burst of merriment among the happy peasants…”

'Rosalie : or the Castle of Montalabretti' by Rhodes, Henrietta

1811 play

[Pipe and Tabor, etc. are heard without]
Eh ! what do I hear ?...
[ Pipe and tabor, etc. without.]
See, my love, the peasants approach to greet us
their honest joy may inspire you with cheerfulness.


1811 poem1811The Port Folio 1811-03: Vol 5 Iss 3

1811 story

“…the- whole of the company quitted the supper-rooms.
The music sounded the parting flourish; and the strains of the harp, the sawtry, the sistrum, and the pipe and tabor, echoed through the vast chambers of the castle,…”

‘An Old Family Legend, or, One husband and two marriages : a romance’ by Brewer, James Norris 

1811 play ‘ZORINSKI’1811‘The Modern Theatre; a collection of successful modern plays, as acted at the Theatres Royal, London’ Selected by Inchbald, Mrs

1812 from a poem by Kilnsey Crag
1812Leeds Intelligencer - Monday 08 June 1812
1812 poem ‘JOY, SORROW, AND CONTENT’1812'Fancy's wreath; being a collection of original fables and allegorical tales,
in prose and verse, for the instruction and amusement of youth' by Miss Elliot
1813 poem 'LOW AMBITION; OR THE LIFE AND DEATH OF Mr. DAW'1813‘Poetical Vagaries; including Broad Grins’ by Colman, George

1813 story

“…the vintagers were assembling after the toil of the day in an adjacent glade, to finish the evening
with a sportive dance; the minstrels, with their pipe and tabour, preceded the merry throng, where
happiness seemed to reign …”

‘Anselmo; or, The day of trial. A romance. In four volumes’. by Hill, Mary

1813 story

“…Maidens, united in bonds of amity and artificial roses, come dancing to the pipe and tabor;…”

‘The Heroine: Or, Adventures of a Fair Romance Reader’ by Eaton Stannard Barrett

1814 poem

“…'Tis evident enough, the mass
Of mortals, hastily shall pass.
While listening to the pipe and tabor…”

‘Moonshine in two volumes’, Vol 1 by Potts, Ethelinda Margaretta Thorpe

1814 song ‘Glee for 4 Voices’1814'The words of the most favourite pieces, performed
at the Glee Club, the Catch Club, and other public societies '
by Clark, Richard ed

18141814The Moralist 1814-07-14: Vol 1 Iss 6

1815 poem ‘Story of Alexi and Teresa’
“…Shepherd and shepherdess with myrtles crown'd
To pipe and tabor moving ; on her door
He hung fresh flow'ry garlands at the blush
Of May’s first morn…”


1816 story ' Sir Lancelot Geaves'

“…the young men, with the pipe and tabor, marched before him to the May-pole, which was bedecked
with flowers and bloom. There the rural dance began;…”

‘Select Novels Vol 1’

Sir Walter Scott, who was Scottish and had an interest in old Border tales and ballads, understood the place
that the pipe and tabor had in the lives of English people when he wrote in 1816:

"instead of giving way to the terrors of authority; and the youth of both sexes, to whom the pipe and tabor in England, or the bagpipe in Scotland, would have been in themselves an irresistible temptation .. "
Old Mortality (chapter 2)

1816 religious treatise

“…God was to be adored with the heart and affections, and not with a fiddle, or a pipe and tabor….”

The Independent Whig, or, A defence of primitive Christianity and of our ecclesiastical establishment : against the exorbitant claims and encroachments of fanatical and disaffected clergymen . by  John Trenchard , Thomas Gordon

1817 song 'King Arthur and His Round Table -
Canto 1' by John Hookham Frere

“…Minstrels and singers with their various airs,
The pipe, the tabor, and the hurdy-gurdy,
Jugglers and mountebanks with apes and bears,
Continued from the first day to the third day,
An uproar like ten thousand Smithfield fairs;…”

1817 poem ‘Reform’1817‘Poetic impressions : a pocket book, with scraps and memorandums’ by Lee, Henry

1817 play ‘The Bandit’

IDA:“Oft when the pipe and tabor have echoed  through the hall, I’ve led the train of merry dancers
twice as far, nor ever felt weary or exhausted….”

‘Dramas’ by Sir James Bland Burges

1818 story

“…Various tents, some of which were .filled with refreshments, were pitched around ; and even the company
added to the liveliness of the spectacle as some were seen dancing on the green sod to the merry sound
of pipe and tabor…”


1818 historical story LEGENDS OF LAMPIDOSA.
(From the European Magazine, October 1817.)
'THE ENGLISHWOMAN.'1818Spirit of the English Magazines 1818-03-01: Vol 2 Iss 11

1818 religious treatise
“Among the Indians of South America”
“…person who gives the entertainment invites all his acquaintance,…. After a most plentiful repast, the women
present themselves with calabashes full of the chicha, for their husbands; and repeat it till their spirits are raised:
then one of them plays on a pipe and tabor whilst others dance. When tired with intemperance, they all lie down together…”

‘Facts authentic, in science and religion : designed to illustrate a new translation of the Bible’ by Cowherd, William

1819 satirical poem

“…How sweet to listen to the sounds
Of rustic noise, and health, and labour :
How better far than hirdy-girdy,
Play'd in town by beggar sturdy :
How sweet the dance, the pipe and tabor.-…”

‘Benjamin the Waggoner, a ryghte merrie and conceitede tale in verse. A fragment’ by Reynolds, John Hamilton


" having inherited the musical taste and talents of his father, he has bitten the whole school with the mania. He is a great hand at beating a drum, which is often heard rumbling from the rear of the school-house. He is teaching half the boys of the village, also, to play the fife, and the pandean pipes; and they weary the whole neighbourhood with their vague piping, as they sit perched on stiles, or loitering about the barn-doors in the evenings."

'Bracebridge Hall or The Humorists' by Washington Irving [pseudonym Geoffrey Crayon] (1783-1859), American essayist, historian, and author who spent some years doing the Grand Tour in Europe.

1819 enclyclopaedia entry

“…TCHERGONA, valley of, a sequestered beautiful valley of the Crimea, inhabited by the richest Tartars,…
This valley is described as the retreat of health and joy ; the pipe and tabor sounding merrily among mountains,
thick set with groves, which close them on every side. The performers consist of parties of Tzigankies, or gipsies,
who, as mendicant artificers, musicians, and astrologers, are very common all over the south of Russia…”

The Cyclopædia; or, Universal dictionary of arts, sciences, and literature by Rees, Abraham

1820 opera 'Don John' 1820
John Keats poem ‘All these are Vile’1820

Sometimes contemporary literature describes pipe and tabor players providing the music
for village dances and also lists the tunes they played:

"A blind fiddler, a pipe and tabor, struck up Nancy Dawson,
and the vibrating floor soon gave proof that the dancers were strong and active. ...
The pipe and tabor stopped, and the blind man's arm being suddenly seized by his companion,
a long drawling squeak usurped the place of the merry notes of "The Black Joke."

('The Village Coquette', a novel in three volumes' by FJ, 1821)

1822 story

“…We’ve lived here in this stillness so long, that the sound of pipe and tabour
will stir my blood like a new come Greenland summer….”

'The Idle Man' 1822: Vol 2 Iss 1

1823 from ‘An Ode to the New Year’1823Staffordshire Advertiser - Saturday 11 January 1823
During his 'Travels in France During the Years 1814-1815'  Archibald Alison describes:
"the young dancing to the pipe and tabor, or singing in little groupes"

Dancing is often associated historically with certain folk customs such as the Whitson Ale:

"The modern Whitson Ale consists of a lord and lady of the ale, a steward, sword-bearer, purse-bearer, mace-bearer, train-bearer, or page, fool, and pipe and tabor man, with a company of young men and women, who dance in a barn."

('The Every-Day Book' by William Hone, 1825-1826, May 23rd)

1823British Luminary -  Sunday 05 January 1823
In 1824 'Redgauntlet: Letter 12' by Sir Walter Scott
Wandering Willie, the blind Borders fiddler, has just arrived at the gig he was to play at with the writer;
the company is already dancing; is another fiddler playing his gig?
"my companion was attracted by a regular succession of sounds, like a bouncing on the floor, mixed
with a very faint noise of music, which Willie's acute organs at once recognized and accounted for,
while to me it was almost inaudible. The old man struck the earth with his staff in a violent passion.
'The whoreson fisher rabble! They have brought another violer upon my walk! They are such smuggling
blackguards, that they must run in their very music; but I'll sort them waur than ony gauger in the country
.-- Stay--hark--it 's no a fiddle neither--it's the pipe and tabor bastard, Simon of Sowport, frae the
Nicol Forest; but I'll pipe and tabor him!--Let me hae ance my left hand on his cravat, and ye shall see
what my right will do...... universal shout of welcome with which Wandering Willie was received--
the hearty congratulations--the repeated 'Here's t' ye, Willie!'--Where hae ya been, ye blind deevil?'
and the call upon him to pledge them--above all, the speed with which the obnoxious pipe and tabor
were put to silence, gave the old man such effectual assurance of undiminished popularity and importance"

1825 poem

“…And in his trunk, 'midst brooches, chains, and rings.
Were Hume and Smollet, pipe and tabor, laid.
A police order seal'd th' historic page.
And sent him packing — Exit in a rage….”

‘Travels of my Nightcap, or Reveries in Rhyme; with scenes
at the Congress of Verona’ by Brydges, Egerton, Sir

1825 story

“…A procession seemed to be arranging itself there, which soon
began to move forward, with pipe and tabor, and various other
instruments of music…”

‘The Betrothed’ by Sir Walter Scott

In 1825 milkmaids' walked in procession on Mayday and danced outside the houses of their customers:

"In London, thirty years ago,
When pretty milkmaids went about,
It was a goodly sight to see
Their May-day Pageant all drawn out:-
Themselves in comely colours drest,
Their shining garland in the middle,
A pipe and tabor on before,
Or else the foot-inspiring fiddle.

They stopt at houses, where it was
Their custom to cry "milk below!"
And, while the music play'd, with smiles
Join'd hands, and pointed toe to toe. ...

(The "Mayer's Song a composition, or rather a medley, of great antiquity" from: May 1, Every-Day Book)

1826 encyclopaedia entry

“…As the pipe and tabour enliven the dance, the fife and drum animate the soldiers…”

by Charlotte Matilda Hunt

1827 newspaper report of a opera called the 'White Maid' at the Covent Garden Theatre, London 1827 songStar (London) - Wednesday 03 January
1828 book review - An essay on women in a ’ Review of New Books’: 1828 book review
1828 play 1828‘The elbow shakers! or, thirty years of a rattler's life : a burlesque extravaganzical burletta, in one act / (founded on the "Gambler's fate",
"Thirty years of a gambler's life", as performed at the Theatres Royal) ; by Frederick Fox Cooper, Esq. ; printed from the acting copy,
with remarks ; to which is added, a description of the costume,-cast of the characters,- entrances and exits,-relative positions of the
performers on the stage,-and the whole of the stage business ; embellished with a fine engraving, by Welch, from a drawing taken
in the theatre by Seymour.’ by Cooper, Frederick Fox

1829 story ‘THE POPES PROMISE.’
“…the happier peasants were dancing on the level plains without the town, to the merry notes of the pipe and tabor…”

Atheneum; or, Spirit of the English Magazines

1829 historical story CHAPTER XXII and CHAPTER XXIII
“…most of the neighbouring peasantry being invited to spend this joyous holiday at the vineyard…cheered
by the sound of the pipe and tabour—by the song and the merry jest…a space of open ground, occupied
by the youngest part of the peasants, who were dancing merrily to the sound of the pipe and tabor ;”

‘Restalrig or THE FORFEITURE’ - Vol. 2


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