the Pipe and Tabor compendium

the Pipe and Tabor compendium

essays on the three-hole pipe

UK - forgotten traditions


[This is a short piece because pedlars did not leave much trace: research continues]

From Roman times men have gone around fairs, isolated houses and villages selling thier wares. Many of these were migrants from Scotland and Europe. To make their customers aware of their presence they approached playing a bell, a trumper or a pipe and tabor. Before trains made extensive travel possible all year round they were an essential part of the economy. The world wars put an end to this trade in the UK. For example Arthur Rothery, [1890-1918], born in Hebden Bridge, was listed as a hawker/pedlar. He was killed in WW1.

1470-90 Italy, pedlar robbed by monkeys

1470 robbed by monkeyspipe and tabor played by monkey
at the top of the tree

robbed by monkeys1562 Netherlands, pedlar asleep in a wood robbed by monkeys
by Pieter van der Heyden
monkey drummer1562 drummer
monkey piper1562 piper playing for dancing
drawing early 17th centuryearly 17th century on the same theme
player1610 monkey taborer playing for dancing
A description of the type of goods a haberdashery pedlar might carry is given by Autolycus
in 'A Winter's Tale' by William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616) :

cartoon 2019Charles Dibdin (1745 -1814) was an actor, playwright and songwriter whose haberdasher played the pipe and tabor.
Cartoon 2019

The Pedlar

Chorus and verse 1

"Come here, come here my pretty dear,
Leave business, care and labour:
Christmas comes but once a year-
Come lads and lasses, come and hear
My merry pipe and taber:
I sell all sorts of curious wares,
Tapes, garters, ribands, laces:
That give the form enchanting airs,
And set off pretty faces,
And then I've philsers, drugs, and charms,
That, when the nymph's deserted,
Shall lure the shepherd to her arms,
And make him tender-hearted.
Come here, come here, &c...."

1796 song by Dibdin

Details of some pedlars in England in the 19th century are in “Pedlars and Packmen in Westmoreland” here  




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