Helpstone, Northamptonshire.
Early 19th C., Died 1864.
Two tune books, and assorted loose leaves.
Most tunes written down between 1820 and 1834, but see notes to Redowa polka.
N’hampton MS.12, Here given as tunes Nos.1 to 83 inc.
N’hampton MS.13, Here given as tunes Nos.84 to 247 inc.
Also some written in pencil on loose leaf and inserted into MS.13, Here given as tunes Nos. 248 to 263 inc.
John Clare was a working class rural labourer and poet of considerable fame, both then and now.
He was very interested in the vernacular culture of his village and left a very important record of this in his various papers, etc.
He was also an enthusiastic fiddle player, who collected tunes from a variety of sources.
These tunes include both dance and song tunes.
Many of the song tunes have corresponding sets of words elsewhere in J.Clares Manuscripts.
Many other tunes have words elsewhere, but not in Clare. Deacon provides some texts but it is not certain that Clare knew these as anything other than fiddle tunes. It is equally possible that he did of course, given his interest in song.
Seventeen of the dance tunes have dance instructions attached, and it is evident that these tunes at least were taken from printed sources.
For an analysis of this material please refer to..
“John Clare and the folk tradition” by George Deacon. ISBN 0-86300-008-8,.
Essential reading for anybody interested in vernacular music, as it contains much from one of the few first hand accounts by an actual contemporary practitioner.
This book is still in print and copies may be had from the author. (LINK)
All the material presented in our current Jclare file is taken from this book.
The tunes were transcribed and edited for the book by Marion Ross, who also did the artwork.
They were pricked out in ABC by Phil Headford.
Notes on the editing…
I have generally left out references to changes in rest lengths.
I have generally left out references to missing bar lines.
I have included references to changes in note lengths.
One or two tunes are exactly duplicated in the MS, and have been omitted, which accounts for the missing tune numbers.
Where no title exists in the MS I have provided one where known and marked it as such with “aka”(“Also Known As”).
Where I know of extra titles I have provide these as “aka”.
Where a song text exists, I have indicated this.
Where dance instructions are given in the MS, I have indicated this. Refer to Deacon for them.

Chris Partington.