BENJAMIN COOKE MS
circa 1770 from contextual evidence
Transcription into ABC format by John Bagnall for the Village Music Project
This neatly handwritten manuscript book forms part of the Frank Kidson Collection in the Mitchell Library, Glasgow.
The origin of the manuscript is unknown but may be northern English, due to its having been in the possession of Frank Kidson.
There are 62 separate musical items, some of them in parts for two voices.
These comprise tunes for:-
6 jig country dances
5 miscellaneous country dances
3 common-time country dances
Thus 31 out of 62 tunes may have been used for dancing purposes.
All of these dance tunes were readily available in print in the third quarter of the 18th Century, and do not suggest that Benjamin Cooke necessarily had any agriculural or other working class connection.
The majority of the rest of the tunes have a distinct martial flavour, suggesting connection with the military.
The 21 marches form as good a selection as you will find in any of our collections, displaying extra-ordinary variety and taste. If you’re looking for a march you should find one here.
Half the dance tunes are minuets, and again display variety and taste.
Some of the tunes are connected with stage personalities.
The social life implied sounds like that of an 18th Century Army officer.
Why this musician wrote down these particular tunes is open to speculation. Was he a professional musician? There was indeed an organist and composer Benjamin Cooke (1734-93) of great fame but it is unlikely to have been him.
Our B. Cooke nevertheless seems to have written a book of tunes that indicates at least pretensions to social elevation, and to have reflected in the country dance tunes the popularity of country dancing amongst polite society in the late 18th Century.
Was he an amateur flautist when off duty? Or was he in, or even in charge of, the regimental music?
Somes notes upon the titles of the tunes :-
Foot’s Minuet. BC.03
There was a Samuel Foote, 1720-1777, wit, playwright, and actor, just like in Blackadder!
Tempest of War. BC.04
Is this a bad translation of “Tempesta Di Mare”(Storm at Sea) Opus 8 & Opus 10. By Vivaldi ? Anybody know the tune?
Lady Coventry’s Minuet. BC.05
Maria(1733-1760), Countess of Coventry, was noted in her time for her great beauty. Once she was mobbed in Hyde Park and the King hearing of it said she must be protected. The next evening out she paraded up and down for two hours proudly escorted by two Sergeants in front and a dozen Privates in file behind, all in full dress uniform. Unfortunately she was also known for her remarkable silliness. She died of consumption at the age of 27, having borne 5 children.
Queen of Blands Minuet,The. BC.06
Humphrey Bland(1686-1756), of Bland’s Fort, Queen’s County, Ireland, was a Military Gentleman. He fought at Fontenoy, Culloden, etc,. He was outlived by many years by his (very young) wife Elizabeth, who died in 1816, having had a full sixty years as a widow. CGP.
Gavot by Mr Stanley. BC.09
Charles John Stanley (1713-86) a prominent organist, composer of oratorios, operas, concertos, etc. Blind from age of two, he succeeded William Boyce as Master of the King’s Band in 1779. Was painted by Gainsborough..CGP..
Harliquin Air, A. BC.10
Several works between 1735-1756 by Thomas Arne involving Harlequins could be the source of this tune. CGP.
Air in Perseus and Andromeda. BC.11
The closest I have been able to get has been Persee By Jean-Baptiste Lully, 1682, but this doesn’t rule out there being other contenders.CGP,.
Ld. Cathcarts Minuet. BC.12
Charles,1721-1776, served with the Duke Of Cumberland in Flanders,Scotland,and Holland, and was wounded at Fontenoy, along with everybody else, seemingly.CGP.
Duke of Cumberland’s March,The. BC.26
I don’t suppose this was a particularly popular tune north of the border, where the Duke’s army waged a campaign against the rebels noted, even by the standards of the time, for it’s savagery. CGP.
Capt. Hood’s March. BC.41
There are at least 4 distinguished Capt. Hoods of around the right period, all of whom were related and all of whom went on to achieve high office in the Admiralty, admirals etc.CGP.
Miss Pitt’s Minuet. BC.44
Ann Pitt(1720-1799) was one of the most celebrated actresses of her day, amongst other roles creating Polly Peachum in the Beggar’s Opera.
She last appeared on the stage in 1792. She had a daughter Harriet Pitt who was a dancer at Covent Garden from Jan 1762-1768, and who changed her stage name on marriage from “Miss Pitt” to “Mrs.Davenet” to distinguish herself from her still working mother,.CGP
March in the Occasional Oratorio. BC.48
G.F.Handel(1685-1759) wrote the Occasional Oratorio in 1746, not long after the Messiah.
Air By Mr.Arne. BC.51
Or his son Michael Arne,1740-1786, who was also a composer to theatres and pleasure gardens.
The tune for the Morris Dance “Lads A’Bunchum”,Adderbury…CGP…
Sir John Ligonier’s Trumpet March. BC.56
Sir John Ligonier escaped from France as a 17yr old Huguenot in 1697, joined the Dragoons in 1702 under Malborough, was Colonel of a “splendid Regiment of Irish Dragoons” by 1720, fought with distinction in the continental wars of the mid-century, became progressively Viscount, Commander-in-Chief, Earl and Field Marshal by 1766. Last and by all means least, also had a tune named after him.
These notes by Chris Partington.