Joshua Gibbons was a papermaker in the village of Tealby, on the western edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds, where the River Rase provided power for several paper mills. He was also a musician; in 1969 his tunebook was noticed on display at Normanby Hall by Sue Cave, who played violin with the Grimsby group “Broadside”. Since then the manuscript has been moved to the North East Lincolnshire Archives at Town Hall Square, Grimsby. Most of the manuscript was published by Peter Sumner in 1997 as “Lincolnshire Collections, Volume 1, The Joshua Gibbons Manuscript” (ISBN 0-9530117). The tunes are not presented in manuscript order, but are grouped, on dubious evidence, in “sets” containing tunes in different times and keys. The original pitches are given, but tunes are transposed into “user-friendly” keys. 186 of the 208 items are included.

Joshua Gibbons was born in 1778 and died in 1871. Little is known about his musical life except for evidence from the manuscript, which is dated 1823. Sumner assumes he was a fiddle player, but the only instruments mentioned in the MS are the clarinet and “recorda” (sic). A number of titles make reference to Rasen band, so he may have played with them in nearby Market Rasen. Reference is also made to tunes from Louth and Caistor, so he may have had contact with groups in those places. Many of the tunes are arranged in two or three parts, suggesting that Gibbons played regularly with other musicians.

There is an index of tune titles at Folkopedia