logo Enthusiasms No. 79
A collection of shorter pieces on subjects of
interest, outrage or enthusiasm ...

Kertland and Miss Bailey revisited1

A previous Enthusiasms piece (76) gave a few details of the life of William Kertland (b. 1775) who had created a parody of Laurie and Whittle's broadside printing entitled No rest in the grave ... which itself received attention in MT article 299 on Porter and is found on various broadsides.  It is known, too, that Kertland was, amongst other things, a playwright and a composer of operas - all material now gone with the wind.

As indicated in Enthusiams, Kertland was an established Dublin citizen both in his commercial life as a chemist and in his contributions to civic administration.  A man of some small standing, he was able to indulge himself in 1821 as a member, for instance, of the 'Beef Steak Club', a fashionable gathering, seemingly full of its self-importance: The hyperbole is clear and it is not unusual in reports of social events at the time.

Kertland, in addition to producing Snow Drop and the parody of No Rest …, can be found again as a writer during 1821 when King George IV visited Dublin - in what would now to be thought of as particularly sententious piece, printed in the Morning Post: Kertland, it would seem, was nailing loyal colours to a mast; and they are replicated in one other piece that appeared during the same year, this time in an English newspaper but very much post-dated: One might admire Kertland's attempt at brogue and his gesture to both religious faiths.  The piece is otherwise somewhat overblown.3

The Morning Post piece does underline the then close connections between England and Ireland under Imperial rule; but the circumstances of the publication of Let auld dissensions … in the Lancaster Gazette … is, perhaps, slightly odd.  The piece had been written on 'Patrick's Eve, 1819', two years before its appearance in the newspaper and one can only speculate as to why it had been resurrected from what, it must surely be admitted, is an unusual quarter (where, exactly, is not known but the suspicion must be of an Irish source), as part of the ongoing attention in newspapers in 1821 to King George's progress to and from Ireland - unless it again marks the kinds of connections between England and Ireland that saw Dublin as an Imperial city.

All the same, during this latter time (around 1821), Kertland had already been in attendance at meetings in Dublin during which arrangements were being made to welcome King George and to determine suitable 'ribbons and scarfs' for those giving an address to His Majesty.  He was present at a further meeting to discuss the King's welcome; and yet again as an official at the departure of the King from Ireland.4

Apart from his involvement on these occasions, he was busy with his work on civic committees - for instance, debating questions over window-tax - and is also found working in the Dublin Recorder's Court.5

In respect of his own later and somewhat parlous situation (as described in the first Kertland piece in Enthusiasms), Freeman's Journal noted a House of Commons petition complaining of his difficulties, through the opposition of the Dublin Corporation, to his becoming a freeman.  Sadly for Kertland, the petition was 'left on the table'; and, as is known, he suffered financial embarrassment.6

Throughout this time, though, his principal involvement seems to have been with the Dublin Mendicity Association and there are several references to this in the pages of Freeman's Journal...7

Routinely, Freeman's Journal also carried advertisements that reflect Kertland's day-to-day peddling of 'KERTLAND'S DURABLE INK' and for his 'PERFECT SODA AND OTHER SPARKLING WATERS'; and of 'BLACKING', sold by Kertland 'from Sackville Street' (his premises) in support of another tradesman, one Warren.  And Kertland sold tickets for the theatre Royal, Dublin, from his address at '1 Lower Ormond Quay' thus, no doubt, in an effort to draw attention to his own involvement in the theatre.8  It was common enough for individual actors and actresses to do this to boost their own benefit evenings, a vital part of a performer's financial reward.  Mrs. Dickons, cited below, did just that.  Those who offered facilities for entertainment followed a similar path.  The proprietors of Corri's Rooms, in Edinburgh provide an instance of the latter throughout the period of the emergence of printings and performances of the vicissitudes of Miss Bailey.9  This venue is also mentioned below.

The two addresses given for William Kertland involve his family residence (where he had lived with his parents) at No. 1 Ormonde Quay and the Sackville Sttreet address for his own business.

Adding to details previously amassed, a picture of Kertland, citizen, emerges.


As far as Miss Bailey ... is concerned, it appears that the 'original' piece was actually contrived by a Thomas Simpson Cooke (1768-1848), Irish-born composer who eventually settled in London (also responsible, it seems, for a favourite broadside entitled Love's Ritornella - first aired in The Brigand of 1829).  Cooke's piece was entitled The unfortunate Miss Bailey and begins!

She then appeared as a ghost at the bedside of Captain Smith who was now sick.  She declared that the parson had refused to bury her, presumably because she was a suicide.  Captain Smith then offered a pound note with which to bribe the sexton.10

Laurie and Whittle produced a printing of this piece in 1804 (the printers had the useful habit of dating their pieces exactly, in this case to 12th February) but this was not the occasion of its first appearance, since copy has a reference in a subtitle to 'Mr. Mathews at the Haymarket.  And Mr. Fawcett, at Covent Garden', both having appeared - singing about Miss Bailey - during performances of Love Laughs at Locksmiths.

Charles Mathews (1776-1835) was an actor, singer and impresario (whose son, Charles J. married Eliza Vestris, a leading singer and actress); John Fawcett 1768-1837) an actor and singer who appeared to have turned from the role of tragedian to 'low comedy' parts, the latter description being one that cast its net wide.  Nor was it quite a case of opprobrium but just as much a description of kind.  High comedy, it was felt, embraced true wit and a biting humour; low comedy perfectly acceptable farce and slapstick; although The Theatrical Examiner posed a somewhat rhetorical question in respect of Blanchard, a well-known comedian: 'What respect should we have for his comic talents who was the life of a pot-house?'  The Hull Packet with less of a flourish noticed Mathews 'whose talents as an actor we would by no means wish to depreciate, for we think he is an excellent low comedian'.  Other names emerge, prominently William Oxberry (1784-1824), appearing, for instance, as Sylvester Daggerwood (see below) but who was capable of a more 'serious' tone ….  But all this is another story.11

In respect of Love Laughs …, The European Magazine and London Review, provides a backdrop: Brouilly's piece, though, is to do with a miser who kept a young girl locked up until her beau somehow let her loose.12  A hand-coloured etching from Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827) put out as relatively late as 1811 shows the essential narrative in compressed form.13

Mathews was, as indicated, in the cast of the Haymarket production of Love Laughs ...  The music was by Michael Kelly (1762-1826), a busy composer at the time.

But there is a curious after-note.  Authorship of the English form of the farce was attributed in a note in The European Magazine … (1803) to one 'ARTHUR GRFFINHOOF' who was most almost certainly George Colman the Younger (1762-1836) who used the name for: 'fuch productions of his as are either not wholly written by himself, or which he confiders as one of too trifling a nature to contribute much to his fame.'

Colman wrote many farces in particular, such as New Hay at the Old Market (1795), whose title was changed to Sylvester Daggerwood, mentioned elsewhere in this piece.  Another Colman piece, The Review; or, The Wags of Windsor of 1799, included Fawcett in its cast.14

Colman aside, where Thomas Cooke is concerned, there was already a mixed history in the background.

There is no suggestion here that the ballad was part of Loves Laughs …  It was quite usual to include a favourite or fashionable song or two during a production, as the MTarticle 308 on Crazy Jane demonstrates.

Cooke had been the leader of the orchestra at the Crow Street theatre in Dublin from somewhere around 1797 on and then became musical director.  He was involved that capacity for a production of Love Laughs at Locksmiths at Crow Street during the season 1803-1804 (when his future wife, Fanny Howells, was also involved as a singer: Cooke married her in 1805).15  This suggests that the Mathews and Fawcett appearances in England cited above followed on closely during the short period between Love Laughs ... in Dublin and England during 1803 (or that they were placed in front of the public at one and the same time) and the 1804 Laurie and Whittle printing that cites the two singers.  Cooke, it should be said, continued in his role as leader of the band before he moved to London in 1812 and took up acting, appearing at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1813 and carving a career as a leading tenor there for twenty years.  He was a friend of Madame Catalani (one of the most prominent of singers at the time).  He composed orchestral pieces and operas and also adapted ('Cook'd'), music by other composers.

More pertinently, there is an advertisement for: This would seem to have been Cooke's original version, written, as indicated above, around 1803, and now elaborated on.  Moreover, it was 'sung by Mrs. T. Cooke, with unbounded applause' (of course) at the Theatre Royal, Crow Street, Dublin and 'copy' was published by Jacob Goodman in Dublin in 1808.16  In sum, the song looks as if it was well-established in performance between 1803 and 1808 (see further below).

Meanwhile, Kertland's parody of the first Laurie and Whittle 1804 printing, issued as NO REST IN THE GRAVE: - OR The Second appearance of Mifs Bailey's Ghoft, invites our attention.  The Crow Street connection is once again emphasised by a performance of the piece in question (and this was noted on copy and in the Porter article), by a 'Mr. R. Jones' - who was playing at the theatre as Sylvester in Sylvester Dagwood, one of a myriad theatre confections like Love laughs … that seem to have come and gone with the moon.  There are scattered biographical details of Jones and there is one reference to him as being 'from the Theatre-Royal, Dublin' to be 'engaged at this theatre', the Royal, Covent Garden, in 1807.  A further notes offers a comment: There are several other newspaper references to Jones; but he seems to have changed allegiance, eventually fetching up at the New Pavilion, Strand, one of Astley's ventures noted for spectacular, sometimes bizarre attractions and as a seat of low comedy.  Again - one could easily get sidetracked.  Such was the teeming programme of theatres that the lives of so many of these performers are closely intertwined and movement from one theatre to the another very common, sometimes as 'seasons' changed.

Laurie's and Whittle's printing of Kertland's parody is dated 16th June 1806.  The 'bury' image was retained and so was reference to Captain Smith.17

However, the opening line from Kertland, 'The Dogs had ceas'd to bark', relates to the versions discussed below which themselves look to be of an earlier vintage.  And, indeed, Laurie and Whittle, who printed the piece, declared that it was 'a true & tragical Parody, on the favourite song called "Nobody coming to marry me."' (my italics).  This puts a different complexion on the trajectory of the song because, it seems, this refers not to the Cooke original ('A Captain bold in Halifax...') but to that piece beginning: and including a lament: … no Captain Smith, no bribe; and the inclusion of 'marry' not 'bury' …18

This piece, in turn, is simply a variant of one beginning: followed by the lament.

Then comes a crucial stanza in the history of the song: The piece continues the lament with the girl thinking that she would die an old maid 'But I'm fure it is not my own fault'. The reference to 'breeches' has a link with Kertland's parody.  In the course of that piece, it is discovered that Captain Smith's 'Pound note' was a forgery and, therefore, that Miss Bailey was still left to lament.  However, she had 'borrow'd his best Leather Breeches' that were 'To wear with my wooden surtout'.  And, at the end of the parody: This, indeed, is mirrored in several sorts of ballads where the struggle for the breeches is made manifest, some discussed in MT article 304 on Hurd.19

But it is the 'hedger and ditcher' image that is the key to subsequent history.  As noted in the Porter article, Bruce Olson had identified a piece involving a 'delver of ditches and dykes' that had appeared in versions in Scotland, and this image would appear to have mutated into 'hedger and ditcher'.  Thomson's Orpheus Caledonius of c.1733 looks to have been a source of at least some recognisable images and there are further examples in Ford and Greig.

In English versions such as have already been mentioned - for instance, in copy without imprint, as 'A jolly young fquire a-hunting...', the phrase is 'hedger and ditcher'.  Nonetheless, if English versions did derive in any sense from, say, Thomson, then this would support the notion, as expressed above, that the hedger and ditcher printings may well date from a relatively early - eighteenth century? - date.20

A third Laurie and Whittle piece, rather more loosely attached to the two central texts discussed here, followed on 1st August 1806, and was 'Intended as a companion to the second appearance of Miss Bailey's Ghost just published'.  Its characteristics, in fact, offer the same overall narrative as the broadside versions quoted above beginning 'Last night the Dogs did bark...' - with the lament of 'Oh dear what will become of me...'.  Moreover, it incorporates the word 'marry' and the references to hedger and ditcher.  Its form is, nevertheless, slightly different in places: ...and, finally: More broadside versions of the ballad, each with their own small changes, were discussed in the Porter article, MT299 where printers such as Alice Swindells, Harkness and Kendrew were cited.  There is one copy, issued from 'No. 15 Long Lane, Weft-fmithfield', that could have been printed by Evans.22  We can add the name of Mate of Dover, subject of a forthcoming piece in the broadside series on this site, who printed copy of a Captain Smith version of the ballad entitled 'MISS BAILEY; (with additions)'. These 'additions' came, after the bones of the Captain Smith tale, at the point where the Captain has parted with his one pound note, in a final stanza: This turns the ballad a mite topsy-turvy.

The piece in its pre-Mate form can be found in an early publication, Ashburner's New Vocal and Poetical Repository (dated 1807) whose publisher was discussed in MTarticle 305 on Miss Patty Puff.  There were other printed versions, seeming to echo the general course of ballads - first as single issues and then collected - in, for instance, the Encyclopaedia of Comic Songs … (1820) where, after the first four lines that echo the Kertland parody, the next line, 'Oh! What will become of me?', is actually spoken; in The Lyre, printed in Edinburgh (1824); in the Universal Songster (1832) and The London Magazine and Charivari …(1840); in The Quaver (1844); in The Young Lady's Songster(n. d.), all of which must have aided dissemination.  One might just add that there is a watercolour and gouache printing illustrating the fate of the Miss Bailey from Thomas Uwins (1782-1794) ... (online).

There was a rapid transition for the piece to America at an early date although several copies have no date of publication on them: Blake's in Philadelphia, for example, and copy printed in Baltimore, found in the Lester Levy collection.  A Mrs. Blake (?) sang it in the farce of High Life Below Stairs - a piece now credited to James Townley (1714-1778), manager at the Royal, Covent Garden and from whom David Garrick (1717-1779) took the play as his own.  There is, as one might expect, no sign of the song in the play - Mrs. Blake did what so many actors and actresses did, as mentioned more than once here, and simply sang a song that had become a favourite.  A Mrs. Poe sang the song at the Boston theatre in 1808, thus giving an indication of how quickly it had travelled.24


Given the somewhat tangled history of the printed pieces, there is still more information that underlines the popularity of the 'marry' version in performance.  Dorothy Jordan is known through attribution on copy (in the Bodleian archive) to have sung Laurie's and Whittle's 'Marry' version of August 1806 at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane 'with unbounded applause'.  Also in 1806 the Morning Post noted a performance at The Royal, Haymarket of ' "Nobody coming to Marry Me," by a Miss Tyrer...'25  There was another 1806 performance, advertised in the Bury and Norwich Post … as 'A GRAND CONCERT', in which 'Miss DAVIES will sing "Nobody coming to Woo"; and in the same newspaper during the same year there was an advertisement for 'New songs sung at Vauxhall' including 'Nobody coming to marry me'.26  In 1807 The Hull Packet advertised a concert during which 'In the course of the evening the admired Ballad of "NOBODY COMING TO MARRY ME",' would be sung by 'Mrs. Fofter'.27  Still in 1807, the Caledonian Mercury advertised the appearance of Mrs Atkins and a Mifs Nicholson, both singing the songs at Corri's.28  A Mrs. Liston also sang the piece at the Royal, Haymarket, in 1807.  Mrs. Cooke's 1808 contribution has already been mentioned. Nobody Coming to Woowas sung at the Sans Pareil Theatre, Strand in 1809.29

The distribution and sharing of performance amongst various singers is typical enough.  Each of the lives may be interesting but not quite relevant to discussion here.

However, a note on Mrs. Dickons would not, perhaps, go amiss.  She, one of a number of singers who was prominent during the earliest part of the century, and was discussed at more length in the MTarticle on Crazy Jane, featured during a benefit night for her person in 1809 at the Royal, Edinburgh in a performance of Lionel and Clarissa.  'During the course of the evening' Mrs. Dickons was to sing several songs. This, as indicated above in the case of the Mathews and Fawcett contributions, was normal procedure (and as very much found in connection with Crazy Jane), a favourite song being dropped into an unrelated performance.  So, on this occasion, Mrs. Dickons is recorded as singing Nobody's Coming to marry me, nothing to do with the essential narrative of Lionel and Clarissa.30

In a connective advertisement in 1807 the Caledonian Mercury had noted the publication of Nobody ... marry amongst a series of airs J. H. Butler.  Further, Thomas Latour, turned his own attention to Nobody ...  Both these composers also produced versions of the Crazy Jane song.31  Composers were fond of re-setting a song or a written piece throughout this period in time.

These are the occasions found on record and whilst, obviously, nothing can be said about possible unrecorded ones, if the dates given above for printings and performances are computed then a period is exposed when Nobody … seems to have been particularly popular.  It is worth re-emphasising that the sung version of the ballad seems to have been the one that substituted 'marry' for 'bury' - not, then, Kertland's parody which, in one way, turns out to have been a slight aberration or, at least, a close joke.

Such was the popularity of the piece that it seems almost inevitable that Jane Austen, an enthusiastic theatre-goer and frequently ready to cite aspects of popular entertainment, had a copy of the song in her collection of printed and manuscript material and this was the very same that Dorothy Jordan had sung in London.  It should be noted that on the Austen copy the name of the writer is given as 'T. Coke' (sic) and the publisher as Walker in Great Portland Street.  There is no date but the archive consulted here indicates that the piece was included in an Austen collection made between c.1795 and 1810.32

'Coke' version

The song, in this collective showing, was most prominent during the first decade of the nineteenth century but most likely as a temporary obsession only, a fashionable adoption of text and tune; and no information has appeared that would reveal a prolongation of attention even if, as will be seen, the song did continue its journey and does present a small history of the many ways in which songs got into more general circulation.

This can be demonstrated, for example, through a version collected by Alfred Williams between 1914 and 1916 from his informant, David Sawyer, born in 1832, who had songs from his mother who, surely, then, heard the song during its heyday or just after.  Williams' title was There's nobody comes to marry me and the song is clearly a version of that set out on broadside copy: The lament familiar in other versions appears: Following this, the ending runs in a slightly different direction to printed versions.  The final stanza here is a penultimate one on printed copy as shown above: The song also appears in Janet Blunt's collections.  A version, as My Father's a Hedger and Ditcher, was got from a Mrs. Bessie Aris in June 1907 and she had been born in 1855.  She was from Chacombe in Northamptonshire and whilst living there as a girl had been employed as a maid in the house of a Mrs. Whittle who had learned the song in her own youth from her grandparents.  This must take us back towards the apparent heyday of the song in theatre as discussed above.

Pickering indicates how Mrs. Aris made 'much pathetic accent on "What shall I do-oo" and "Nobody comes to woo-oo"', a reflection of what can be found in the 'Coke' version as demonstrated above ...

Interestingly, the Aris piece does not begin with dogs ...  The first stanza, with one line (my italics) different to the more familiar ones and then incorporating the lament is as follows: Then comes the stanza beginning 'Last night the dogs did bark'.

Further, Janet Blunt got another version of the song from a Sam Newman, born in Downton, Wiltshire in 1863, though spending the rest of his life in Adderbury, where Mrs. Aris also lived.  Sam was a notable in singing circles in Adderbury and was also a trained singer.  Like his village neighbours, the Waltons, Sam appeared at genteel concerts and it is quite possible if speculative that he had made acquaintance of the particular song through these genteel circles - a link, perhaps, to theatre performance.34

As another example, Mary Ann Carolan, born in 1902 had the most of her songs from her father, Pat Usher, himself born in 1868 and with a large repertoire.  His notional learning period was clearly during the later nineteenth century but this at least suggests a continuum for the song in question.  Mary Ann's version is much the same as the other two just discussed here.  She begins with 'My father's a hedger and ditcher...' and follows with the chorus of 'Oh dear what shall become of me...'.  The next stanza, as in the Aris version, begins with the dog barking; the third with 'Oh must I die an old maid' and echoing the Williams lines.

It is striking that the first part of the chorus here is sung by Mrs. Carolan to the tune found in the 'Coke' printed version shown above.35  There are also similarities with the tune that Mrs. Aris sang.  Sam Newman's tune was quite different.

This, then, is a thin line of descent but it does indicate how songs were kept alive even whilst form may have changed, the latter a feature just as important to song traditions as the fidelity to older versions also encountered.  This, for the afficionado, can be demonstrated, as instance, through an examination of Bonny Light Horseman (again involving Mary Ann Carolan) in MTarticle 195 in the broadside series on this site: how the song once illustrating the plight of wives, widows and maidens acquired a Napoleonic connection.

One notes, by the way, that, to an extent no less spaced than the history recounted above, the process goes on.  There is a version of 'Hedger and Ditcher', got from the Mary Ann Carolan recording, slightly altered, and then put out by the Silly Sisters.36

Roly Brown - 27.4.17
Oradour sur Vayres, France.



Rod Stradling - e-mail: rod@mustrad.org.uk  Tel: 01453 759475
snail-mail: 1 Castle Street, Stroud, Glos GL5 2HP, UK

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