Old Tom of Oxford

Steph recommended this tune, and since we are meeting in Oxford, it seems irresistible. The pdf is here.

OldTomofOxford2

And she found these great tune notes too:

Tune notes by Pete Cooper (from his website http://www.petecooper.com):

Morris tune in D. ‘Old Tom’ is the name of a famous bell in Christ Church College, Oxford. ‘Old Tom’ has also in recent years become the name of a pub on the opposite side of the road, St Aldate’s, where informal pub sessions have taken place during the Oxford folk festival. I’ve not heard Jinkey Wells playing the tune itself, but he talked about ‘Old Tom of Oxford’ in an interview with Peter Kennedy in 1952. It’s not clear from his narrative whether it is meant to be a ‘true’ history, a song lyric explication, or a folk tale, but it does explicitly link Old Tom and Old Moll (as does the present pairing of these two tunes): –

‘Old Tom of Oxford, he was a forester. He took up with this lad, see – his oldest sister’s oldest son – and they lived and dwelled in a caravan. And they was ’awkers – they used to ’awk all sorts of things, mats and brushes and brooms, O, dozens of things. Well, he picked up with a girl in Oxford. Well, as the song went: “Old Tom of Oxford and young Jim Kent” – that was his nephew – “They married Old Moll and off they went.” And she lived in the caravan with ’em. And while they was out doing their ’awking, I suppose, she used to look after the caravan and do the cooking and all that sort of thing. And I’ve yeared it said they lived together for years. And they never quarrelled, nor they never had no disagreement, nor never fell out, the two men with the one woman.’

– Constant Billy – The Morris Dancers of Bampton (Oxon)’ (Folktracks 90-084)
An archaic version of the tune appeared in print about 1713 (as ‘The Old Oxford’, in Dm) in Daniel Wright’s An Extraordinary Collection of Pleasant and Merry Humours etc… c. 1713. It’s been popularised of late by Spiers & Boden (Bellow FECD 175)

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