Transcription of the Boys manuscript

This is a transcription of the dances described in the ‘Boys’ manuscript, MS. Don. e. 251, Weston Library, Bodleian Oxford.

They don’t permit publication of any photos taken so I can’t reproduce them here.

The case of letters doesn’t appear consistent or always particularly clear, but isn’t significant to interpretation.

Abbreviations used include:

  • 2ᵈ: second
  • qᵗᵉ: quite
  • wᵗʰ: with
  • yᵉ: the
  • yᵐ: them
  • yⁿ: then
  • yoʳ: your
  • yʳ, yᵉʳ?: their

The difference between superscript ᵉ and ʳ isn’t always clear. I’ve consistently gone for yᵉ in preference to yʳ when “the” or “your” could be meant, as the author uses yoʳ instead for “yours”, but there’s an instance where “yʳ” was I think intended to mean “their”.

The dances are formatted with the section titles in a column on the left and the descriptions aligned in a column on the right. I've put the section titles in bold and removed the columns to make the layout more portable.

A Health to Betty

Leading up. Lead up. set. fall back. this twice.

First part. sides & armes wᵗʰ all yᵉ women round till you come into yoʳ place.

Second part. fall back from yoʳ own. meet. & cast of to yᵉ next.

Third part. fall back from yoʳ own. meet. take hold on both hands & go round down in yᵉ middle.

Punks Delight

Leading up. Lead up twice. set & fall back twice.

First part. take hands wᵗʰ yoʳ woman shove her back, bring her down into yᵉ 2ᵈ place & then slide up into yᵉ first place againe. you on yᵉ outside, & yoʳ woman in yᵉ middle. & turn round single. all 4 hands halfe round. set. & change over.

Second part. Put yoʳ woman before you, & meet her at yᵉ 2ᵈ woman. clap. so to yᵉ 2ᵈ man. clap. round wᵗʰ yᵉʳ woman in yoʳ hand to yᵉ 2ᵈ place.

Third part. Go behind yoʳ woman. in between her & yᵉ 2ᵈ woman, 2ᵈ man following you. yᵉ women take hands & lead out, you leading out before, & yᵉ 2ᵈ man behind yᵐ. right hand to yoʳ own. left to 2ᵈ. right to yoʳ own againe.

Margery Cree

Leading up. Lead up. set. fall back. this twice.

First part. Sides. armes. & foot it at last wᵗʰ all yᵉ women till you come round.

Second part. Armes round, & foot it. backward againe, & foot it. till you come round.

Third part. Right & left till you come round.

Cuckolds all a row

[Blank space, no description]

Irish Trott

Leading up. Lead up. set. & fall back. sides right side. arms right arme. lead down set. fall back. left sides & armes.

First part. Crosse hands wᵗʰ yoʳ woman, chang[e] places, fall back. meet & fall back. Armes round yᵉ woman in yoʳ place & you in hers then crosse hands wᵗʰ yᵉ 2ᵈ woman as wᵗʰ yoʳ own & so round to yᵉ end.

Second part. go betwixt yᵉ 2 women lead yᵐ up to yᵉ 2ᵈ man. honnour to yoʳ own. to tother. right hand & left.

Third part. The Trott. lead up all. cast off to yᵉ bottome; all follow. lead up in yᵉ middle. lead down of yᵉ side to yᵉ bottome. yⁿ yᵉ same back again.

Have att thy Coat old woman

Leading up. Lead up. twice. set & fall back twice.

First part. Lead down yoʳ woman twice you being in her place yᵉ 2ᵈ couple meet you yⁿ right hand & left.

Second part. put yoʳ woman behind yᵉ 2ᵈ man, go behind yᵉ 2ᵈ woman, kisse twice, go you round to yᵉ 2ᵈ man, shee to yᵉ woman, bob about. right hands & left

Third part. Figure of 8 & right hand & left.


Leading up. Lead up twice. set, & fall back. armes with yoʳ own.

First part. you go crosse below yᵉ 2ᵈ woman shee below 2ᵈ man yᵉ 2ᵈ couple in yᵉ mean time lead up. yⁿ you lead up while they do so. change over a crosse, all 4 hands quite round.

Second part. Lead up. slide out. go back. meet again. Fall off by 4s.

Third part. crosse wᵗʰ 2d woman back to back lead out to yᵉ wall man yoʳ right hand yoʳ left to yoʳ own woman.

Black Jacke

Leading up. As in Amarillis

First part. Turn round yᵉ 2ᵈ man wᵗʰ a compasse till you com into yoʳ own place yᵉ 2ᵈ woman following you. then yoʳ woman does so yᵉ 2ᵈ man following her. fall off by 4s.

Second part. go betwixt yᵉ two women lead yᵐ out. yoʳ woman leads yᵉ 2 men out. all 4 hands hands halfe round foot it back againe cast off 2d place or lead down & they cast up.

Third part. Fall off & come in yᵉ middle ‘twixt yᵉ 2ᵈ couple lead up all 4 abreast turne yoʳ own while yᵉ tother couple sett sett yoʳ own while yᵉ other couple turn.

What you please

Leading up. Lead up twice. set & fall back twice

First part. Crosse over to yᵉ 2ᵈ womans place take hands & fall back. meet. & fall back. figure of 8. set & fall back.

Second part. Crosse over 2d woman place. lead up all 4 a breast you outwardsmost on yᵉ womans side & yoʳ women on yᵉ mans side yᵉ hay. set. & fall backe.

Third part. Cast off to yᵉ 2ᵈ mans place. crosse over wᵗʰ yᵉ woman. all 4 hands halfe round. set & fall back.

Devells Dreame

Leading up. Lead up twice set & fall back twice

First part. Lead down. take hands wᵗʰ 2ᵈ man change over crosse over wᵗʰ yᵉ 2ᵈ woman.

Second part. Lead down. part from yoʳ woman & fall all 4 abreast lead up so all 4 hands halfe round change places wᵗʰ yoʳ own.

Third part. take hands wᵗʰ yᵉ 2ᵈ man let him thrust you back & go over of yᵉ womens side foot it & change places wᵗʰ him foot it & change place wᵗʰ yoʳ own.

Buffe Coat

Leading up. Lead up twice. Set. & fall back. armes wᵗʰ yoʳ own.

First part. Cast off to yᵉ 2ᵈ place. cast off up agen to yoʳ own place crosse over wᵗʰ yoʳ woman to 2ᵈ place clap hands & armes with her.

Second part. Lead woman round about yᵉ 2ᵈ man till shee be in his place & you in yᵉ 2ᵈ womans place take 2ᵈ woman in yoʳ right hand & put her round her man go round yoʳ woman take her in yoʳ left hand put her round yᵉ 2ᵈ man you round yᵉ 2ᵈ woman set & change places.

Third part. put yoʳ woman to yᵉ 2ᵈ place put her backe agen to yᵉ first place crosse over wᵗʰ yᵉ 2ᵈ wom. hands halfe round cast off to yᵉ 2ᵈ place they lead up.

New Figarys

Lead up twice. honnour wᵗʰ 2ᵈ woman & armes wᵗʰ her. backe to backe wᵗʰ her. clap hands wᵗʰ yᵉ 2ᵈ man turne round single clap hands wᵗʰ yoʳ own & cast off into yᵉ 2ᵈ place.

The Frier & The Nun

Leading up. Lead up twice. set & fall back twice

First part. Go back wᵗʰ 2ᵈ man, turn both round single. woman do so. change all round. till you come to 2ᵈ place.

Second part. Take hands wᵗʰ yᵉ 2ᵈ man a cross[e] & change places with him. yᵉ 2 women do so. 2 men meet yᵉ 2 wo women wᵗʰ yʳ hands a crosse. go back so. all 4 right hands a cross[e] go halfe round back againe wᵗʰ the left.

Third part. Men back to back. women so. crosse over wᵗʰ 2ᵈ woman all 4 hands round & cast off to 2ᵈ plac[e].

Richmond or yᵉ Gunfleet

Leading up. Lead up. set fall. back. lead down. set. fall back. sides & armes right side. sides & armes left.

Daunce. Lead down. lead out 2ᵈ man. turn & change over wᵗʰ him. lead out againe. women so. all 4 hands halfe round. turne single. fall back fro⁻ yᵉ man. right hand & left. fall back from 2ᵈ woman turne all 4 back to back & halfe round.

New Exchange

Leading up. Lead up twice. set & fall back. armes.

First part. Fall back wᵗʰ 2ᵈ man. meet yᵉ women. change over. meet againe. turne all 4 back to back & turne halfe round.

Second part. Fall back wᵗʰ 2ᵈ man. meet. 2ᵈ man take first woman by yᵉ right hand all 4 go qᵗᵉ round. honnour to yᵉ 2ᵈ man. honnour to yoʳ own all take hands & walke till you come to yᵉ 2ᵈ place.

Third part. Fall back wᵗʰ 2ᵈ man. meet. yᵉ 2ᵈ couple stand back to back. you go to 2ᵈ woman yoʳ woman come to 2ᵈ man. slide up wᵗʰ 2ᵈ woman & change places 2ᵈ man slide down wᵗʰ yoʳ woman & change places. armes with yoʳ own.

Cavililly Man

Leading up. Lead up. set. foot it. round single. bis.

First part. take yoʳ woman by both hands & change places round. foot it. turn single

Second part. figure of 8. foot it. turne single.

Third part. Fall of by 4s foot it. turn single

Jack a Dandy

for 8.

Leading up. Lead up. set. fall back. bis.

First part. Crosse over wᵗʰ yoʳ woman & go round till you come into yoʳ own place & slide to hers. take her by yᵉ left hand & lead her under yᵉ 2ᵈ couple who hold up yʳ hands. yᵉ tother 4 do so at yᵉ same time.

Second part. Lead up. fall back. you & yoʳ woma⁻ hay to yᵉ botome whilst all yᵉ rest stand still.

Third part. Lead out by 2s all severall ways turn all 8 hands qᵗᵉ round. so 4 times.

Hunsdon House

Square dance

Leading up. Lead up. meet yoʳ opposite woman fall back wᵗʰ her in yᵉ middle. then slide back to yoʳ own place.

First part. Meet yoʳ opposites. turne single. men crosse over. yᵉ women. 2ᵈ time women first.

Second part. Meet yoʳ opposites. turn single all 4 back to back & round.

Third part. Meet yoʳ opposites. honnour to yᵉ woman right hand & left next honnour to yoʳ own first. men lead up in every passage.

Dull Sʳ John

Square dance.

Leading up. Round about yᵉ left hand couple & yoʳ woman round about yᵉ right

First part. Crosse over men. then women all 4 hands round.

Second part. The 2 women of yᵉ opposite couple stand before yᵉ men one of yᵉ other couple lead through yᵉ midle yᵉ other between men & women. back againe ‘trary. then the hay. tother couple do so.

Third part. Men cast of to yᵉ 2ᵈ place women follow. so again. to yᵉ 3ᵈ place. then back to back & right hand & left.