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Joseph Barn’s/Barne’s MS.1762-9

Cumbria Records Office, Carlisle, Grainger Deposition 1967

Transcribed into ABC Music Notation from a barely legible photocopy, for the Village Music Project, by Cherri Graebe, assisted by Gina LeFaux, 2001.

The following notes by Chris Partington, 2001. Revised 2007
Notes on bagpipe aspect by Paul Roberts, 2001
Additional notes (indicated in the text) by Sue Allan, March 2007

Go to ABC file

Go To PDF file of the transcription

Editing for the ABC transcription

It has been possible with some of the tunes to make a reasonably sure attempt at editing into playing condition. Where this is done in the tune itself, the changes have been indicated above the printed note/s(eg cr or qu indicates that the note was originally a crotchet or quaver in the MS, etc) or in the “Notes” Blue Box. Sometimes it has been such a big job that the tune has been repeated as the edited version. Sometimes due to uncertainties the changes would have amounted to a full scale rewrite with insufficient evidence to back it up, in which cases, and there are more than a few, we’ve preferred to leave it to you.

Description of the manuscript

The Joseph Barn’s MS is in the Cumbria Record Office, Carlisle.Ref.DX 74/2.Description.-The Violin Tutor c1786-95. We have worked on photocopies made from Microfilm No. JAC:866. It is part of the Grainger family papers, of  “Holm Cultram”, Abbeytown,on the north coast of  Cumbria and a little to the west of Carlisle. Holm Cultram Abbey was dissolved by HenryVIII.
The book is 9″ tall by 7″ wide, with hard covers of a material not evident from our photocopy. It appears to have hand stitched leaves, not all quite the same size. Where there is a page of music there are eight hand-drawn staves to the page. Inside the front cover there is a drawing of a floral pattern such as would have been used for an embroidered waistcoat of the 18thC “Tailor of Gloucester” type.
Throughout the book, the symbol “y” appears as a written abbreviation for “th”, as in ye = the, yt= that, ym = them, yr = their. This is pronounced as “th”(I presume), but I have retained it in the tune titles. Welcome to Ye Olde Musicke Shoppe.

Evidence within the MS

The first 9 pages in the entirely hand-written book is occupied by what calls itself “The Complete Tutor For The Violin”. You will find this transcribed as “The Carlisle Fiddle Tutor”. It is elementary but curious. For the rest, the right hand of each pair of open pages is mainly  tunes except six pages between “The Pilgrim”,tune77 and “Harmony”,tune78 which is taken up by copperplate copying of historical and improving texts. At the bottom of the first of these pages is written “1763 Scolar(sic)Scholar J.Barns” in a Gothic script. Occasionally throughout the book the left hand of each open pair of pages contains veterinary, horticultural, or medicinal remedies, as follows:

P.13(of our photocopy)  “March 28th 1791-A Receipt to make a drink for a cow that is like to be rotten(?)”
P.15 “…for destroying caterpillars….”
P.17 “…for Red water in a cow”..”A cure for Cholick..”
P.19 “…for ye jaundice..”
P.25 “…a diet drink by Mr Elliot..April 1795”
P.34 “August experianced receipt for a cough, from Mr Lawson of Bowness”(bottom half of page.)
P.36 “…for a strain in a horse” “A Cow drink after she calves – May 1786”
P.38 “…for the haze in a cow by Jn. Hetherington”
There is also in the top half of page 34, in what I take to be J.Barn’s hand, a fair copy of some, what he calls, “German Text” ie-Gothic script/font.
The rest consists of 89 dance tunes and song airs, some with words appended,ie Hearts of Oak,#14, Scotch Song#74, True Blue#79, Fond Shepherd#86, and also one song text not associated with a tune.
Above tune#06 is the date “1769”, vertically and not apparently associated with it.
Amongst “Dumfries Bowling Green”,tune#11 are the words “……….(?)Mr.Barne’s piping (?)… (?) etc”. However this is quite hard to decipher and “piping” is only my best guess.
Below “Boniest Las in ye World”#13 are the dates “1768,176..,1769”,not apparently associated with it.
Below “Weel Take Her Away..”#53 is the date “December 30th 1762”
At bottom of page with “Guinea Corn”#63 is the fragment of a tune called “The second Part Of The Above March, J.Barnes”(with an E)
Underneath “Jack of ye Green”#67 it says “Jack of ye Green, December 28th 1762”.
After “Untitled”#82 it says “November 20 1769”
The last two tunes in the book, Paddy Wack,#88,Haste to the Wedding,aka,#89, are in a totally different script and are obviously much later insertions.
Inside the back cover it says (with doodles) “Donkin Grey, Black Joak, Parson in ye Suds, Lads of Air, and Wild Wards Baire(?)” then on separate lines “Joseph Barn’s own Book 1762” “Joseph Barn’s own Book 1762″(again),and “John Allinson of Oughterside”
A full three-quarters of the tunes in the book have either or both of the key or time signatures missing or incorrect, (i.e. 6/8 for 4/4, etc). Many have errors that suggest an attempt to notate by ear rather than by copying (i.e. bar lines erratic or missing, wrong number of notes in bar etc). Where tunes also appear elsewhere (e.g. Vickers MS) the setting is always different, sometimes greatly so. One or two disjointed fragments suggest a page or two may have gone astray (here joined as Frags#37).

Is the music handwriting consistent with being all the work of one person?(apart from #88.89).
The handwriting of the music script shows considerable superficial variation.
The music script is sometimes flamboyant, sometimes less so, always confident but not always legible. There are at least 6 ways in which the treble clef is done, but each of the different clefs can be associated with more than one style of script e.g. “Heart of Oak” & “Peace and Plenty” both have similar awkward script that might suggest a different hand to the main body, yet each has a different style of clef that is repeated recognisably elsewhere in the MS amongst both the more normal and the more flamboyant script. The most excessive style is exemplified in Maggie Lowther#10 and Black Joak#26 and yet there are gradations through the styles that, to me at any rate, make it impossible to say with certainty that This or That script is definitely a different hand to That or This. In short it looks to me like all the work of one person.


The violin tutor on the first nine pages is undated. It would have been archaic by 1762 and our guess is that it was copied by, say, Joseph Barns from an already old book. Copied rather than written because the succeeding tunes don’t display enough familiarity with notation to have been the work of someone confident enough to write an instruction book. Also some of the symbols in the tutor (e.g. “+”) never appear in the actual tunes.
The Staves, exclusively on the right hand page, commence only after the Tutor, and so are subsequent to it. They are interrupted after tune#77 for six pages of Scholar’s copywork clearly dated on the first page as “1763”. They resume again, and tune #82 is dated 1769.
Here and there at the head or foot of the pages, but not clearly attached to tunes, are dates 1768/9.
The receipts (archaic for “recipes”) are dated between 1776 – 1795.


Joseph Barns/Barnes (he spelt the name both ways) is clearly the main name, dated 1762/3.
(See below)

A quick look on the Mormon Genealogy site turned up Joseph Barnes, christened at Sebergham Nr Carlisle, Cumbria on 24th Jan 1748, one of eight children of Thomas Barnes and Jane Hodgson. Also Joseph Barn, born 9th Feb 1741, Crosthwaite, between Windermere and Kendal. No further details so far available. I favour the Sebergham version as he would be 14/15 at the beginning, a much more likely age for a “scolar” than 21 to be practising handwriting etc. I have no details of his occupation.

John Allinson of Oughterside I did not find, but John Allison, weaver, b1777- Brigham,nr Cockermouth.d1845 is a possibility. As a smallholding weaver he would still require Cows remedies. I do not know what the connection was between them all yet. Maybe the two Josephs were cousins.               Crosthwaite is near Bowness on Lake Windermere, Sebergham is near Oughterside, and there is another Bowness on the coast west of Abbeytown, not far north of Oughterside, and there is an Oughterside Rant near the beginning of the book, so J.Barnes had some connection with it, at least.

* That was the state of my knowledge of Joseph Barnes when I wrote these notes in 2001. However, in March 2007 Sue Allan kindly added what she knew from her own researches into the Manuscript. In what follows she refers to an inscription in the MS regarding Joseph Barn’s address and the date 1765. I have re-examined our photocopy and cannot find this inscription, but I only have the rather poor photocopy that was provided by the records office, and I presume Sue Allan has had the advantage of inspecting the original Manuscript.

Sue Allen writes…..

JOSEPH BARNES MS TUNEBOOK  at Cumbria records office, Carlisle

Barnes family background

On one of early pages of the MS it gives his name, the date January 1st 1765, and where he lived: Wolsty Close, Abbey Holm, Cumberland. Other date inscriptions give eg 1763 (Scolar J.Barns) and latest date, on a veterinary ‘receipt’ is 1795. Working from parish registers etc around those dates we can find additional information.

Abbey Holm is another name for Holm Cultram, predating the use of its current name of Abbeytown.  Wolsty (variously spelt as Woolstie and Woolsty) is a hamlet nearby. Parish registers indicate a Joseph Barnes of Wolsty Close was buried in 1825, aged 81. That’s 60 years after the date on the MS, making him 21 in 1765 – so I would have thought it’s a reasonable supposition that it was his book. However … according to the parish registers he was baptised in March 1743. Now, even supposing he was just born that year (and it’s conceivable it could have been the previous year), then that would make him 82 in the year of his burial. But who’s quibbling over a year or two.

Registers also give births of children in 1780 and 1782, Richard and Thomas. Richard is described as a ‘yeoman’ in 1847. As a family of yeoman farmers, the many veterinary ‘receipts’ on pages of the Barnes MS, alternating with tunes, would have been a necessary part of looking after one’s stock on the farm.

From census returns:

BARNES Richd yeoman Wolsty Close (1847)

Baptisms 1743:  8 March Joseph, son of Joseph Barnes of Woolstyclose
Baptism 1746:    18 June  Robert, son of John Barnes of Woolstie Close
Burials 1825:     403 20 Joseph Barnes of Wolsty Close, 81
Declaration by Robert Collinson, Incumbent Curate. Churchwardens: John Drape, John Pape
Baptisms 1780:   28 June – Richd of Joseph & Mary Barnes, Wolstye-close,
Baptisms 1782:   26 December – Thomas son of Joseph Barnes born Nov 24th, Wolstey-Close


The Barnes ms forms part of the Grainger deposition at Cumbria Record Office in Carlisle, which also includes Francis Grainger’s psalm tune book of 1739 from the abbey. The psalm tune book is of interest as a number of tunes have local names, and some of these seem to be original to this area.

The Graingers were a very important local yeoman farming family: churchwardens, local magistrates etc. Francis Grainger also had antiquarian interests and published a number of articles in local history journals. It’s a reasonable supposition that the Grainger family knew the Barnes family well, and it was Francis’s antiquarian interests which led him to obtain the tunebook for his collection (much as the Browne family of Troutbeck did with their tunebooks).

Sue Allan, March 2007 ”

That is the end of Sue Allan’s remarks. We are grateful for her above contribution.

Many of the tunes seem to have a bagpipey feel to them so we asked Paul Roberts (PR), who plays both Fiddle and Border Pipes, to have a look at the collection and give me his thoughts. Some of his comments are a bit lengthy to entrust to the Blue Boxes of the abc file, so here they are instead.

Paul Roberts’ comments:-

Dumphries Bowling Green (1). JBa.11

It definitely has a strong pipe flavour in terms of both the structure and the decorative runs. Moreover, all three parts are playable on a nine-note pipe scale, parts 1+3 without amendment. What makes it a fiddle set is part 2 because in pipe terms it’s in the wrong key. If you transpose the second part (marked “3”) into what is known as the ‘top hand’ key this would be playable on the 8 or 9 note Smallpipes or the Border Pipes – could this be the reason for the possible reference to Mr Barns’ piping here – e.g. a reminder to transpose when playing with Mr Barnes?? In my opinion the edited version, though suitable for the fiddle, somewhat diminishes the bagpipe flavour, the original version being immediately comprehensible to me as a bagpiper.

O????? ?????? Wedding. JBa.16
This too has a very bagpipy character – it’s written in the compass except for the high B in the second part (which is however obtainable on ‘Half Longs’ by overblowing). The staccato bits in part 6 look like they might represent some form of piping decoration, probably involving a conventional finger movement. Finally the 7/8 rhythm sounds fine to me and very reminiscent of older pipe flavoured timings of 3/2 & 6/4, however I suspect this is more likely to be a badly notated attempt at a ‘crooked tune in 4/4/ or 2/4.

Fox Hunter. JBa.20
This is within the bagpipe compass and structurally very typical of a simple pipe jig – I would class this as a pipe rather than a fiddle setting.

Donkin Gray. JBa.21
This is clearly not a pipe setting but elements of the variations are typically bagpipish in form. It sounds like the work of a fiddler very familiar with ‘Border Bagpipe’ conventions. CGP adds that Duncan Gray was of course one of the many tunes subjected to variations by ‘legitimate’ composers as well as ‘traditional’ anonimous’s.

Black Joak. JBa.26
The obvious comparisons are with the setting in Leadley and the setting by Charles Mclean in Johnson’s Scots Fiddle Music of the 18thC. It does contain elements in common with both but ultimately it seems more different than similar. I suspect both this and the Leadley may share a common source in Mclean but if so both reflect a thorough going ‘folk process’ and stand on their own as new settings. Having said that I didn’t do a really detailed comparison – if you’ve seen Mclean’s set you’d understand what a major operation that would be!

Goodnight and…. JBa.27
Is this not our old friend Buttered Peas/Stumpie? Granted a distinct variant to be classed separately. At least this is bagpipe compatible and likely of Bagpipe origin.

Horrocks’ Rant. JBa.29
Bagpipe compatible and possibly origin.

Duke’s Reel. JBa.34
Bagpipe compatible and possibly origin – within the compass etc.

Quaker’s Hornpipe. JBa.36
This isn’t like a normal 3/2 though it works in itself. It’s much more like 9/4 and seems to work best as a 9/8. He may have been getting his triple times confused. I’m sure I recognise this as a tune now played in 9/8, but can’t quite place it.

Jack Lattin. JBa.41
Within pipe compass. This is of course particularly well known in pipe versions. A rather simpler setting than others known to us, with nothing unique.

More for Beauty…. JBa.45
Fairly definitely a pipe tune and setting, almost archetypal. ‘Gear’ is archaic for chattels, portable goods, etc, ie dowry.

Drops of Brandy. JBa.47
Almost a pipe version – could be played in this key but the 6th note in the last bar would need to be up one,(most likely), or the whole thing could be transposed up a tone, in which case 3rd note in last bar becomes problematic – but could be overblown by a skilled Border Piper..

Ye Major. JBa.48
There is a nice setting of this in Geoghan’s Pipe Tutor. Very Typical Bagpipe jig, not only within the compass, but certain structural features are Bagpipy. The 4th note in Bar 1 Pt 3, for example, or the alternating notes in Bar 1 Pt4 are better on pipes than fiddle.

Oughterside Rant. JBa.52
This might be reconsidered as a badly written 3/4 with conscious crookedness.

Weel Take Her Away…. JBa.53
In Peacock’s Tunes For Smallpipes,Newcastle c1805 as ‘I’ll have her in spite of her Minnie’. I’ve seen it elsewhere too and think of it as a Pipe tune, and in fact this setting is in pipe compass and idiom, except that 1st bar 5th note would need to be a G on Border pipes, This alteration is typical of the way a fiddler would ‘correct’ a pipe tune.

Stir The Girls. JBa.54
Sounds like it may have once been a pipe tune but this is clearly a fiddle setting with a wide compass.

I Will Have A Wife……JBa.57
This is of course a particularly well-known pipe tune, but the 3rd part is definitely a fiddler’s piece, going much too low for pipes.

Guinea Corn. JBa.63
The title and the bones of the melody seem familiar.

Britan. JBa.64
Pipes compatible.

Untitled. JBa.65
Pipes compatible except 5th note Bar 4, for which low G is easily substituted or A repeated.

Brandy Bottle JBa.66
This is structured very like a pipe tune and is pipe compatible if you transpose Part 3. In fact it reminds me of a pipe tune that I can’t quite pin down. Bobby Shafto?
End of Paul’s Comments.

Thus it seems evident from the high number of tunes in the collection with bagpipe tendencies that a bagpipe tradition was not far away in time or place, especially with the possible reference to “Mr Barnes piping”. Paul being a Bellows man would of course favour bellows over mouth power. 
Paul Roberts

Chris Partington, vmp, 2001. Revised 2007/2016

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