S7 E09 Cock Up Thy Beaver (Rerun)


April 22nd, 2023

1 hr 8 mins 28 secs

Season 7

Your Hosts

About this Episode


Cover Art from David Allan’s Lead Processing at Leadhills: Weighing the Lead Bars from the 1780s showing a Blue Bonnet and a Cocked hat.
Courtesy of National Galleries Scotland: https://www.nationalgalleries.org/art-and-artists/99127/lead-processing-leadhills-weighing-lead-bars

1686: John Playford, Dancing Master rendition of Johnny Cock thy Beaver here:
This whole database was helpful:

1900: I would not have known to look here were it not for John Glen’s monumental work on early Scottish melodies, if you hadn’t noticed it is Glen’s collection that makes up much of the archival copies of these texts I rely on:

?: Carolan’s Setting for Variations came likely from Donal O'Sullivan's work of tunes actually composed by Turlough O’Carolan (b.1670-d.1738) I got the transcription (and apparently also a key change) on Vince Brennan’s remarkable website, with ABC copies of all the tunes:
Note this setting is likely not Carolan, also, that you shouldn’t say the “O’” before Carolan’s name if you’re speaking English.

1733: William Dixon’s Watty’s Away:

1750ish: James Oswald’s Setting for Johnny Cock-up thy Beaver:

1792: Scots Musical Museum (Robert Burns Song)

1757: Bremner’s Setting for Scots Bonnet:

1807-1810: O’Farrell’s setting of The Blue Bonnett:
http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/Papers/ofarrellspc3.pdf It is tune 17 on the PDF

You can read through the fascinating discussion of Beaver and links to many newspaper articles from the early 20th century here on the English Language and Usage Stack Exchange forum: https://english.stackexchange.com/a/503590

June 1922: Missouri Newspaper: Cambridge Students Pride themselves on their whiskers
October 1922: Washington Newspaper: King George may need to shave
December 1922 Washington Newspaper: Beaver near extinction because of the Beaver Game:

“Looking For Whiskers
Bearded men find themselves unwontedly popular at Cambridge just now. They are gravely or hilariously saluted by undergraduates with cries of ‘Beaver!’ This is part of a game which the young wits of the University have devised in which pointes are scored by the player who first sights a bearded person.
From Gloucester Citizen, Gloucester, England, Wednesday May 17, 1922 Volume 47, 115

From the Evening Telegraph (Dundee, Scotland) Tuesday october 3, 1922 Day By Day
“There is absolutely no truth in the story that when a Royal figure wearing a beard entered a Cambridge function the undergraduates rose to their feet as one and shouted, ‘Royal beaver game, set, match.”

“When Aussies wore Whiskers from Thursday Aug 2, 1934 Gloucester Citizen, talks about men wearing beards being scorned by barbers, and harassed on the street by cries of Beaver.

Jan 20, 1941 Gloucester Citizen, “Ban on ‘Hitler’ Moustache but ‘Beavers’ are Popular
Discusses how beards fell out of fashion, but are back in for military personnel after WWII.

You can see the “Beaver!” Limerick printed here in the Wordsworth Book of Limericks:

You can see several of the Mid-19th Century Bonny Black Hare Broadsides here, Courtesy of the Bodleian Libraries:

Interesting discussion of Bonny Black Hare from AL Lloyd and others that popularized singing it during the British Folk Revival:

I have lost several hours to Grosse’s 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue:

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