The life and songs of Michael Blann (1843 - 1934)

 Extensively revised third edition

(includes a CD) 

Colin Andrews

Book + CD £12.00 +£2.00 p&p for single copy. Multiple copies please enquire

CD only (cardboard sleeve) £3 + £1.00 p&p, multiple copies please enquire)

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First & Second editions published, 1979, 1987 by Worthing Museum.


The words of the songs in the book are taken from Michael Blann's own handwritten notebook, which is kept in the Barclay Wills collection at Worthing Museum, and reproduced in their original spelling. For all but one of the songs Michael Blann gave no indication as to the tune, but in many cases appropriate 'traditional' tunes from other sources have now been found. The source is clearly indicated, including any newly composed tunes.

The biographical notes trace Michael Blann's life, from his birth in Upper Beeding, to his death at the age of ninety in Patching. Unfortunately, research has still failed to establish whether any children resulted from any of his three marriages. While much additional information has come to light since the second edition was published, the author would be interested to receive any further details about Michael Blann's life and songs.

The only song which I have not been able so far to track down in any other source is A Hundred Years Ago. It describes the succession of Masters of the Brookside Harrriers who hunted hares in the Rottingdean/Newhaven area of East Sussex until their amalgamation with the Brighton Harriers in the early 20th Century. Reference to the named masters can be found - Old Grover (probably Thomas Grover c. 1763), Billy Brown, Bob Bartlett, Squire Carr (Harrison Carr c. 1820 -1834), Will Pierpoint (kennel huntsman with Carr). The last master, ("who kept them to the present day") was probably Steyning Beard, of the Lewes Brewing family. It suggests the song was written around the 1860- 1870 but apart from Michael Blann there appears to be no trace of it. Bob Copper who was familiar with the Brookside Harriers did not know of the song. Any further information would be most welcome!


    THE SONGS                                                                      THE TUNES

    Spencer The Rover                                                              Adapted from Copper Family version
    Live And Let Live                                                               Variation of Monk's March morris tune
    100 Years Ago                                                                     Original composition, C. Andrews
    The Duke of Grafton's Hounds                                           Adapted from 'The Silly Doe' (Baring-Gould collection)
    I Likes A Drop Of Good Beer                                            Original composition, C. Andrews
    The Old Farmer Two tunes:                                               1.  W.A.Barrett collection

                                                                                               2. Based on Welsh Folk Dance Tune
    The Trees Are All Bare                                                     Adapted from Copper Family version
    The Burial Of Sir John Moore                                           1. J.Barnett (19th C)

                                                                                               2. Based on Idbury Hill morris tune
    The Innocent Hare                                                             Adapted from Copper Family version
    Our Jack's Come Home                                                     Traditional, from own family
    Tom Bowling                                                                     Charles Dibden (1745 - 1814)
    Humphrey Hough                                                               1. E. Upton/D. Robertson

                                                                                                2. Gordon Hall

                                                                                                3. Baring -Gould collection
    Two Orphan Boys                                                               1. From 'Heart Songs Dear To American People'.

                                                                                                2. Original composition, C. Andrews
    We Britons To Arms                                                          Original composition, C Andrews
    Blann's Beer                                                                        1. Yankee Doodle

                                                                                                2. Adapted from Gilbert & Sullivan by Eddie Upton
    The Farmer's Boy                                                               Traditional, from own family
    Riley Song                                                                          From Folk Song Journal, Vol. 8
    The Plough Boy's Song                                                      From Kidson's 'Traditional Tunes'
    Dame Derden                                                                     Oral tradition/similar to Copper Family version
    Christians Awake                                                               Adapted from Broadwood Collection
    The Spring Comes In                                                        Oral tradition/similar to Copper Family version
    The Moon Is Up                                                                Original composition, C. Andrews


Notes on the songs named but not written down in Micahel Blann's notebook

Words of 'missing songs' obtained from from other sources & published in 3rd edition

    Sheep Shearing Song                                                        Adapted from Copper Family version
    The Cottage By The Sea                                                   From Gordon Hall
    Punch Ladle Song                                                             Text only
    Cupid The Pretty Ploughboy                                             Text only
    Think Of Your Head in The Morn                                     Text only
    Green Garters                                                                     Text only
    Those Evening Bells                                                          Text only
    Free And Easy                                                                   Adapted from English Dance & Song magazine

Notes on other songs referred to in Blann's notebook by title only:

The Green Lands/ Hark the Goddess Diana /The Reverie Song / The True Hearted Sailor / Maggy May / Once A Cook I Courted /The Strawberry Mark / Old Uncle Ned / Scheer Up Sam / My Bonny Light Horseman / The Rich Merchant's Daughter / John's Ale Was New/ John Barleycorn / The Old Folks At Home /The Rose Of Allandale / Dick Turpin Bold / The Dragoons / Bright Phoebus

Michael Blann is also known to have sung: Death of Nelson /Hard Times Come Again No More / My Old Friend John /New Mown Hay/Some Love To Roam.


Note added November 2008. I am indebted to Mike Tristram for drawing my attention to 'Some Love To Roam' published in W.H. Gill's 'Songs of the British Folk' (Curwen, 1917), in which Gill states the song was collected from Michael Blann, Patching, Sussex. This song may therefore be the only one noted down, with tune, by a folk song collector. Michael Blann moved to Patching some time between 1901 and 1909. W.A. Barrett is known to have collected from Michael Blann, but his 'English Folk Songs' (Novello, 1891) is not helpful in identifying the source of the published songs. .



17 tracks featuring the author's arrangement of songs and tunes from 'Shepherd of the Downs':

Songs: I Likes A Drop Of Good Beer / A Hundred Years Ago / Live And Let Live / Duke Of Grafton's Hounds / Burial Of Sir John Moore / The Old Farmer / We Britons To Arms / Spencer The Rover / Riley Song / Our Jack's Come Home / Innocent Hare / Two Orphan Boys / Blann's Beer / Tom Bowling / Humphrey Hough / The Farmer's Boy

Tunes: The Spring Comes In / Free And Easy / The Trees Are All Bare / Sheep Shearing / The Moon Is Up / Christians Awake

Singers: Colin Andrews, The Trugs (Colin Andrews, David & Maggie Robertson, Eddie Upton). Chorus: Duncan Andrew, Sonja Andrews, Ken Hinchliffe.

Musicians: Colin Andrews (melodeons, anglo concertinas, whistles), Duncan Andrew (fiddle), Ken Hinchliffe (English concertinas), Sonja Andrews (percussion), Jon Palmer (guitar)

The Trugs recordings were made by Brian Horsfall, for Traditional Sound Recordings 1971 and appeared on the limited issue LP 'And Boldly Go To Sea'. They are reproduced on the CD under licence from Fellside Recordings Ltd. All other recordings by Jon Palmer, Big Bear Mobile Recordings, 2006