Extract from George Cruikshank, ‘The Sailors Progress – sic transit gloria mundi –’ (1819), The Art Institute of Chicago. The image shows a man and woman dancing on board a ship, accompanied by military and sailor musicians, while others drink and smoke around them.

References to British Dance Instrumentation 1810s


Hodsoll’s Collection of Popular Dances, for the Piano Forte, Harp or Violin (London: W. Hodsoll, [c.1810]), Bayerische Staatsbibliothek http://opacplus.bsb-muenchen.de/title/1425690/ft/bsb11138331?page=1 This image was used by Hodsoll across several editions.

William Home Lizars, A Scotch Wedding, exhibited 1811, National Galleries of Scotland https://www.nationalgalleries.org/art-and-artists/5095/

Thomas Rowlandson, ‘The Gig Shop or Kicking Up A Breeze At Nell Hammiltons Hop’ (London: Thomas Tegg, 16 February 1811), British Museum https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1872-1012-4993

Tickets to balls, British Museum https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_C-2-1188-1203

  • Charles Corbould after Henry Corbould, ticket for a ball at the Mansion House on 15 April 1811

  • Ticket for a ball at the Mansion House on 19 April 1813

Thomas Rowlandson, ‘Quadrangle of King’s College, Cambridge’ (London: Rudolph Ackermann, 31 October 1811), Metropolitan Museum of Art https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/786808

Adam Buck, Charles Moran and his wife, Jane Bodin, with Jane and William, 1812, private collection, Bridgeman Images https://www.bridgemanimages.co.uk/en/asset/77725/

Thomas Rowlandson, Study for Dr. Syntax and Rural Sports, c.1812, The Art Institute of Chicago https://www.artic.edu/artworks/39039/study-for-dr-syntax-and-rural-sport

George Cruickshank, ‘Princely Amusements or the Humors of the Family’ (London: M. Jones, 1 March 1812), British Museum https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1868-0808-12660

George Cruikshank, ‘Merry Making on the Regents Birthday Day, 1812’ (London: J. Johnston, August 1812) British Cartoon Prints Collection, Library of Congress https://www.loc.gov/item/2003689159/

Charles Williams, ‘The Pattern or Dignity and Grace, Opening the Wedding Ball’ (London: Walker and Knight, October 1812), British Museum https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1868-0808-8029

Thomas Rowlandson after James Green, with aquatint by John Bluck and Joseph Stadler, ‘The Ball Room’ in John Buonarotti Papworth, Francis Wrangham and William Combe, Poetical Sketches of Scarborough (London: Rudolph Ackermann, 1813), Metropolitan Museum of Art https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/788241

George Cruikshank, ‘An Election Ball’ (London: Hannah Humphrey, 28 April 1813), British Museum https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1935-0522-7-73 For an altered version from 1819, see https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1935-0522-7-242-a

George Cruikshank, ‘Longitude & Latitude of St. Petersburgh’ (London: Hannah Humphrey, 18 May 1813), British Museum https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1859-0316-62

Thomas Rowlandson, ‘A Tailors Wedding’ (London: Thomas Tegg, 20 February 1814), Royal Collection Trust https://www.rct.uk/collection/810918/a-tailors-wedding

Thomas Rowlandson, ‘Death’s Dance’, image 21 from An Album of Sketches compiled by the Artist, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection https://collections.britishart.yale.edu/catalog/tms:46813 A similar image was used for the frontispiece of The English Dance of Death, with text by William Combe and illustrations by Rowlandson, which was published in 1815-1816: https://www.gla.ac.uk/myglasgow/library/files/special/exhibns/death/modernsatire.html

Thomas Rowlandson, ‘Such is the power, & such the strife,/That ends the Masquerade of Life’, Plate 24: The Masquerade from The English Dance of Death, vol. 1, (London: R. Ackermann, 1 November 1814), Boston Public Library https://ark.digitalcommonwealth.org/ark:/50959/tq57pc54s A clearer image is available via the Wellcome Collection https://wellcomecollection.org/works/ryyrjdj4

Thomas Rowlandson, ‘By Gar, that horrid, strange Buffoon/Cannot keep time to any Tune’, Plate 16: The Waltz from The English Dance of Death, vol. 2, (London: R. Ackermann, 1 September 1815), Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University https://www.smu.edu/Bridwell/SpecialCollectionsandArchives/Exhibitions/DanceofDeath/DanceAfterHolbein/12118-EnglishDanceofDeath

Isaac Robert Cruikshank, ‘Waltzing! or a peep into the Royal Brothel Sprint Gardens dedicated with propriety to the Lord Chamberlain’ (London: J. Sidebotham, 1816), British Museum https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1935-0522-7-72

Thomas Wilson, A Description of the Correct Method of Waltzing, The Truly Fashionable Species of Dancing…Part I. Containing a Correct Explanatory Description of the several Movements and Attitudes In German and French Waltzing (London: printed for the author; Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, 1816), Bibliothèque nationale de France https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b52500264c/f7.item

Thomas Wilson, A Companion to the Ballroom, Containing a choice Collection of the most Original and Admired Country Dance, Reel, Hornpipe, & Waltz Tunes, with a variety of appropriate Figures, The Etiquette And a Dissertation on the State of the Ball Room (London: Button, Whittaker & Co.; Edinburgh: Muir, Wood & Co.; Dublin: W. Power, 1816), British Library General Reference Collection 1042.l.24(1.) http://access.bl.uk/item/viewer/ark:/81055/vdc_100103635192.0x000001#?c=0&m=0&s=0&cv=1&xywh=-349%2C0%2C3260%2C2138.

Thomas Rowlandson, Plate 4 from World in Miniature; Consisting of Groups of Figures, for the Illustration of Landscape Scenery (London: Rudolph Ackermann, 1 March 1816), Metropolitan Museum of Art https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/788977

Diana Sperling and Gordon Mingay, Mrs Hurst Dancing and Other Scenes from Regency Life 1812-1823 (London: Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1981), cover image (No. 33 “Newport Pagnell. Mrs Hurst dancing Sepr 17. 1816.”) https://archive.org/details/mrshurstdancingo00sper

Plate 10 from The Elegant Girl, or Virtuous Principles the True Source of Elegant Manners (London: S. Inman, 1817), British Library, General Reference Collection C.175.b.44 https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/the-elegant-girl

Isaac Robert Cruikshank, ‘Waiting on the Ladies’ (London: 1817), British Museum https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1862-1217-280

Jean Alexandre Allais after J.H.A. Randal, ‘Group of Waltzers’ published in La Belle Assemblée ([London]: 1 February 1817), Jerome Robbins Dance Division, New York Public Library Digital Collections https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/7486bd10-f034-0132-2821-58d385a7b928

George Cruikshank, ‘Dos à Dos - Accidents in Quadrille Dancing’ (London: Hannah Humphrey, 4 March 1817), The Art Institute of Chicago https://www.artic.edu/artworks/90147/dos-a-dos-accidents-in-quadrille-dancing

Charles Williams, ‘Dos a Dos or Rumpti iddity ido – Natural accidents in practicing Quadrille Dancing’ (London: S.W. Fores, May 1817), British Museum https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1935-0522-7-182

Isaac Robert Cruikshank, ‘Quadrilles – practising for fear of accidents!’ (London: J. Sidebotham, 26 March 1817), The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University https://hdl.handle.net/10079/digcoll/974501

‘Quadrilles – practising at home’ (London: J. Sidebotham, 2 April 1817), British Museum https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1991-0720-74

George Cruikshank, ‘Les Graces - Inconveniences in Quadrille Dancing’ (London: Hannah Humphrey, 9 April 1817), British Museum https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1935-0522-7-69 Note that the picture on the wall on the right depicts dancing to a tabor & pipe.

Charles Williams, ‘Les Graces de Chesterfield. or, Quadrille Dancing – pour la Pratique – ‘ (London: S.W. Fores, May 1817), British Museum https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1935-0522-7-184

George Cruikshank, ‘Vis à vis – Accidents in quadrille dancing’ (London: Hannah Humphrey, 15 April 1817), British Museum https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1935-0522-7-68-b

Charles Williams, ‘Wrong Contre or Vis a Vis. Natural Accidents in Practising Quadrille Dancing’ (London: S.W. Fores, May 1817), British Museum https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1935-0522-7-183

Charles Williams, ‘Le Moulinet. or - Practising Quadrille Dancing at home for fear of accidents at the Ball’ (London: S.W. Fores, May 1817), British Museum https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1935-0522-7-185 Note that the version by George Cruikshank contains no musical accompaniment https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1859-0316-127

Thomas Rowlandson, ‘The Dance’ from Oliver Goldsmith’s The Vicar of Wakefield, (London: Rudolph Ackermann, 1 May 1817), Metropolitan Museum of Art https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/789171

Charles Williams, ‘Bobbin about to the Fiddle - a Familly Rehersal of Quadrille Dancing, or Polishing for a trip to Margate’ (London: Thomas Tegg, May 1817), British Museum https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1872-1012-5067

George Cruikshank, ‘La Belle Assemblée or Sketches of Characteristic Dancing’ (London: S.W. Fores, 31 August 1817), British Museum https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1862-1217-278

Thomas Rowlandson, ‘The Mask, that scene of wanton Folly/May convert Mirth to Melancholy’, Plate 12 in William Combe’s The Dance of Life, A Poem (London: Rudolph Ackermann, 1 October 1817), HathiTrust Digital Library, Getty Research Institute https://hdl.handle.net/2027/gri.ark:/13960/t8kd8ts0p?urlappend=%3Bseq=267

Sir David Wilkie, The Penny Wedding, 1818, Royal Collection Trust https://www.rct.uk/collection/405536/the-penny-wedding Note that an 1817 study for this painting at The Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, shows a different configuration of dancers and guests, although the musical instruments depicted remain the same https://data.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/id/object/14397

Thomas Rowlandson after George Murgatroyd Woodward, ‘Wild Irish or Paddy from Cork, with his Coat Buttoned Behind.’ (Thomas Tegg, 1818), Metropolitan Museum of Art https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/744101

Thomas Rowlandson, ‘The Last Jig or Adieu to Old England’ (London: Thomas Tegg, 20 January 1818), Royal Collection Trust https://www.rct.uk/collection/810959/the-last-jig-or-adieu-to-old-england

George Cruikshank, ‘The Hombourg Waltz, with Characteristic Sketches of Family Dancing!’ (London: George Humphrey, 4 May 1818), British Museum https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1868-0808-8389

Agostino Aglio, ‘Temporary Ballroom. Erected & decorated at Woolley Hall for the Festivities of the 13th Septr 1818, by A. Aglio’ in To Godfrey Wentworth Junr Esqre This Series of Sketches of the Interior & Temporary Decorations in Woolley-Hall; Yorkshire (London: Published by the Artist, 1821), British Library General Reference Collection 37/648.b.27 https://sound-heritage.ac.uk/dance/hardman-three-waltzes-1819

George Cruikshank, ‘The Sailors Progress – sic transit gloria mundi –’ (London: George Humphrey, 19 January 1819), The Art Institute of Chicago https://www.artic.edu/artworks/90055/the-sailor-s-progress

Alexander Carse, The Penny Wedding, c.1819, National Galleries of Scotland https://www.nationalgalleries.org/art-and-artists/8637/0/penny-wedding


Documentary Sources

Diaries of Sophia Trower (née Baker), 1793-1857, Add Mss 7462-7514, West Sussex Record Office

12 October 1810, Add Mss 7474

“heard the band of the 18th play at the M. Library went to Mrs Garrow’s Ball at Pegwell [?], with Lady Curtis & the Carleton’s bright moon – almost like day light The fête a beautiful one danced in a temporary room – hung with Spanish & English Colours – band of the 18th at the end…at one 100 people sat down to a beautiful supper – danced afterwards till near five”

17 October 1810, Add Mss 7474

“tea at the Dowager’s & went to the Ball [note at the bottom of the page] a very crouded & very disagreeable one I danced with Mr C Grimes the Band of the 18th playd”

12 December 1810, Add Mss 7474

“Shopping all the morning… Charlotte’s birthday – she is delightfully well – we had a pool of commerce & dancing to the Piano”


Jane Fiske, ed., The Oakes Diaries: Business, Politics and the Family in Bury St Edmunds 1778-1827, vol. 2, Suffolk Records Society vol. 33 (Woodbridge and Rochester: The Boydell Press, 1991)

1 January 1811 [pp. 136-137]

“I had all my Children & Grandchildren to dine & pass the Eveng (Son & Daughter Orbell excepted), & Mr Edge join’d our Party from London, Self, Sistr & Niece Bridge…18 at Table at dinner. In the Evening I gave a dance to the Young Ones asking to meet them Miss C. Powell, 3 Miss Blachley & son, Miss Johnson (from Mrs Pooley’s), Miss Bennett & her two Bror Philip & James (Mr Jno Smith’s 3 young ones I askd but were engaged), two young Ladys dancing together they made 9 couple. Craskin & his Bror, Muscians. We din’d [in] the common sitting Parler taking out the Harpsicord, drank Tea in the Drawing Room above & dancd in the dining Room. Began dancing at 1/2 past seven & dancd until near 11 o’clock when a cold Collation was prepard in the sitting Parler & all departed at 1/2 past 11 o’clock.”

For possible further information on Craskin, see https://www.eatmt.org.uk/grays-tune-book/ by Katie Howson

1 January 1813 [p. 166]

“being New Year’s Day all my Children & Grandchildren met at my House at 7 o’clock & I gave them a Dance. I invited a large party of young Ladys & Gentlemen to meet them mak[in]g abt 25 Couple of Dancers & many of their Friends came to meet & see them Dance, the whole Company consisting of abt 70…they all collected at 7 o’clock and drank tea. Dancing began precisely at 8 – (5 Muscians [sic])…had Negus at 1/2 past 9, suppd 1/4 after 11, returnd to danc[in]g & broke up abt 2 o’clock, all seemingly well pleasd wh their entertainment.”

2 January 1813 [p. 166]

“All my Children & Grandchildren dind wh me 17 in Number & 2 Miss Andrews of Flempton, staying at Mr Gould’s, mak[in]g 19. The Wheights calld for [an] Xmas Box. We had them to play & made a Dance for the young Ones, 7 or 8 couple for a couple of hours before Tea, when all departed & went to Bed before 11 o’clock. My Grandchil[dren] insi[s]ted for my dancing wh them.”

1 January 1818 [p. 224]

“I had to dine with me besides 5 of Son James’s Family now in my House, Son Orbell’s Family…wth Dr Valpy & his Son, 6, Son Gould’s 5, Sister Bridge’s 3, in all 20 of us. I had Reeve’s Bro[the]r one violin & gave the young People a Dance in my dining Room from 1/2 past 8 to 1/2 past 12 o’clock mak[in]g up 6 or 7 couple and highly pleasd they were.”

For possible further information on Reeve, see https://www.eatmt.org.uk/grays-tune-book/ by Katie Howson


Letter from Emma Grimston to Oswald Grimston, 6 February 1812, relating to a rout and dance held at York, DDGR/43/32/9, East Riding of Yorkshire archives

“Though I feel exceedingly fatigued My dearest Oswald, and not quite equal to giving you a brilliant account of our rout, I will endeavour to exert myself, and tell you about our gayity …There were two pattent [sic] lamps in the hall, a large one in the lamp on the stairs and 2 near the drawing room door; there were 28 large wax candles in the drawing room & 8 cardtables. As soon as dinner was over, all the tables, side board &c, & carpet were taken out, three patent lamps lighted & two fiddlers & tabor & pipe seated in a corner. Before seven o’clock, the [illegible] began to move & continued in motion with little rest for some hours…I believe there were 133 people invited, viz 90 ladies & 43 gentlemen, about 100 came, when a sufficient number of beaux had arrived we went down stairs, I began the dance…there were sixteen couples, there was quite room enough & the floor has a very good spring.”


The Morning Post 15 April 1815

“ALMACKS, King-street, St. James’s-square. - Messrs. WILLIS most respectfully inform the Nobility and Gentry, the FIRST SUBSCRIPTION BALL will be on TUESDAY next, the 18th inst. and the SECOND on TUESDAY, May 2, under the Patronage of the Most Hon. the Marchioness of Salisbury, the Right Hon. Countess of Cholmondeley, and the Right Hon. Viscountess Castlereagh. The number of Subscribers being limited no person can positively be admitted except those whose names are on the Lady Patronesses books. The Ball Room will be appropriated for Country Dances, and a German Band is engaged for Waltzing in the adjoining room.”


The Morning Post 8 May 1815


“At half past two the company retired to the supper rooms nine in number…From the variety of ornaments, and the incalculable number of dishes; the beauty of the women, and the glittering display of diamonds and other jewellery, the magic effect was heightened. The scene was enlivened by a German band of choice musicians playing admirably on French horns in a style of similar excellence to the celebrated Petrides. Waltzes and reels were danced after supper…”


Thomas Herbert Lewin (ed.), The Lewin LettersA Selection from the Correspondence & Diaries of an English Family, 1756-1884, vol. I (London: Archibald Constable & Co. Ltd., 1909)

25 December 1815 [p. 144]

“After dinner I played country dances for the children till tea-time. Afterwards Harriet and Charlotte performed some songs from Handel’s oratorios and I accompanied their voices on the violincello”

Thomas Lewin, of the Hollies in Kent, played violin, and sometimes also viola.


The Sun 9 May 1816


“A Ball, surpassing in splendour any ever witnessed in Salisbury, was given at the Council Chamber on Thursday evening last, by the Worthy Mayor, the Rev. CHRISTOPHER RIGBY COLLINS, in honour of the Nuptials of her Royal Highness the Princess Charlotte of Wales…Mr. Reynolds, from Bath, the celebrated performer on the harp, was engaged on the occasion.”


Patricia Mitchinson, “Regional Evidence for Social Dance with particular reference to a Yorkshire Spa Town, Harrogate, UK,” in Dance History, 2nd edition, ed. Janet Adshead-Lansdale and June Layson (London: Routledge, 1994)

Smith Manuscript (1816), relating to balls at the Crown Hotel in Harrogate [p. 91]

“The private dances at the Crown were on Saturdays. The master of the inn charges the waiter for the candles…The waiter also pays about 7d. each to five musicians; one of whom is an excellent harpist.”


Thomas Wilson, A Companion to the Ballroom, Containing a choice Collection of the most Original and Admired Country Dance, Reel, Hornpipe, & Waltz Tunes, with a variety of appropriate Figures, The Etiquette And a Dissertation on the State of the Ball Room (London: Button, Whittaker & Co.; Edinburgh: Muir, Wood & Co.; Dublin: W. Power, 1816)

Ball Room Musicians [pp. 214-216]

“THE Author has availed himself of this opportunity of saying something respecting Ball Room Musicians…That they are a useful class of persons will not be doubted; for whatever opinion has been, or may be hereafter formed of them, there is one thing certain, that there is no Dancing without them…From the number of the Author’s own Public Balls and Assemblies, and and [sic] a multitude of others both public and private, at which he has been present, has given him good and frequent opportunities of observing the manner in which Musicians are in general treated by their Employers and by the Company, which is too generally in a contemptuous manner, their being considered as obliged to play for hire for their Employers Amusement, they are to be treated worse than their servants, and never, or seldom spoken too [sic], but in an imperious haughty manner, generally addressing them, and speaking of them, by the names of fiddlers, endeavouring thereby to shew a superior consequence in themselves, and the dependance [sic] of the Musicians: or otherwise, adopt the other extreme, and become very familiar and ply them with Liquor, in order to make them drunk, being with those persons a common opinion and saying, that nothing is so amusing as a drunken fidler [sic], the whole of the Musicians coming under this title whatever instrument they may play…It is true, that there may be many found amongst them, whose talent will not entitle them to the name of Musician, although they carry a card to that effect; yet, notwithstanding the majority are Men of Talent, amongst which will be found a number belonging to our national Theatres, Men of unquestionable ability, and of the greatest respectability”


Staffordshire Advertiser 24 May 1817



“Ye spacious rooms! ye folding doors!

Where grateful pleasure still adores

Her Almack’s much loved taste!

Ye happy mansions! sweet resorts,

Of Britain’s matchless fair,

Where many a thoughtless Miss disports

A stranger yet to care;

I feel the gales that from ye come

Afford a soft and sweet perfume:

Say, Mr. Rose, for thou hast seen

Full many a sprightly race,

Obedient to thy violin,

The paths of pleasure trace;”


Windsor and Eton Express 15 June 1817


“The Anniversary of the ever-memorable Battle of Waterloo was celebrated on Wednesday last, by the Royal Regiment of Horse Guards, by a ball and supper, with a degree of magnificence suitable to the splendour and importance of the victory obtained…The Riding School, which is 107 feet by 40, was most tastefully fitted up as a ball room, with a music gallery for the harper and other musicians for the dancing.  A grand orchestra was erected at the head of the room for the regimental band…In addition to the band belonging to the Royal Horse Guards, there were those of the First Foot Guards and of the Fifteenth Light Dragoons, in a tent near the entrance to the ball room…On Thursday evening an entertainment was given to the subalterns and men of the regiment, in the same rooms used on the preceding night.  After supper the men and their wives had a dance, which was occasionally relieved by a hornpipe, a song, or a glee from the orchestra.”


Cambridge Chronicle and Journal 24 October 1817


“Take two or three carriages, stuck in a lane,

Two or three parties drench’d in the rain,

Add smirkers and rompers two or three coveys,

Two or three Aldermen’s wives and their loveys;

Two or three farmers and auctioneers haughty,

Two or three aunts between fifty and forty;

Two or three misses losing their lockets,

Two or three bucks with their hands in their pockets;

Two or three card tables, two or three sharpers,

Two or three fiddlers, two or three harpers;

Two or three quarrels, two or three faintings,

In a long naked ball-room, with two or three paintings;

Join two or three bumpkins who never were polish’d,

Two or three fashions long since abolish’d;

Two or three jokes from yesterday’s papers,

Two or three curtseys and dancing-school capers;

Two or three hopping without any fiddle,

Two or three waltzes broke off in the middle;

Plenty of tea sipped between whiles,

Two dozen nods and three dozen smiles;

One pretty girl and one pretty man,

To leaven the lump, you may find, if you can

Stir them about with a great deal of glee,

Till the town hall clock has struck two or three,

And with two or three candles stuck on the wall,

You can’t fail, if you mix these ingredients ball,

Of a good wholesome noisy country ball.”


Bill and receipt of payment from Thomas Philip Robinson, 3rd Baron Grantham, to James Paine, L31/376/19, Wrest Park (Lucas) Archive, Bedfordshire archives

Payment of £12 12s for 10 musicians to attend a ball on 11 May 1818. The ball is likely to have been Lady Grantham’s Grand Fancy Dress Ball, held at St James’s Square in London. A notice and description of the ball are given in the Morning Post on 23 April and 13 May 1818 respectively.


Morning Post 8 February 1819


“A most splendid Ball was given on Thursday last at the Assembly-Rooms at Seven Oaks, in Kent…PAINE, of Almack’s, and his excellent band, attended, with the addition of a famous flageolet player. Dancing commenced at nine-o’clock, led off with “The Regent.” Quadrilles followed, executed in the best possible style.”


National Register 19 July 1819


[Description of cotton manufactories under the management of Mr Owen in New Lanark]

“But these 1700 manufacturers whom Mr. Owen employs, have got 350 children, under ten years of age, capable of going to school, and these receive an education at an expence of 3d per month, far better than is given in half the schools in England. You may guess my surprise at first going in, to see a parcel of these children dressed in the Highland kilt, without shoes or stockings, learning to dance, in a fine room as large as that at the London Tavern, with a regular dancing master and fiddles! … For the grown people, after the hours of business, a noble building is appropriated; on one side is an assembly-room for the young men and women to dance in, to a very good orchestra of wind instruments performed by their musical companions; and here they have capital exercise, and with two superintendants, the same order and decorum is observed, though perhaps not quite such etiquette, as at Almack’s itself.”

See also ‘Mr Owen’s Institution, New Lanark (Quadrille Dancing)’, 1825


Lorna Davidson, “A Quest for Harmony: The Role of Music in Robert Owen’s New Lanark Community”, Utopian Studies 21, no. 2 (2010) [pp. 242-244]

“I found there a music school. Half a dozen or more little fellows had each a flute, and were piping it away in notes that did not preserve the strictest tunefulness….From this we went into a large room above-stairs where there were fifty or sixty young people, both boys and girls, attending to the lessons of a dancing-master. These young students of the “merry mood” were not equipped in all the gaiety of a fashionable ball-room; though there was a great diversity of costume. In fact, they were in much the same style as that in which they had left the manufactory, - some with shoes, and others barefoot. The dancing-master, too, was the painter and glazier of the village, who after handling the brush all day, takes up the fiddle in the evening, and instructs his motley group in the mysteries of the highland reel.”

From John Griscom, The Contrast: or Scotland as it was in the year 1745, and Scotland in the year 1819 (London: P. Wright and Son, 1825), pp. 253–254.

“Dr. Henry McNab was commissioned by the Duke of Kent to visit New Lanark and deliver a report on Owen’s experimental ideas and new system of education. He too was much struck by the musical activities, integrated with marching, which he witnessed in 1819:

‘…We then went and stood in a gallery in a room where the singers etc. had been, and saw below us a professional man from Edinburgh, teaching four bare-footed girls and four boys, the different steps, bows, curtseys and dancing….[T]hey have two violin players, who were also professional men.’”

From Henry J. McNab, The New Views of Mr. Owen, Impartially Examined (London: Hatchard, 1819), pp. 105–106.