Tune of the Day: Sir Roger de Coverley
Sir Roger de Coverly was the name of a rakish character in popular English literature in the early 18th century. He was supposedly a country squire from Worcestershire, and a member of a small club which ran the popular newspaper The Spectator that appeared daily from 1711 to 1712, and his grandfather was said to have invented the dance that went by his name. What is revealing about this is that “Roger of Coverly” was already considered an old dance at the time the paper was published.
“Roger of Coverly” has had a long history in English country dance, retaining its popularity almost until the present-day. In New England the contra dance “The Virginia Reel” was often danced to this tune, though other tunes were also substituted.
The tune is mentioned in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol when the Ghost of Christmas Past shows Scrooge a party from his apprenticeship with Mr. Fezziwig:
[...] the great effect of the evening came after the Roast and Boiled, when a fiddler (an artful dog, mind—the sort who knew his business better than you or I could have told it him!) struck up “Sir Roger de Coverley.” Then old Fezziwig stood out to dance with Mrs. Fezziwig.