The John Buttrey Manuscript is a massive hand-written manuscript of 1,061 military and social tunes compiled for the use of a British fife and drum band in the and early 1800s. (Complete list of tunes here.) The paper it is written on is from CURTEIS & SON 1801 &02.
Exciting News: The Village Music Project in the UK has transcribed the entire Buttrey Manuscript ! ABC files and pdfs of the tunes are posted here. For the first time you can easily read the music and listen to the tunes !!
“Because of its size and the sheer number of tunes l found it to be a very useful “rosetta stone” for identifying and dating untitled melodies” – Ian Bell musician and past curator of Port Dover Harbour Museum
The Buttrey Manuscript is a good representation of the sorts of music that would have been heard in a garrison town like York between 1800 and 1820 where the musicians who played for the soldiers’ parade were often the same ones playing for the Saturday night dance and the Sunday morning church service. There are duty tunes, marches, jigs and reels and song tunes – along with some harmony parts. In the margins and end pages are some wonderful pen and ink and watercolour sketches of various subjects and scenes. Although the book is primarily written out for the fife, on one of its last pages it contains a fingering chart for the fiddle.
There are sketches in the manuscript of “The Battle of The Nile” and “The Battle of St. Kitts”, battles which took place before John Buttrey became a fifer and where the 34th did not serve, resulting in these stories being written down well after the fact.
John appears to have written Quick Step #616. and thanks to Eamonn O’Keeffee, we know that several members of his regiment also wrote tunes in the manuscript (Tilby, Dorman, Gittings and Quinton).
John emigrated to Canada in 1849 where the manuscript passed to his son Francis Buttrey, to his grandson Alfred Buttrey, to his great-granddaughter Beatrice Buttrey, to her daughter Gladys Cameron, to her daughter Sandra Cameron of Georgetown, ON and on July 31, 2019 to Fort York c/o the City of Toronto Archives. (Full history of John Buttrey here.)
Requests for copies of the National Archives microfiche of this manuscript were granted to Fort Henry in 1980; Fort George in 1981; Colonial Williamsburg in 1985; and Fort York in 1987; as well as other museums and groups in England. It is with great pleasure that I am now able to make this music available to all who wish to review or use it via this website.