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A March to Captain Houston (for pedal or lever harp and guitar)
The two pieces come from the manuscript of John Bewley of Dalston in Cumberland. This manuscript consists of a series of unaccompanied tunes, mostly of a military nature.
In the census of 1851, Bewley is recorded as being a farmer of 100 acres of land, employing three men and, given the demands of a farmer’s life, the casual observer might conclude that music was probably merely a passing interest of his. The manuscript, however, offers other clues. It seems clear that Bewley composed some of the music, because he signed some of the pieces while leaving others blank. Bewley leaves a few indications on instrumentation and this seems to suggest that the surviving manuscript was merely a sketch pad, with the full score being sadly missing. The poor quality of the paper might also suggest that the manuscript may have been just rough working out.
Was Bewley a farmer with an interest in music who deployed his musical skills in the local voluntary militia? Perhaps he was employed, in an earlier career, as the leader of a military band? We can only speculate on the circumstances that produced this music and wonder how it would have sounded in its original form.
A March to Captain Houston and Sir R Coats do not appear in any of the other archived Cumbrian manuscripts and it is almost certain that they have never before been published. We can only hope that John Bewley would have approved of this arrangement of his work and the fact that it has been brought back to life after 180 years in obscurity.