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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Karen Origin: Saint James Infirmary Blues (286* d) RE: Origin: Saint James Infirmary Blues 15 Nov 17

Thanks for comments. Not sure what to conclude. It occurs to me to ask (perhaps a *little* mischievously): Was there a hospital of that name in County Clare? Because if not, then whence did the name come which found its way into the head of this farmer/butcher, who plainly had good links with the broader "folk" movement as they appear to have been watching him for a long time!


My own OED is the two volume set: maybe you have a different edition? But what you have found confirms the view that the term 'lock hospital' meant venereal disease hospital, and is 18th century as a generic term/phrase. Southwark? Not St James Palace, then. (I think this is a reputable source, not a mention of 'lock' anything in it.)

This is supposed to have closed in 1760?

I have found Crosby's tune, or 'air' 'The Unfortunate Rake'

If anybody happens to be interested it is here on page 158.

Its in 6/8 and a minor key, with root E. Not easy to sing the words of 'The Unfortunate Lad' to it.

To re-capitulate: Offering the link because in the 'literature' on the origins of St James Infirmary/The Unfortunate Lad, this appears to be where people first of all got the idea that there was a link between 'The Unfortunate Lad' and 'The Unfortunate Rake'. I am, as you may guess, not convinced. I am still waiting for evidence of a 19th century song actually called at that time 'The Unfortunate Rake' which could be argued to be an ancestor of St James Infirmary. As I have said, I can only find songs called 'The Buck's Elegy' and 'The Unfortunate Lad'.

Thanks again for the discussion. I am learning new stuff all the time. Very grateful to have people to bounce ideas off.

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