Living History & Reenactment Music

Musical Rambles Through History © by Sara L. Johnson

Toby Filpot and Toby Jugs

Toby Filpot

And now for the very latest information, as of 1870. The Wordsworth Dictionary of Phrase & Fable, based on the original 1870 book of Ebenezer Cobham Brewer, strikes again with yet more obscure information, answering a "which came first, chicken-or-egg" question. A songbook, called "The Convivial Songster, Being a Select Collection of the Best Songs In the English Language, Humourous, Satirical, Bachanalian &c&c&c, With the Music prefixed to each Song", was printed in London for John Fielding in 1782. One of the best songs in it is "Dear Tom, this Brown Jug...." or "Toby Filpot". This song also appears in the popular 18th century play The Poor Soldier. It would seem that the song gave rise to the mugs.

Dictionary of Phrase & Fable, page 1088: "Toby jug. A small jug in the form of a squat old man in 18th-century dress, wearing a three-cornered hat, one corner of which forms the lip. The name comes from a poem (1761) about one "Toby Philpot", adapted from the Latin by Francis Fawkes; and the design of the jug from a print sold by Carrington Bowles, a London print-seller, to Ralph Wood, the potter, who turned out a great number of Toby Jugs."

The Convivial Songster's introduction has useful comments about singing: "There is no accomplishment more engaging to those who delight in conviviality than that of singing, when agreeably executed. Though a fine voice is very delightful...yet it often happens that, in a large company, where there are a number of singers, the person with the worst voice shall give the greatest pleasure. This is occasioned either by a happy taste in selecting good words... or by some humourous peculiarity in the singer." You now have an excuse to sing, as you can surely claim the worst voice, the best words, or humourous peculiarity. The sheet music for Toby Filpot, with the lyrics, and a midi file of the melody are on the music page. The song is also in the book, The New Convivial Songster.