Packington's Pound (Anonymous)

Classical guitar


This tune is to be found in Queen Elizabeth's Virginal Book;[1] in a A New Book of Tablature, 1596; in the Collection of English Songs, printed at Amsterdam, in 1634; in Select Ayres, 1659; in A Choice Collection of 180 Loyal Songs, 1685; in Playford's Pleasant Musical Companion, Part II., 1687; in The Beggars' Opera, 1728; in The Musical Miscellany, vol. v.; and in many other collections.

It probably took its name from Sir John Packington, commonly called lusty Packington, the same who wagered that he would swim from the Bridge at Westminster, i.e., Whitehall Stairs, to that at Greenwich, for the sum of 3,000l. But the good Queen, who had particular tenderness for handsome fellows, would not permit Sir John to run the hazard of the trial. His portrait is still preserved at Westwood, the ancient seat of the family.

In Queen Elizabeth's Virginal Book it is called Packington's Pound; by Ben Jonson, Paggington's Pound; and, in a MS. now in Dr. Rimbault's possession, A Fancy of Sir John Pagington.

 --The Ballad Literature and Popular Music of the Olden Time: A History of the Ancient Songs, Ballads, and of the Dance Tunes of England Vol. 1, W. Chappell, 1855, p. 123.

Packington's Pound is a lively dance tune that has had many different lyrics attached to it. Although one could choose to notate the song in 3/4 time using dotted half notes, quarter notes, and eighth notes, the requisite dotted half note for the second voice in almost every measure is a clue that a better choice of metrical division could be made. The second voice drives the beat. In essence, you're writing 3/4 with only one perceptible beat per measure, when 3/4 should have three beats. For that reason, I've chosen to notate the song in 6/8, with two beats per measure, using dotted quarter notes, eighth notes, and sixteenth notes.

The piece is straightforward and played entirely in the first position, making it an ideal beginning guitar piece. As always, fingerings are suggestions only.

Revision History

Added second string C to C chord in measure 7.

[1] Since at least 1900, this book has been called the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, named after Richard, Seventh Viscount Fitzwilliam of Merrion, who founded the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and donated the book to the museum. Queen Elizabeth likely never owned the book, as it appears to have been transcribed after her death. For more information, see The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, The Musical Times and Singing Class Circular Vol. 41, No. 684 (Feb. 1, 1900), pp. 90-92.