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Paper 10

James Paine, of Almack's (1778-1855)

Contributed by Paul Cooper, Research Editor

James Paine was a band leader, Quadrille publisher, and music seller of the Regency era. He is best known as having been an orchestra leader at the most prestigious of Regency dancing venues Almack's Assembly Rooms in London, and for publishing his various Sets of Quadrilles. His First Set of Quadrilles remain known to this day. In this article we'll explore his life, and his contributions to the social dancing experience of the 1810s and 1820s.

Paine's Family

I've experienced limited success in researching Paine's early life, though some information can be recovered from the International Genealogical Index (IGI). We can estimate that he was born in 1778 based on his reported age in the 1841 and 1851 census records. His life remains vague until he was married to the 18 year old Elizabeth Riebeau in 1804; her family ran a book-binding business, presumably Paine was from a similarly successful professional family. The 1805 insurance records at the Sun Fire Office describe Paine as Gent, his wife a milliner.

Figure 1. James Paine's advert, The Morning Post 7th August, 1811.
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Image reproduced with kind permission of The British Newspaper Archive (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)

Paine's contact address during the early stages of his career was shared with the Riebeau business at 2 Blandford Street, Manchester Square (see Figure 1). This address is where George Riebeau had his variously titled stationers, book-binders, circulating library, and/or book-sellers. George was presumably either James' Father-in-law, or his Brother-in-law. James and Elizabeth named their first son George Riebeau Paine, so George was probably Paine's Father-in-law. George Riebeau is better known to history as the first employer of a young Michael Faraday. Faraday was apprenticed at 2 Blandford Street during the same period that Paine used it as his business address, it's probable that they knew each other. It was here that the aspiring Faraday was enabled to study scientific publications, while Paine would have received inquiries for his musical services.

James and Elizabeth had nine children together before she died in child-bed in November 1820. She was survived by her infant son, William. James described himself in his notification in The Morning Post (27th November, 1820) as disconsolate at her loss, and wrote that she'd left behind eight young children to deplore her loss. Six of their children were named in Paine's Will, written in the 1850s.

One of their children, Charles Frederick (born 1816), experienced some form of medical complications. James made special provision for Charles in his Will, it required his remaining children to provide for his maintenance and support for the rest of his natural life. He presumably required special care, perhaps at an institution. According to the Census records, Charles was still living with his father in 1851.

James Paine died in 1855. His Will is available through the National Records Office. It reveals that he was relatively wealthy by the time of his death; he owned seven properties, shares in a copper mine, and the stock of his music shop; he distributed a further £1500 amongst his children in cash. This is in stark contrast to the approximately £130 that Joseph Hart (another popular band leader of the 1820s) left to his dependants, as we saw in a previous paper.

Paine's Band

Figure 2. A detail from The Cyprian's Ball at the Argyll Rooms, Cruikshank, 1825.

Paine had been elected to the Royal Society of Musicians in 1809, but the first reference I've found to Paine's band is from The Morning Post in 1811 (7th August, see Figure 1). The advert reads:

James Paine, Musician, No 2 Blandford-Street, Manchester-square, takes the present opportunity of returning his most grateful thanks to the Nobility and Gentry who have so kindly patronized him, particularly this season, at their Balls, Assemblies &c. and hopes that he shall be able to merit the continuance of their favours, in such future engagements as they may be pleased to honour him with. The best performers may be relied on for Waltz, Cotillions, Scotch and English Dances, &c. with punctuality and correctness, in town or country. J. Paine intending to stop in town this Summer, will be happy to attend at Public Breakfasts or Balls, as may be wanted.
It's clear that he was already an accomplished musician by 1811, had access to a band, and engagements. I've not found any information about his band prior to 1811, but they are regularly mentioned in newspapers from 1811 through to 1828.

The 1811 advert didn't reference Almack's Assembly Rooms, his high-profile employer of subsequent years. He probably wasn't working there at that early date, though he certainly was from 1816 when he began publishing Quadrille Sets under the name Paine of Almack's (thereby distinguishing himself from Edward Payne, another contemporary Quadrille publisher). Paine's reputation, and that of his band, would have improved significantly by playing at Almack's; the Quadrille was a popular new dance format c.1816, his band experienced great demand to play at the private functions of the aristocracy. For example, Bell's Weekly Messenger (17th August 1817) reported on Paine's band playing for the Royal Family:

On the Regent and the Queen's return from the water side, Mr. Paine of Almacks, with a most excellent and numerous band, was in readiness, and as soon as her Majesty had taken her seat in an arm chair prepared for her, dancing commenced by the junior branches of the distinguished personages present, consisting of the Ladies Stanhope, Ladies Bathurst, and others. They commenced with a quadrille; the second was a waltz, and the third a waltz.

That engagement came a few days after playing at Princess Elizabeth's Fete. We know the Fete was important to Paine as a letter he wrote to the editor of The Morning Post (8th August, 1817) concerning it was published. He was distressed that they had wrongly reported that John Gow's Band was present, his letter emphasised that his band had in fact played. He signed himself James Paine, rather than Paine of Almack's. A similar letter was sent to the editor of The Morning Chronicle to request the same correction.

He led the music at an important Ball and Supper hosted by Lady Borpingdon in 1811 (The Morning Post, 9th May 1811). The evening's entertainments commenced with German Waltzes, which were danced in the first style of elegance; and were followed by French cotillions. The supper was of the most elegant description. Dancing was afterwards resumed, and continued with great spirit until five o'clock. The band, under the able direction of Mr. Jas. Paine gave general satisfaction.. Much of the nobility were reported to be present, including Lady Jersey, an influential patroness at Almack's.

Figure 3. Viscountess Hampden's Ball, The Morning Post 10th April, 1826.
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Image reproduced with kind permission of The British Newspaper Archive (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)

The Times in 1813 (8th July 1813) reported on The Prince Regent's Gala, at the bottom of the lawn was a large tent, in which was Paine's Waltz-band. An article in The Courier (22nd April 1820) reported that Paine's band had performed at the Spanish Ambassadors Fete. The Morning Post (12th August 1822) mentioned their presence at the Countess D'Ameland's Ball, describing them as Mr. Paine's excellent band. An article in The Morning Post (10th April, 1826) reported on their presence at The Dowager Viscountess Hampden's Ball: Paine's Band attended on the occasion, and was much admired for their correct style of performing the quadrilles and waltzes (see Figure 3). An 1819 advert in The Morning Post (7th June) indicates that Paine's 13th Set of Quadrilles had been danced at Carlton House, and an 1826 report in the same newspaper (18th May) reports that Paine's quadrille band had played at Windsor Town-hall, and that the dancing was kept up until a late hour. In 1819 he provided one of the bands for The Regent's Fancy Dress Ball at Carlton House, the London Star reported The Quadrilles were called by Mr. Moyart, and led by Mr. Paine, of Almack's - the Country Dances, by Mr. Gow..

The band would also travel when requested; they were commissioned to play at both Petworth House in Sussex, and Powys Castle in Wales, in 1824, and also at Epsom and Maidenhead in 1826. They played at several balls in Cambridge in 1819. An 1823 account in Knight's Quaterly Magazine mentions four fiddlers, from Paine's I think they said, came from London by the coach, fine-powdered fellows in silk stockings; they'd been invited to displace a traditional band at a local assembly room, possibly in 1821.

Two of the named musicians we know Paine sometimes worked with were John Michael Weippert and Hubert Collinet. According to the 1883 A History of the Municipal Paine and Weippert were both associated with a Ball at Reading in 1819: Leader of the Band for the Balls, Mr. Paine, of Almack's, so justly celebrated for arranging the quadrilles, and other fashionable dances. Harp for the Balls, Mr. M. Weippert. The whole of the Band which will be complete, will consist of nearly a hundred performers. Weippert went on to publish a great many Quadrilles (at least 50 by 1830), and was one of the most successful band leaders of the 1820s. An 1819 report in The Morning Post (8th February) reports that Paine's Band attended a Ball at Seven Oaks with the addition of a famous flageolet player, probably the young Collinet. An 1822 report in The Courier (17th June) reports on a Royal Ball in honour of the Prince and Princess of Denmark, The Band consisted of sixteen eminent performers, under the direction of Mr. Paine and Mr. Collinet. The flageolet was heard with the most delightful effect in all the dances.. An 1820 report in The Morning Post (29th May) mentions Mr. Paine, at the head of 22 musicians at a Ball at Fishmonger's Hall.

References to Paine's band seem to disappear from around 1828. The penultimate occasion at which I've found them mentioned is from The Morning Post (15th July 1828) where they are said to have played at Mr. Penn's At Home. The final engagement I have evidence for was a Public Ball at Windsor Town Hall, reported in The Morning Post, 20th December, 1828. It reports:

Dancing, which commenced at ten o'clock, was continued, with the interval of supper, until six this morning, with the greatest spirit, under the direction of Mr. J. Banister, as Master of Ceremonies. The floor of the Hall was chalked with appropriate devices, and the pillars and other parts tastefully decorated. The supper was provided by Mr. Clarke, of the White Hart Inn, in his best style. Paine's band attended.

Figure 4. New Quadrilles, The Morning Post 4th May, 1826.
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Image reproduced with kind permission of The British Newspaper Archive (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)

Almack's Assembly Rooms

Much has been written about Almack's Assembly Rooms elsewhere, I don't intend to duplicate that information here. For more social history related to Almack's, see Wikipedia, or one of the many blog posts about it. I will however review some of its influence on social dancing of the greater Regency era, and Paine's contributions. For a more general history of Almack's, see also the 1878 Old and New London: Volume 4.

I don't know the precise dates at which Paine led the orchestra at Almack's, but he published Quadrilles as Paine of Almack's between 1816 and 1821. It's likely that he left around 1821, shortly after the death of Elizabeth, his wife. An 1826 reference in The Morning Post (4th May) records Paine describing himself as the original Leader of the Orchestra at Almack's (see Figure 4). This is an odd claim to have made, he certainly wasn't at Almack's for the first few decades of its existence. Perhaps the club didn't need a dedicated leader of the orchestra prior to the 1810s? Whatever the nature of his role, he had been replaced by 1826.

He may have had a formal position at Almack's, but he wasn't the only band leader to play there during this era. Captain Gronow reported in his 1862 Reminiscences that Neil Gow was the band leader in 1814. The Gow's were a celebrated family of Scottish musicians; the famous Niel Gow had died in 1807 and his grandson Neil was only born in 1795, so Gronow (never the most reliable of sources) probably intended to reference one of Niel's sons, either Nathaniel or John (both leaders of popular bands). John Gow represented his family in London, he was probably the band leader referenced by Gronow; John had previously published a collection of dances in 1788 that were as performed at Willis's, late Almack's, and dedicated to the Subscribers to Willis's Rooms. Other band leaders can also be identified, for example, an 1813 advert by John Weippert (The Morning Post, 24th October) mentions that he had conducted the music at Almack's. An 1818 advert reports that the French band of Michau, Musard and Colinet had played at Almack's (The Morning Post, 8th June); a c.1822 collection of Quadrilles identify F. Simonet as Late leader of the band at the Almack balls; other high-profile band leaders who probably played at Almack's during this period include Louis Litolff and Joseph Hart.

Figure 5. An Almack's advert, The Morning Post, 6th May 1815.
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Image reproduced with kind permission of The British Newspaper Archive (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)

Almack's was an important venue, references to it could help to sell tune books. The covers of published dance collections began boasting that they were as performed at Almack's from around 1770, a policy that was ubiquitous by the early 19th Century. There's little reason to think that these collections were genuinely danced at Almack's, but the belief that they might have been must have helped with sales. The illusion of aristocratic blessing may have been important to those dancers who would not be admitted to the nations more prestigious Assembly Rooms. The dancing master Thomas Wilson referred to this convention in his 1824 epic poem, The Danciad. He wrote: Whoever has observed the annual collections of Country Dances, will have found by their titles they are all danced at Court, Bath, Almacks, &c. though perhaps not one in twenty has really been so honoured.

The trend for crediting Almack's on the covers of dance publications accelerated during the Regency era. This was particularly true for Quadrille publications, almost all English Quadrille Sets of the 1810s and 1820s claimed to be as danced at Almack's (see, for example, the Quadrilles of Joseph Hart in Paper 8). This claim was probably intended as a reference to the Quadrille figures, rather than the music, but it emphasises the perception that Almack's came to have amongst dancers.

It was not always so however, Almack's had to start somewhere. The anonymous author of the 1823 The Etiquette of the Ball-Room by A. Gentleman commented on an important element in the history of Almack's:

It should be understood that Almack's, as it is called, is the Assembly from Hanover Square ... The subscribers, through dislike to Sir John Gallini, moved their Assembly, under the influence of the Countess of Salisbury, to King Street, St James', where the subscription has continued ever since in the name of "Almack's".

This writer was alluding to the scandalous origins of the Almack's assembly. Sir John (or Giovanni) Gallini was an Itallian dancing master who in 1763 married his way into the English aristocracy; He was introduced as a dancing-master into the Earl of Abingdon's family, where Lady Elizabeth Berrie, his lordship's eldest daughter, became enamoured of him, and married him (Bath Chronicle & Weekly Gazette, 10th January 1805). He operated the Festino assemblies at the Hanover Rooms, and attempted to gain control of the King's Theatre Opera House; many English aristocrats disapproved of him, the battles for control of the King's Theatre were well documented in the contemporary press. He was assaulted and booed off stage in 1789 at the height of anti-Gallini fervour - the same year in which the King's Theatre was destroyed by fire. The relocation of a fashionable Assembly (famed for their Cotillion dancing) from Gallini's Hanover Rooms is less well documented. It seems that they moved to Willis's Rooms, perhaps via an intermediate deployment to the Pantheon Assembly Rooms, and re-established the older name of Almack's (the name Almack's had fallen out of use during the 1780s). I don't know when this migration happened, but it could have been in the early 1790s. Almack's changed ownership in 1791, and the Pantheon Club burned down in 1792, so perhaps they arrived in 1792. It's likely that their arrival was a significant boost to the newly-renamed Almack's prestige.

Almack's hosted Balls for many of London's great dance masters. Examples include Gallini (The Public Advertiser, 9th March 1770), Delatre (Morning Chronicle and Daily Advertiser, 2nd March 1784), Noverre (The Public Advertiser, 2nd May, 1785) and Bishop (The World, 24th April, 1789). By the late 1820s Almack's was hosting the dance academy of the The Misses J. & S. Prince (The Morning Post, 7th December 1829), the Prince sisters were influential in popularising the Mazurka in London.

Figure 6. An Assembly Hall, perhaps Almack's. From the cover of the Brighton Almack Quadrilles, 1828. The musicians' gallery is elevated above the dance floor.

Almack's popularity meant that attendance had to be restricted. The owners found it convenient for attendees to subscribe for events through the Lady Patronesses, a cabal of noble ladies empowered to approve or reject such requests. The earliest reference to this I've found is from 1798 (True Briton, 23rd May 1798), but it may have begun much earlier. References to Lady Directresses at Almack's certainly go back further. It's possible that the institution of Patronesses was initially introduced to keep Sir John Gallini, and anyone like him, out. Whatever the origins, the exclusivity proved to be important, and competition for approval became intense. Much of fashionable society wanted to attend, but many were rejected by the patronesses. An 1815 advert in The Morning Post (19th May) clearly indicates the shortage of tickets: The Subscribers are requested to send to the Lady Patroness on whose book their names are, for their tickets as soon as convenient, as the numbers are limited, and the tickets not transferable. Tickets had been transferable back in 1790, Tickets Transferable, viz: Ladies to Ladies, and Gentlemen's to Gentlemen. The Ladies tickets are Red, and Gentlemen's Blue (The World, 24th April, 1790). The non transferability of tickets in 1815 will have made possession more significant, and the approbation of the patronesses more necessary.

The list of patronesses from the above 1815 advert was: The Duchess Dowager of Leeds, Marchioness of Stafford, Marchioness of Worcester, Countess of Jersey, Countess of Chomondeley, Countess Cowper, Countess Bathurst, Countess of Mansfield, Viscountess Keith, The Hon. Mrs. D. Burrell. The same list was published two weeks earlier (The Morning Post, 6th May 1815, see Figure 5), with the added detail that 25 tickets were available from each Patroness, giving a total of 250 tickets.

The list of patronesses could vary for each ball. One month earlier (The Morning Post, 10th April 1815) the patronesses for the preceding ball were listed as the Most Hon. Marchioness of Salisbury, the Right Hon. Countess of Cholmondeley, the Right Hon. Viscountess Castlereagh. I don't know the precise capacity of Almack's, but an 1817 report in The Morning Post (23rd June) mentions A Nouvelle Fete for which 800 tickets were issued. It reports that the Duke of Wellington suggested the idea, the company are to come in fancy dress, viz. the costume of every nation upon earth, but without masks! The Duke had hosted a similar ball in Paris in 1816, the Almack's ball attempted to recreate it.

The rule that a ticket was required for entry was strictly enforced, but occasional exceptions could be made. An 1817 report in The Morning Chronicle (12th May) reveals:

The rigorous rule of entry established at Almack's Rooms produced a curious incident at the last Ball. The Marquis and Marchioness of W--r, the Marchioness of T---, Lady Charlotte C---, and her daughter, had all been so imprudent as to come to the rooms without tickets; and though so intimately known to the Lady Managers and so perfectly unexceptionable, they were politely desired to withdraw, and accordingly they all submitted to the injunction; but the beautiful and interesting Miss C. was politely invited to remain as an exception to the rule, and she accordingly joined in the quadrilles with her usual elegance.

The anonymous author of the 1823 Etiquette of The Ball-Room by A. Gentleman wrote against the poor state of Quadrille dancing in 1823 (he felt that British dancers were insufficiently graceful). He made an exception for the quality of dancing at Almack's: I must take upon myself to say, that after the seven years experience, in no instance has the original set been danced in England, so as to deserve any kind of praise, except at Almack's, where, in a few instances only, they have been properly correct..

Another anonymous author published her Recollections of Almacks in 1863. She described the Almack's of the Regency era in gritty detail:

Almack's had almost a venerable aspect of decay and of London dirt - a thing 'sui generis', when its lofty and lovely patronesses first swept across the floor. Their diamonds sparkled beneath the blaze of old-fashioned chandeliers: their dresses were contrasted with dusky walls and furniture. The main room was spacious nevertheless - lofty, and well adapted to the delicious sounds of Weippert's or Gow's band. It was not too large: you could see everyone, and be seen.
Figure 7. A chalked floor at Almack's, a detail from the covers of Paine's Quadrille Sets, from 1818.


New dances came to England from Europe throughout the greater Regency era. Cotillions were danced at Almack's from 1770 (The Public Advertiser, 24th February), Quadrilles from 1815, and Waltzes perhaps a little earlier. The Scottish style of Medley Dance was pioneered at Almack's in the 1780s, it was a collection of Country Dancing tunes adapted to the same set of dancing figures; it presumably relieved the tedium of the same tune being played for 20 or more minutes (The Caledonian Medley Dance, Skillern, c.1787). After a new dance debuted at Almack's it would go on to be danced elsewhere in England by the dancing elite. This is most clear in reference to the Quadrille, but might also apply to the Waltz, Gallopades and Mazurkas. The author of Recollections of Almack's ended her essay recording perhaps the last major dancing revolution: the shocking, vulgar, jerking polka was an introduction which seemed to herald the downfall of Almack's.

It's likely that Paine helped to popularise the Waltz at Almack's. The Waltz was a controversial dance form during the first half of the 1810s, too intimate for respectable dancers. There are many reports in the contemporary press of Waltzes being danced at Almack's in 1818, and a few reports from 1817. One of the earliest references to the Waltz at Almack's is found in an 1817 advert for Bohmer's Collection of favourite Waltzes played by Paine's Band at Almack's (Morning Chronicle, 22nd March). It's perhaps notable that Paine included Waltz music in most of his Quadrille Sets, including those published in 1816. An 1815 advert for Almack's in The Morning Post (6th May, see Figure 5) confirms that Waltzes were being danced that year: The Ball Room will be appropriated for Waltzing, (the Music by a German Band), the adjoining rooms for French and English Country Dances. Some authorities state that Waltzes were danced at Almack's from 1814; I've not found contemporary evidence to confirm this, though an 1813 caricature exists that may depict a Waltz being danced at Almack's.

Paine emphasised his role at Almack's by using an image of their floor on the cover of his 1818 9th Quadrille Set (see Figure 7, small text under the final image read The Floor of Almacks, Designed by G. Glover). The same image was used for the covers of his 10th to 17th Sets. The segments in the image read Croatians, Danes, Peruvians, Poles, Tyrolese. Glover was a celebrated floor-chalker, or decorator of dance floors (Morning Chronicle, 26th October 1812); Ball Room floors were often chalked in the Regency era, both for decorative purposes, and for grip. Paine's advert in The Morning Post (26th January 1818) reported: this day is published, Paine of Almack's 9th Set of Quadrilles, the Title representing the Floor as chalked at Almack's on the evening of the Masked Ball. Paine might have recorded the only surviving image of a chalked ballroom floor from the Regency era! The significance of the words isn't clear, they could have been from the Duke of Wellington's 1817 Nouvelle Fete described above, or a similar event from later that year.

As leader of the Orchestra during the mid to late 1810s, Paine was well placed to trade on his position. He published Quadrille music, and was uniquely able to ensure that they were as danced at Almack's.

Paine's First Set

We've previously investigated the origins of the First Set of Quadrilles, and the role of Edward Payne in publishing Payne's First Set probably in 1815. This time we'll investigate Paine's First Set. You can learn more about dancing them here.

It was recorded (once again by Captain Gronow) that Lady Jersey introduced the first Quadrille Set at Almack's in 1815. It's likely that Paine would have led the orchestra on this inaugural occasion. James Paine never claimed that he was the inventor of these Quadrilles, but he did publish the accredited version, as performed at Almack's, and at the Carlton House Fete in either 1816 or late 1815 (see Figure 8, the first adverts I can find that reference it are from mid 1816). The reference to The Carlton House Fete on the cover of Paine's First Set is interesting - that phrase usually described either a historical event from 1811 (celebrating the assumption of the Prince Regent), or a similar event from 1814 (honouring the Duke of Wellington). If the Quadrilles were danced at either of these events, that would back-date the introduction of the First Set figures by at least a year. It's certainly possible that the First Set Quadrille figures were danced at Carlton House in 1811; as we saw above, Paine is known to have played for Lady Jeresey in 1811 at an event where Cotillions were danced - these could have been the First Set of Quadrilles (before they became known by that name).

Figure 8. Paine's First Set, c.1816


I have no reason to doubt that Edward Payne's First Set was published before that of James Paine's, as Edward Payne claimed. They share the same dancing figures. The two publications used different music, so I presume that James Paine arranged the music for his own First Set, but even that is uncertain (his band did play music by other composers such as Bohmer and Klose). Paine's First Set is made up of La Paysanne (Pantalon), La Flora (L'Ete), Le Coburg (La Poule), La Felesia (La Trénise), La Pastorale, and La Nouvelle Chasse (Promenade). It's notable that Paine added a La Pastorale dance, this wasn't present in Edward Payne's First Set (though Payne did document it in his 1818 Quadrille Dancer).

The figures used in these dances are understood to have come from France, perhaps by way of Brussels. Many early British quadrilles were themed around the 1815 Battle of Waterloo, they are thought to have been danced by the British officers in France.

G.M.S. Chivers reported in his 1824 Quadrille Preceptor that the figures of Paine's First Set were always called (that is, announced) at Almack's in French. I've struggled to find any clear references to these Quadrille figures in English publications printed prior to 1816. As far as I can discern, the Quadrilles of Payne and Paine were the first British publications to use such terms as Pantalon, L'Ete, etc. in relation to Quadrille dancing (though Longman and Broderip did publish them as Cotillions in 1786, and Michael Kelly as French Country Dances c.1804). James Paine's First Set referenced this terminology as though it was already established, Edward Payne's didn't; this could be a further hint that Edward Payne published first, and that James Paine expected his customers to be familiar with Edward Payne's terminology - either that, or the Parisian terminology was already well established in London.

As an aside, it's fairly easy to find British Quadrille Sets that use this terminology and have been dated prior to 1816. Such documents almost never print a date on their covers however, so well-meaning archivists estimate the dates of publication. It's not uncommon, in my experience, for estimated dates to be inaccurate by 10 years (sometimes more) when verified against their copyright registrations, etc.. Be wary of all uncorroborated dates, including mine!

The figures of the First Set originated in France. They appear in several French collections, of unconfirmed date. One notable example are the Quadrilles of Louis Julien Clarchies. He died in 1815, so his Quadrilles almost certainly date earlier than either Paine's or Payne's First Set publications. Clarchies used the names Pantalon, etc., so may have been Edward Payne's direct source for his First Set. James Paine may have derived his figures from those of Edward Payne, or have independently sourced them from a French publication. Regardless of their origin, the figures became supremely popular in England, due in part to Paine's championing of them at Almack's. Their popularity in England may have been exported back to France, leading to an increase in their popularity there too.

It's perhaps noteworthy that one of the more significant of the early Quadrille dancing publications was sold through Reibau's Library (i.e. Paine's father-in-law's business) at 2 Blandford-street in 1818 (Morning Post, 1st June, 1818). This was the anonymously published Le Maitre a Danser, by an unnamed French dancing master. Several editions of this work were published, including the 1820 third edition (Morning Post, 4th April, 1820). It's possible that Paine worked with this anonymous dancing master.

The anonymous author of Recollections of Almacks wrote of the introduction of Quadrille dancing, and of Paine's First Set:

Quadrilles had struggled into existence ere Almack's became Almack's; they were, at first, regarded as a heresy...

Quadrilles came - Paine's first set, I remember they were called. It was ages before country gentlemen could learn them; and when they did, who was the foolhardy man who dared to show his steps in that fearful pas seul in 'La Pastorale.'...

By degrees the quadrille became a stereotyped process. Paine's quadrilles consisted at first of five distinct figures: there was La Poule and La Trenise, La Pastorale and L'Eté, and a grand conclusion - all vanished now into thin air. It was necessary, when the balls at Almack's began, to go through the whole set, and learn a code of steps consistent with each. And there was a long preparatory training, with great loss of temper, and loss of fiddle-strings on the part of the teachers.
This fascinating recollection goes into far more detail than I can reasonably quote here. But it ably demonstrates the practical difficulties of introducing a new dance form.

Despite the mysteries of their origin, James Paine was widely credited as having invented the First Set in the following decades. As early as c.1818 Joseph Hart described the First Set figures as Paine's Original Figures on the cover of his 1st Set of Quadrilles. The figures of the First Set went on to be danced in English Ball Rooms for the rest of the 19th Century.

Paine's Quadrilles

Paine published at least 17 numbered Sets of Quadrilles between 1816 and 1821. Many of them were advertised in newspapers, which provides a convenient and accurate mechanism for dating them. I've found advertisements that date his Quadrilles as follows:

Figure 9. Paine's Second (c.1816) and Ninth (1818) Sets


  • the 3rd Set was advertised in 1816, and the 4th Set was announced in 1816
  • the 5th, 7th and 8th Sets were all announced in 1817
  • the 9th and 10th Sets were advertised in 1818
  • the 12th and 13th Sets in 1819
  • the 15th in 1820
  • the 16th in 1821.
We can estimate the remaining dates to within an accuracy of about a year. The main mystery is the publication date of the first three Sets. They certainly existed in 1816, but could have been published a little earlier. Falkner's 1816 advert (The Morning Post, 19th July) described Paine's Quadrilles as New Music, so it's likely they were first published in 1816.

Paine also published an additional unnumbered Quadrille Set in 1826, based on Rossini's opera Semiramide (see Figure 4). He intended this to be the start of a new series, a follow-up was advertised in The Harmonicon in 1827. We know his Semiramide Quadrilles were danced, as they're explicitly mentioned in the report of Vicountess Hampden's Ball (see Figure 3). Joseph Hart's 19th Set of Quadrilles, also based on Semiramide, had been published one year earlier in 1825. Rossini was proving to be popular with the Quadrille buying public of the 1820s, Hart alone published 8 Sets of Quadrilles based on Rossini's operas.

Each of Paine's Quadrille Sets introduced a new collection of music, but the dancing figures remained quite similar. His first 3 Sets were each made up of 6 separate Quadrille dances, the remainder only had 5 (the same length most other choreographers provided at around this date). Each Set was accompanied by one or more instrumental tunes, generally Waltzes, but occasionally a Polonaise or Sauteuse. The figures themselves remain almost the same across each Quadrille Set, with minor variations introduced for the 4th or 5th Quadrille in each Set. Paine was a musician rather than a dancing master, so that might explain why he left the figures relatively unchanged. Paine's reuse of the same figures in many of his Quadrilles helped to promote the First Set as the standard Quadrille dancing figures in London (and therefore England).

Thomas Wilson, in his 1824 epic poem The Danciad, offered a mixed review of Paine's Quadrilles. He had the following to say:

Figure 10. Quadrilles as Performed by Mr. Paine's Band, published by Mitchell's Musical Library, c.1816


Of Paine's, of Almacks, sixteen sets I'm told,
Or more were published if they were not sold;
Paine's followed the first set, and then were all
The town supplied, or were danced at a Ball;
Tho' in them there's not much variety,
The figures are composed with some propriety
They're French--the tunes have mostly been selected,
Or altered so to hide from whence collected;
To these succeeded sets of every kind,
To nation, style--nor character confin'd.
Wilson appears to have confirmed that Paine published his Quadrilles after the First Set had already become established. Elsewhere in The Danciad he explained that the First Set didn't originally include La Pastorale, it came to be added later (presumably by Paine himself).

G.M.S. Chivers' 1824 Quadrille Preceptor included the figures for 10 Sets of Quadrilles he described as Parisian Quadrilles as Danced at Almack's. The first 5 of these are the figures of Paine's first 5 Quadrille Sets, the remaining 5 aren't. It's possible that the phrase Parisian Quadrilles was being used to reference Paine's Quadrilles, particularly by professional competitors who preferred not to promote Paine's name directly.

In 1817 Paine advertised a Quadrille Fan for sale in The Morning Post (11th June, 1817). He wrote Mr Paine begs to inform the Nobility and Gentry his Quadrille Fan is now ready for delivery, being the only correct Edition, with the Figures of the Quadrilles, as danced at Almack's, and distinguished from any other, by having engraved on the top "Paine of Almack's Quadrille Fan, published for him at Falkner's Music Shop". We've previously discussed Edward Payne's competing and contemporary Fan. Edward Payne's fan was available from early 1817, James Paine's from mid 1817. It would be fascinating to compare them, but I'm unable to locate copies. A similar but later Quadrille Fan by Thomas Wilson can be seen in Paper 6. I have seen the 1818 second edition of Paine's fan, it listed the figures for his first 10 sets of Quadrilles (as danced at Almacks) as an aide-mémoire for dancers. It would be an essential accessory for dancers who were new to Quadrilling or were reluctant to memorise the sequences of figures.

Paine is also credited with publishing a work called Paine's Terpsichorean Preceptor, or, Handbook for the Ball Room, a copy of which exists in the Harvard Theatre Collection. It's said to be a miniature work, and contained the figures for a number of popular Quadrille Sets as danced at Almack's and Her Majesty's State Balls. The reference to Queen Victoria dates the work to 1837 or later.

Figure 11. An example of Paine of Almack's Quadrilles as miniature cards
(Image from eBay)

Paine published almost exclusively through Falkner's Opera Music Warehouse, until 1821. He suffered the same copyright problems we saw with Edward Payne, unofficial copies of his Quadrilles were printed and sold by other publishers. Some editions of his second and subsequent Quadrille Sets included a written notification as follows:

Mr Paine feels it an incumbent duty he owes the Public and himself, to prevent further imposition...to caution them against a spurious Edition of Quadrilles, which has been published, the Title of them expressing to have been performed by Paine's Band, which is a gross imposition, as many of them never were performed by him; and the Accompaniments to them are very different to the original, which completely alters the Airs, and spoils the effect.
This may be a reference to the Quadrilles published by Mitchell's Musical Library & Instrument Warehouses (see Figure 10) which featured the same wording that Paine complained about, and offered a different (arguably superior) arrangement of the music; it may also be a reference to the similar Quadrilles sold by Skillern & Challoner from 1816. He took the same remedial action as many other publishers, and personally signed every official copy of his Quadrilles.

Paine also strove, successfully, to promote his Quadrilles over those of Edward Payne. He emphasised that his versions were the only ones to be as danced at Almack's. Edward Payne died in 1819, leaving Paine to accept sole credit for the success of the Quadrilles they had both popularised. With the passage of time, the Quadrille dancing public almost completely forgot Edward Payne's role in their origin.

As with many other early Quadrilles, the figures of Paine's Quadrille Sets were often sold as miniature cards, suitable for carrying in a reticule. Examples can be seen at the websites of Cowan's Auctions and the Harvard Magazine, and an official example sold through Falkner's can be seen in Figure 11.

The following table lists Paine's Quadrilles, mostly as documented at the British Library. The Library doesn't have all copies of all of Paine's Quadrilles, so there are some gaps in the table.

Paine's 1st Set:
La Paysanne, La Flora, Le Coburg, La Felesia, La Pastorale, La Nouvelle Chasse
Paine's 2nd Set:
La Penelope, La Daphne, La Poule Anglaise, La Theresia, Le Wellington, Les Echo’s
Paine's 3rd Set:
La Lisette, La Villageoise, La Matilda, L’Eugene, L’Heureuse Fantasie, Les Graces
Paine's 4th Set:
La Magdonal, La Nouvelle Eté, La Non Chalant, La Nouvelle Pastorale, La Veritable Chasse
Paine's 5th Set:
L’Elegante, La Pettite Montignard, La Zephyr, L’Inconstant, La Favorite
Paine's 6th Set:
La Nouvelle Favorite, La Fauvette, L’Amulette, La Charmeuse, La Chasseuse
Paine's 7th Set:
La Pauline, La Parmesane, La Bassana, La Carrillard de Brantignez, La Conquerante
Paine's 8th Set:
La D’Artoise, La Serant, La Duchesse D’Angouleme, La Berri, Henri Quatre
Paine's 9th Set:
La Diane, L’Eucharis, L’Egerie, La Calypso, La Carinthia
Paine's 10th Set:
Paine's 11th Set:
Paine's 12th Set:
La Belle Flamand, La Tambour de la Garde, L’Aimable, La Caprice de Vauxhall, La Nouvelle Fantasia
Paine's 13th Set:
L’Aurore, Le Chasseur, La Belinda, L’Andromede, Fin Ch’han dal Vino
Paine's 14th Set:
La Duchesse de Clarence, La Fitzherbert, La Beaufremont, La Don Giovanni, La Dona Elvira
Paine's 15th Set:
Paine's 16th Set:
Paine's 17th Set:
La Triomphante, Lady Stewart, Le Pavilion, Miss Thompson, Les Nouveaux Echo

(Royal Harmonic

The Merry Gypsies, To Fortunes Fool, All The Blue Bonnets Are Over The Border, I Have Money, I've Been Roaming

Paine's Music Shop

Figure 12. Caricature of a music shop, Lisle, c.1825
©Trustees of the British Museum.

At some point Paine opened a music shop at 92 High-street, Marylebone. He lived at this address for several years (see Figure 4), though he eventually bought a separate residence just down the road at 19 High-street. His shop certainly existed in 1824, though he may have opened the store earlier. Paine described himself as both a music-seller and musician from this date, and was present for both the 1841 and 1851 censuses, along with several of his children and a servant, all of whom lived with him.

I've not found many references to his music shop, though it was mentioned in at least two different legal proceedings. The Morning Chronicle (17th December 1824) reported on the trial of a violin thief who stole from Paine's store. The guilty party was ordered to return the instrument, and Paine was granted permission to prosecute for swindling. In 1847 Paine's house was burgled, the details of the case are available online, they mention the existence of Paine's shop. This later case involved testimony from two of Paine's children, James Henry Paine and Caroline Riebau Paine.

A similarly named but (as far as I can tell) unrelated music shop was that of Paine & Hopkirk. This firm opened c.1821, and was dissolved in 1836. Frank Kidson in his 1900 British Music Publishers, Printers and Engravers speculated that James Paine may have been a partner in this business. He wasn't, it was actually a John Edward Paine who died in 1846. John Paine also published a collection of Country Dances in 1807, and a further dance collection c.1815. I've not established a connection between John and James Paine, though they may have been related. This firm has an unusual claim to fame - it provided the first postal address in 1834 for the Universal Life Assurance Society, a company that eventually became Aviva.

James Paine disappeared into obscurity by the end of the 1820s. He died in 1855 a relatively wealthy man, his name remained associated with his Quadrille dances for the rest of the 19th century. But that's where my research into Paine's life ends. As usual, there are many gaps in the story; if you can provide any further details or access to some of his published works, please do get in touch.

We've not discussed how to dance Paine's Quadrilles. If you're interested in exploring them, I can strongly recommend the Early Dance Circle's computer CD of .pdf documents, A Book of Paine's Quadrilles, by Ellis Rogers (of the Quadrille Club) and Meryl Thomson (of Green Ginger). This wonderful CD includes introductory notes by Rogers and Thomson, and PDF images of 13 of Paine's Quadrilles, including both the music and accompanying text. Several facsimile scans of Paine's Quadrilles have also been shared by the Dance Historian Richard Powers at his download site. Alternatively, a few of Paine's Quadrilles are animated here at RegencyDances.org.











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