This is the tune for the Scottish dance. The title is an evolution of "bob at the bolster" and refers to a watermill. Some sources suggest that the ‘bowster’ is the shaft of a watermill but, in a horizontal mill at least, the bolster (head) is a load-bearing beam which supports the ‘sole tree’, an adjustable piece of wood that houses the bearing of the water wheel / stone assembly. There is probably an equivalent in a vertical water mill. I would imagine that the dance is supposed to imitate the bobbing of the mechanism in action, rather than a person called Bob!
There is a well known street rhyme that is sung to a variant of the tune - and, of course, an establishment in Glasgow, known to sessioneers, that is named after it.
I got the setting of the tune from an online manuscript.
Some further reading seems to indicate that the ‘bolster’ might be nothing to do with a watermill, but simply a pillow - the dance being a pillow or cushion dance and one is supposed to ‘bob’ down on the cushion, with some kissing involved.
Ah well, open to speculation - I’ll just play the tune.
I never knew the origins of the pub’s name. You learn something new every day!
The version below is one that I have had for many a year. I found it as a three parter with no repeats and play it with "Bonnets so Blue" for the dance of the same name.
X: 1 The Bumpkin
|| c3 B3 | ABG FED | GAG BAB | GAB BAB | c3 B3 | ABG fef | g2d edc | BAB GAB ||
|| cde/f/ gdB | ABG FED | GAG BAB | GAB GAB | G2f gdB | ABA fef | g2d edc | BAB G3 ||
|| cAc BGB | ABG FED | GAG BAB | GAG BAB | cAc BGB | ABA fef | g2d edc | BAB G3 ||
I feel they go well together with a nice change down from "Bonnets" in ‘D’ to "Yhe Bumpkin" in ‘G’