“Harvey Duff”


"Harvey Duff, keep the step, Oh, what's up with you"


The tune seems to me to be close to "The Worms Crawl In."

Zimmermann: "The name became a popular cry to abuse traitors after the success of Dion Boucicault's melodrama _The Shaughraun_, first produced in 1875. The hero of the play was a Fenian, and the villain an informer -- Harvey Duff, 'a police agent in disguise of a peasant'," quoting _The Dolmen Boucicault_. "For a time, to call somebody Harvey Duff was like calling him a traitor -- cf. the name Quisling in the mid twentieth century. The constables had grounds for considering the expression offensive when it was systematically applied to them.... The name Harvey Duff survived as synonymous with policeman in the street rhymes of Dublin children."

Zimmermann discusses the arrests in 1881 of children, one six years old, for whistling the tune. He has other reports of people attacked or arrested by police for whistling "Harvey Duff" and of animals reportedly famous for their ability to mimic the tune.

"The arrests for whistling in Newcastle became a national controversy and 'Harvey Duff'" was whistled at every crossroads and every Land League gathering in the country." (source: "Hugh Murray Gunn" and Harvey Duff" quoting _Freeman's Journal_, February 12, 1881 at Gaelscoil O Doghair site.

As for words, and one fragment is included as the description, Zimmermann says "it is likely that many occasional squibs were set to this short air -- and soon forgotten." - BS


  1. Zimmermann 78, "Harvey Duff" (2 fragments, 1 tune)
  2. BI, Zimm078


Author: unknown
Earliest date: c.1881 (Zimmermann)
Keywords: nonballad police
Found in: Ireland