The Story Behind Bingo
Bingo is a Scottish children's song of unknown origin. People commonly refer to it as "Bingo Was His Name-O," "There Was a Farmer Had a Dog," and "C'era un contadino che aveva un cagnolino di nome Bingolino" or informally "B-I-N-G-O.” The song has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 589, and the additional verses are usually sung by silencing the first letter that appears in the previous verse and clapping instead of actually saying the word. Before the song became Bingo, it came out with the titles “A Franklyn’s Dogge,” or “Little Bingo,” or “The Farmer’s Dog Leapt o’er the Stile.”
It was said that the song was referenced from the title of a piece of sheet music published in 1780, which attributed the song to William Swords, an actor at the Haymarket Theatre of London. The first transcription of the song was released in 1785 without a title. Another transcription appeared in 1840 as part of The Ingoldsby Legends, a collection of poetry, myths, legends, and ghost stories written by Richard Harris Barham more commonly known as Thomas Ingoldsby. The transcription was credited in part to a "Mr. Simpkinson from Bath.”
In 1842, an American politician, and jurist, Robert M. Charlton, released the song in the United States. In 1849, there are eight versions recorded by the English folklorist Alice Bertha Gomme. Other several adaptations were recorded in Liphook, Wakefield, Monton, Enborne, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Cambridgeshire, Nottinghamshire, and Derbyshire.
Although all versions were associated with children's games, the early versions of the song were also actually considered as adult drinking songs. The first versions of the song under the title “Bingo” have been aired by Frederick Ranalow (1925), John Langstaff (1952), and Richard Lewis(1960) in classical arrangements, while the version under the title “Little Bingo” was released twice by folk singer Alan Mills, on Animals, Vol. 1 (1956) and on 14 Numbers, Letters, and Animal Songs (1972).