On Thursday, July 11, many of the respectable inhabitants of Ensham enjoyed a treat of gipseying. Under Wytham Wood a marquee was erected ; a cold collation was provided by Mr. Charles Rouse, of the Red Lion Inn, and much satisfaction was expressed by the arrangements made by him. After tea our esteemed friend Richard Tredwell enlivened the company by playing the violin, and dancing commenced, which was kept up till a late hour, when all parted highly delighted with the enjoyments of the day.1He was baptised in Kidlington (Oxon) on 13 January 1805. By the date of birth of his first child, on 11 June 1830, he was living near the toll bridge at Swinford, on the main road from Oxford to Gloucester, which crosses the Thames just to the east of Eynsham (Oxon). At this date, as in 1832 and 1833, his occupation was given in the Eynsham baptism register as 'Turnpike Keeper', and, referring to the same position, in 1837 as 'Tollkeeper'. That same source records him as 'Fisherman' in 1838 and 1840, as does an entry in the marriage register in 1860. Living adjacent to the river this is a obvious choice (and he presumably treated it as a commercial enterprise), but in addition he evidently possessed more intricate skills, for in 1835 he was noted as 'Watchmaker'. By the date of the 1851 (he is not obvious in the previous census taking) he was enumerated as 'Farmer of 12 Acres Employ Man' [sic], and although another man was then acting as 'Gate Keeper', Tredwell was living adjacent and may still have held the commission for the collection of tolls. Ten years later, still living adjacent to the bridge, he was listed as 'Farmer of 11 A[cres of] land'. Although he lived until 1881, being buried at Cumnor on 21 July that year, he is nowhere to be found in either the 1871 or 1881 census returns. To what extent public music making was a feature of his income, or whether he ever acted more extensively in that capacity (as opposed to supplying music for groups of friends and acquaintances), is unknown. Wytham Wood, the scene of the 1850 celebration, lies within a few hundred yards of Tredwell's home, and the event may even have taken place on his own property. Clearly the occasion was an elite one, aimed at attracting members of 'the middling sort', rather than the rank and file of the vicinity.
In a rather more plebeian context, his son George, born 1 November 1836, and baptised at Eynsham on 1 January 1837, was charged at a petty session held at Woodstock on 6 December 1858:
John James, Wm. Bason, George Treadwell, and Charles Holloway were charged with being drunk and disorderly at the parish of Eynsham. Wm. Bason, George Treadwell, and Charles Holloway pleaded guilty. Edmund Carter, police constable, deposed that on Sunday morning, the 28th of November last, between 12 and 1 o'clock, the defendants were about the streets of Eynsham drunk, singing, and playing a concertina. - Convicted in fine and costs 12s. 3d. each.2Which of the four men named played the concertina is unrecorded, as are the specifics of the occasion. It may have been simply the climax to a convivial night's entertainment in one of the village hostelries, although, date-wise, it is tantalisingly close to the season of performance of the village mummers set, and possibly involved a practise session. There were close ties between at least three of the families named. John Holliday married Elizabeth Tredwell, a daughter of Richard, at Eynsham on 1 December 1860, at which one of the witnesses was Joseph Basson; for example, while one John James (there were a number spread across several generations) was married to Eliza Basson. The John James arraigned in court in 1858 seems unlikely to have been the man baptised on 26 October 1845, and was more likely his father, noted above, who was baptised on 16 March 1800.3
Several of the named families were unambiguously repositories of the old vernacular culture. Cecil James Sharp went to Eynsham in April 1909 with the following contacts written in his field notebook:
H James Queen StAt this date, the last of these would have been George Treadwell, born about 1869, and a son of the man charged in 1858. Sharp would have been interested in collecting songs, dance tunes and morris dance choreography. Certainly he noted a version of Bonny Light Horseman from 'Hearty' Russell (1834 - 1914, a nickname for William Russell, father of three known morris dancers, and possibly one himself), on 26 April,5 and also interviewed Samuel Moulder (1878 - 1914), probably on the same day. A few weeks earlier Sharp had given a lecture in Oxford, at which William Kimber of Headington Quarry (1872 - 1961), in addition to 'a fellow Morris dancer, and a selection of his pupils from amongst the girls of the Cowley St John Schools', had performed various morris dances and jigs.6 An anonymous correspondent to one of the local newspapers, writing under the nom de plume 'By the sign of the zodiac', knew Moulder, and in the same report gave valuable details on the Eynsham morris tradition as collected from him.7 Sharp would undoubtedly have seen the report, and this correspondent was almost certainly his source for the group of names listed above. Sharp appears, however, not to have visited the remaining five potential informants. Samuel Hathaway (1852 - 1917) had been one of the mummers in an earlier set8, and George Frederick James (c.1863 - 1933) yet another morris dancer, but whatever further specific cultural forms they and the others might have been able to offer remains unknown.
Sam Hathaway. Abbey St (gipsy)
J. Basson. Mill St. old age pensioner
G. James over the way
Hart Russell [sic - 'Hearty'] (Bonny light Horseman) [i.e. the title of a song]
(Acre end St)
Sam. Moulder. Queen St
Treadwell by Bridge. 4
This was rather a peculiar case, and caused much amusement in Court. The plaintiff is a beer-house keeper, living at Watchfield, and the defendant keeps the Plough Inn at Swindon, and is somewhat expert as a violinist. The plaintiff wrote to the defendant on the occasion of the village feast at Watchfield, in the autumn of last year, intimating that inasmuch as his fame as a musician had reached even that secluded spot, his professional services would be much appreciated by the company at the festive scene; and accordingly, on the appointed day, Pickett, who had formerly been in the army, was present in the full costume of her Majesty's service, "discoursing sweet sounds" to the rustic beauties and others who patronised the plaintiff's dancing booth. By way of compensation for the "fiddling," he received a penny a head from each of the dancers, and very reasonably considered that plaintiff was amply remunerated for allowing him to display his powers within his tent by the increased stimulus his performances gave to the proceedings, and the consequent increase in the consumption of the plaintiff's liquor and viands. This equitable view of the matter, however, Sly did not appear to have taken, for he subsequently made a claim on defendant for 15s. for rent of the booth, although there had been no agreement between them in this matter and this demand the defendant now resisted. His Honour gave judgement for the plaintiff to pay him 5s. for his expenses in coming from Swindon.9Pickett was born about 1808, and gave his place of birth to the enumerators of the two available censuses as Wroughton (Wilts). No baptism has been found at that location, however, but it seems possible, at any rate, that he is the man baptised at Banstead (Surrey) on 3 January 1808.10 His absence from the 1841 census returns is explained by the entry ten years later, when, living in Wroughton, he was enumerated as 'Chelsea Pensioner', which results from a minimum of twenty years spent in the armed services. He married during the third quarter of 1854, probably to Sarah Jerrome, who had been given as 'Servant' in his household in 1851. Around the same date he relocated several miles northwards into the town of Swindon (Wilts), where he became a publican, keeping the Plough Inn on the Devizes Road.11 In 1861 he was enumerated as 'Beer House Keeper', and he remained in the same location until 1863,12 clearly coupling his role as licensee with extensive musical activity, although the exact nature and geographical extent of performance remains unclear. It is possible that, as with several others - the traveller Hercules Smith, born at Bletchingdon (Oxon) in 1778, was one such13 - he learned to play the fiddle while serving in the army.
It was reported that on 21 July 1863:
Aaron Picket, an old pensioner and recruiting sergeant, left his home, the Plough public house, Horse-fair, Swindon, about six o'clock in the morning taking with him an old double-barrel gun for the purpose it is supposed of killing small birds in his garden in the Swindon Quarry. In course of a quarter of an hour afterwards he returned home and complained that as he was in the set of firing off the gun both barrels burst and severely shattered one of his hands. Medical aid was at once procured, and, under the care of Dr. Morris, Pickett appeared to be going on favourably until Wednesday last, when lock-jaw set in, and after lingering until Saturday morning last he expired. In course of the same evening an inquest was held on the body before W. B. Whitmarsh, Esq., the coroner, when a verdict in accordance with the facts as above stated was returned.14The date of death was 1 August 1863.
A young fellow named James Merry was charged with assaulting Richard Haynes, who follows the business of a milkman in connection with the more refined vocation of the village fiddler. It appeared that complainant and his brother (a hedge-mender and musician!) had been to display their artistic abilities at Horton club-feast, by playing to the assembled rustics on the return of that ancient rural festival: a musical relative of the defendant's also formed one of the band; and in the early part of the day some angry words took place between the former and complainant as to the professional capacity of each other; but this passed off. However, in the evening, as complainant and his brother, and another man, were on their way home to Marston, - all being somewhat elevated by the homage they had paid to John Barleycorn - and while they were congratulating themselves on the scarcely-departed pleasures of the feast, the defendant overtook them, and, either in vindication of his musical relative or from some personal pique, deliberately knocked the complainant down, and was urged by his relative's wife to "give it him." Complainant's brother came to his assistance, but was as quickly laid low on the earth; defendant was then attacked by the three, who gave him a good dressing, and in revenge tore his clothes in shreds. Defendant stoutly denied he struck the first blow; and as it appeared they were all tipsy together, the bench ordered defendant to pay 2s. expences [sic] and dismissed the summons.15It may be that two distinct forms of music-making are implicit in this source. Unambiguously, Richard Haynes was known as 'the village fiddler', which carries implications of supplying music for social dancing. At the reported feast in Horton (Oxon), however, it appears that he was involved in a band, along with his unnamed brother and Merry's 'musical relative'. This may, of course, have been a small instrumental group in which Haynes played fiddle, but is equally as likely to refer to an aggregation of wind instruments hired to play for the procession from club house to church and back, parade the village performing at appropriate venues, and possibly supply music for dancing.
Richard Haynes was baptised at Marston on Christmas Day 1812. There were two brothers who might be the one referred to as fellow musician in 1851: William, baptised 26 August 1804, and Joseph, 7 January 1819. A third brother, Thomas, 30 March 1806, was buried on 5 May 1850. At the baptism of these four children, and a daughter in 1816, the occupation of the father, Joseph Haynes (baptised 25 May 1777), was given as 'Labourer'. At the date of the 1841 census taking all but William were still living in the same household, the occupation of all males given as 'Ag[ricultural]. Lab[ourer]'. On 22 June 1843, however, Richard married Eliza Bleay, a farmer's daughter, and so began a path of social elevation. At the baptism of five children between 1844 and 1852, and again in 1863, in addition to the 1851 census, he was given as 'Milkseller'; while ten years later he was enumerated as 'Grazier & Milkman'. An anomaly appears in the baptism register in 1857 and 1861, when he is noted as 'Labourer'. By 1871 his fortunes had risen again, and the census return now recorded him as 'Milkman & Shop Keeper'. Two years later the extent of his land holdings was a little over twenty two acres, with an annual rental value of £54 18s.16 This had increased by the date of the 1881 census to thirty eight acres, and he was then employing three men. In 1885 he took over the tenancy of Cross Farm in Marston, which two years later passed to his son Edwin.17 He was buried in 1888, coincidentally on Christmas Day, aged seventy five.
John Morrey, of Great Barford, was charged with wilfully damaging a violincello, the property of Samuel Heath, of Bloxham, on June 4th ... Complainant deposed that he was a shoemaker and musician. On June 7th went to Little Barford in company with Joshua Hartwell and another, to play music. Was coming home about eleven o'clock, and went into Croft's public house, where dancing was going on. With the landlady's permission, complainant and Hartwell joined some other musicians, and they all played together. Left the house about half-past twelve or one, with his violincello with him. After going a few yards from the house, was attacked by a dizziness to which he was subject, and sat down to rest himself. While he was resting; Morrey came and forcibly took the instrument from him, and carried it back to the house. In about five minutes witness went back after it, and found it broken to pieces. It was worth £4. Morrey said to Hartwell if witness had not made so much bother about it, he would have paid for it, but now he would not.- Cross-examined - The violincello was never out of his hands till defendant took it.- Joshua Hartwell deposed that he left Croft's house just before Heath. Saw Heath sitting down and Morrey a few yards from him, walking towards the house with the violincello in his hand. The instrument was then whole. Witness had left his own instrument in charge of Mr. and Mrs. Croft. Morrey said to him if Heath had not said so much about his instrument, he would have paid for it. It was worth £4.- Mr. Kilby for the defence, called Emma Croft, who deposed that her husband kept a public house at Barford. On the night in question, Heath, Hartwell, and Morrey were all in their house. In the course of the night Morrey borrowed Heath's violin, which was afterwards returned to him, and Heath subsequently gave it to her husband to take care of. When Heath left he had it back again. Heath and Hartwell had been playing at the Rock beer house before they came in. Heath left her house about two in the morning, and the instrument was then broken, but she did not know who by. Heard it smash and ran into the room where the parties had been, but the lights were out and there was nobody in.- Mr. Cartwright [the sitting magistrate] was of the opinion that there was not sufficient evidence that the instrument was really broken by defendant and dismissed the case.18Joshua Hartwell ('Hartall' in the vernacular), a son of stone mason Aaron Hartwell, was baptised at the Protestant Dissenters or Presbyterian chapel of Bloxham and Milton (Oxon) on 13 December 1836. Unlocated in 1841, no occupation was given in 1851, despite his age being suitable for active employment, but ten years later he had followed father and older brothers and was enumerated as 'Stone Mason'. In 1871, still unmarried, he was living with his widowed mother and designated as 'Musician', suggesting that a significant portion of his earnings was derived from such activity during this period. He was buried in his home town on 25 April 1874, aged thirty eight.
Also born in Bloxham, in about 1838, Samuel Heath was the son of shoemaker George Heath, and at the date of three censuses to 1861 was living in his father's household. No occupational details were given in 1841 (per enumerators' instructions to record only that of the head of the household), but ten years he was similarly designated as 'Shoemaker', and in 1861 as 'Cordwainer', a term with the same meaning. In 1871, enumerated as 'Boot & Shoe Maker', he was lodging in the household of stone mason George Clifton, and later that same year married Clifton's daughter Clara. At the baptism of their first born child in 1873 (and, oddly, posthumously in 1889) he was given as 'Labourer', but was again 'Shoemaker' ('Boot & Shoemaker' in 1881) at four further baptisms between 1875 and 1886. One further baptism, in 1887, registered his occupation as 'Stonebreaker'. Samuel Heath was buried in Bloxham on 10 August 1888, aged fifty.
Heath played the violincello, but which instruments were favoured by both Hartwell and the implicit third member of their trio in 1865 is unrecorded. Given that they were performing at 'the Rock beer house' at Little Barford (Oxon) on the evening of the incident, it seems certain that they were supplying music for social dancing. The venue where the cello was broken was the Crown Inn, in Barford St John (Oxon), kept in both 1861 and 1871 by John and Emma Crofts. Hartwell and Heath were able to sit in with the dance musicians at Croft's with apparent ease, and were clearly well versed in the technique of playing for dancing. 4 June 1865, the date of the incident, was Whit Sunday, which is illuminating for the light it shines on attitudes towards recreation on the Sabbath. John Murray, the accused in this case, was baptised at Barford St Michael (Oxon) on 24 May 1835, and was a stone mason. The fact that he 'borrowed Heath's violin' at one point during the evening suggests that he too may have been a musician.
It was later noted that, 'The Heaths were the great mummers of Bloxham and Robert Heath [1849 - 1926] ... was the last of them. He was of gipsy origin and wore gold earrings. Mummering was handed down from father to son and members of this same family carried the tradition on into niggering until the 2nd World War.'19 One informant, recently deceased in 1982 at the age of eighty, 'was of the Heath family although he did not bear that surname. He had never seen the mummers but had heard his father and uncle talking of their days in the mummers.'20 Whether or not our musician or his immediate family were ever involved, however, is not known.
Keith Chandler - 7.10.06
2. Oxford Chronicle, 11 December 1858, 5.
3. For details of activity by various members of the James family with the Eynsham morris dance set see my Morris Dancing in the English South Midlands, 1660-1900. A Chronological Gazetteer (Enfield Lock: Hisarlik Press, for the Folklore Society, 1993); republished, in completely revised form, on Morris Dancing in the English south Midlands 1660-1900. Aspects of Social and Cultural History (Stroud: Musical Traditions Records, 2002) MTCD250 [CD-ROM].
4. London, Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, Cecil James Sharp MSS., field notebook (words) 2 (5 April-1 May 1909).
5. Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, Cecil James Sharp MSS., 'Folk Words' 2039 and 'Folk Tunes' 2185.
6. The Oxford Times, 27 March 1909, 10.
8. Library of Congress, James Madison Carpenter MSS., AFC 1872/001. MS pp.02366-02372, interview with Edward Russell, Eynsham, no date [circa 1933]. His father, William 'Hearty' Russell, may also have been a mummer in a set with Samuel Hathaway. See <http://www.hrionline.ac.uk/db/carpenter/ginit.jsp?src=box1pac3.xml&id=p02366.0>, where the name 'Bill Russell?' is given, the original manuscript being ambiguous.
9. Jackson's Oxford Journal, 10 March 1860, 8. I am grateful to Roly Brown for bringing this to my attention, via the report in The Berkshire Chronicle, 10 March 1860, 6. Adin Sly was baptised at Shrivenham (Berks) on 27 March 1819, and, in addition to keeping a beer house, was a carpenter by trade. He relocated to Marylebone, London, at an unknown date prior to 1871, and ended his days there in 1891.
10. This is the only relevant baptism found during a search of the web site of the Church of Latter Day Saints (see the link below), albeit not every parish register has been transcribed as yet.
11. Chandler MSS., e-mail from an anonymous archivist at Arkells Brewery, the current owners, 13 January 2004. For a recent photograph and brief history see <http://www.swindonweb.com/arkells/plough-swindon/index.htm>.
12. He features in the role of 'beer retailer' at this public house in seven issues of the annual publication by Francis Moore, Vox Stellarum: or a loyal almanack for the year of human redemption (London: R Taylor and W Francis, various dates) between 1855 and (posthumously) 1864 (those for 1857 and 1862 were missing from the run examined in Swindon Public Library). Significantly, he is not listed in the 1852 edition.
13. E O Winstedt, 'VIII.- Some gypsy 'centenarians'', Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society, 3rd series, XXV, number 1 (January - April 1946), 59-60.
14. The Swindon Advertiser, 3 August 1863, 2; see also The North Wilts Herald, 8 August 1863, 4.
15. The Oxford Chronicle, 14 June 1851, 2.
17. For a recent photograph of the farm house, albeit adapted from its form during the nineteenth century, see <http://www.headington.org.uk/history/marston_history/listed/151_cross_farmhouse.htm>.
18. Banbury Guardian, 29 June 1865, 2.
19. Y[vonne] S Huntriss, 'Mummering and niggering in Bloxham', Cake and Cockhorse 7, number 7 (Autumn 1978), 219.
20. Chandler MSS., telephone interview with Yvonne S Huntriss, Bloxham, 2 December 1982, relating her recent collecting from this source.
Each census is indexed thoroughly and searchable, and although there are inevitably some errors in transcription and guesses at words written in some of the more illegible enumerators' hands, a little lateral thinking regarding search parameters will often yield the required entry. The great advantage of this site is the ability to access images of the actual pages of the original enumeration volumes. The entire 1881 census, in transcribed form only, is freely available on the website of The Church of Latter Day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, at www.familysearch.org/Eng/Search/frameset_search.asp?PAGE=census/search_census.asp , and is again comprehensively indexed and searchable. Many census returns for numerous communities in the Cotswold region (including those from Blockley for 1851 to 1891 inclusive) are freely available, in transcribed form only, at www.rootsweb.com/%7eengcots/Census.html The 1901 census is searchable at www.1901census.nationalarchives.gov.uk , where many personal details are freely given in transcription, but the image of the original page requires payment of a small fee.
Baptism and marriage registers for many, though not all, communities in England have been transcribed and indexed by The Church of Latter Day Saints. These are also freely searchable at www.familysearch.org/Eng/Search/frameset_search.asp
There was a legal obligation from 1837 onwards to register all births, marriages and deaths with the civil authorities. In practise, however, many such, especially among the travelling community, escaped this directive. Full details are available, by subscription, at www.ancestry.co.uk/search/rectype/vital/freebmd/bmd.aspx An ongoing transcription, still incomplete, is freely searchable at http://freebmd.rootsweb.com/cgi/search.pl
All web sites given in the above notes were verified on 19 September 2006.