Enthusiasms No 42|
A collection of shorter pieces on subjects of
interest, outrage or enthusiasm ...
See also: A further note on Mark Wyatt at bottom of article.
There is a singular absence of hard fact about the lives of the singers of the English 'Folk Song Revival' and, in this context, Mark Wyatt is no exception. Two of his songs which add to our perceived canon can be found in Lucy Broadwood's volume of English County Songs, published in 1891.2 The dating of this volume is commensurate with Lucy Broadwood's domicile at Lyne, the family home in Sussex where she lived until, in 1893, she moved to London in order to look after her mother. This, in turn makes it almost certain that she was sent copies of Mark Wyatt's songs since she never travelled in order to do field-collecting at this time.3
On this basis alone Mark Wyatt might stay in oblivion; but we can at least reconstruct something of his life from various sources.
He was born in Enborne, just outside Newbury, Berkshire, on 4th August 1839, the son of John and Mary, both described as agricultural labourers in the 1841 and 1861 censuses. John was an Enborne man and his wife had come from Greenford, in Middlesex.4 The 1841 census gave John's age as 45 and that of his wife as 35. The names of other children were also recorded - David (13) another agricultural labourer - Hannah (9), Maria (6), Dorcas (4); plus that of Mark (2). All the children had been born in Enborne; and the area of Enborne that the family was living in was Crockham Heath, at the southern end. By 1851, both David and Maria had disappeared from the record, perhaps gone in search of employment, perhaps to marry elsewhere, perhaps even dead.5 Mark Wyatt's father, John, was now described as a 'Gardeners [sic] labourer', Mary as his wife, Hannah as 'Daughter' and Mark as 'Agricultural labourer' - the catch-all designation at the bottom end of the social scale. There were also two more children, Thomas (9) and Emma (7), both born in Enborne; but, by 1861 only Mark, it appears, was at home with his parents. John had now, somehow, reverted to agricultural labourer and Mark had become a carter.
In 1864 (16th January) Mark Wyatt, bachelor, married Isabella Mary Ann Harris, a 20-year old spinster, born in Ramsbury, Wiltshire and daughter of Coachman, Aaron Harris.6 Children were born as follows: Frederick Harris, christened 6th February, 1865; Alice Evelyn, christened 7th June 1868; Albert Ernest, christened 6th August 1871; Rose Edith, christened 1st September 1871; and Florence Selina, christened 5th September 1875.
The 1871 census described Mark Wyatt as a gardener. His home and place of employment was at Enborne Lodge, on the edge of Newbury, a mile to the east of Crockham Heath and it is quite probable that there was where his father had worked as a gardener too. Mark Wyatt remained there until the end of his working life.
The 1881 census recorded that Frederic Harris Wyatt, Mark's son, had contrived to move up the social scale a trifle and was employed as 'Printer's Compositor Apprentice', presumably in nearby Newbury. One wonders exactly what he did since a newspaper report had described how, when aged around three, he had an accident with a chaff-cutting machine 'the knife of which cut the top of the third finger on his left hand clean off.'7
Mark Wyatt's own employers were the Valpy family at Enborne Lodge. The Valpys had been in residence since at least 18518 and at that time Robert Harris Valpy's family and retinue included five children, a Footman, a Housekeeper, a Nurse, a Housemaid, a Kitchen Maid, a Nurse Maid and a Groom. The level of employment indicated here was maintained through to 1901. The servants came from the usual mix of backgrounds, some from a distance - in 1851 Mary Strong, the Housekeeper and wife to John Strong, the Footman, himself a Wiltshire man, had come from Durham; Rachel Tilbury, the Housekeeper, from Penn in Buckinghamshire.9 If for no other reason, this brief glance at the Valpy household underlines our increasing knowledge of migration within a labour market which might throw light on the idea of singers, usually old and illiterate, having stayed in one place for all of their lives (in turn offering a somewhat startling and, perhaps, questionable proposition that, in consequence, they could not have been involved in any dissemination of songs). Alfred Williams commented on the movement of women especially:
The servant girls and maids in the kitchen at the farms and country houses also regularly had musical evenings, and taught each other new melodies. In this manner the folk-songs of different counties and localities became interfused. When the young women left their situations and returned home, or married, they remembered the songs sung by their companions, or, very often, by the farmer and his wife, and, in time, passed them on to their children, who treasured them for their mother's sake.10Of course, some singers did have a static existence: Moses Mills, Daniel Wigg and David Marlow, amongst George Gardiner's singers, for example: but not George Lovett (who is proving to be very hard to pin down). Baring-Gould's 'little blacksmith', John Woodrich, was an inveterate wanderer.
Concerning the Wyatt household: by 1891, only Alice was still living with her parents. In 1901 Mark and Isabella alone remained and were part of a large body of retainers, nine in and around Enborne Lodge who still served the by then considerably reduced numbers of the Valpys - specifically Robert and two unmarried daughters, Janet (55) and Constance (43). The Wyatt house was then described as 'Lodge Garden'.
Mark Wyatt, who had eventually moved to Wash Common, just on the outskirts of Newbury and a short distance from Enborne (the circumstances of the move are not yet clear but it was after 1901), was buried on Saturday 28th September 1906 in a grave seven feet deep. Presumably some sort of pact had been made with Isabella who was buried in the same grave on Saturday 24th June 1911.
That is as much as is known about Mark Wyatt's life-span.
A second stage in reconstruction springs from the process whereby, at some stage during the years previously, Mark Wyatt had come to the notice of Lucy Broadwood. This looks to have been through the kind of networking of friends that operated quite extensively during the early years of the 'Revival'. One example of this networking will serve at this point; the repeated acknowledgements of interested parties found in each preface of Sharp's and Marson's Folk Songs from Somerset, published between 1905 and 1919, the first of which is given here:
The Editors wish to express their thanks to the friends who have both understood their endeavours and have furthered these in the kindest way.In the case of Mark Wyatt this kind of process will be seen to tie in with the coincidence of working for the Valpy family.
They would gratefully mention the help given by Mr And Mrs W Kettlewell of East Harptree, the Rev W D H Armstong of Ilchester, Rev F Etherington of Minehead, Rev D M Ross of Langport, Rev J Stubbs of Huish Episcopi, Mr G Cox of Langport, Mr And Mrs Hunt of Muchelney, and many others, who have realized the need of dealing swiftly with this important matter, and have introduced them to singers in their districts.11
Robert Harris Valpy was a Reading man by birth and had married a girl from Lambourn, a dozen miles from Newbury. Robert Valpy's daughter, Constance, had been born in Middlesex. A son, Robert Arthur, according to the 1881 census, was born in 1845 (the 1871 census gave his place of birth as Middlesex; the 1881 census gives Grosvenor Square which is, presumably, the particular domicile where the census was taken). At least one other child, Anna, had been born in Woodlands, Lambourn. An address at 28 Westbourne Terrace, Middlesex, is given for Robert Valpy's wife and two of his daughters during the census take of 1881.
The connection with the Newbury area is certainly well-established in these details. The area, at the time, was well patronised by the wealthy, some of whom had country seats: Lord Carmarthen at Highclere, the Marquis of Donegal at Hampstead Lodge, the Marquis of Downshire at West Shefford, Col Sir Frederick Carden at Woolton Hill, Sir Frederick Sutton at Hamstead Marshall; plus various Esquires - the Benyons at Englefield, for example12, the Waterhouses at Yattendon, the Hincks at Maidencourt, West Shefford. There were, in addition to the Cardens, numerous military or ex-military characters - a pianoforte performance by one, Madame Arabella Goddard, attracted not only some from the very highest echelons such as the Marquis of Donegal but representatives in a descending social scale including Captains Lidderdale, Fowler, Dashwood Fowler and Bouchier and their parties…13 Later, at a Conservative and Unionist election meeting in Newbury there was a prominent military presence - Colonel Cunliffe, Major Aldridge, Captain Somerset…14
Then came the farmers such as John Rayer at Beedon, the Marriotts at Ashridge Farm, just outside Beedon and John Chamberlain at Ashmansworth, south of Newbury.15
The Valpy name crops up in various situations during the period under review - the examples given below represent a more extensive range of references. For instance, at the 'Fashionable Weddings' of the Misses Fryer, daughters of a local clergyman, at East Woodhay (south of Newbury) in 1867, amongst the guests were 'Mrs Valpy and party'.16 In 1896, at a Whit-Monday celebration in Wash Common (just outside Newbury), when Haddrells' Stockcross Brass Band was featured at a 'Tea and entertainment', the Misses Valpy attended along with Mr and Mrs R A Valpy. It was Mr Valpy who 'At the close…thanked those who had kindly contributed towards the enjoyment of the evening'. The Misses Valpy, indeed, were complimented specifically for many kindnesses at such events.17 The following year, during Whit-Monday celebrations, Mr R A Valpy offered a recitation - Poor Piggy.18 A year later, the Misses Valpy gave their services in provided 'a cold collation with hot vegetables and puddings' and arranging flowers at a meeting of the Wash Common branch of the Berkshire Friendly Society. The Chairman that year was a Mr A Valpy and Mr R A Valpy was involved in speeches and in giving a recitation, The Beloved Percies.19 During the next year R A Valpy himself became Chairman of the Wash Common branch of the Berkshire Friendly Society - hence his involvement and that of his sisters in certain Whitsuntide celebrations.20 At one time, Miss Constance M Valpy was secretary of the CMV Society of Workers in Aid of Home and Foreign Missions, based, it seems, in Enborne, and her sister, Miss Valpy, was listed as a stall-holder at one event.21 A Miss M Valpy was present at the Enborne Harvest Festival celebrations in 1897.22
Occasionally, the Valpy family moved with the Lords and Sirs. At the CMV Society 1896 sale noted above, the Cardens (Sir Frederick and Lady) were present - perhaps one indication of how Constance Valpy had worked the social scale in the interests of the society of which she was secretary. The family's standing in Enborne is more difficult to assess but none of the Valpys ever appeared at any of the frequent entertainments in the village - a distinct feature of life in the area around Newbury involving song and music and in which a fair proportion of villagers participated (see below). This might have been simply because the family residence was much closer to Wash Common and Newbury itself than to the scattered chimneys at Enborne. All the same, the Misses Valpy can be found attending a school treat for the day and Sunday school classes at Enborne and neighbourng Hampstead Marshall; and, yet again, Constance and her elder sister, amongst others, 'kindly volunteered their valuable services' at a children's choral tea and entertainment involving choirs from Enborne and Hampstead Marshall.23
Finally, Robert Harris Valpy was listed as a JP in Kelly's 1891 street directory of the area.
Whatever the standing of the Valpy family in the district the most intriguing feature of their lives as it can be applied to Mark Wyatt lies in the 1881 census details which reveal that a John F Maitland and a Marianne F Maitland were staying with the Valpys.24 The elder John Fuller Maitland was aged 66 in 1881: two years older than Robert Valpy. A home address was given as 39 Phillimore Gardens - the same as in ECS for Lucy Broadwood's collaborator, John Fuller Maitland, the son. One more detail can be found: Captain and Mrs Fuller Maitland were present at the CMV Society event at Enborne Lodge 1896 noted above.
We can confirm the clear connection between the Valpy family, the Fuller Maitlands and Mark Wyatt through a report of the death and funeral of Janet Octavia Valpy, Robert Valpy's wife, in 1894; for, amongst the mourners, was a 'Mr J Alex Fuller Maitland'; and wreaths had been sent by 'Mr Fuller Maitland, M P, and the Hon Mrs Fuller Maitland', and 'Mr and Mrs J A Fuller Maitland', 'Mrs Fuller Maitland (Garth), the Misses Helen and Mary Fuller Maitland, Mr R A Fuller Maitland and the Hon Mrs Fuller Maitland'.
Mark Wyatt was also mentioned in the report of the funeral:
The internment took place at the south-eastern corner of the churchyard, in an earthern grave, which had been lined with evergreens by Mark Wyatt, the gardener, who has grown grey in his service at Enborne Lodge.25Amongst the mourners, Mark Wyatt and other 'gardeners' were listed.
Finally, a certain closeness between the Valpy and Fuller Maitland families might just be gauged from the fact that Constance Valpy's second given name was Maitland.26
At this time, John Fuller Maitland was canvassing for material. In one letter he wrote as follows:
Traditional songs of English Peasantry - Although I am aware of the difficulty of obtaining, in these days of musical education, any of the traditional song sof the English peasantry, I venture to ask if any of your readers, who may have the words or tunes of any Dorsetshire or Somerset-shire songs, would be so kind as to communicate with me. Versions of fairly well-known songs slightly differing from the form in which they have been printed by collection, are sometimes known as belonging to special districts. They are of great interest and value, though of course such as have been printed are of more importance. I am particularly anxious to have the tune of the Somerset song, "The Harnet and the Bettle."27Putting all these fragments together: it would seem almost certain that the link between Mark Wyatt and Lucy Broadwood was effected through the friendship of the Valpys and Fuller Maitlands, specifically through John Fuller Maitland, Lucy Broadwood's collaborator; and a period of time during which contact may have been made at least circumscribed. It has not been possible, however, to trace any closer connection.
These, then, are the outlines of a social amity though which Mark Wyatt seems to have been brought to notice. As far as his contribution to song canons is concerned, we are left to consider the two songs as noted above.
Briefly, both songs are full versions containing all of the known elements when compared with printings and sung versions available; and these, in turn, were numerous. The full details need not concern us here except to note, perhaps, that, in the case of The Banks…there is a slightly less correlated set of tunes than of texts. Mark Wyatt's tune was that normally used for The Enniskillen Dragoon. His tune for The Farmer's Boy equates to that made familiar to most of us through the singing of the late Fred Jordan although Mark Wyatt began with the second strain, repeated it, and then carried on as we would expect.28
Whatever the case, given the 'complete' nature of both The Banks… and The Farmer's Boy as they appeared in ECS it seems a little unlikely that these were the only songs that Mark Wyatt knew. Not only was he in solid middle age when the songs were noted and may be thought, then, to have ingested and refined any songs that he had; but habits of singing would encourage, at least, fragments of others in the way that is found in the repertoires of other singers such as Moses Mills, say, the singer, as noted above, whom Gardiner encountered and whose repertoire is compounded of few full songs and a larger number of fragments. There is, one should not forget, always the possibility that Lucy Broadwood and John Fuller Maitland 'tidied' the two pieces (but absolutely no evidence in correspondence discovered so far of any exchange between the two editors concerning Mark Wyatt).
One other point may be made. As already indicated in discussion of the Valpy family above, in the area around Newbury at the end of the nineteenth century there was strong singing activity in the villages and Enborne was no exception in this respect. Yet, as intimated in my piece on The Singing Miller29, despite the fact that some participants came from a similar background to that of Mark Wyatt this was not the norm and, again, despite the fact that some songs were sung to which we would be happy to accord the epithet, 'traditional', this was not usual either. The point is that nowhere can Mark Wyatt's name be found as a contributor to the regular entertainment noted in the area. Somehow (yet again) the kind of singing that Mark Wyatt apparently indulged in and the singing circles that he may have moved in went unrecorded - justification, indeed, for the attention of Fuller Maitland and Lucy Broadwood. Further still, neither of the two songs that Mark Wyatt sang appear in the extensive lists of songs sung in the course of the activity noted immediately above.
In the end, where Mark Wyatt is concerned, The Banks…and The Farmer's Boy are, apparently, his only epitaph in song. As yet, we have no way of knowing if he might have been part of a greater nexus of 'traditional' singers and their songs in the area.
Roly Brown - 10.1.04
Mr Kirk drew MT's attention to the following:
Robert Harris Valpy, Mark Wyatt's employer, came from an old-established Jersey family, two of whom became headmasters at Reading School and lived just outside Henley. Robert Harris Valpy himself married Jane Octavia Fuller-Maitland, sister to John Fuller-Maitland, Lucy Broadwood's collaborator in producing English County Songs (1893). Jane was not, then, a Lambourn girl, as previously thought. All the other details mentioned in the above original article now fall into place, although the date of Robert Valpy's marriage has not yet been established - Robert Arthur, the eldest son (whose death, in 1894, was noted), was born around 1845, Janet, the next eldest child, in 1846.
These are the salient details as far as Mark Wyatt and the processes of networking are concerned. It seems conclusive that it was through the Valpy connection that John Fuller-Maitland and Lucy Broadwood came across Mark Wyatt's songs.
Roly Brown - 9.12.04
Oradour sur Vayres, France
2. Lucy E Broadwood and J A Fuller Maitland: English County Songs (London, J B Cramer and Co Ltd, n.d. - but the date of publication had been established as 1893 by Margaret Dean-Smith, for instance, in A Guide to English Folk Song Collections, 1822-1952 (Liverpool and London University Press at Liverpool in association with the English Folk Dance and Song Society, 1954), p.28-32. For convenience, the volume under review is henceforth referred to by the initials, ECS. The two songs are The Farmer's Daughter, 'otherwise known as "The Banks of the sweet Dundee"' and The Farmer's Boy (sometimes, on broadsides, entitled The Farmer's Lucky Boy), the first-named, as sung by Mark Wyatt, on pp.116-117 of ECS and the second on pp.120-121.
3. See Lewis Jones: Lucy Broadwood (thefolkmag…- website - 5th August 2001), p.2. This piece, as Mr Jones indicated, was compiled from work done by Chris Bearman.
4. They were buried, respectively on 16th October 1880 and 12th January 1878, John aged 86 and Mary 74.
5. Needless to say, research is under way in order to find out more about the Wyatt siblings and, indeed, Mark Wyatt's children.
6. Aaron Harris is found in the 1881 census living at Ball Hill, Enborne, close to Mark Wyatt, together with his wife, Mary. He was working then as a 'General labourer'. Aaron Harris was buried on 17th January 1895, aged 75; and his wife, Mary Ann, on 25th July 1893, aged 76.
7. NWN 11th June 1867, un pag.
8. The previous resident at the Lodge, as described in the 1841 census, had been Clarence Hooper whose occupation was listed, simply, as 'Lord'. The household had consisted of a small group only - wife, three daughters and three others described as 'Farm Servants'.
9. The handwritten entries on census returns are sometimes difficult to read but her Christian name is spelled as 'Rachael' in the 1851census. Rachel Tilbury was still with the Valpy family in 1861; the Strongs had gone; there was a governess, Eliza Augusta Blipeth, from Gloucestershire; all the other servants were relatively local. Rachel Tilbury was still employed in 1871; other servants were from London, Devon and the locality, both immediate and nearby. In 1881, Rachel Tilbury was Housekeeper, and there was a Martha Head (32), housemaid, from Redmenham, Buckinghamshire and Joseph Allen (49), Coachman, from Somerset. In 1891 the serving household seems to have expanded again, eight being listed - but not including Rachel Tilbury.
10. See Alfred Williams: Folk Songs of the Upper Thames, reprint from S R Publishers, Wakefied, n. d), p.21.
11. Frederick Keel's description of the earliest years of the Folk Song Society reveals similar detail (see JEFDSS, Vol.5, No.3, 1948, pp.111-126). The Folk Song Society, indeed, published a leaflet for potential collectors in which importance was placed on networking especially amongst vicars… In a 1908 version, set alongside a lecture by Cecil Sharp with the title, Some characteristics of English Folk-Music, we find both the Folk Song Society's 'Hints to Collectors' (with Lucy Broadwood's name superscribed) and a 'Leaflet issued to Clergy' (Transactions of the Folk Lore Society, Vol XIX, No.2, June 1908). ECS itself has a list of such persons at the end of the Introduction - which also, incidentally, included the names of singers - 'Mr J Burberry', 'Mr Grantham' and 'Mr Willett'. (p.vi.).
12. The Benyon family remains prominent to this day in Englefield House and still employs a retinue - though this is much more associated with work on the estate.
13. NWN 14th October 1869. How honorary the titles were is not yet clear.
14. NWN 17th January 1895.
15. The Hincks and Mr Rayer and Mrs Marriott can be found giving Christmas fare and charity to their workpeople in 1896 (NWN, 14th January 1897). Mrs Marriott was the widow of Mr T Y Marriott, farmer, at Ashridge. There was notice of his funeral ('11th inst.') in NWN 20th January 1887.
16. NWN 2nd May 1867 (I regret that here and below some of the page numbers were not noted).
17. NWN 25th May 1890.
18. NWN 21st May 1891.
19. NWN 13th June 1889, p.6. It has not been possible to identify 'Mr A Valpy' yet.
20. NWN 1st May 1890, p.5.
21. NWN 22nd October 1896.
22. NWN 7th October 1897. In terms of identification, 'M', presumably, stood for Marianne.
23. NWN 6th September 1894 and 21st April 1898 respectively.
24. Robert Valpy's daughter, Anna, was missing from the household census but can be found visiting a friend, Selina Wedderburn, at Sandleford House, a mile distant across the southern edge of Newbury.
25 Although the newspaper report gave the name, 'Janet', the 1881 census gave 'Jane'. Janet was the eldest daughter. For these and other details of the funeral see NWN 11th January 1894, p.5. According to the NWN, Mrs Valpy may have been the victim of influenza, an epidemic of which raged at the time of her death and prevented some people from attending the funeral. Robert Valpy's eldest son, R A, also died during that year, though, in his case, apparently, through suicide; and was buried at his home - strictly speaking, his wife's home through her family - in Glamorganshire (see NWN 13th September 1894).
26. Given the speculative nature of such a suggestion it is of some interest that Allan Borman Heath, another local notable in the area, christened one son Hugh D'Oyly - the unusual nature of the name suggesting either a close friendship or certain hero-worship with the family most readily associated through their opera company with the works of Gilbert and Sullivan.
27. Letter in Somerset and Dorset Notes and Queries, 1891, p.287.
28. See Fred Jordan's first Topic album, Songs of a Shropshire Farm Worker, (Topic 12T150), 1968; again, on In Course of Time, a cassette issued by the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library in 1991 (Stereo VWML 006); and yet again on the CD Fred Jordan A Shropshire Lad…(Veteran VTD148CD, 2003). As it happens, Veteran has also included a version of The Banks of Sweet Dundee on the same CD.
29. See MT Enthusiasms 35; and, for another example of networking in the Newbury area, Enthusiasms 38.
|Top||Home Page||MT Records||Articles||Reviews||News||Editorial||Map|
Site designed and maintained by Musical Traditions Web Services Updated: 9.12.04