Songs collected by Baring-Gould and his collaborators from the women of Devon and Cornwall - selected and presented by Shan Graebe

 



 

Sally Satterley, Huccaby Bridge, Dartmoor

 

Baring-Gould did not believe that he had done a good job of collecting songs from women. He was probably unkind to himself in this respect. Certainly, he was less successful than Cecil Sharp, who was very good at gaining the confidence of women singers. Baring-Gould wrote an article for The Queen magazine in 1894 designed to encourage more women to get out and collect folk songs. In it he said:

The songs sung by the old topers in public houses were of one sort, those sung by milkmaids were of another; I can collect the former in my own county, but the assistance of ladies is necessary for gleaning of the ballads formerly sung by those who rocked the cradle and milked the cows.

A woman is much more shy of singing before men, especially - “old-fashioned" songs, than is a man. She is humble-minded, as well as shy. She fears lest her songs, "silly trash they be," as she deprecatingly says, should seem ridiculous, and make her seem ridiculous in the eyes of a man! But she will open out to a fellow woman, and here it is that a lady can do so much more than is possible for a man.

He did, in fact, collect over 100 songs from women singers. Sometimes he did this in the company of the ladies who had found the women for him, such as Bertha Bidder of Stoke Fleming who introduced him to Mary Langworthy and other singers in the South Hams. He also took Lucy Broadwood to meet Jane Jeffrey in Dunterton. But on other occasions he went with a male colleague or even, occasionally, unchaperoned.

The selection of songs on this page were all sung by or learned from women and have been taken from the Personal Copy Manuscripts of Sabine Baring-Gould.

Each song is given in two forms.

1.    A ‘singing copy’ edited by me. This consists of one set of words linked to one of the tunes.

2.    As it appears in the handwritten manuscripts, with all Baring-Gould’s comments. This is as accurate as I can make it, given that there is often some unintelligibility and ambiguity in the handwriting. Note that the initials F.W.B. refer to Frederick Bussell and that H.Fl.S. refers to Henry Fleetwood Sheppard, Baring-Gould’s musical collaborators.

Some songs are also available as Sung Examples. These are indicated and to listen to them you should go to the Sung Examples page and select the song you require from the 'MP3 Jukebox'.

 

Among the Green Hay – PC 1.371 (330)

Sent to Baring-Gould by Miss F.J. Adams. Miss Adams remains a mystery at the moment as we have found no further information about her, though she sent Baring-Gould five songs, which he recorded in his manuscript.

Download ‘Singing Copy’ here

Download ‘Complete Copy’ here

A sung example is also available

 Deep in Love – PC 1.178 (86)

Collected from Sally Satterley, Huccaby Bridge in May 1890

Download ‘Singing Copy’ here

Download ‘Complete Copy’ here 

A sung example is also available

Farewell He! – PC

Baring-Gould says that the song was ‘taken down from an old blind woman aged between 60 & 70 at Upton Pyne by Miss Wyatt Edgell, sent to me June 1902’. In correspondence with Lucy Broadwood, Priscilla Wyatt Edgell refers to a Mrs Blamey but no certain identification has yet proved possible

Download ‘Singing Copy’ here

Download ‘Complete Copy’ here 

A sung example is also available

I Had Two Ships – PC 2.398 (351)

Collected from John Woodridge who had heard the song sung by a drunken woman while he was working as a navvy

Download ‘Singing Copy’ here

Download ‘Complete Copy’ here

 The Lady and ‘Prentice – PC 2.72 (148)

Another song from Sally Satterley, this one learned from her father

Download ‘Singing Copy’ here

Download ‘Complete Copy’ here

A sung example is also available

 Little Bonny Boy – PC 2.333 (304)

Collected from Mary Knapman of Kingswear, probably when Baring-Gould was staying with Miss Bidder at Stoke Fleming

Download ‘Singing Copy’ here

Download ‘Complete Copy’ here

 Lord Thomas and Fair Eleanor – PC 3.375 (…)

Taken down from Sally Satterly. Baring-Gould writes about this song:

"Mr Bussell and I visited Huccaby to interview old Sally Satterly, who knew a number of songs. Her father was a notable singer and his old daughter, now a grandmother, remembered some of his songs. But old Sally could not sit down and sing. We found that the sole way in which we could extract the ballads from her was by following her about as she did her usual work. Accordingly we went after her when she fed the pigs, or got sticks from the firewood rick or filled a pail from the spring, pencil and notebook in hand, dotting down words and melody. Finally she did sit to peel some potatoes, when Mr Bussell with a manuscript music‑book in hand, seated himself on the copper. This position he maintained as she sang the ballad of "Lord Thomas and the Fair Eleanor", till her daughter applied fire under the cauldron and Mr Bussell was forced to skip from his perch."

Download ‘Singing Copy’ here

Download ‘Complete Copy’ here 

A sung example is also available

The Loyal Lover – PC 1.189 (92)

Taken down from Anne Roberts of Scobbetor, near Widdecombe in the Moor. Baring-Gould writes:

“We had heard of a farmer's wife at a place called Scobbetor, who could sing old ballads, so to her we went, and dropped in on her without premonition. She was greatly taken aback, and for some time would not open her lips. However at last she was persuaded to sing …”

Download ‘Singing Copy’ here

Download ‘Complete Copy’ here 

A sung example is also available

The Maid and her Swain – PC 3.381 (…)

One of several songs sent to Baring-Gould by Lady Lethbridge 1 Sept 1905.

Download ‘Singing Copy’ here

Download ‘Complete Copy’ here

A sung example is also available

The Months – PC 1.55 (19)

Taken down from Mary Sukey, a charwoman at Lifton, June 1889

Download ‘Singing Copy’ here

Download ‘Complete Copy’ here

A sung example is also available

Mother and Daughter – PC 2.55 (141)

Another collected from the old blind woman at Upton Pyne by Priscilla Wyatt Edgell, and sent to Baring-Gould in June 1902

Download ‘Singing Copy’ here

Download ‘Complete Copy’ here 

A sung example is also available

Slow Broke the Light – PC 1.178 (86)

Also collected from the old woman of Upton Pyne by Priscilla Wyatt Edgell and sent to Baring-Gould

Download ‘Singing Copy’ here

Download ‘Complete Copy’ here

A sung example is also available

Tobacco – PC 1.213 (107)

From Anne Roberts of Scobbetor

Download ‘Singing Copy’ here

Download ‘Complete Copy’ here

 

 

Modified 29th Dec 2007