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Wiltshire Community History

Wiltshire Folk Biography Introduction

Alfred Williams and other collectors made notes about the performers from whom they collected songs.

Much use has been made of the researches of Andrew Bathe into the performers from whom Alfred Williams collected songs. References to Bathe material appear in the entries annotated thus [AB]

So far the main source used, apart from Williams' notes and Andrew Bathe's work, is the census online, principally through Ancestry.co.uk. The methodology being followed is to use the census data to identify performers. The weakness with this is that while it may be possible to apparently identify a person it is still possible that the individual may have died before Williams started collecting. Until dates of death have been identified some of the identifications can only be considered to be tentative.

As this work has progressed it has become apparent that there are many differences between the names recorded by the various collectors and those used by census enumerators. A simple example would be the four brothers collected by Williams as Falconer, of Brize Norton, who appear in census records as Faulkner. Another example would be Polly Gard collected by Gardiner. Mary A Gurd, born about 1844, and aged 57 in 1901, is listed at Tisbury living at the workhouse where she was employed as a washerwoman. Polly is a diminutive of the name Mary.

The intention is to make us of the various censuses, records of births, deaths and marriages and other sources to create the biographical sketches of the singers. Much remains to be done in this area and contributions from users of the web site are welcome. Examples of such contributions are from the families of Elijah Iles and Thomas Boucher who supplied information which fleshed out their entries with much material gathered during their own family history research.

In trying to identify the births, marriages and deaths through Ancestry.co.uk it has only been possible to make tentative identifications of singers as no Registry Office certificates have been examined as the current cost is £9 a certificate. Those interested in an individual could use the references given, but errors may have been made. The following example is based on William Avery, collected in Aldsworth: Birth / baptism: Gloucestershire, Northleach, 1853, Jul Aug Sep, Volume 6a, page 287; Marriage: Gloucestershire / Worcestershire, Stow on the Wold, 1891, Jul - Sep, Vol. 6a, p 679; Avon / Gloucestershire, Bristol, Apr - Jun, 1879, Vol. p 96; Death / burial: Gloucestershire, Northleach, 1917, age, 64, vol. 6a, p 444.

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