Collection date: Apr 1913
Thomas Baldwin at Newbold, nr Armscote (1852-1925): age 61, 2 songs ‘Polly Oliver’ and ‘Babes in the Wood’ (FT2859,60) on 23 April 1913: Sharp collected only 2 versions of the ‘Babes in the Wood’ ballad in USA and just 1 version in England, namely Thomas Baldwin’s song (click on viml link above). It is the sad tale of two young children whose wicked uncle leaves them to starve and die in the woods, so that he can claim their inheritance. But no good came to him and he died in misery and want. Broadsides exist from mid-18th century and the composer William Gardiner (1769-1853) is reputed to have set the poem to music (Roud 288). It is well-known today from the singing of the Copper Family of Sussex. It’s interesting to compare Baldwin’s version to the Copper song.
Thomas Baldwin was born c1852 at Newbold-on-Stour, eldest of 5 children of William Baldwin, agricultural labourer and his wife Eliza. When his father William died in the 1870s, Thomas stayed with his widowed mother through the 1880s and eventually married Caroline Simms at Newbold in April 1894. He was 42 by this time. They had 3 children. Thomas was a labourer, a cattleman (1901) and a shepherd (1911). The 1901 census ref was RG13/2947 f72 p8) and the 1911 address was 14, Crimscott (Newbold). Thomas died in January qr 1925 aged 73 (6d 966).