Watts, Benjamin

Collection date: Aug 1906

Area: Somerset - Mendips (Harptree & Priddy)


Benjamin Watts at Farrington Gurney (1836-1924): age 69, 2 songs on 22 Aug 1906: Benjamin Watts was baptised 8/1/1837 at Chewton Mendip, son of Henry & Hannah Watts. Henry was listed as a labourer then but his fortune must have risen because in 1851 he was shown as a farmer of 160 acres with 4 sons able to help him on the farm. By 1861 he had 200 acres but sadly had lost his wife.

Son Benjamin married Martha Morgan at St John’s Bedminster on 1/5/1862 and the couple set up running a small farm (64 acres) but based at the Farrington Inn in Farrington Gurney. This was a coal mining village and no doubt thirsty miners patronised his inn. Benjamin Watts stayed at this pub for the next 40 years. Two of his sons worked the farm and Benjamin is shown as Innkeeper in 1901 (RG13/2333 f65 p1).

Unsurprisingly one of his songs (fragment only) for Sharp was a drinking song ‘Leather Bottle’ from harvest time. Sharp knew it, of course from Lucy Broadwood’s County Songs book (1893 p6). Benjamin’s other song ‘Miss Janey’ he said he learned from ‘John Church of Chewton Mendip 30 years ago’. Benjamin probably died Dec 1924 (Clutton 5c 529) aged 87.

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