Huxtable, Bessie


Collection date: Jan 1906

Area: Somerset - West

(Miss) Bessie Huxtable at Minehead (1871-?): age 34, 1 song ‘Lover’s Tasks’ aka 'Scarborough Fair' (FW826) on 12 Jan 1906: It looks very much as if Sharp collected the riddles of this song from Bessie but was recommended to go to her father William in Taunton for the tune. The field notebook (words 1905/5 p25) do not record Bessie's name and an error in transcribing from field to fair copy books led Sharp to attribute the song to Robert Pope, from whom he had collected 6 songs on the same day. However both the field notebook (tunes) and the fair copy FT763 clearly attribute the tune to William Huxtable. This is confirmed in Folk Songs from Somerset vol3. It seems fair to give Bessie part-credit for this song:

Elizabeth Ann Huxtable was born on 11/2/1871 at Roadwater, a village 6 miles SE of Dunster. She was the middle of 3 children of William Huxtable and his wife Jane. Her father and two brothers were all carpenters. Bessie went into service and in 1891 she was cook and housemaid to a Miss Fannie Eden in Staplegrove Taunton. But in 1901 she was in Alcombe, single aged 28 working as a cook for Miss Frances May (RG 13/2262 f33 p33). Bessie Huxtable was in the 1939 Registry working as a paid domestic helper at Arundel cottage, Henlade, Taunton. Her date of death is not known at this point.

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