Bland, Samuel

Dancer

Collection date: Jan 1913

Area: Yorkshire


Sam Bland of Askham Richard Sword Dance, age 76: Sharp visited Askham Richard, 6 miles SW of York, on 16 Jan 1913 and interviewed 3 men – Samuel Bland (leader), William Calvert (singer on) and Robert Gilson (fiddler). He revisited Sam Bland on 17 Feb to check particulars of the dance figures and the tunes played. He published 4 tunes (‘Fisher Laddie’, ‘Fill the Stoup and keep it clinkin’, ‘Bobby Shaftoe’ and ‘Girl I left behind me’ in Sword Dance Airs Bk 3 pp11-13). He wrote up the dance history and figures as Folk Dance Notes vol 3 pp12-19, continued on pp37-38. He finally published the dance in his ‘Sword Dances of Northern England Part 3’ (Novello 1913 pp77-85).

The dancers used to go out for a full week beginning the first Monday after Christmas, touring the area and busking for money. They had a King and Queen, a Fool with pig’s bladder, Besom Betty to sweep away the snow before a performance, and 8 dancers. Swords of ash about 3 feet long. Their banner read ‘God speed the plough’. The dancing ceased ’40 or more years ago’. Note: This must be an exaggeration, as Roger Gilson the fiddler was only born in 1856.

Samuel Bland was born c1837 in Crayke, 16 miles N of York, son of Richard Bland, agricultural labourer and his wife Ann. In April qr 1860 he married Ann Forth (9d 98) and they remained in Askham Richard for the next 50 years at least. They had 7 sons and 2 daughters. Samuel was a bricklayer all his working life. When Sharp met him in 1913, Samuel was a widower, aged 76, living with his daughter Rose (48, postmistress) and son Robert (31, clerk). His date of death is to be confirmed.

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