Area: Tyne & Wear
William Parker Brewis (1867-1940): intermediary for Earsdon rapper dance: Sharp stayed with Parker Brewis at his house Glen Brae in Jesmond Park West before travelling the 8 miles out to Earsdon to collect their dance. Sharp acknowledged Brewis’ name in all three Sword Dance Books and he was clearly an important intermediary and host.
William Parker Brewis was born in Tynemouth on 22/3/1867, second son of George Robson Brewis, railway agent and his wife Maria. He obtained a degree in architecture and then became a railway advertising agent. He was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, publishing a guide book on the history of Newcastle and leading the first excavation of the Vindobola Fort on Hadrian’s Wall in 1924. He was awarded an OBE for public services. He was also an expert on swords, daggers and rapiers, most useful for Sharp’s enquiries.
Sharp wrote to Parker Brewis on 19/3/1911: ‘Here at last is your copy of the Sword Dance Book which I hope will win a small measure of approval from you. I dare say you won’t agree altogether with my theory of origin, but that is not so important a matter. The main thing is to get these dances noted and the facts put on record, then folk-lorists can fall to and fight about origins as much as they please.’ This indicates that Sharp did not feel wedded to the pagan origins of sword dance but of course he set in train a movement that totally accepted it. See discussion of Grenoside dance (Walter Wragg, Yorkshire). Parker Brewis may well have been of a more sceptical disposition.
Brewis married Norah Kellner at St George’s Jesmond on 25/8/1896 and they had 1 daughter Mabel. He was a wealthy man and died on 8/3/1940.