Cadd, Thomas


Collection date:

Area: Northamptonshire

Thomas Cadd of Yardley Gobion morris (1861-1947): On 14 January 1910 Sharp visited Thomas Cadd, who freely admitted making up the morris dances that he had taught at Yardley Gobion village over the previous 20 years for their May Festival. See Folk Dance Notes 1/98. The dances do not appear in Sharp's Morris Books nor in Lionel Bacon's 'Handbook of Morris Dances' (EFDSS 1974).

Judging by the birth-places of his children as recorded in the 1891 census*, Cadd had moved into Yardley Gobion between 1886 and 1890 from Preston Bissett village, 15 miles away to the SE. Cadd told Sharp that, as a boy, he had seen the Brackley men dance on several occasions and that he and other young lads had mimicked the steps and figures. Cadd was born and brought up at Preston Bissett, 10 miles SE of Brackley, and perhaps saw the Brackley men in the 1870s under Timothy Howard Snr (see Howard profile) on their annual Whitweek tour which moved through surrounding villages - Stow House near Buckingham had been a traditional stop not far away.

Cadd also told Sharp that as a young man he had spent some time up north in Lancashire, where perhaps he picked up some dance moves. Local sources do indicate that Cadd was a very good dancer** but he couldn’t provide Sharp with any tunes. He never indicated that any of his own family were dancers or musicians before him.

Sharp already knew the Brackley dances quite well and was surprised that Cadd arranged his dances for sets of 4 men (rather than 6). He did not note them down. Mary Neal had beaten Sharp to Cadd and had interviewed him 12 months previously. She invited Cadd to London and thought he might be another ‘traditional dancer’ for her girls but she quietly dropped him and his dances do not appear in the Esperance Morris Books. See CC/2/325.

Thomas Edward Cadd was born on 9/5/1861 and baptised at Preston Bissett on 8/6/1862. He was the eldest child of William Cadd, agricultural labourer and his wife Matilda. Although there were lots of Cadds, so to speak, in the 1871 Preston Bissett census (11 Heads of household to be precise), there were no other Thomas Cadds. Thomas described his father William as a ‘regular knockabout’ and the 1881 census does list William Cadd as ‘an agricultural labourer, out of employ’. Nevertheless all Thomas’s 5 siblings were also born at Preston Bissett and family life appears quite settled in the village.

Thomas Cadd married a cousin Elizabeth Ann Cadd, daughter of Esau and Sarah Cadd, in January qr 1884 (Buckingham 3a 726) and they soon moved to Yardley Gobion, raising 6 children. He worked initially at the Wharf of the Grand Union Canal but then got a job at the foundry at Wolverton, where train locomotives and carriages had been made since 1836. It was now secondary to the Crewe works but provided him with reliable income for decades. It was where Sharp met him in Jan 1910.

Thomas Cadd died in 1947.


*Son Ernest, aged 5, was born in Preston Bissett, while daughter Ethel,1, was born in Yardley Gobion (1891 census).

** Eric Mackerness (1920-1999) went to school in nearby Wolverton and later  interviewed Yardley Gobion residents about its morris tradition, which seems to have thrived from the late 1880s to 1920. Mackerness was an academic at Sheffield University and wrote ‘A Note on Yardley Gobion Morris’ in the Journal of the EFDSS vol7 no.4 (1955). It seems that the dance was part of the very popular May Day Festivals and was performed by a team of 8, with Maid Marian and a Hobby Horse. He described Mr Cadd as ‘a man of fine physique and commanding appearance’. According to the programme for 1910, the figures danced were “Loddenham Bunches”, “Bean setting”, “Zig-Zag” and a Round Dance; the tunes used included variants on “Yankee Doodle” and “Here’s to the Maiden of bashful Fifteen”. The old Hobby Horse has been deposited in Northampton Town Museum.

See the village website

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