Clayton, Richard


Collection date:

Area: Lancashire

Richard Clayton of Mawdesley morris (1870-1904): At his meeting in faraway Keswick on 4 March 1911 with Mr JT Southworth, Sharp recorded that the Keswick children had learned their dance from a Mawdesley man and that 'the Mawdesley men learned their dance 16 or 17 years (ago) from (Mr) Clayton who came from Leyland. C was then a young man in the police force…’ (Folk Dance Notes vol2 p17). Mawdesley is 13 miles S of Preston and 100 miles S of Keswick! The link between the Mawdesley and Keswick dances is complex – please see other profiles of Miss Frances Hayes, Miss Helen Marshall and Mr John Southworth.

Richard Clayton was born on 8/6/1870 and baptised at Mawdesley on 6/8/1870, 3rd child of Richard Clayton Snr, small farmer, and his wife Jane (née Glover). In the 1871 census they were living at New Street, Mawdesley, Richard Snr then an ‘agricultural labourer’. A few years later the family moved to Wrightington, 5 miles to SE, and were there in the 1881 census. When Richard Clayton Snr died in 1888, aged only 45, the family was disrupted. Jane Clayton moved to Leyland and Richard Jr probably lived there for a time at least but in 1891 census he’d left home and was working, aged 20, as a gardener and servant for Elias Harrison, cotton manufacturer of Chorley. Soon after this Richard must have moved back to Leyland, because he is recorded in 1893 as assisting Mr Rose* in training the Leyland dancers.

In 1894 Clayton set up and trained a new morris team at Mawdesley, which was still performing in 1896 (Ormskirk Police Gala and Sports). Probably Clayton had just joined the police force by that date, which might have provided a helpful link to that event.

On 14/1/1897 Richard Clayton, police constable, married Ann Eastham, daughter of Edward Eastham, tailor, at Leyland church. Very soon afterwards Clayton was posted to Ulverston and then to Broughton-in-Furness, where his 3 children were born – Margaret, Richard and Ethel. Sadly Richard Clayton died aged only 34 on 12/12/1904 at Ulverston. Sharp obviously never met Clayton but he deserves a place in this website because he trained John Southworth and 'the Mawdesley Men'.

Roy Smith in his article on the Mawdesley dances in ‘Morris Dancer vol IV no.2 2010' p21 indicates that a number of morris teams had sprung up in the Preston area around 1890. It would not have been unusual for Richard Clayton to start a new team and, being a native of Mawdesley, he would have been easily accepted. His posting to the Ulverston area 80 miles away may have been the reason why the first Mawdesley morris team faded. The second Mawdesley team was trained by JT Southworth himself (see his profile). Born in 1880, Southworth was 10 years younger than Richard Clayton but he was probably a junior member of Clayton’s team in the 1890s.

* Mr John Rose was the leader of the Leyland morris dancers at the Leyland May Festival held on 26 May 1892 (Preston Chronicle Sat 28 May 1892). They were led by the Leyland subscription brass band. John Rose (b1837) lived in Leyland all his life – he was a former railwayman then greengrocer.

Note: Ulverston was then in Lancashire but was transferred to Cumbria in the local government changes of 1974.

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