Cox, Ephraim


Collection date: 1913

Area: Northamptonshire

Mr Ephraim Cox of Badby morris: Badby is 3 miles S of Daventry. Sharp published 3 Badby dances in Morris Book 5 (Novello 1913) and wrote: ‘Mr Cox gave us the names of several more dances which used to be performed; unfortunately, however, he was unable to remember their tunes, and therefore could not show the movements.’ The 3 dances published were Old Black Joe (handkerchief), Shepherd’s Hey (handclapping) and Beaux of London City (stick).

George Butterworth, the young composer and also member of Sharp’s demonstration morris team, seems to have led in collecting Cox’s tunes – his manuscripts indicate this - but Sharp was also involved. This would have taken place either side of the 4-week commitment that both men made to the Stratford Summer School (Aug 2nd-30th 1913). Butterworth did not unfortunately note the precise dates of collection. Ephraim Cox, aged 74, was the sole surviving dancer from the Badby side, which ‘broke up about 40 years ago’ (i.e.1873).

Ephraim Cox was baptised at Badby church on 31/3/1839, eldest child of Thomas Cox, agricultural labourer and his wife Hannah. Ephraim had one younger sister and one brother but unfortunately their father died in Nov 1847 and their mother Hannah struggled, being described as a pauper in the 1851 census. She was remarried to Thomas Masters, labourer on 5/9/1859. In 1861 census she was still in Badby, aged 47, a charwoman and field worker.

Ephraim married Mary Ann Fennell on 17/12/1860 at Badby and they had 10 children, 3 of whom died young. Ephraim was an agricultural labourer in most censuses, although the 1901 census listed him as a ‘farmer’ (RG13/1433 f81 p2). In 1911 census he was age 72, a labourer, still with Mary Ann. Ephraim Cox died in October qr 1914 (3b 124).

Badby is an interesting tradition with several distinctive figures including: the initial Cast Down (and Up) rather than a Foot Up; the Leg-Across (as opposed to plain capering); and it has a Twirl (similar to Brackley tradition 22 miles to its south). For a discussion on adapting the Badby style, see Jenny Joyce article in Morris Matters vol 2 no.4 (1979) pp8-13, online at the Morris Federation.

Several revival sides perform Badby (various Youtubes) but the Moulton Morris Men particularly embrace the style

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