Denley, Thomas

Also known as: Thomas Danley


Collection date: Aug 1909

Area: Gloucestershire

Thomas Denley at Sevenhampton, mid-Glos (1838-1910): age 72, 3 morris tunes and 3 country dance tunes on 30 Aug 1909: Thomas Denley (Sharp wrote ‘Danley’) was connected with the Withington morris side, as his father Benjamin played pipe and tabor for them. But Thomas, although proficient on several instruments, was unable to master the pipe and tabor. He played his tunes to Sharp on a tin whistle. Information on the old Withington side (Folk Dance Notes CJS2/11/1/83) was obtained from George Humphries, 72, parish clerk of the village.

Sevenhampton is 4 miles east of Cheltenham and 4 miles north of Withington village. Thomas Denley played fiddle for that side and his father Benjamin played pipe and tabor before him. In his notes for the ‘Princess Royal’ tune (FT2328) Sharp wrote:

‘Thomas played these tunes to me (very beautifully) upon a tin whistle…although he can play fiddle, clarionet, organ etc (he) could never manage to learn the pipe and tabor. He can play from note but has a great musical memory for tunes and can play a tune at one hearing with great accuracy (This I tested).’ Sharp published Denley's tune of Hunt the Squirrel (FT2331) in his (first) Country Dance Book in Dec 1909.

Thomas Denley was baptised at Withington on 11/3/1838, eldest child of Benjamin Denley, stone mason and his wife Esther. On 25/10/1862 he married Sarah Adams of Upcote at Withington church and they lived in Dowdeswell (1871,1881), moving to Sevenhampton (1891, 1901). Thomas was a stone mason like his father. They had 4 sons and 2 daughters. Benjamin Denley, pipe and tabor player, died in 1888 and son Thomas died on 11/9/1910 a year after Sharp met him. He left £309 in his will.

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