Frost, Mrs Elizabeth


Collection date: Jan 1908

Area: Devon

Mrs Elizabeth Frost at Upton Pyne (1827-1916): age 81, 1 song ‘Nickety Nod’ (FT1550) + 1 poem (FW1396) on 3 Jan 1908: Elizabeth had lived her whole life in Upton Pyne, 4 miles north of Exeter, and no doubt witnessed many a Christmas celebration there. The poem she recited to Sharp is simple and shows a certain joie de vivre: –

‘Come let us marry and mingle, those that are single; For the joy of a woman is the pride of a man.’

Her song ‘Nickety Nod’ is also an entertaining recitation, to be followed by a dance – Sharp wrote ‘tune very doubtful’. The first verse goes:

‘When shall us be married? To my dear old Nickety Nod. I think on Sunday morning and won’t it be wonderful good.’

The song goes on to describe the wedding breakfast, the guests etc. Sharp had already collected a variation of the song ’Jan to Joan’ (FT99) from William Nott at Meshaw. His song was full of anxiety about what clothes to wear at the wedding. Sharp was sent two other versions (FW1739, FW1985) but Mrs Frost’s was the most lively song and it matches more closely David Herd’s manuscript of Scottish Songs (1776). The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes by Iona & Peter Opie, OUP 1951 (p74) and 1997 (p86) places the song in the 17th century.

Elizabeth Frost was baptized Elizabeth Stuckey at Upton Pyne on 4/11/1827, eldest daughter of Daniel Stuckey, agricultural labourer and his wife Mary. In October qr 1850 she married James Frost, agricultural labourer and they had 6 children – 5 daughters then 1 son. James Frost died in 1890 and Elizabeth was on her own in 1901 (RG13/2036 f50 p1) and again in 1911 census. She died in April qr 1916 (St Thomas 5b 59).

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