Gardiner, Thomas

Also known as: Gardner, Thomas

Collection date: Sept 1909

Area: Warwickshire


Tom Gardiner of Blackwell at Armscote (1839-1910): age 71, 3 morris tunes (FT2378-80) on 9 Sept 1909 + 3 songs on 16 Sept 1909 (FT2406,7,9) inc a good set of lyrics to ‘Joan’s Ale was New” (FW2176):

Sharp really liked Tom’s tune/song ‘Nelson’s Praise’ (FT2380) and was able to complete the lyrics with the subsequent help of Mrs Stanton (initials MLS FW2378). Click viml link above.

Although Sharp wrote ‘Gardiner’, all censuses have ‘Gardner’. He was baptised ‘Thomas Hermon Gardner’ on 9/5/1839 at Tredington church, penultimate of at least 7 children of William Gardner, carpenter of Blackwell and his wife Lydia. In the 1871 census at Blackwell Thomas Gardner was 31, unmarried agricultural labourer, living with his parents William, 83, and Lydia, 73. This would have been the time when the Blackwell morris side had just come to an end. Presumably Tom (as he was known) played music for the side – Sharp didn’t confirm any instrument. For Blackwell morris, search Folk Dance Notes vol1 pp77,106, 122 and 131.

Tom’s father died in 1873 and Tom was looking after his mother in the 1881 census (she died in 1885). In 1891 he was listed as a carpenter, 50, still unmarried, lodging with Hannah Hill, 58, a laundress. They seem to have got married soon afterwards, because the 1901 census for Blackwell has them as man and wife (RG13/2947 f63 p16).

Hannah died in 1908, so when Sharp met him in 1909, Tom cut a sorry figure apparently. Sharp wrote to Mrs Stanton in March 1910, having obviously been given the news that Tom had just died: ‘Poor old Tom Gardiner. I was afraid his days were numbered but I hoped he would last through the winter. He left quite a mark on my mind: there was something about him which raised him above his fellows, and singled him out. A pathetic figure of one who was himself his only enemy. His very recklessness endeared him to me. Well, I fancy he got a good deal out of life, more perhaps than many of us who live in a very different environment.’ (type CJS1/12/18/29/3 into https://www.vwml.org search box).

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