Collection date: Apr 1909
George Wilcox at Shapwick (1860-1932): age 49, 1 song ‘Poor old horse’ (FT2177) on 15 Apr 1909: George Willcox was born in early 1860 at Meare in Somerset. A birth registration was made in Wells for that Jan-Mar quarter (ref 5c 650). In the April 1861 census his parents William Willcox, 45, agricultural labourer and wife Betsy were raising 6 children, of whom the youngest, George, was listed as age 1. Curiously at his baptism in Meare church on 3/6/1860 he was baptised James, plain and simple. But all subsequent censuses state ‘George’ and 1901 & 1911 censuses state ‘George James’. The spelling at his wedding and in his will is Willcox but a couple of censuses have Wilcox.
In 1879 George joined the police force in London and in 1881 he was a Police Constable at Carter St police station in Walworth, south east London. On 5/6/1887 George married Emily Pharro, daughter of Thomas Pharro, gardener. In the 1901 census (RG13/375 f48 p19) George was still a police constable (Met Police) at Carter St, with Emily and 8 children. George retired from L Division and the family moved back to Meare. Cecil Sharp recorded George as the landlord of The Griffin pub at their meeting on 15 Apr 1909.
The Griffin pub was built by Shapwick Railway Station in 1856 (British History Online) and was then known as the Railway Hotel in 1860s, reverting to The Griffin by 1889. It was closed in 1960 and demolished. In the 1911 census George was listed as ‘aged 50, a Farmer’ at Shapwick. He died on 20/1/1932, leaving the tidy sum of £2,433 to his widow Emily.
It appears that in 1906 an ancient dug-out canoe was unearthed in the peat on George's land in Shapwick. George apparently charged people to view this ancient canoe, which is now housed in Somerset County Museum.