Wyatt, George


Collection date: Apr 1904

Area: Somerset - Mendips (Harptree & Priddy)

George Wyatt of West Harptree (1823-1907): age 81, 9 songs on 3 occasions commencing 14 Apr 1904: Two of George's songs were published in Folk Songs from Somerset series - 'Rambling Sailor' (FT198) in vol4 and 'Blackbirds and Thrushes' (FT205) in vol5. Another interesting song of his was 'O Dear O' (or 'My husband's got no courage in him') Roud870, collected in Aug 1904.

George Wyatt was born in 1823 (by census calculations) and was baptised at West Harptree on 18/9/1825, son of George Wyatt, labourer and his wife Hannah. On 26/6/1849 at Chew Magna church he married Lydia Veale, daughter of John Veale, labourer. Neither could sign their names. In 1851 and 1861 George was an agricultural labourer but in 1871 he was a ‘lead miner’, as were his sons George (19) and Frank (14). In 1881 George was back as an agricultural labourer.

In all George & Lydia had 7 sons and 2 daughters but they had all left home by 1901 when the couple were living on Bristol Rd (ref RG13/2329 f36 p5). In Bob & Jackie Patten’s interview with Austin Wookey (Somerset Scrapbook 1987), the latter recalled that George Wyatt ‘worked on the land for any farmer, called piecework. He lived near the Blue Bowl Inn, West Harptree . . . I knew Mrs Wyatt living in her bungalow (very low) about 60 yrs ago. Bungalow, made of thorn and clay, now destroyed.’

George was probably introduced to Sharp by the Kettlewells. He had a brother Samuel, who sang ‘Lord Rendal’ song with a verse: What colour was the fish, Rendal my son? He was spotted on the back, mother’. Samuel was nicknamed ‘Spotted-on-the-back Sammy’. Samuel died 4/1/1902 before Sharp could get to him, so George sang the song instead (FT363). George was buried at West Harptree church 21/12/1907 but Lydia was in the 1911 census, on her own in her 2-roomed squatter’s house (she could not write her name for the enumerator).

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