Collection date: Apr 1909
Mr George Gibbs at Evesham (1835-?): age 74, 6 songs 7 April 1909: George sang 6 traditional songs (FT 2125-30) to Sharp, who wrote his name as ‘Mr Gibbs’ and his age as ‘74’.
There is good reason to suppose that this is George Gibbs ‘of Bengeworth’, who provided the ‘Bitter Withy’ carol to the Evesham Journal newspaper (date 4 April 1908), which Sharp later copied in his own handwriting as Folk Words 2007. The original newspaper cutting is in the Frank Sidgwick collection at VWML (ref FSBW/1/11). Sharp published the song in 'English Folk-Carols' (1911) in which he wrote: 'Mr Gibbs, a cobbler by trade, told me that he learned the verses from a little girl who used, from time to time, to bring her shoes to be mended, and who, in return for the service rendered, taught him the carol.' Bengeworth is on the outskirts of Evesham.
George Gibbs was born c1835 and in censuses gave his place of birth as either Rous Lench or Radford, both 5 miles north of Evesham. In 1861 he was aged 26, a shoemaker supporting his widowed mother Eliza, 69, at Moor village nr Pershore. In January qr 1862 he married Ellen Grizzell (ref 6c 383) from Throckmorton. They settled in Wyre Piddle and in 1871 they had twins George and Annie aged 5. George was listed as a shoemaker and as a Wesleyan preacher. Ellen must have died in the 1880s, for George remarried Jemima Gertrude Sorrill, British subject from Montserrat West Indies in January qr 1888 (Evesham 6c 358). He was 53, she was 50. In 1901 (RG13/2789 f32 p14) they were living at Bengeworth and were still there in 1911. It’s not known when George died.