Handy, Prudence


Collection date: Sept 1910

Area: Warwickshire

Prudence Handy at Ilmington (1844-1928): age 67, 2 songs on 24 Sept 1910: Prudence’s song ‘Christmas now is drawing near at hand’ (FT2535) was published in Journal of the Folk-Song Society 5 (1914). Her version of ‘The Moon shines bright’ (FT2534) should be compared with her older sister Genty Phillips’ version (FT2542), which Sharp immediately disappeared off to collect in Birmingham two days later (see Genty Phillips profile):

Prudence Smith was baptised on 19/9/1844 at Tysoe church, youngest of 9 children of Joseph Smith, bean gatherer and basket-maker, and his wife Mary Ann.  She married William Walton Handy, son of John Walton Handy of Ilmington on 14/2/1844 at Ilmington church. They had 16 children, of whom 5 died in infancy. William Handy (1837-1928) was an agricultural labourer; he was also a morris dancer (see profile of his nephew Michael Handy). Prudence was living at Tysoe in both 1841 and 1851 censuses but spent the whole of her married life in Ilmington (11 miles to the west). 

Prudence was almost certainly one of the Armscote carol singers who gave Sharp 4 carols on the following day (25th). These were ‘On Christmas Day’, ‘He’s come’, ‘Come let us sing’, and ‘Angels’. Sharp wrote (FT2538): ‘These carols were learned (when youths) from an old man in the village. How he came by them, they did not know. Obviously not ‘folk’, but composed carols, probably late 18th century’.

For the carols https://www.vwml.org/search?q=Armscote%20carols%20Sharp&is=1

Prudence Handy passed away in July qr 1928 (6d 678) aged 84.

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