Reed, Henry


Collection date: Aug 1908

Area: Somerset - Mendips (Harptree & Priddy)

Henry Reed at Axbridge Workhouse: age 83, 2 songs on 22 Aug 1908 and 3 more on 18 Sept 1908: one of Henry’s songs was intriguingly entitled ‘Old England’s going down the hill’! Sharp met Henry Reed at the Axbridge workhouse and he noted that Henry, 83, was originally from Bridgwater. That supposes a birth date of c1825. In the 1901 census for Axbridge workhouse (RG13/2327 f140 p1) we find ‘Henry Reed, inmate, 73, married, sailor (seas)’. That gives a birth date of c1827/8 and this looks like ‘our man’. In his field notebook (CJS1/9/2/1908/7 p16) Sharp notes against the song ‘Henry Martin’ that Reed said he had ‘sung ‘im in all parts of the world’.

Another possibility is a Henry Reed, who was baptised in Bridgwater St Mary’s church on 7/12/1825, son of Joseph & Mary Reed. Joseph was a brickmaker. Henry also took up the trade and in 1851 was at home aged 24 a ‘brick labourer’. He married Elizabeth Date on 4/6/1854 at Bridgwater St John. In 1861 Henry was 35, a ‘tilemaker’, with wife Elizabeth and 4 young sons. There is, however, no further trace of this Henry at Bridgwater, so perhaps he ran away to sea, for in 1871 a Henry Reed (born in Bridgwater) was listed as an able seaman, aged 47 on board a vessel at Southwold, Suffolk. These two ‘Henrys’ may (or may not) be one and the same person. There is as yet no date of death confirmed for Henry Reed.

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