Howard, Timothy Jr

Dancer

Collection date: Sept 1909

Area: Northamptonshire


Timothy Howard Jr of Brackley morris (1851-1932): Brackley is mid-way between Banbury and Buckingham. The earliest definitive record of a Brackley morris performance appears to be May 1725, when they danced at Aynho House (7 miles away, now Aynhoe Park), the estate of Sir Thomas Cartwright MP. Timothy Howard’s great grandfather Ezekial Howard was probably among the dancers by the 1760s and his grandfather Charles Howard (1776-1837) perhaps danced in June 1821 at Stow House (now Stowe House, National Trust), home of the Dukes of Buckingham. Timothy’s father (Timothy Snr 1822-89) claimed in 1884 that he had been involved with the morris for almost half a century and that the side had performed for an ‘unbroken succession of years’. Later Timothy Jr had also led a Brackley side, which included his brother Henry (Harry) - see separate profile. Thus when Sharp first met Timothy Howard Jr on 8 Sept 1909, he must have supposed that he was connecting with almost 200 years of dancing.

Sharp first visited Timothy Howard Jr on 8 Sept 1909 and collected a ‘Maid of the Mill’ tune (FT2377), which he never in fact used. He recorded this interview as Folk Dance Notes 1/92-93. When he published his first Brackley dance ‘Shooting’ in Morris Book 3 (1st ed 1910), Sharp used the tune FT2435 supplied by John Stuchbury of Hinton-in-the-Hedges (see separate profile).

Sharp visited Timothy again several years later on 11 Sept 1922 in company with Maud Karpeles, recording the interview in Folk Dance Notes 4/92. His notes on the figures of 4 new Brackley dances were recorded in Folk Dance Notes 4 pp104-112 (Jockey to the Fair, Maid of the Mill, Old Woman tossed up, and Captain with his Whiskers aka Month of May). He was able to retain the ‘Shooting’ dance and add these new Brackley dances in the 2nd edition of Morris Book 3.

Note: Sharp could not get any more tunes out of the Howards but got ‘1 or 2’ from Mrs Sarah Giles, widow of a former dancer, who generously presented him with her husband’s regalia (bells, baldrick and ribbons). Sharp misunderstood Sarah and thought her husband’s name was Will Giles. In fact her husband’s name was Joseph Giles (1842-79) but her two sons William Pollard Giles (1866-1939) and Albert Giles (1872-1919) were both dancers.

Thomas Howard Jr was born on 6/12/1851 and baptised at Brackley on 18/4/1852, 2nd child and eldest son of Timothy Howard, labourer and his wife Elizabeth, a lacemaker. He married his first wife Elizabeth Tracey on 5/11/1872 at Brackley but she died in July 1882 without child. He was remarried to Sarah Ann Colley in January qr 1886 and they had 9 children. Timothy was an agricultural labourer all his life in Brackley and died there in October qr 1932 (3b 3).

Sharp already possessed good background information on the Brackley morris through a series of (newspaper) articles written by Hilderic Friend and these make up Folk Dance Notes vol1 pp57-68. The first article is an eye-witness account of the Brackley men dancing on Whit-Tuesday in 1884. It seems to have been transcribed in rather childish handwriting (by one of Sharp’s children?) and the transcription is dated 4 Sept 1909. The second article is possibly in Hilderic Friend’s own hand and is his history of the morris. The third article (p66) refers specifically to the Brackley side and gives a list of its dances.  

Hilderic Friend (1852-1940) was a Wesleyan Methodist Minister. He was born and raised in Sussex by his widowed mother, and after missionary work in China he returned to posts in Devon, Yorkshire and Derbyshire. In 1881, for example, he was in post at Wolborough, Newton Abbott in Devon and was probably in Brackley for a few years c1884. He was married with 2 children. A member of the Royal Geographical Society and a keen botanist, he was best known for his book ‘Flowers and Flower Lore’ (1883). The initials FLS occur at the end of the Folk Dance articles, as Hilderic Friend was a Fellow of the Literary Society.

In Folk Dance Notes 1/pp9-11 there is an abridged version of Hilderic Friend’s first article, transcribed by Cecil’s wife Constance. It was supplied by William Potts (1868-1947), whose father John and grandfather William had both owned the Banbury Guardian newspaper before him, reporting on Brackley morris events over the years. The notes provide general descriptions of the personnel and costumes of the Brackley side and include a list of all 22 Brackley dances – unsurprisingly a replica of Hilderic Friend’s list.

A distinctive feature of the Brackley morris style is the 'Twirl' of the sticks in some figures. See various Youtubes. See also http://www.thebrackleymorrismen.org.uk

Information on Brackley dances is in Keith Chandler 'Morris Dancing in the English South Midlands, 1660-1900: A Chronological Gazetteer' (Hisarlik Press 1993 pp12-19, pp106-112). 

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