Gulliver, Jane

Also known as: Jane Gulliford

Collection date: Sept 1908

Area: Somerset - Taunton District


Mrs Jane Gulliver (Gulliford) at Combe Florey (1862-1910): age 45, 25 songs over 3 visits commencing 8 Sept 1908: Like Henry Conibeer, Jane was collected first by Henry Hammond in Apr/May 1905 – 43 songs from her in total (see HAM/2/1 and HAM/2/2). Hammond correctly called her Jane Gulliver, whereas Sharp wrote ‘Gulliford’ (a local variant).

Sharp re-collected 20 songs that Hammond had already noted but the latter had been assisted by HA Jeboult, organist of St Mary’s Taunton, regarding the tunes. Jeboult was very competent and known to Sharp but perhaps Sharp thought he’d just check! It would be interesting to compare in detail the transcribing results of two collectors obtaining the same 20 songs.

Sharp did collect 5 songs that Hammond had not obtained, namely ‘Sweet Kitty’; ‘Lord Rendall’; ‘Seventeen come Sunday’; ‘Wounded Soldier’; and ‘Driving away at the smoothing iron’ FT1865 – the latter Sharp published in Folk Songs from Somerset vol5.

Jane was baptised at Lydeard St Lawrence church on 28/12/1862, daughter of George Lovell, labourer and his wife Elizabeth. She was the eldest of 7 children. When the West Somerset Railway was opened in 1862, it required ongoing maintenance by platelayers and ‘packers’. There was a railway station at Bishop’s Lydeard and George Lovell got a job there as a ‘railway packer’. The family moved to Bishop’s Lydeard (1871 census) and then to Combe Florey (1881 census). Jane was by then 18 and in domestic service. In 1883 she had a child, who was baptized Frederick Archer Gulliver Lovell, son of Jane Lovell, single woman on 4/11/1883 at Bishop’s Lydeard church. Frederick went to live with his grandparents and can be found in the 1891 census in Bishop’s Lydeard as ‘Frederick AG Lovell’, aged 7, looked after by George and Elizabeth.

Jane had by then gone to find work in Taunton and was living in Trull (2 miles to the south). The banns for her forthcoming wedding were read in Trull (for her) and in Combe Florey (for her fiancé Frederick Gulliver). They were married in Combe Florey on 3/8/1891. The clue as to the identity of the father of an illegitimate child can sometimes be found in its baptismal name and it may be that Jane’s son was indeed begotten of Frederick Gulliver. But her son continued to live with his grandparents in Bishop’s Lydeard (1901 RG13/2279 f21 p7) and always used the surname Lovell.

Jane and Frederick Gulliver can be found in the 1901 census for Combe Florey with 3 children (RG13 2279 f53 p5). Frederick was a ‘railway packer’ like his father-in-law. Sadly Jane Gulliver died in 1910 aged only 47. In a letter to Lucy Broadwood dated 2 June 1905 (HAM/5/37/3). Henry Hammond described Jane as a ‘wonderful woman’, who got many of her songs from her mother and grandmother. Her songs are feisty and brave, with characters often facing challenges and adversity. See Angela Shaw’s article Folk Song Papers no.1 (EFDSS 2015).

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