Collection date: Apr 1904
John Purnell of East Harptree (1855-?): age 49, 1 song (‘Birdstarver’s cry’ FT200) 16 Apr 1904: It’s odd that John Purnell is shown as a carpenter throughout his life (and the son of a carpenter too) and yet sang this agricultural song to Sharp, as if he were a labourer in the fields. Bob Patten’s notes from Austin Wookey state that John Purnell was estate foreman on Kettlewell’s estate and gave out orders to the labourers, so perhaps acquired the song through them. Anyway John Purnell was baptised at St Mark’s church, New Swindon, Wilts on 24/6/1855, son of William & Sarah Purnell. William & Sarah had 9 children and lived at Paulton, a coal mining village on the Mendips.
On 19/6/1878 John Purnell married Hannah Maria Collings at St Luke’s church Bedminster and in the 1881 census they are found at East Harptree. In 1891 John was 36, carpenter, wife Hannah, 35 was a dressmaker and they had 6 children. When Sharp meets John Purnell in 1904, John was living in the High St, still listed as a carpenter (RG13/2329 f50 p14). John was alive in 1911 but it is not clear when he died.