Voke, John


Collection date: Apr 1904

Area: Somerset - Mendips (Harptree & Priddy)

John Voke at East Harptree (1852-1933): age 52, 2 songs 15th Apr 1904: John’s songs ‘Foggy Dew’ FT207 and ‘Kitty is my name’ FT208 were sung at the ‘Castle of Comfort’ pub. As usual at this time, Sharp gave no age for this singer but it was most probably John Henry Voke. John was baptised at Priddy church on 25/7/1852, 3rd child and eldest son of John Voke, agricultural labourer and his wife Ellen. On 17/1/1871 (aged only 18) at Priddy he married Eliza Jane Weeks, youngest daughter of James Weeks, farmer and his wife Ann. Eliza’s oldest brother Samuel Weeks (b1830, 20 yrs her senior) was a fine singer. John Voke was thus Samuel's brother-in-law, although they were a generation apart in age.

John & Eliza Voke left Priddy and in 1881 census they were living at Montague Hill in Bristol with 6 young children. John was a plasterer and publican of the Fox & Crane pub. He later set up business as a builder in Bedminster (south Bristol) - 1901 ref RG13/2360 f82 p8. Bob Patten’s interview with Seymour King at Priddy 18/9/1986 confirms this building business.

John Henry Voke thus travelled the 12 miles from Bedminster to East Harptree to sing for Sharp in the pub session. In his recollection of the event (CJS1/13/1/12/3 p1) Sharp refers to the singer of ‘The Foggy Dew’ as neither old nor young, which befits John Henry.

John & Eliza Voke had 12 children but sadly Eliza died 23/12/1907, aged 56. In 1911 John remarried Eliza Ann Payne. He died 14/3/1933 in Bedminster.

Note: The Castle of Comfort pub is not actually in East Harptree but a mile and a half south of that village. It’s on a crossroads on the ‘Old Bristol Road’ coming up from Wells. Priddy is about the same distance away but to the south on the other side of that old road.

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