Lawley, Thomas


Collection date: Sept 1923

Area: Shropshire

Thomas Lawley at Church Stretton Union workhouse: age 72, 1 song ‘On Christmas Night all christians sing’ (FT4962) on 1 Sept 1923: Sharp had already collected this carol from William Bayliss in Buckland Glos in April 1909 and published it in his ‘English Folk-Carols’ book (Novello 1911 p24). It is a very old carol, attributed to Bishop Wadding in 1684 but is sometimes referred to today as the ‘Sussex Carol’, because Vaughan Williams collected a version from Mrs Verrall near Horsham in 1904 and published it in 1919. Sharp obviously liked Thomas Lawley’s tune.

The 1921 census may provide further details but this singer was probably Thomas Lawley, born at Rushbury, 5 miles E of Church Stretton in July qr 1851 (ref 18-41). He was the only son of Thomas Lawley, agricultural labourer, and his wife Elizabeth. He had 4 sisters.

Thomas Lawley worked all his life as an agricultural labourer and lived with his widowed mother for many years at Wall Bank, 3 miles E of Church Stretton. He never married and probably died January qr 1924 (ref 6a 893).

Sharp was probably staying at Church Stretton for health reasons - it was a popular Edwardian spa and known as 'Little Switzerland'. In October 1923 he went for 2 months to Montreux in Switzerland because his health had not improved (see profile of Samson Price).

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