Collection date: Sept 1923
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.
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. In the 1921 census he was aged 70, working on Gilbury farm at Church Stretton for a Mr Hollingsworth. Thomas never married and probably died January qr 1924 (ref 6a 893).
Sharp was perhaps 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).