Locke, James

Collection date: Sept 1912

Area: Shropshire


James Zebulon Locke at Newport, nr Telford (1852-1927): age 60, 6 fiddle tunes 16 September 1912: Sharp wrote ‘Lock’ without an ‘e’ but most records show an ‘e’. In some censuses James was recorded as ‘Zebulon Locke’. In 1891 his name was read as ‘Lacker’ but it is clearly ‘Locke’. For the Hat dance ‘Three Jolly Sheepskins’ (FT2790) James stated that he played this tune for the youths at Albrighton, a village within striking distance of several locations where James lived over the years. They were a nomadic gipsy family.

James Locke was born c1852 - a Zebulon Locke was registered at Newent July 1852 (6a 187). He was 3rd child of at least 10 children of Noah Locke and his wife Maria. In the 1871 census the family were ‘in tents’ at Worfield, Shropshire, 4 miles NE of Bridgnorth (ref RG10/2745 f78 p19). James married Ann Moulstone in July qr 1875 (Newport reg 6a 1351). Ann was originally from Haybridge 4 miles NW of Telford but was working as a servant in Newport, Shropshire (12 miles to NE) in 1871 census.

The couple had moved to Chetwynd (4 miles N of Newport) by the 1881 census with their 4 young children. James was working as a groom. In 1891 they were in Tibberton (5 miles W of Newport) with 7 children. In 1901 ‘Zebulon Locke’ (with wife Ann and all children present and correct) was at 17 Springfield Terrace, Newport; he was 49, a ‘waggoner’ (ref RG132566 f40 p5). ‘Zebulon Locke’ was at the same address in 1911, where Sharp met him in Sept the following year. 'Zebulon' Locke's death was registered October qr 1927 aged 75 (Newport 6a 843).

Note: It seems likely that James Locke (aged 60) was a cousin of John Locke, the fiddler (aged 39), who had played for Cecil Sharp and Ella Leather at Leominster, Herefordshire in 1909. The disparity in ages is explained by the fact that James was one of the oldest children of Noah Locke (who was born c1826), whereas John Locke was a later child of Noah’s younger brother Ezekiel (baptised 31/10/1830 Thornbury, Glos). John Locke did say that he had learned some of his tunes from his uncle (Noah); James Locke in FT2791 ‘Morning Star’ did comment that he learned that tune from his Dad (i.e. Noah), who was left-handed. Only 3 of James Locke’s tunes had same titles as John’s batch in 1909 - ‘Blue-eyed Stranger’ (FT2788), ‘Greensleeves’ (FT2789) and ‘Sheepskins’ (FT2790).

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