Snow, Miss Alice


Collection date: Apr 1906

Area: Somerset - Langport surrounds

Alice Snow (1881-?): age 25, 5 children’s songs on 11 April 1906: Alice Catherine Snow was baptised at Somerton on 8/5/1881, the eldest child of (singers) William & Ellen Snow. Ellen Snow was the daughter of (singer) Betsy Pike. The whole family was musical and Alice's two young brothers William James and Frank (Francis) Snow were in demand as variety entertainers in the town. Alice was appointed as a Primary School teacher in 1902.

Although Alice herself was a more than competent pianist, she was not really a folk singer per se but more an intermediary, combining with her mother Ellen to perform 5 singing games & songs to Sharp on 11th April 1906. These were: London Bridge, Lady of the Land, Wallflower, Sally Water and Mother may I go out to play. No doubt Alice remembered these games not only from her own experience as a child but also by observation in her work as a teacher.

This was a significant turning point for Sharp. He already knew about singing games through the work of Alice Bertha Gomme (Traditional Games of England, Scotland and Ireland in 2 vols 1894 and 1898). Gomme (1853-1938) was a founding member of the Folklore Society in 1878 and also became a committee member of the Folk Song Society, where Sharp had seen her at close quarters. Perhaps Sharp did not initially think of children’s songs as folk art, but, of course, they are transmitted orally in the same way as traditional folksongs. Sharp had hitherto not collected any children’s songs at all and now made careful notes of all the actions and movements in his Field Notebook Words (FNW 1906/1 pp22f). Alice Snow's contributions immediately set Sharp off in this new direction. Within days he found singing games in Bridgwater (FT874,889). He would later co-operate with Lady Alice Gomme in a number of school songbooks (published by Novello), which showcased these singing games (see her profile).

Alice Snow's contribution was, however, much more than these few singing games. She also collected a number of songs from her grandmother Betsy Pike (see her profile) and sent some by letter to Sharp. Furthermore she collected from Mary Ann Lawrence, Miss Ella Gooding and Eliza Sweet. Alice knew all 3 women well and in fact her brother William married Eliza Sweet’s daughter Rose in April 1906, soon after Sharp’s appearance in Somerton. Sharp was lucky to step into such a ready network of singers.

Alice Snow married carpenter John Lock at Somerton church on 3/4/1907. He was a Somerton man but had moved to Bedwellty in South Wales for work. Their daughter Catharine was born there in 1908. The 1921 census for Aberbargoed shows John Lock, carpenter, 38 with Alice, 39, and three children Catherine (13), Ellen (7) and John (3). Alice's date of death is yet to be confirmed.

See Yvette Staelens 'Going up into the Next Class: Alice Snow, Folk Song Collector' in Proceedings of The English Folk Dance and Song Society Folk Song Conference 2013 (ed David Atkinson and Steve Roud).

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