Sorby, Miss Kitty


Collection date:

Area: Somerset - Bridgwater Surrounds

Miss Katherine (Kitty) Sorby (1867-1941) was the spinster sister of Rev John Sorby (see separate profile) and was a more significant ally and helper to Sharp.

She was born on 26/2/1867 at Darley Dale, Derbyshire nr Matlock, 4th child of Clement Sorby, farmer and magistrate. Her mother Eliza (née Alsop 1829-99) was a native of nearby Wensley village and Kitty spent 24 years growing up in that village (1871 and 1881 censuses). She could thus remember the morris men from Winster (less than 2 miles away) and in Sept 1906 sent Sharp a morris tune ‘from Derbyshire’ (FT1148). Kitty later explained that it was her encouragement that persuaded Sharp to visit Winster to collect that morris dance tradition in 1908 (letter to Maud Karpeles CJS1/13/1/10/17).

Kitty left home to live with her brother John when he was posted to Enmore as Rector in 1904. She played the organ at his church and her musical ability enabled her to notate a few folksongs for Sharp (FT1337,1338) as well as some children’s singing games at Fiddington, Spaxton, Enmore and Nether Stowey. She also trained some boys and girls to morris dance, presenting a public performance at Minehead in August 1909 (West Somerset Free Press 14/8/1909). She died 13/6/1941 at Minehead.

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