Moss, Benjamin


Collection date: Sept 1911

Area: Oxfordshire

Benjamin & William Moss of Ascott-under-Wychwood: Ages 85 and 87: The Moss brothers were interviewed by Sharp on 15 Sept 1911 – the same day that he interviewed William Pratley. They were members of the ‘older’ Ascott-under-Wychwood morris side. A report compiled c1896 looked back at the Ascott side participating in a WhitMonday event in 1864. This said that Benjamin Moss had already been dancing for 20 years at that point and that (by the time of the report) he was 70 years old. Sharp reproduced this report in Folk Dance Notes vol2 p97.

Benjamin Moss was baptised on 23/4/1826, son of John Moss, labourer and his wife Mary. He married Mary Ann Andrews at Ascott church on 23/10/1858. He could not sign his name. They had 6 children, 2 of whom died young. He was an agricultural labourer all his life in Ascott. Mary Ann died in 1901 and Benjamin was living with his widowed daughter Jane and her son (his grandson) James aged 11 at the time of the interview with Sharp.

William Moss was Benjamin’s older brother. He was baptised on 25/1/1824 and he married Charlotte Moss on 25/5/1854. Neither could sign their name. Charlotte was a gloveress. They had just 2 sons, who both died in their ‘30s (in the 1890s). Charlotte herself died in 1904, so William was rather sadly on his own in 1911, when Sharp met him. William was a railway plate-layer and navvy - the Ascott station had opened in 1853. He died in October qr 1918 aged 94 (3a 2418).

Sharp recorded his interview with the brothers in Folk Dance Notes vol2 pp41-45. The two men were perhaps too frail to enable Sharp to reconstruct the Ascott dances there and then. He did not publish any Ascott material in any of his Morris Books. However, Reginald Tiddy* (1880-1916), a young Oxford don and a member of Sharp's demonstration morris side, came to live in Ascott around that time. He put together a revival side and a number of dances were restored. See Lionel Bacon  'A Handbook of Morris Dances' (1974 pp19-27). Revival sides who perform the Ascott dances include Charlbury Morris and Summertown Morris. 

*see separate entry

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