Stileman, Mr Fleetwood

Collection date: Jul 1914

Area: Somerset - North West inc Clevedon


Mr Fleetwood Stileman at Weston-super-Mare (1855-1924): age 58, 4 songs on 14 Jly 1914: The 3 sea shanties sung by Mr Stileman were ‘Blow, boys, blow’; ‘A-Roving’; and ‘Times are hard (Leave her Johnny)’. Sharp used none of these tunes in his book ‘English Folk-Chanteys’, which was published within months of his meeting with Stileman. Yet Sharp acknowledges Stileman’s help in the preface to the book. One can only assume that Stileman gave some vital technical information regarding the use of shanties on board ship, because Stileman was a retired master mariner.

He was born into a wealthy family in West London. His father Richard was a solicitor and there were 4 servants in the household. Fleetwood Stileman was baptised on 25/10/1855 at St John Evangelist Notting Hill. Details of his education are not known. He achieved his Second Mate certificate at the age of 22 (13/6/1877) and his Master’s certificate at the age of 29 (15/11/1884). On 10/4/1890 he married Gertrude Fox at Clifton, Bristol and they had 2 children.

It’s likely that Stileman’s sea voyages were to India and the Far East rather than across the Atlantic. In 1891 Stileman, 35, was in Fulham and listed as an East India merchant with the company Hicks, River & Co. In 1901 he was living in Hampstead and was ‘Director of a company’ (RG13/123 f51 p47). He then moved to the west country and in 1911 was in a 12-room villa Grassycroft in Elmhurst Rd, Weston-super-Mare. He was thus 58 when he met Sharp. He died on 20/3/1924 in Weston-s-Mare.

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