Hill, Messrs

Collection date: Apr 1914

Area: Somerset - Taunton District


Messrs Hill Snr & Jr at Bagborough: 1 song ‘Shepherds Rejoice!’ (FT2895) on 22 Apr 1914 (click vwml link): This carol came too late for Sharp, who had already published his English Folk-Carols book in 1911. The words are those of Isaac Watts (1706) but the tune matches neither the Odcombe nor Roadwater versions that survive in Somerset. Sharp gave no ages for the two singers and there are no clues from the field notebooks.

In 1980 Bob Patten interviewed Marcus Sealy, an old Bagborough man, who said that: ‘before WW1 there was group of carollers led by John Hill with music by Tom Hill, his son, on concertina … John Hill was an old man then – part-time butcher and pig-killer’.

This information matches the 1901 census (RG13/2279 f82 p6) for West Bagborough, which shows: ‘John Hill, 62, butcher; Mary Ann Hill wife 50; Thomas Hill 25 agricultural labourer.’ However, John Hill died on 17/6/1901 (West Bagborough church, age 63), so Sharp could not have got the song from him. Thomas would have been 38 by 1914 and his older brother (also John), aged 40 was back in the village after a spell in the army. Perhaps the family carolling tradition did continue through the brothers. There was another Hill family in the village in 1911 – William Hill, a carter aged 52 with sons John, 20 and Walter 16 (a shepherd boy). Mr Sealy said that the carols had died out by the end of WW1.

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