Chapman, Mrs Jane


Collection date: Aug 1904

Area: Somerset - Mendips (Harptree & Priddy)

Jane Chapman of West Harptree (1852-1937?): age 54, 2 songs on 25 Aug 1904 then 12 songs on 28 Aug 1906: Jane had a long and complicated life - on 25/12/1872 at West Harptree church Jane married James Chapman, 31, an agricultural labourer and bachelor son of John Chapman, blacksmith. Jane was 22, already a widow and her married name was Male. In the register Jane stated that her father was Frederick Holloway, shoemaker. The most likely scenario is that Jane was illegitimate and had been baptised at East Harptree church on 17/10/1852 as ‘Jane Holloway’, daughter of Martha Lassbury. Frederick Holloway (b1825) was son of James & Mary Ann Holloway of (nearby) Ubley village. In August 1853 marriage banns were read at East Harptree church for Frederick Holloway and Martha Lassbury to regularise the position but the wedding does not seem to have been enacted. Instead at Bristol St James (10/8/1855) Martha Lassbury marries John Weston, farmer and widower with 4 sons.

In 1861 Martha Weston and her new family are living at Compton Martin (farm of 116 acres) and ‘Jane Holloway’ is listed in the household, aged just 8 with servant’s duties. At least she is with her mother but in such a humble position. Frederick Holloway (shoemaker, bachelor) had gone off and married Sophia Derrick at Ubley 27/1/1859 and 5 months later their daughter Emily was born (bp Ubley 10/6/1859). Perhaps at some point Frederick came back into Jane’s life but there is really no trace of him and family after 1871.

As noted, the young Jane does not seem to have been acknowledged as ‘family’ by Martha’s husband John Weston. In the mid-1860s the Weston family moved the short distance to farm at Gurney Court Lower Farm in West Harptree. Martha gave birth to 3 children but then John Weston died in 1869. Martha is shown in the 1871 at West Harptree as a widow with 7 children in total in her care. Jane has by now left the household because in 1869 she married William Male, son of Thomas Male at St Philip & St Jacob Bristol (she signed her name Jane Lasbury). In the 1871 census at Stoke-sub-Hamdon in South Somerset Thomas Male, carpenter 65 is listed with a visitor Jane Male, 20, born East Harptree, married with infant Agnes Male. Two months later William Male dies (buried 24/6/1871 Stoke-sub-Hamdon, aged 22) and shortly afterwards Jane’s baby Agnes also dies (buried 21/7/1871 20 months).

This double blow sent Jane back home to West Harptree (her mother Martha was in East Harptree but had by then married her second husband James Wyatt in May 1871). Jane made a new start with her second husband James Chapman. They lived on Sutton Road in West Harptree for three decades and raised 5 sons and 3 daughters. Interestingly their last son was baptised Maurice Holloway Chapman (West Harptree 9/5/1897). Jane is thus still remembering her father’s surname and that is remarkable.

In 1901 census (West Harptree) James Chapman was 59, a haycutter and Jane was 48 (ref RG13/2329 f36 p6). Jane’s mother Martha (Wyatt) was 75, a widow (again), still in East Harptree living with her daughter Annie, son-in-law and 3 grandchildren. In the 1911 census Jane Chapman was still living in West Harptree and may have lived on till 1937 (death reg:Norton 5c 470).

When Sharp met Jane in 1904, she was 54 and recently widowed (James died 17/6/1903). Her son Maurice was only 7 years old (a late addition to her family). Jane sang a clutch of traditional song material to Sharp and her version of the 'Dilly Song' (FT1098) was published in Folk Songs for Somerset vol4 (click vwml link above).

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