Collection date: Apr 1907
Mrs (Rebecca) Marchant of Bridgwater (1839-1919): age 70, 2 songs (FT1335/6) on 8 Apr 1907: Sharp does not give us the singer’s first name but it is most likely to be Mrs Rebecca Marchant. Rebecca was baptised Rebecca Macey at North Petherton church on 16/6/1839, daughter of William Macey, boatman and his wife Mary. Rebecca grew up at Northmoor Green (now called Moorland) on the River Parrett about 3 miles (as the crow flies) SE of Bridgwater. In the 1851 and 1861 censuses the family name is incorrectly listed as ‘Mason’.
On 2/3/1865 (aged 26) at the church of St Peter & St John Moorland she married James Marchant, widower, 36. He already had 2 boys and they set up home in North Petherton. James was an agricultural labourer but times were hard and they had 6 more children to support, so in 1881 James was struggling and was listed as a ‘pauper’. He was buried in North Petherton church on 26/8/1883 aged 55.
Rebecca carried on and was listed as a ‘nurse’ in 1891 with 3 teenage sons all earning to help the family survive. In 1901 (RG13/2281 f124 p4) she was in North Petherton living next door to singer Martha Bodley. At some point she moved to Fordgate, a hamlet 2 miles SE of Bridgwater, to be with her daughter Emily (Foster) and 5 grandchildren. She was there in the 1911 census aged 72. Henry Foster, her son-in-law, worked for Great Western Railway and the railway line ran through Fordgate. Sharp said he met Rebecca in Bridgwater – perhaps she just happened to be in town that day. Rebecca died January qr 1919 (5c 541).