Mugford, James


Collection date: Aug 1904

Area: Devon

James Mugford at Stoke Fleming, South Devon (1826-1907): age 78, 3 songs on 13 Aug 1904: Sharp wrote ‘J Mudford’ but there was no-one of that surname in the village of Stoke Fleming, 3 miles SW of Dartmouth. James Mugford is the best candidate.

It was a tricky train journey for Sharp to get down to Stoke Fleming from Lewtrenchard – there was a train station nearby at Coryton (line now closed) and he may have gone via Plymouth or Exeter. Eleven years previously (c1893) Rev Baring-Gould had been invited by Miss Bertha Bidder of Stoke Fleming to visit her village, where he collected songs from 3 singers – Betsy Chilcote, Elizabeth Burgoyne and Mary Langworthy. Betsy was in her 80s at Baring-Gould’s visit, so Sharp would not expect to find her alive but both Elizabeth Burgoyne (aged 60) and Mary Langworthy (aged 54 and landlady of the Green Dragon) were both available to Sharp in 1904, yet he collected nothing from them. Mary Langworthy had given 9 songs to Baring-Gould but perhaps she had nothing new to contribute.

James Mugford, however, did have 3 interesting songs – ‘Betsy Watson’ (FT289, Roud 1493) appeared in many broadside publications but yet Sharp only collected one other version (from Betsy Prince of Haselbury Plucknett, Somerset FT720). Likewise Sharp only came across ‘Edwin in the Lowlands Low’ (FT290, Roud 182) from 2 singers in Somerset in 1905, although he found about a dozen version in the Appalachians. Finally ‘Tobacco is an Indian Weed’ (FT291, Roud 1457) Sharp found once more in Devon and only twice in Somerset.

James Mugford was born c1826 in Blackawton, 6 miles west of Stoke Fleming. He was an agricultural labourer all his life and he and his wife Charlotte moved to Stoke Fleming sometime in the 1870s. They had 3 children. In 1901 (ref RG13/2077 f36 p1) Charlotte appears to be a servant (later caretaker) at the rectory in the village. James died in Jly qr 1907 (Kingsbridge 5b 105).

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