Nicholls, Mr Frederick

Collection date: Jan 1904

Area: Devon


Mr F. Nicholls at Meshaw, North Devon (1844-1928): age 60, 3 songs 11 Jan 1904: When Sharp wrote ‘Mr’ before a singer’s name, he usually meant the person was of some standing in the community. Frederick Nicholls was a tailor by trade and also ran a grocery shop which became a Post Office. Two of his songs - ‘The Wild Rover’ and ‘Joan’s ale is new’ (FT114 and 116) - were widely distributed on 19th century broadside sheets and are still sung today, of course. Sharp collected just 1 other version of ‘Wild Rover’ in all his ramblings and 7 other versions of ‘Joan’s ale’. His third song ‘As Doll sat a-milking the cow’ (FT117, Roud 1285) is elsewhere known as ‘Bonny Hodge’ and was noted by several collectors. It appears in several broadside sources.

Frederick Nicholls was born in Meshaw in July qr 1844 (South Molton 10-183), 4th child of Arthur Nicholls, a tailor and his wife Grace, a dressmaker. In April qr 1867 he married Lydia Eastmond, a seamstress. They had 8 children. In 1901 Frederick was living next door to singer Emily Cockram in Meshaw (RG13/2139 f69 p1). In 1911 Frederick was aged 67 and described as ‘postmaster’ in Meshaw. He died on 29/1/1928 and left £286 to his son William and daughter Lydia.

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