Etherington, Rev Frank
Area: Somerset - West
Rev Frank Etherington, vicar of Minehead (1872-1961): Etherington was not a singer but he was a most important intermediary for Sharp, introducing him to a number of singers in Minehead and actually accompanying him on a couple of field trips to Exmoor.
Etherington was originally Rev Marson’s friend. He was baptised Francis McDonald Etherington on 21/4/1872 in Holy Trinity church, Blackheath in London, son of James (an engine fitter) and Mary Ann Etherington. As a young man he came in contact with the curate there - the Rev Ronald Bayne, whose sister was Chloe Bayne. She became engaged to Charles Marson in 1889 and Frank became good friends with both of them. He went to Kings College London to study theology and took a 1st class in 1894. He was ordained and spent a few years at St Jude’s Whitechapel. In 1899 Frank became vicar of Minehead and would be there till 1914.
Sharp must have met Etherington in London in past years and made polite arrangements to stay with him in August 1904. St Michael’s church in Minehead was set up on the hill but there was a short-cut footpath down to the harbour where three of Sharp’s singers would be found. The Vicarage was huge (13 rooms) and although Frank got married in 1900 and had 2 children, there was plenty of space for both Sharp and Marson to stay (1901 census ref RG13/2260 f47 p35).
Etherington was involved with the Williton Union workhouse and the West Somerset Free Press on 30/1/1909 reported him singing ‘My Old Dutch’ at the annual entertainment for the inmates. He may have introduced Sharp to William Gard at the workhouse through this connection. Etherington was also chairman of the annual Minehead Regatta event and seems to have mixed well with the sailing fraternity. Indeed between 1909-12 he was the Honorary Agent for the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society. This may explain his contacts with the Vickery, Lewis and Slade families. Etherington may also have known Capt Lewis in the latter’s role as an Overseer of the Poor.
Frank Etherington retired to Withypool and died in 1961.