Holding, Richard

Also known as: Richard Olding

Collection date: Aug 1907

Area: Somerset - Bridgwater Town


Richard Holding (Olding) at Bridgwater (1843-1912): age 69, 1 song ‘Spanish Ladies’ on 8 Aug 1907: Sharp wrote the singer’s name as ‘Olding’ in FT1390 and in the Field Notebooks (CJS1/9/2/1907/7 p25) it could be ‘Oldbury’ but there is nobody of either name in the Bridgwater censuses. It is much more likely in fact to be ‘Holding’.

Holding’s song is sometimes classed as a sea shanty – Sharp included Capt Lewis’ version in Folk Songs from Somerset vol 5 (1909), calling it a shanty. But the song probably originates earlier in the Napoleonic era as a Naval song before sea shanties became widespread in the Merchant service.

In 1901 census (RG13/2322 f65) Richard Holding, married, age 59, able seaman, was on board vessel Ravinala, a ketch 67 tons off Burnham coast (River Parrett). The master of the ship was Richard’s nephew Elisha Holding, master mariner. This suggests that Richard was 65 when he met Sharp, a discrepancy that may be compensated by the fact that as a sailor Richard knew this old sea song.

In fact Richard was a Yorkshireman, born in Knottingley, nr Pontefract West Yorks in October qr 1843 (22-434). In the 1861 census he was aboard the vessel ‘Auspicious’ in Cardiff bay, listed as an ordinary seaman aged 19. On 11/3/1871 at St John’s Eastover (Bridgwater), aged 28, he married Elizabeth Beake, a widow of the same age. Elizabeth brought with her 2 young children, aged 3 and 1. They lived in St John Street and in the 1911 census Richard stated that he had 10 children, 3 of whom had not survived. Richard died in July qr 1912 (5c 362).

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