Collection date: Jan 1904
Charlie Snell at Rose Ash, North Devon (1854-?): age 50, 1 song 8 Jan 1904: Snell’s song was ‘Oh! Nellie Ray’ (Sharp wrote ‘Reay’ FT 100, Roud 12610). The lyrics are trite and sentimental with a chorus to sing along to. It was not in fact a folksong but a music hall song, composed in the 1870s by Felix McGlennon (1856-1943)*. The latter was a Scotsman who went to America in the mid-1880s and published his songs there before returning to write for English music halls in the 1890s. How exactly Snell heard the song in a remote part of Devon remains a mystery. * See Roud, Steve ‘Folk Song in England’ (Faber & Faber 2017) p87
Charles Snell was born in 1854 (Jly qr S Molton 5b 416), son of John Snell, an agricultural labourer and his wife Mary. In 1861 John Snell is shown as a widower with 3 other children, so it’s not surprising that Charles moved out to become a farm boy in another household in 1871 in Bishops Nympton. In April qr 1886 he married Elizabeth Perryman (S Molton 5b 795). They had no children but in 1901 are shown as a gardener and as a laundress at Rose Ash (RG13/2140 f46 p1) two doors away from singer Matthew Pester. By 1911 Charles is listed as a ‘farmer’ with a house of 6 rooms and a servant too. He died on 6 January 1922, leaving £789 to his widow Elizabeth.