Sonley, John


Collection date: Mar 1913

Area: Yorkshire

John Sonley of Kirkbymoorside sword dance: Sharp met John Sonley (aged 56, a joiner) on 26 March 1913. John was born and brought up at Kirkbymoorside but had moved to Lastingham (5 miles NE), which is where Sharp met him. Sharp transcribed the interview in Folk Dance Notes 3/39-42. Sonley said it was 36 years since the dancers last went out (i.e. 1877) and that he had danced with them for 3 years. They danced at Xmastime with steel swords. The musician had a concertina and a man carried a kettledrum.

John Sonley was born in Kirkbymoorside c1854, son of Robert Sonley, master shoemaker. Robert was a widower in 1861 and his wife Tamar seemingly died in 1852 (Helmsley 9d 240), so there may be a little mystery as to John’s conception. Anyway John is found in the 1881 census, still in Kirkbymoorside, aged 26, working as a joiner and living with his older brothers. He was married to Ellen Watson from Rosedale in January qr 1881 (Pickering 9d 508) and they had 2 sons. They had moved to Lastingham by 1891. John Sonley probably died July qr 1928 (Pickering 9d 510) aged 74.

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