Stagg, William


Collection date: Jul 1906

Area: London

William (Charles) Stagg of Hammersmith (1865-1943): age 40, 2 tunes on 5 July 1906: Sharp collected 2 morris tunes (FT957 ‘Belle Isle’s March’ and FT958 ‘Unnamed tune’, recognisably ‘Young Collins’) from ‘Mr’ Stagg (no age noted), as he worked near his house at 183, Adelaide Rd, Hampstead. William and his son Arthur were two ‘Whistling Sewermen’ (see Paul Burgess article Folk Music Journal 2002).

William Stagg was born 21/9/1865 (reg Oct 1865 Stow 6a 338), illegitimate son of Eliza Stagg and William Hathaway, whom Eliza promptly married on 13/3/1866 at Oddington, 2 miles E of Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloucestershire. In the 1861 census Eliza’ s father Daniel Stagg was listed as an agricultural labourer in Great Bedwyn nr Hungerford in Wiltshire, while Eliza was aged 16, a ‘housemaid'. There can be little doubt that she then left home to move 50 miles north to Stow to take up a position there.

Eliza and William Hathaway had 7 children and it was perhaps no surprise when William Jr left home to seek work in London. He met and married Ann Warren at St Peter’s Hammersmith on 9/12/1883. Son Arthur Richard was baptised on 5/4/1885 and he had siblings – Sarah (b1887), Emma (1889) and Robert (1899). In the 1901 census (RG13/48 f14 p20) both William (aged 35) and Arthur (16) were listed as ‘bricklayer labourers’, living at 19 Cardross St (off Goldhawk Rd).

In 1911 Arthur was at 59, Cardross St with new wife Florence and two young sons, while William and Ann had moved round the corner to Banim St. In the census Ann reported that she had borne 7 children, 4 of whom had died young. Emma and Sarah were still at home, working as laundresses.

Although William Stagg moved to London at age 18, it’s clear that he had picked up morris tunes from his father William Hathaway, who was fiddler for the Lower Swell morris side. Stagg may have been a dancer himself. Mary Neal got to hear of this new source of morris dancing and was hopeful of a new teacher for her Esperance Girls just like William Kimber. She was quoted in the Manchester Daily Guardian 20 Sept 1906 that ‘the grandfather was a great morris dancer and ... is to be brought up to London to superintend the girls dances …’ But when Sharp found William Hathaway in Cheltenham in March 1907, the latter was sadly lame and partially sighted.

William Stagg probably died in April qr 1943 (Staines 3a 6) and son Arthur on 21 February 1956.

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