Wilson, Susan


Collection date: Apr 1906

Area: Somerset - Mendips (Harptree & Priddy)

Susan Wilson of Shipham (1830-1913): age 78, 3 songs on 24 Apr 1906: One of Susan’s songs was ‘Long Tail Blue’ (FT936), which was published in the folksong book Still Growing (EFDSS 2003). Click vwml link above. The title refers to a fashionable dress coat and it was originally a blackface minstrel song and banjo tune from America c1827. Words were softened and verses trimmed in various song collections and broadsides* over succeeding decades (*Bodleian Library ref Bod3609). How exactly Susan came across it in rural Somerset is not clear!

Susan Wilson was baptised at Shipham on 31/10/1830, daughter of John & Mary Wilson. Her mother died when Susan was in her ‘teens and in 1851 she was shown as oldest daughter, aged 20, helping her father cope with 5 younger siblings. Susan herself was officially a ‘pauper’. She married David Wilson (cousin?), son of Samuel Wilson in Shipham on 30/4/1856. Neither signed their names in the register. The couple stayed in Shipham all their lives, David as an agricultural labourer (died Nov 1896). Susan raised 6 sons and 1 daughter. In 1901 (RG13/2327 f95 p9) Susan was listed as a shopkeeper and grocer, with 3 sons still single and at home with her. In 1911 she was living in a house with 6 rooms, so was not in poverty, it would seem. She died in June 1913 age 82 (5c 625).

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