Mitchell, Thomas

Collection date: Aug 1905

Area: Somerset - Yeovil & Crewkerne


Thomas Mitchell of Merriott (1843-1925): 1 song 'The Painful Plough' (FT 599, Roud 355) on 25 Aug 1905: Sharp only collected 2 versions of this song - the other being from Job Francis of Shipley, Sussex in 1908. He published the song in Folk Songs from Somerset vol2: Sharp did not give the age of this singer, which is unfortunate as there are 2 candidates - the field notebooks do not help.

The most likely person is Thomas Mitchell aged 62, an agricultural labourer living in Merriott itself. A less likely candidate is Thomas Clark Mitchell, aged 32, son of a farmer living in Merriottsford on road to Crewkerne (and in the West Crewkerne census district). The song is perhaps more suited to the labourer than the farmer. Sharp tended to focus on older singers and might have noted the middle name or initial of the younger man:

The older Thomas Mitchell was born 24/1/1843 and baptised in Merriott church 3 weeks later. He was son of John Mitchell (gardener) and Mary. Thomas spent his whole life in the village of Merriott, mostly as an agricultural labourer and then (1911) a nurseryman. He married Mary Anne Lacey on 10/4/1866 at Merriott church and neither could sign their names. They had 5 daughters and in 1901 the family were living in Higher Street (next to the Castle Inn where singer Selina Lawrence was living) ref RG13/2296 f73 p37. Wife Mary Ann died 25/8/1906 aged 67 and Thomas soldiered on as a widower, dying March qr 1925 Yeovil 5c 477.

The younger Thomas Clark Mitchell was born in 1873, the 6th child of William Clark Mitchell, farmer and his wife Louisa. William Mitchell was farming at Merriottsford in both the 1891 and 1901 censuses. He died in 1909 aged 74 and the family split up. Son Thomas got married in 1910 and began farming at Green Nap, a mile to the N of Merriott itself. Thomas died in 1945.

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