Woolley, William

Also known as: William Wooley

Collection date: Aug 1907

Area: Somerset - Bridgwater Surrounds


William Woolley of Bincombe, Over Stowey (1823-1912): age 84, 4 songs on 12 Aug 1907 + 1 song on 6 Jan 1908: William Woolley was a blacksmith, who naturally enjoyed singing ‘Twankydillo’ (FT1400) but Sharp never published that song. He did, however, record him singing ‘O No John’ (FT1398) on a phonograph wax cylinder. It can be heard at vwml.org (EFDSS Cylinder No24, CYL/24, 1). Sharp published the song in Folk Songs from Somerset vol 4 and also put it into the Novello School Songs (set 2). As a result, generations of school children have had to sing it.

Note: When he revisited William in Jan 1908, Sharp took down 'Blow the wind wester' (FT1556 Roud 472). This is an early version of 'Windy Old Weather' that is now in the current folk repertoire. Although Sharp spelled the surname with one ‘l’, most of the censuses have Woolley with two ‘l’s. He was baptised at Nether Stowey church on 28/12/1823, eldest son of Samuel Woolley, shoemaker and his wife Elizabeth. His marriage to Elizabeth Hurley was registered October qr 1845. In 1901 (RG13/2280 f89 p3) at Bincombe, Over Stowey we find William Woolley 77, blacksmith with wife Elizabeth, 80. Daughter Emma, 36 laundress is in the same house with her husband James Coles and 2 children. In fact William had spent decades raising his 6 children not in Over Stowey but in nearby Stogursey village (1851-1881 censuses). William died October qr 1912 aged 88.