Winder, James


Collection date: Nov 1912

Area: Lancashire

James Winder for the Wyresdale 'hopping' dance (1874-1954): Over Wyresdale is a civil parish encompassing 5 or 6 hamlets; it had a population in 1901 of 464. Sharp saw this unusual 3-man dance performed at the school at Dolphinholme, a village 7 miles S of Lancaster, on Fri 8 November 1912. He no doubt caught trains to arrive at Bay Horse station, 2 miles away, on the West Coast main line from Preston. It’s not clear how he heard about the dance.

He wrote up the dance in Folk Dance Notes 2/183-189 and published it in Morris Book Part V (Novello 1913). It’s not a sword dance and it’s not really a morris dance - no local person ever referred to it as such - but Sharp thought it was an old dance and was intrigued by it. He noted that it was performed on Fair Day and other public holidays. The tune and dance were always locally referred to as ‘Greensleeves’ and when performed today, there are some differences to the way that Sharp noted it.

The dance was performed by James Winder, aged 38; his younger brother John; and their neighbour Bartholomew (Bartle) Dodding (see separate profile). Sharp copied the ‘Greensleeves’ tune for the dance directly from the music manuscripts which belonged to James Winder’s father (FT2807). Research by Alan Nowell, Chris Partington and Andy Hornby* has indicated that these tune books were the work of generations within the Winder family. To understand that genealogy, it is best to work back in time in steps:

1.Tom and Joan Flett interviewed Mrs Mary Pearcy in 1960. Mary was born in July 1900, eldest child of Edward Winder and she confirmed that it was Edward’s younger brothers (her uncles) James and John Winder who danced for Sharp. They were both living at Dolphinholme village in the 1911 census at 15 and 26 Corless Cottages respectively. The two brothers were small farmers and they had in fact married two sisters – Agnes and Sarah Cookson. James Winder (b1874) married Agnes in 1899 and they had 6 children; John (b1877) married Sarah in 1903 and they had 2 sons (John 1905) and Arthur (1913). It seems that Edward, James and John all played the fiddle and they had a family band that played at local dances etc. James died in 1954 and John in Feb 1960.

2.They had learned the fiddle from their father James Winder Snr.He was a farmer of 128 acres at Greenbank, Over Wyresdale. At his first marriage to Isabella Parker (St Mary’s Lancaster 11/6/1855) James registered his father’s name as Edward Winder, farmer. Isabella died in 1869 without children and James was remarried to Jane Hitchon in January qr 1870; they had 8 children. James Snr died in March 1902, aged 81.

3.Edward Winder married Mary Hall at Lancaster in 1804 and they had several children including James (above), who was baptised on 21/5/1820 ‘James, son of Edward and Mary Winder of Hawthornthwaite’. There were at least 4 siblings – John bp 13/12/1812; Ellen 23/12/1814; Edward 5/10/1817; and Elizabeth 26/2/1825. Certainly these children appear in the 1841 census at ‘Higher Greenbank’ when Edward is listed as a farmer, aged 55, with wife Mary. They were still together in 1851 (probably at the same residence Knowsley Farm, 128 acres) but Edward died in 1853. There are music manuscripts with the name ‘Edward’ on them and these may be his work.

4.At Edward Winder’s baptism on 16/3/1783 at St Mary’s Lancaster, the register lists his parents as Edward and Betty Winder. This is only relevant because researchers have been trying to link the musical family (described above) with one John Winder, dancing master, who advertised his services in the town of Lancaster as early as 1792 and whose dance tunes appear in the very first manuscripts that the family possessed. John Winder does actually appear in the 1841 census, aged 70, living in King St, Lancaster, ‘teacher of dancing’ with his wife Jane, 68 and daughters Mary Anne 26, Jane 22, and Alice 21. He also had a son James**, baptised on 26/4/1818 at St Mary’s Lancaster, son of John, a ‘teacher of dancing’ and Jane. The 1841 census ref is HO107 piece 553 bk9 f21 p34. The 1841 census did round up ages but it looks like John Winder was born c1871, which would mean he opened for business as a dance teacher in 1792, aged only 21. But he had been to London and was raring to go! John does not seem to be in the 1851 census.

Although further research is needed, there must be a link between John Winder, dancer, and Edward Winder, farmer, for the music manuscripts to pass across and be preserved – family legend has it that they were brothers but they may have been cousins. The fact that their music and dancing skills were transmitted across the decades and available to Sharp in 1912 is pretty amazing.

*Alan Nowell has made a special study of the Wyresdale dance; Chris Partington has researched the tunes and history of the Winder family manuscripts; and Andy Hornby edited and produced ‘The Winders of Wyresdale’ book 

** Some of the tune manuscripts dated 1842 have the name ‘James Winder’ on them and this could either be James, son of John the dance teacher (b1818), or James, son of Edward the farmer (b1820).

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