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Smitherd, Elizabeth

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Cecil Sharp visited Mrs Smitherd in Tewkesbury on 9-10 January and 10-11 April 1908. She sang him A Brisk Young Man, As Jockey on a Summer’s Morn, Blow Away the Morning Dew, The Cruel Ship’s Carpenter, The Cuckoo, Green Mossy Banks of the Lea, In Shepherd Park, It’s of a Young Damsel, Jack Williams, The Miser’s Daughter, My Bonny Bonny Boy, O Once I Courted a Fair Pretty Maid, The Orange and Blue, Our Captain Called All Hands, Poaching Song, A Sailor and Beautiful Wife, Still Growing and Unquiet Grave.

Elizabeth Haynes was born in Pamington in 1846 and baptised in the Parish Church at Ashchurch on 3 July 1853 She was the daughter of Ann and Thomas (also known as John) Haynes who was a carpenter and said to be a squire’s son. She was one of thirteen sisters and learned all her folk songs from them and her parents. Elizabeth does not appear in the 1861 Census when she would have been 15, by which time her father, then a widower, had moved back to his birthplace of Aston on Carrant with only two of his daughters, Rose and Sarah. In the following Census of 1871 Elizabeth is found living on the Tewkesbury Road in Longford with Joseph Smitherd (also spelt Smilhards, Smithard, Smithered and Smithers) a tailor who gave his birthplace as London. Joseph had arrived in the Tewkesbury area after the death of his first wife Sarah Ann Smitherd (née Witts), following the birth of their son Herbert Samuel Smitherd on the 10th November 1868, both events being registered at St George’s, Hanover Square, London. Sadly, on the 5th January 1869 Herbert died of tuberculosis at Pamington, the death being registered at Tewkesbury by Joseph who was then living at Kinsham near Bredon. It was presumably after these tragic losses that Elizabeth Haynes and Joseph Smitherd first met and went to live in Longford. Whilst they both recorded their surname as Smitherd , they do not appear to have married until the second quarter of 1875 when their marriage was registered at Cheltenham.

By 1881 they were living at 5 Station Street in Tewkesbury when Joseph gave his occupation as both Chelsea Pensioner and ironmonger’s porter and his birthplace as Derby. However in subsequent Census returns he gave his occupation as general labourer and then timekeeper at the engineering works, and his birthplace as Derby and then Marylebone in London. Although Elizabeth did not have any children of her own she at times provided a home for her niece and nephew, Amy and Joseph Artus. She spent her final years at Barnes Almshouses (now demolished) in Spring Gardens off Chance Street, where she was described as the widow of Joseph Smitherd, an army pensioner. Elizabeth Smitherd died on 27 January 1910, only two years after Cecil Sharp’s visit to Tewkesbury, and like her husband, Joseph, was buried in the town cemetery on the Gloucester Road.

Notes by Richard Sermon 2012