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Baring-Gould, Sabine

Sabine Baring-Gould

A portrait of the author
Born 28 January 1834 (1834-01-28)
Exeter, England
Died 2 January 1924(1924-01-02) (aged 89)
Lew Trenchard, Devon, England
Occupation Anglican priest, landowner
Nationality British
Spouse(s) Grace Taylor
Children 15
Relative(s) Edward Baring-Gould

The Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould (28 January 1834 - 2 January 1924) was an English hagiographer, antiquarian, novelist and eclectic scholar. His bibliography lists more than 1240 separate publications, though this list continues to grow. His family home, Lew Trenchard Manor near Okehampton, Devon, has been preserved as he rebuilt it and is now a hotel. He is remembered particularly as a writer of hymns, the best-known being "Onward, Christian Soldiers" and "Now the Day Is Over". He also translated the carol "Gabriel's Message" from Basque to English.


[edit] Biography

Sabine Baring-Gould was born in the parish of St Sidwell, Exeter on 28 January 1834 - the eldest son of Edward Baring-Gould and his first wife Sophia Charlotte née Bond. He was named after an uncle, the Arctic explorer Sir Edward Sabine.[1] Because the family spent much of his childhood travelling round Europe, his education was mostly conducted by private tutors. He spent a period of about two years in formal schooling, first at King's College School in London (then located in Somerset House) and then, for a few months, at Warwick Grammar School (now Warwick School). Here his time was cut short by a bronchial attack of the kind that was to plague him throughout his long life. His father saw his ill-health as a good reason for another European tour.

In 1852 he was admitted to Cambridge University, earning the degrees of Bachelor of Arts in 1857, then Master of Arts in 1860 from Clare College, Cambridge.[2] In 1864, he became the curate at Horbury Bridge, West Riding of Yorkshire. It was while acting as a curate that he met and fell in love with Grace Taylor, the 16-year-old daughter of a mill hand. His vicar arranged for Grace to live for two years with relatives in York to learn middle class manners. Sabine, meanwhile, moved to bexome perpetual curate at Dalton, Near Thirsk. Hea and Grace were married in 1868 at Wakefield.[3] [4] Their marriage lasted until her death 48 years later, and the couple had 15 children, all but one of whom lived to adulthood. When he buried his wife in 1916 he had carved on her tombstone the Latin motto Dimidium Animae Meae ("Half my Soul").

In 1871 Baring-Gould became the rector of East Mersea in Essex, where he spent 10 years.

In 1880 he inherited the family estates of Lew Trenchard, Devon, which then comprised 3,000 acres (12 km²), and the gift of the living of Lew Trenchard parish. He was already in holy orders, so when the living became vacant in 1881, he was able to appoint himself to it, becoming parson as well as squire. He did a great deal of work restoring St. Peter’s Church, Lew Trenchard, and (from 1883–1914) thoroughly remodelling his home Lew Trenchard Manor.

[edit] Folk songs

He regarded as his principal achievement the collection of folk songs that he made with the help of the ordinary people of Devon and Cornwall. His first book of songs, Songs and Ballads of the West (1889–91), was the first folk song collection published for the mass market. The musical editor for this collection was Henry Fleetwood Sheppard, though some of the songs included were noted by Baring-Gould's other collaborator Frederick Bussell.

Baring-Gould and Sheppard produced a second collection called A Garland of Country Songs in 1895. A new edition of Songs of the West was proposed for publication in 1905. Sheppard had died in 1901 and so the collector Cecil Sharp was invited to undertake the musical editorship for the new edition. Sharp and Baring-Gould also collaborated on English Folk Songs for Schools in 1907. This collection of 53 songs was widely used in British schools for the next 60 years.

Though he had to modify the words of some songs which were too rude for Victorian ears, he left his original manuscripts for future students of folk song. His work preserved many beautiful pieces of music and their lyrics which otherwise might have been lost.

Cecil Sharp dedicated his English Folk Song—Some Conclusions to Baring-Gould.

The folk-song manuscripts from Baring-Gould's personal library and from public libraries have been published as a microfiche edition available for study in the main Devon Libraries and other places (including the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library in London). Thirty boxes of unpublished manuscript material on other topics (the Killerton manuscripts) are kept in the Devon Record Office in Exeter. The folksong manuscripts, including the notebooks used in the field, were given by Baring-Gould to Plymouth Public Library in 1914 and deposited with the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office in 2006.

The complete collection of folk song manuscripts (including two notebooks not included in the microfiches edition) has been didgitised and will be published on-line in 2011 by the Devon Tradition Project in association with the English Folk Dance and Song Society.

[edit] Literature

Baring-Gould wrote many novels (including Mehalah) and Guavas, the Tinner (1897),[5]a collection of ghost stories, a 16-volume The Lives of the Saints, and the biography of the eccentric poet-vicar of Morwenstow, Robert Stephen Hawker. His folkloric studies resulted in The Book of Were-Wolves (1865), one of the most frequently cited studies of lycanthropy. He habitually wrote standing up, and his desk can be seen in the manor.

One of his most enduringly popular works was Curious Myths of the Middle Ages , first published in two parts in 1866 and 1868, and republished in many other editions since then. "Each of the book's twenty-four chapters deals with a particular medieval superstition and its variants and antecedents," writes critic Steven J. Mariconda.[6] H. P. Lovecraft called it "that curious body of medieval lore which the late Mr. Baring-Gould so effectively assembled in book form."[7]

He wrote much about the Westcountry: his works in this field include:

  • A Book of the West. 2 vols. I: Devon; II: Cornwall. London : Methuen, 1899
  • Cornish Characters and Strange Events. London: John Lane, 1909 (reissued in 1925 in 2 vols., First series and Second series
  • Devonshire Characters and Strange Events.

Baring-Gould served as President of the Royal Institution of Cornwall for ten years, starting in 1897.[8]

Baring-Gould at age 5
Baring-Gould at age 35

[edit] Family

He married Grace Taylor on 25 May 1868 at Horbury. They had 15 children: Mary (b. 1869), Margaret Daisy (b. 1870, an artist who painted part of the screen in Lew Trenchard Church), Edward Sabine (b. 1871), Beatrice Gracieuse (b. 1874, d. 1876, aged 2 years), Veronica (b. 1875), Julian (b. 1877), William Drake (b. 1878), Barbara (b. 1880), Diana Amelia (b. 1881), Felicitas (bpt 1883), Henry (b. 1885), Joan (b. 1887), Cecily Sophia (b. 1889), John Hillary (b. 1890), and Grace (b. 1891).

His wife Grace died in April 1916 and he did not remarry.

Baring-Gould died on 2 January 1924 at his home at Lew Trenchard and was buried next to his wife, Grace.

He wrote two volumes of Reminiscences: Early Reminiscences, 1834-1864 and Further Reminiscences, 1864-1894.

One grandson, William Stuart Baring-Gould, was a noted Sherlock Holmes scholar who wrote a fictional biography of the great detective—in which, to make up for the lack of information about Holmes's early life, he based his account on the childhood of Sabine Baring-Gould. Sabine himself is a major character in Laurie R. King's Sherlock Holmes novel The Moor, a Sherlockian pastiche. In this novel it is revealed that Sabine Baring-Gould is the godfather of Sherlock Holmes.

[edit] Selected bibliography

Click on the external link for other titles you can add to the list: [2]
  • The Book of Were-Wolves, being an account of a terrible superstition (1865)
  • Curious myths of the Middle ages (1866)
  • Red spider (1887)
  • Grettir the outlaw: a story of Iceland (1890)
  • Dartmoor idylls (1896)
  • Songs of the West: folksongs of Devon & Cornwall (1905)
  • Devon (1907)

[edit] Notes

[edit] References

  1. Graebe, Martin Devon by Dog Cart and Bicycle: The Folk Song Collaboration of Sabine Baring-Gould and Cecil Sharp, 1904-17 Folk Music Journal Volume 9 Number 3 2008 pp292-348 ISSN 0531-9684
  2. Gould (or Baring-Gould), Sabine Baring in Venn, J. & J. A., Alumni Cantabrigienses, Cambridge University Press, 10 vols, 1922–1958.
  3. "The Squarson". TIME. June 24, 1957.,9171,825036,00.html?promoid=googlep 
  4. "A Marriage of Opposites" (PDF). Sabine Baring-Gould Appreciation Society. Archived from the original on 2008-05-29. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  5. Sabine Baring-Gould (1897) Guavas, the Tinner, Methuen & Co., London [1]
  6. Steven J. Mariconda, "Baring-Gould and the Ghouls: The Influence of Curious Myths of the Middle Ages on 'The Rats in the Walls'", The Horror of It All, p. 42.
  7. H. P. Lovecraft, "Supernatural Horror in Literature", Dagon and Other Macabre Tales, p. 352; cited in Mariconda, p. 42.
  8. Colloms, Brenda (2004) ‘Gould, Sabine Baring- (1834–1924)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2005 accessed 15 Nov 2007
  • Frykman, G. C. & Hadley, E. J. (2004) Warwick School: a History ISBN 0946095469
  • Purcell, William (1957) Onward Christian Soldier: a Life of Sabine Baring-Gould, parson, squire, novelist, antiquary, 1834-1924, with an introduction by John Betjeman. London: Longmans, Green

[edit] External links

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