James Beale

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James Beale, 1836 - 1918, singer, Warehorne, Kent. Collected by Cecil Sharp.

James Beale was born at Wivelsfield in Sussex, and according to Beale family tradition, was a “caravan-dweller” until settling at Hamstreet, Kent, on the edge of Romney Marsh - most likely by 1870. In the 1901 Census he is shown as living at an unnumbered dwelling on the Ruckinge Road, Hamstreet, and is listed as a Wood and Timber Dealer, working on his own account (Kelly’s Directory for 1903 records him as a poulterer, but no doubt he turned his hand to a variety of work). Living with him were his wife Charlotte and four grown-up sons – including Albert Beale, then 25, whom Peter Kennedy would record in the 1950s. From earlier Census records it appears that James had eleven children in all; Albert recalled that his mother used to lead the choir in Hamstreet Chapel, and that there had been ten family members in the choir at one time. Cecil Sharp visited Hamstreet and neighbouring villages on September 23rd 1908, collecting eight songs from James Beale at Spothouse Farm, Warehorne. In 1911, he also collected songs from Mr Beale’s married daughter Alice Harden.

Songs collected:

No John, no

The Woodman’s Daughter

Stroll away the morning dew (‘The baffled Knight’)

Cold blow and a rainy night

The Keys of Heaven

The bold fisherman

The moon shines bright

Sons of Levi


Charles Beale (James's grandson), interviewed by Andy Turner at The Wish, Kenardington, 1983.

Unnumbered Folktracks cassette, recorded at Kenardington by Peter Kennedy and Maud Karpeles, 14th Jan 1954.

George Frampton. In search of Cecil Sharp: the Folk Song Society in Kent. Bygone Kent, January 1998


Cecil Sharp's People