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Samuel Wakely (1787-1865) revisited (1)

by Eve Higgs

Reproduced from an article in West Gallery no.86
This article should be read in conjunction with the biography of Samuel Wakely on ChoralWiki.

The Bridport Connection

Samuel was born illegitimately in Netherbury in West Dorset in 1787; father’s name unknown. His mother, Ann married in 1794. Her new husband did not acknowledge Samuel as his step son. His trajectory suggests that Samuel was apprenticed to a shoemaker who was probably a member of Bridport Independent Meeting. He was therefore obliged to attend. Independents were founder Congregationalists. Hence the title of Samuel Wakely of Bridport’s first collection of compositions, New Congregational Music. His name does not appear on Bridport Independents membership lists but non conformist registers record that a Samuel Wakely, cordwainer (ie shoemaker) married Martha Bools in 1809 and unlike those Bridport contemporaries sharing his name, was literate.(2) During this period non-conformists tended to ‘marry in’. The Bools family’s connections with the Bridport meeting date back to 1760. Bridport baptism and burial registers record the birth and death of two sons born to Martha and Samuel, each named George. Their surviving children were George and Mary Ann both of whose baptisms are listed in the Bridport Independent Meeting registers.

Bridport Independent Meeting House
Bridport Independent Meeting House
Hutchins 1774 Map of Bridport
Extract from Hutchins’ 1774 map of Bridport showing locations of Old Meeting House [f] and New Meeting House [g]. (3)

Martha Wakely died in 1820. Her husband, Samuel, remarried in 1822 and moved to Rockbourne in Hampshire with Mary Ann and George and his new wife, Ann. Circumstantial evidence suggests he moved there to take up the post of school master. Employed by a charitable trust set up by the late Reverend Longden, the new schoolmaster was to be responsible for preparing the daughters of six respectable paupers to be farm servants and for teaching them to sing psalms on Sundays. Shortly after the Wakelys arrived in Rockbourne, the trust was dissolved on a legal technicality.(4) But it seems the parish honoured his appointment. Samuel became an Anglican. He lived out the rest of his life in Rockbourne, working as a schoolmaster and shoemaker and participating in the musical life of the parish until his death in 1865. (5) Rockbourne Church St Andrew, Rockbourne (7)

Thomas Hardy Senior

Speculation that Samuel Wakely had a connection to Thomas Hardy has turned out not to be, but to his grandfather of the same name. Thomas Hardy, senior, a west gallery musician in the Dorset parish churches of Puddletown and Stinsford, subscribed to New Congregational Music (1818) and Five New Anthems (circa 1818). He is the source of evidence which proves that the Samuel Wakely who moved from Dorset to Hampshire, was the composer in question. Wakely’s tune to Psalm 5 entitled Rockborne [sic], is included in Thomas Hardy senior’s manuscript book of dance tunes and violin parts for church use, among papers also in Dorset County Museum. (6)

Music files:
See seraphic throngs descending - Music Score
Carol - come hail the glorious morn - Music Score
MP3 files created from recordings made by Mike Bailey of The Madding Crowd.

1) Higgs, E., ‘Reinvestigating Samuel Wakely of Bridport (1787-1865), composer of psalms and anthems’, Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society, Vol. 139, 2018, pp. 29-35.
2) BMD Registers, The Official Non-Conformist and Non-Parochial BMDs Service, 2018. Available at https://bmdregisters.co.uk [accessed 21/02/2019]
3) Hutchins, J., 1774 The History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset ... Vol 1, W. Bowyer and J. Nichols, London.
4) The National Archives, CHAR2/254 Charities Commission Papers 1817-1850 ... Rockbourne. Longden Gift.
5) Hampshire Records Office, 3M86/23 Rockbourne: Tithe map and apportionment, 184; 5M62/8 page 371 Registered copy will of Samuel Wakely of Rockbourne (or Rockley), cordwainer, 1866; 39M68/14 Rockbourne Parish, Churchwardens’ accounts 1739-185; 39M68/170 Manuscript notes on Rockbourne for a parish history and other guide books ..., 20th century: Rev. A Ratcliffe, Rector of the Parish A.D.1892-1919, Notes on the Parish of Rockbourne, Hants [n.d.].
6) Dorset County Museum Thomas Hardy Collection, Hardy Family Music, Lock Collection, MS Music Book containing folk and dance tunes and violin tunes for church use. Inscribed T.Hardy, Bockhampton, Dorset with (Junior) added. Rebound. Formerly N4.
7) The image of Rockbourne Church is reproduced from The Victoria History of the County of Hampshire, vol. IV, (Archibald Constable and Co., 1911), p. 585, by permission of the Editor. The image is reproduced from British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/hants/vol4/pp581-586 [accessed 21/02/2019].



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