St Denys/Bitterne

George Blake, known as Crutie, was the youngest of 10 children born in 1829 to Edward & Sarah Blake of Minstead in the New Forest. Edward was a shoemaker and the family soon moved down the road to Emery Down.

George worked as a labourer and jobbing gardener, and married a local girl Maria Mills. Her half-brother later became known as Brusher Mills, the snake catcher.

George's brother Moses became a pillar of Emery Down, being sexton and parish clerk, and has a fine memorial in Emery Down Church. George however was frequently in trouble with the Lyndhurst Petty Sessions, through the noise he made coming home drunk from the pub. Both brothers were noted for their singing.

Early in the 20th century, Dr George Gardiner visited the area wishing to record the local traditional songs before they died out. He was recommended to seek out several local men, including Moses Blake, but also George Blake who had by that time moved into Southampton to live with a married daughter in Adelaide Road, St Denys..

George and his daughter's family eventually moved to Lilac Cottages, River View Road, Bitterne Park, where he died in 1916.

Adelaide Road, St Denys, Southampton c.1905

Dr Gardiner was very impressed with both the quality of George's singing, and the number of songs he knew, many of them new to Dr Gardiner. He described George as a "fine and intelligent singer".

Many of his songs have been recorded and all are available on George Blake's Legacy CD. Since the CD was released Tim has updated his CD notes and the information can be found here.

It is rather ironic that during his lifetime George was probably considered a bit of a black sheep in the family, but because his songs were collected, he is now widely respected in the world of folk singing.

George was 78 years old when he sang George Gardiner 48 songs, including carols and toasts, in May, June, July 1906 and November 1907.

George Blake's Alphabet
The Queen of May
The Golden Glove
The (New) Irish Girl
The Crafty Ploughboy
George Collins
Young Men and Maidens
The Jolly Highwayman
A Virgin Most Pure
The Cruel Ship's Carpenter
Blackberry Fold
The True Lovers
Charles Dickson
My True Love is Lost
Jack Hall
Adieu to Old England
Forty Long Miles
Rosemary Lane
Barbara Allen
Oxford City
The Sweet Primeroses
Young Taylor
Turpin Hero
I Am a Damsel so Blooming and Gay
The Turtle Dove
The Rambling Sailor
Lord Bateman
I Am a Sailor
Sweep Chimney Sweep
As I Walked Out One Summer's Morning
On Christmas Time all Christians Sing
The Rocks of Scilly
Henry Martin
Attention Give Both High and Low
Botany Bay
I Am a Rover in Yorkshire
The Lost Lady Found
When I Was Young in My Youthful Days
The Female Highwayman
'Twas Over Hills
There Goes a Man
The Bold Princess Royal
Drink Old England Dry
Lovely Susan
The Orange and the Blue
Sir Hugh
Here's Adieu to all Judges and Juries
Creeping Jane
Colin and Phoebe
Under a Rose
My Bonnie Bonnie Boy
Hark Hark Let Us Behold


Return to top