John Broadwood

John Broadwood served as a curate at Cocking from 1824 for eight years, during which time he was also curate at Nuthurst near Horsham, before becoming curate at Wiggonholt, near Pulborough in 1832. He was a member of the Broadwood piano-making family and later lived at the family home at Lyne, near Capel, on the Surrey/Sussex border.

He was the first collector of English folk songs and published his first collection under the title “Old English Songs” in 1847, later re-printed in a collection published by his niece, Lucy Broadwood, under the title of “Sussex Songs” in 1889.

John Broadwood was born on 13 May 1798 in the St Marylebone district of London, the son of James Shudi Broadwood (1772–1851) and his wife, Sophia Bridget née Colville (1778–1801). He was baptised at St Marylebone Parish Church on 19 June.

Family background

James Shudi Broadwood was the son of John Broadwood (1732–1812), who was born in Cocksburnpath, near Berwick, Scotland and, at age 29, came to London to take up a position with the Swiss harpsichord manufacturer Burkat Shudi (or Tschudi) (1702–1773). In 1769, John Broadwood senior married Shudi’s daughter, Barbara (1748–1776), becoming a partner with Shudi in 1770.  By 1795, the firm had ceased the manufacture of harpsichords and now concentrated on the manufacture of pianos under the name John Broadwood & Son. The company is still trading today, from premises at Whitby in Yorkshire.

John and Barbara Broadwood had six children, including James, who was their first son to survive infancy, before Barbara died in July 1776. Five years later, John re-married to Mary Ann Kitson (1752–1839), with whom he had a further six children.

James Shudi Broadwood joined his father in the piano making business in 1795. He married Sophia Bridget Colville in Piccadilly on 11 July 1797; their first son, John was born ten months later, on 13 May 1798, followed by a daughter, Elizabeth, who was born in September 1799, but died at only three weeks old. Their second son, James Preston Broadwood, was born in November 1800. Sophia died in August 1801, aged 23, leaving James as a widower with two sons aged 3 and under. She was the first of several members of the Broadwood family to be buried at St Mary Magdalene Church in Rusper, Sussex, close to the Broadwood family home at Lyne House, just across the Surrey border.

James re-married, to Margaret Schaw Stewart (1778–1849), in June 1804 and had a further thirteen children, including Henry Fowler Broadwood, born in June 1811. Three children died as infants.

Education and clerical career

It is not known where John Broadwood had his early education. He matriculated on 4 February 1817, aged 18, and attended Exeter College at the University of Oxford. He graduated as Bachelor of Arts in November 1820, and was admitted Master of Arts three years later.

On 31 October 1822, John was appointed curate at Apuldram, south of Chichester, by the Bishop of Chichester, John Buckner, on a stipend of £30 per annum. Two years later, he left Apuldram and was appointed curate to Revd. Thomas Valentine at Nuthurst, south of Horsham, and at Cocking, on a joint stipend of £100, by the newly-appointed Bishop of Chichester, Robert Carr.

It is unlikely that John Broadwood spent much time in Cocking, as his name does not appear in the parish register; as Thomas Valentine resided at Cocking, it is probable that John lived in the rectory at Nuthurst. His curacy at Nuthurst and Cocking had ended by late 1832, when William Blew was appointed to both positions, although William Jenkins had been officiating at weddings and funerals at Cocking since March 1831.

On leaving Nuthurst and Cocking, John became curate at Wiggonholt, near Pulborough, retaining this position until the death of his father in August 1851, following which he no longer practiced as a priest.

In May 1837, he officiated at the wedding of his wife’s younger sister, Ellen King, to Revd Richard Greene, at Wisborough Green.

Married life

On 25 January 1825, at Wisborough Green, John Broadwood married Charlotte King (1803–1886), the eldest daughter of John and Mary King of Loxwood.

On the 1832 and 1837 electoral rolls, Thomas Broadwood is recorded as residing at Wiggonholt, but owning property at Cowix Farm, close to his parents’ home at Lyne, near Capel, on the Surrey/Sussex border.

Bedford House, shortly before demolition in 1942

At the 1841 census, he and Charlotte were living at Bedford House in Bedford Row, a stone’s throw from the seafront at Worthing. His occupation was given as “clerk”; also living at the house were three servants, Charlotte Richardson, Fanny Sturt and Robert Britton.

The 1851 census records the couple living back at Wiggonholt, where John is described as “Curate of Wiggonholt”. Charlotte Richardson was again living with them (now described as “lately a cook”), as was Fanny Sturt, together with a cook, a coachman and a footman.

Following the death of his father in August 1851, John vacated his curacy at Wiggonholt and moved into the family home at Lyne, where he and Charlotte lived until John’s death. Shortly after taking occupation of Lyne House, John sent all his workmen by train to Brighton to have their harvest dinner and celebrate their Harvest Home.

The 1861 census records them at Lyne, when John is described as a “Clergyman in the Church of England, without cure of souls” and as a “landed proprietor and farmer (with) 483 acres, employing 15 men, 3 boys, 2 bricklayers, 2 carpenters, 3 gardeners, and 3 gamekeepers”. The couple were supported by a retinue of 9: a housekeeper, a cook, 2 housemaids, a dairymaid, a kitchen maid, a coachman, a footman and a stable lad.

In December 1861, The Sussex Agricultural Express reported on the benevolence of John and Charlotte to their local community:

Almost every old widow and widower in the parish [of Newdigate] are their constant weekly pensioners. At the commencement of every winter, each poor family has a liberal supply of flannel, stockings, and other necessary articles; also the loan of blankets. Mutton, wine, etc. is given in sickness, and beef to every poor man, woman and child on each Christmas eve. Liberal subscriptions are also given to the infant school, the clothing fund, and other charitable institutions.

Let those who have the means “Go and do likewise.”

John Broadwood died at Lyne on 26 January 1864, aged 65; the cause of death was recorded as “softening of the brain (9 months)” and apoplexy. He was buried at St Mary Magdalene Church, Rusper (1½ miles south-east of the family home) on 2 February.

John and Charlotte had no children.

Folk music collection

John Broadwood, together with his father and brother, Henry Fowler Broadwood, had long had an interest in English folk music.

In his report on the “Resources in the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library: The Lucy Broadwood Collection” published in the Folk Music Journal in 1997, C.J. Bearman says:

It has been assumed that John Broadwood was a lonely pioneer in folk song collection, and the story of his singing the songs, to the polite boredom of his relatives, has been told and re-told. The boredom, however, was not universal, since folk song was something of a family business for three generation of Broadwoods. Parties of “wassailers” came into the house at Lyne to sing for the family, and we have a recollection of one of these occasions – at Christmas 1829 – from one of the singers, William Boxall.

Ralph Vaughan Williams said that John Broadwood “is to be honoured in the annals of English folk-song”.

In December 1943, Frank Howes published an article in the Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society entitled “A Centenary” in which he describes John Broadwood as “a pioneer of the scientific method applied editorially to the oral tradition of English folk-song”. In 2010, in “The Late Victorian Folksong Revival”, E. David Gregory describes John’s collection of sixteen songs as “authentic examples of vernacular music preserved by oral tradition in the countryside of southern England”. “Broadwood was not the first English collector from oral tradition, but his little book was the first to consist exclusively of tunes noted in the field.”

While living in Worthing, John recruited the assistance of George A. Dusart, described as a “professor of music”, who was the organist at the Worthing Chapel of Ease (later St Paul’s Church), in preserving the folk songs of Sussex and Surrey which John had collected over several years. John Broadwood set out with the intention that the “airs are set to music exactly as they were sung”; he was reputed to have had an accurate memory and a good ear for music, and played the “German flute” of his day well, but needed Dusart’s help in writing down the tunes.

The two seem to have had a tempestuous working relationship. John Broadwood played the German flute on which he would play the tunes and insisted that they were recorded as he played them. Dusart, on the other hand, insisted that the tunes should correspond to the current conventional practice. According to John’s niece, Lucy (1858–1929), who was only six years old at the time of her uncle’s death:

Dusart made great outcries over intervals which shocked his musical standards. A flat seventh never WAS and never COULD be! It is recorded that Mr Broadwood, confirming his vocal intervals  by vehement blasts on his flute replied: “Musically, it may be wrong, but I WILL have it exactly as my singers sang it.”

The songs were eventually collated by John Broadwood in 1843, but it was not until 1847 that they were privately published. The work is generally referred to under the title “Old English Songs”, although the full title ls over 100 words long!


as now sung by the Peasantry of the


and collected by one who has learnt them by hearing them sung every Christmas from early childhood by

THE COUNTRY PEOPLE who go about to the Neighbouring Houses, Singing, or “WASSAILING”, as it is called, at that season.

THE AIRS ARE SET TO MUSIC EXACTLY AS THEY ARE NOW SUNG, to rescue them from oblivion and to afford a specimen of genuine Old English Melody.

AND THE WORDS ARE GIVEN IN THEIR ORIGINAL ROUGH STATE with an occasional slight alteration to render the sense intelligible.

 Harmonized for the Collector in 1843 by G. A. DUSART

Organist to the Chapel of Ease at Worthing

The songs recorded in the book are as follows:

        1. The Moon shines Bright
        2. A Wassail, A Wassail
        3. The Noble Lord
        4. Rosebuds in June
        5. A Sweet Country Life
        6. The Ploughboy
        7. The Privateer
        8. The Fourteenth of July
        9. Gipsy Song (The Lost Lady Found)
        10. The Servingman and the Husbandman
        11. The Bailiff’s Daughter of Islington
        12. The Poacher’s Song (In Thorny Woods)
        13. In Lancashire
        14. The Damsel in the West
        15. The Woodcutter (Harvest Supper Song)
        16. Lord Bateman

John was more interested in saving tunes rather than words, and in several instances he only recorded one verse of a song.

Only three copies of the 1847 book are known to be still in existence: one in the British Library, one in Brighton Library and the third at the Surrey History Centre in Woking.

In April 1890, a second cousin of John Broadwood, Herbert Frederick Birch Reynardson published a reprint of the original book under the title “Sussex Songs” which included several songs collected by Lucy Broadwood, as well as at least one song collected by her father, Henry Fowler Broadwood. In this edition, Reynardson systematically replaced Dusart’s original piano arrangements with his own, new ones.

In 1995, the songs were  re-published under the title “Sweet Sussex: Folk Songs from the Broadwood Collections” by Lewis Jones, with guitar chords and illustrations by Margaret Crosland.

The book was also referenced in the sleeve notes for the album “Sussex Harvest” by Various Artists, published in 1975 by Topic Records.

In 2000, the UK rock band Half Man Half Biscuit included an inlay in their CD “Trouble over Bridgwater” which reproduced the title page of Old English Songs.

Charlotte Broadwood

Shortly after John’s death, his widow, Charlotte, built the Capel Village Hospital in Vicarage Lane in his memory. Opened in 1866 with ten beds, the hospital was one of the first cottage hospitals in England. In 1946, the hospital was converted into  a residence for retired people. It is now a Grade II listed building, known as Charlotte Broadwood Flats.

John’s brother, Henry Fowler Broadwood then took up residence at Lyne House, while Charlotte moved out of the family home, initially living 32 miles away in Tonbridge, Kent. At the 1871 census, she was living at Church Road, Tonbridge with four servants: a lady’s maid (56-year old Nancy Du Boquet from Cornwall), a cook, a parlourmaid and an under-maid (25-year old Anne Wales, from Capel). Ten years later, she was living at The Mount, St. Leonards, near Hastings with four servants, including Nancy Du Boquet, now described as housekeeper, and Anne Wales (now a housemaid) plus a cook and under-maid.

Charlotte died at 4 The Mount on 24 September 1886, aged 83. She was buried alongside her husband at St Mary Magdalene Church, Rusper on 30 September 1886. Her estate was valued for probate at £24,871. In her will she made a bequest of £2,500 to the Capel Cottage Hospital, as well as legacies to members of the hospital staff, other charities, personal staff and family members.



1841 England Census

1851 England Census

1861 England Census

1871 England Census

1881 England Census

Belfast, Northern Ireland, The Belfast Newsletter (Birth, Marriage and Death Notices), 1738-1925

England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966

London, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812

Oxford University Alumni, 1500–1886

Surrey, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1945

Bearman, C. J. “Resources in the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library: The Lucy Broadwood Collection: An Interim Report.” Folk Music Journal, vol. 7, no. 3, 1997, pp. 357–65,. George Dusart, John Broadwood and the Worthing connection. Hare, Chris. April 2020

Brighton Gazette: 1 June 1837. Married

British History Online: A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3  Capel

British Listed Buildings: Charlotte Broadwood Flats. A Grade II Listed Building in Capel, Surrey

Broadwood, Lucy E., et al. “Songs of Country Life and Work.” Journal of the Folk-Song Society, vol. 7, no. 27, 1923, pp. 76–94,.

Capel Village website: Capel History Group Gain Award May 2014

Clergy of the Church of England database: Broadwood, John (1822 – 1824)

Dean-Smith, Margaret. “The Preservation of English Folk-Song and Popular Music.” Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, vol. 6, no. 2, 1950, pp. 29–44.

Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser: 3 October 1895. Harvest Customs and Harvest Festivals.

Exploring Surrey’s Past: Lucy Broadwood

Folkopedia: John Broadwood

Find-a-Grave: John Broadwood

The Free Library: Before the Folk-Song Society: Lucy Broadwood and English folk song, 1884-97.

Burial register: Rusper, St Mary Magdalene. John Broadwood. 1864

Burial register: Rusper, St Mary Magdalene. Charlotte Broadwood. 1886

Gregory, E. David. “The Late Victorian Folksong Revival: The Persistence of English Melody, 1878–1903”. Victorian Studies, vol. 54, no. 3, .2012, pp. 543–45.

Howes, Frank. “A Centenary.” Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, vol. 4, no. 4, 1943, pp. 157–60.

International Music Score Library Project: Sweet Sussex (Jones, Lewis)

London Morning Herald: 2 February 1864. Deaths

London Packet & New Lloyd’s Evening Post: 25 January 1825. Married

Northern Whig: 21 January 1887. Will of Mrs Charlotte Broadwood

Oxford University and City Herald:

18 June 1820. University Intelligence

29 January 1825. University Intelligence

The National Archives:

2185/LEB/4/8: Old English Songs …

2915: Capel Village Hospital, Committee Minute Book

St James’s Gazette: 13 January 1892. Review of “Sussex Songs”

Sussex Advertiser: 9 October 1866. Re-opening of Capel Church and Opening of the Hospital

The Sussex Agricultural Express: 28 December 1861. Newdigate

Topic Records: Various Artists – Sussex Harvest

Vaughan Williams Memorial Library: Material collected by Lucy Broadwood’s family, Reverend John Broadwood, Henry Fowler Broadwood and James Shudi Broadwood


John Broadwood (song collector)

Lucy Broadwood


Picture credits

Bedford House: George Dusart, John Broadwood and the Worthing connection.

Sweet Sussex cover: Sweet Sussex