Cecil Sharp collected nine song tunes from Mary A. Clayton including two Christmas songs, but only obtained words for ‘The Holly and the Ivy’ and ‘Long Looked For Come At Last’. The other songs were: The Cherry Tree Carol, The Knight and the Shepherd’s Daughter, The Orphan Boy, Earl Richard, The Female Cabin Boy, The Green Bed and The Soldier’s Boy.
Cecil Sharp visited Mrs Mary Clayton at the Thatched Cottage in Sheep Street on 13 January 1909 when she was about 64 years old. She sang him the 3 verses for the Holly and the Ivy that she could remember and he noted them and the tune.
Mary Ann Clayton was born circa 1846. She first appears in the Census in 1891 aged 46, born in ‘Aldington’ (probably Alderton), Worcs. A widow, she was living in Sheep Street with her daughter, Elizabeth aged 9, who was born in Campden. She was still living on her own in Sheep Street in 1901. She may have been married to a Thomas Clayton who was living in Sheep Street in 1871 and had three daughters and two sons with his wife, Mary Ann: Rose Sophia baptised in 1878, Ann Elizabeth baptised in 1881, Julia Ann baptised in 1883 and Albert baptised in 1886.
‘Local tradition’ says that Mary Clayton, though not a Campden resident in her youth, was then a visitor to the vicarage and only came to live here in the very early C20. She may have been a tenant of the Thatched Cottage.
Note by Carol Davies with help from Campden and District Historical Society (CADHAS) November 2011