Thomas Fairman Ordish (1855-1924): A Lasting Legacy

Paul Smith, Department of Folklore, Memorial University of Newfoundland


  1. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the various individuals who have helped me in one way or another with this quest. First and foremost, I would like to thank Caroline Oates, the Librarian of the Folklore Society, for all her kind help. Without her this study would probably never have been completed. In addition, I would like to acknowledge the participation and assistance I have received from the following people: Jane Baxter of Richmond upon Thames Local Studies Library, Andrew Bennett, Jane Birkett of the Theatre Museum, Georgina Boyes, Eddie Cass, E. C. Cawte, Sharon Cochrane, Mrs. J. Corden of Hendon Library, David Cousins of Canterbury Library, Patrick Frazer of the London Topographical Society, Keith Holland, Malcolm Holmes of Holborn Library, Ann Hyde of Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas, Adrian James of the Society of Antiquaries of London, Kathryn McCord of Kensington and Chelsea Library, Sylvia McKean of Herne Bay Library, George Monger, Ann Norbury of Ealing Central Library, E. G. Partridge of Attleborough, Michael J. Preston, Marian Pringle of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Cathy Rickey, Steve Roud, Christopher Sheppard of the Brotherton Library at the University of Leeds, Ron Shuttleworth, Murray Simpson of Edinburgh University Library, Doris Thomas of the Patent Office, Anne Wheeldon of the Hammersmith and Fulham Archives and Local History Centre, Bob Woodward of the Patent Office, Diane Yeadon of Norfolk and Norwich Library, MUCEP research assistants Jeff Green and Stephen Brenton, the staff of the Inter-Library-Loan section of the QEII Library, Memorial University of Newfoundland, and others too numerous to mention.
  2. T. F. Ordish "Morris Dance at Revesby", Folk-Lore Journal, Vol. 7, No. 5 (1889), 331-356; "Folk drama", Folk-Lore, Vol. 2, No. 3 (September, 1891), 314-335; "English Folk Drama II", Folk-Lore, Vol. 4, No. 2 (June, 1893), 149-175.
  3. A. Helm, "Report on the Ordish Papers", Folk-Lore, Vol. 66, No. 3 (September, 1955), 360-362; "To the Editor of Folk-Lore: The Ordish Papers", Folk-Lore, Vol. 67, No. 2 (June, 1956), 115.
  4. M. Dean-Smith, "To the Editor of Folk-Lore: The Ordish Papers", Folk-Lore, Vol. 66, No. 3 (September, 1955), 432-434; "The Life-Cycle Play or Folk Play; Some conclusions following the examination of the Ordish Papers and other sources", Folklore, Vol. 69 (December, 1958), 237-253.
  5. The original collection is held in the Archives of the Folklore Society at University College, London. A xerox copy is in the archives of the National Centre for English Cultural Tradition at the University of Sheffield. A typescript of the Collection was made by Alex Helm in the 1950s, and copies are held in the Archives of the Folklore Society and the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library of the English Folk Dance and Song Society. The materials in the collection are split into two sets of files. The first contains items arranged by county. Consequently, reference to (Ordish Collection: Surrey 1) indicates that the information came from item 1 in the Surrey file. An additional set of files, lettered A to H, contains material on a variety of topics, including correspondence, drafts of articles, and notes. Within each file the materials are numbered, although several items, such as a group of letters, may be covered by one entry. In addition, "File E" is subdivided into four sections. Consequently, in addition to identifying the file and item, a date to indicate a specific letter/document has sometimes been provided. For example, Ordish Collection, E(I) 19, March 5th, 1902 indicates that the information was taken from a letter dated March 5th which is to be found in File E, section I, item 19.
  6. R. M. Dorson, The British Folklorists: A History, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1968, p. 252.
  7. Patent Office Staff List, London, Patent Ofice, April 1st, 1918, p. 1.
  8. "T. F. Ordish", The Times (December 24th, 1924).
  9. Census, 1871.
  10. Patent Office [List of Employees], London, Patent Office (April, 1880), p. 1; A. Gomme, Patents of Inventions: Origins and Growth of the Patent System in Britain, London, Longmans, Green, 1946.
  11. As stated on the marriage certificate.
  12. Census, 1881.
  13. Census, 1891.
  14. R. Collier, The Plague of the Spanish Lady: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919, London, Macmillan, 1974, pp. 333-376.
  15. R. Speaight, William Poel and the Elizabethan Revival, London, William Heinemann, 1954.
  16. W. Poel, Collection, Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries, MS 31A:169, 6.
  17. "Death of Mr. T. F. Ordish, Well Known Antiquary and Folk-Lorist, Founder of the Fortnightly Club", Herne Bay Press (December 20th, 1924), 4.
  18. P. Levine, The Amateur and the Professional: Antiquarians, Historians and Archaeologists in Victorian England, 1838-1886, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1986.
  19. T. F. Ordish, "Fact and Faith: Some considerations on their relation", The New Monthly Magazine, New Series, 10 (1876), 179-185; "Skeptomania", The New Monthly Magazine, New Series, 10 (1876), 557-565.
  20. S. Lee, and L. Stephen, eds, Dictionary of National Biography, London, Smith, Elder, 1901, Supplement, Vol. 1, p. 20.
  21. "Thomas Fairman Ordish", Who Was Who, Volume II, 1916-1928, London, Adam and Charles Black, 1929, p. 798.
  22. T. F. Ordish, "Russian History", Notes and Queries, Series 5, No. 9 (April 27th, 1878), 326.
  23. T. F. Ordish, Early London Theatres (In the Fields), The Camden Library, London/New York, Elliott Stock/Macmillan, 1894.
  24. T. F. Ordish, Shakespeare’s London: A Study of London in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, The Temple Shakespeare Manuals, London, J. M. Dent, 1897.
  25. H. Hall, Antiquities and Curiosities of the Exchequer, Camden Library, London, Elliott Stock, 1891; W. Larminie, The Irish Folk-Tales and Romances, Camden Library, London, Elliott Stock, 1893; R. A. S. Macalister, Ecclesiastical Vestments, Camden Library, London, Elliott Stock, 1896; P. Norman, London Signs and Inscriptions, Camden Library, London, Elliott Stock, 1893; Ordish, 1894.
  26. A. A. Gomme, "In Memoriam: T. F. Ordish (1854-1924)", Folk-Lore, Vol. 35 (1924), 379.
  27. S. Marks, "The London Topographical Society: A brief account", London Topographical Record, 24 (1980), 4.
  28. P. Norman, "Henry Benjamin Wheatley, D.C.L., F.S.A.: An appreciation", London Topographical Record, 12 (1920), 103-107; W. Crooke, "Obituary. Dr. H. B. Wheatley", Folk-Lore, Vol. 28 (1917), 222.
  29. Lee and Stephen, Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. 16, London, Smith, Elder, 1909, pp. 999-1004.
  30. Ordish, 1894, Preface.
  31. W. Benzie, Dr. F. J. Furnivall: Victorian Scholar Adventurer, Norman, Oklahoma, Pilgrim Books, 1983, pp. 179-220.
  32. S. R. Littlewood, The London Shakespeare Commemoration League: Its Purpose and Its Story, London, London Shakespeare League, 1928, p. 8.
  33. A. A. Gomme, 379.
  34. Littlewood, pp. 8-9.
  35. G. Boyes, "Alice Bertha Gomme (1852-1938): A reassessment of the work of a folklorist", Folklore, Vol. 101 (1990), 208.
  36. Lady [A. B.] Gomme, "The character of Beelzebub in the Mummers’ Play", Folk-Lore, Vol. 40 (1929), 292-293; Lady [A. B.] Gomme, "Some incidents in Mummers’ Plays", Folk-Lore, Vol. 41 (1930), 195-198.
  37. E. O. James, "Obituary: Arthur Allan Gomme, M.B.E.", Folk-Lore, Vol. 66 (1955), 193-194.
  38. Subsequently referred to as "Council Minutes" with the relevant date.
  39. "Annual Meeting [March 25th, 1887] ..", Folk-Lore Journal, Vol. 5 (1887), 362.
  40. "Thirty-First Annual Meeting … 20th January 1909", Folk-Lore, Vol. 20 (1909), 4-5.
  41. A. Lang, and G. L. Gomme, "Annual Report of the Council … 6th December 1888. Appendix II–Handbook of Folklore", Folk-Lore Journal, Vol. 7 (1889), 7.
  42. "Tabulation of Folktales", Folk-Lore Journal, Vol. 7 (1889), 169.
  43. A. Lang, and G. L. Gomme, "Annual Report of the Council … 26th November 1889", Folk-Lore Journal, Vol. 7 (1889) 362.
  44. J. Jacobs, and A. Nutt, eds, The [Second] International Folk-Lore Congress, 1891, London, David Nutt, 1892, p. viii.
  45. J. Jacobs, and A. Nutt, "Folk-Lore Congress, 1891", Folk-Lore, Vol. 1 (1890), 508-509.
  46. T. F. Ordish, "Catalogue of the Exhibition of Objects Connected with Folk-Lore in the rooms of the Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, Prepared by the Chairman [Thomas Fairman Ordish] of the Entertainment Committee [of the International Folk-Lore Congress]", in Jacobs and Nutt, 1892, pp. 433-464.
  47. Letter from Ordish to Clodd, January 27th, 1896, in E. Clodd, Bound Presidential Addresses (1895 and 1896) with Cuttings and Notes, Archive of the Folklore Society, item 67; J. McCabe, Edward Clodd: A Memoir, London, John Lane the Bodley Head, 1932, pp. 142-146; E. Clodd, Memories, London, Watts, 1926, pp. 210-211.
  48. M. Gaster, "Obituary: A. R. Wright", Folk-Lore, Vol. 44 (1933), 116-118; A. Gomme, "Obituary: A. R. Wright", Folk-Lore, Vol. 44 (1933), 118-120.
  49. E. K. Chambers, The Medieval Stage, 2 vols, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1903; P. Maylam, The Hooden Horse, An East Kent Christmas Custom, Canterbury, the author, 1909; G. L. Gomme, The Making of London, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1912.
  50. O. Elton, "Review of E. K. Chambers, The Medieval Stage (1903)", Folk-Lore, Vol. 17 (1906), 379-384; C. S. Burne, "Review of Percy Maylam, The Hooden Horse (1909)", Folk-Lore, Vol. 21 (1910), 246-249; B. C. A. Windle, "Review of George Laurence Gomme, The Making of London (1912)", Folk-Lore, Vol. 23 (1912), 249-251.
  51. P. S. Smith, "The problems of analysis of traditional play texts: A taxonomic approach", Traditional Drama Studies, Vol. 1 (1985), 45.
  52. Ordish, 1894.
  53. C. W. Hodges, "Foreword", in T. F. Ordish, Early London Theatres - In the Fields, London, White Lion Publications, 1971 [rpt of the 1894 edn], pp. vii-viii.
  54. Ordish, 1889.
  55. M. J. Preston, M. G. Smith, and P. S. Smith, eds, The Morrice Dancers at Revesby: Reproduced from the Manuscript in the British Library, Sheffield, Centre for English Cultural Tradition and Language, 1976; M. J. Preston, and P. Smith, eds, "A petygree of the Plouboys oR modes dancers songs." The Morris Dance at Revesby: A Facsimile of the 1779 Manuscript in the Lincolnshire Archives, Sheffield, National Centre for English Cultural Tradition, 1999.
  56. Ordish, 1891, 1893.
  57. "Proceedings at Meetings. 20th March 1895", Folk-Lore, Vol. 6 (1895), 171; Ordish Collection: D2.
  58. T. F. Ordish, "Christmas Mummers. To the Editor of Folk-Lore", Folk-Lore, Vol. 3, No. 4 (December, 1892), 550-551; T. F. Ordish, "The Mumming-Play and other vestiges of folk-drama in the British Isles", Folk-Lore, Vol. 13, No. 3 (September, 1902), 296-297.
  59. "Proceedings at Meetings. 15th February 1893", Folk-Lore, Vol. 4 (1893), 121; "Proceedings at Meetings. 23rd May 1894", Folk-Lore, Vol. 5 (1894), 211; "Thirty-Third Annual Meeting … 18th January 1911", Folk-Lore, Vol. 22 (1911), 4-6.
  60. T. F. Ordish, "Survival in folklore: Father Christmas and the Mumming Play. Interesting lecture by Mr. T. F. Ordish", The Herne Bay Press (December 23rd, 1922). [The text of a lecture given by Ordish at the meeting of the Herne Bay Literary and Social Society at the Parochial Institute on Thursday, December 21st, 1922]. The costumes were eventually transferred to the Cambridge and County Folk Museum. In 1977, what has become referred to as the "Hopper Joe" costume (A. Rattenbury, Clowning: An Exhibition Designed and Catalogued for Nottingham Festival 1977, Nottingham, Nottingham Castle Museum, 1977, Item 23; A. Rattenbury, The Dragon, The Monster, The Fool and Other Creatures: An Exhibition Designed and Catalogued … for Salisbury Festivities 1979, Salisbury, Salisbury Library, 1979, Item 16) was donated to Nottingham City Museum (Communication from George Monger to Paul Smith, April 2nd, 2000).
  61. Ordish, "Christmas Mummers …", December, 1892, 550.
  62. Ordish, 1893, 149-150.
  63. T. F. Ordish, "Folklore in the Home Counties: How the camera can help", Home Counties Magazine, 1 (1899), 25-28.
  64. Ordish Collection, Surrey, 1.
  65. T. F. Ordish, "Replies [Christmas Mummers in the Home Counties]", Home Counties Magazine, 3 (1901), 246-247.
  66. "Tragic death of Mr. H. E. Binney: Killed on railway line", Oxford Times (May 2nd, 1930), 8.
  67. Ordish Collection, E(I) 19, March 5th, 1902; March 10th, 1902; March 17th, 1902.
  68. Council Minutes, March 26th, 1902.
  69. Ordish Collection, E(I) 19, April 30th, 1902. 
  70. Ordish, "The Mumming Play …" September, 1902, 296.
  71. Ordish Collection, D6.
  72. P. H. Ditchfield, Old English Customs Extant at the Present Time …, London, George Redway, 1896.
  73. G. Redway, Books for the Library Published by George Redway, 9, Hart Street, Bloomsbury, London, London, George Redway, c. 1896, p. 20. [This catalogue is to be found in the back of some copies of Ditchfield, 1896].
  74. Ordish Collection, D31.
  75. E. W. Bradbrook, "Twenty-Fifth Annual Report of the Council. 28th January, 1903", Folk-Lore, Vol. 14 (1903), 9.
  76. F. Y. Powell, "Twenty-Sixth Annual Report of the Council. 20th January, 1904", Folk-Lore, Vol. 15 (1904), 8-9.
  77. W. H. D. Rouse, "Twenty-Seventh Annual Report of the Council. 18th January, 1905, Folk-Lore, Vol. 15 (1905), 9.
  78. P. Manning, Collection. Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, Top. Oxon. d. 199. f. 295.
  79. "Thirty-First Annual Meeting … 20th January 1909", Folk-Lore, Vol. 20 (1909), 4-5.
  80. Ordish Collection, E(I) 5.
  81. Ibid.
  82. Ordish Collection, E(I) 20, March 22nd, 1909.
  83. Council Minutes, October 14th, 1910.
  84. Minutes of the Finance and Publications Committee of the Folklore Society, December 2nd, 1910. Subsequently referred to as "Finance and Publication Minutes" with the relevant date.
  85. "Proceedings at Meetings", 1893, 1894.
  86. "Thirty-Third Annual Meeting", 1911, 6.
  87. Ibid, 4.
  88. Ordish Collection, D4.
  89. "Thirty-Third Annual Meeting", 1911, 4.
  90. Ordish Collection, E(I) 20, February 6th, 1914.
  91. Council Minutes, March 15th, 1911.
  92. A. Beatty, "The St. George, or Mummers’ Play: A study in the protology of the drama", Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Science, Arts and Letters, Vol. 15, No. 2 (1906), 273-324.
  93. Council Minutes, May 17th, 1911.
  94. Ordish Collection, E(I) 18, September 24th, 1913.
  95. Ibid., November 8th, 1913.
  96. R. J. E. Tiddy, The Mummers’ Play, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1923, pp. 163-168.
  97. Finance and Publications Minutes, December 8th, 1913.
  98. Council Minutes, December 17th, 1913.
  99. Council Minutes, January 21st, 1914.
  100. Ordish Collection, E(I) 3.
  101. Council Minutes, December 16th, 1914.
  102. Dean-Smith, 1955, 434.
  103. Chambers, 1903, pp. xxxiv, 205.
  104. E. K. Chambers, The Elizabethan Stage, 4 vols, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1923; E. K. Chambers, The English Folk-Play, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1933, pp. 3-5.
  105. Chambers, 1933, p. 84.
  106. Ordish, 1889.
  107. J. M. Manly, "The Revesby Sword Play", in J. M. Manly, Specimens of Pre-Shakespearean Drama, Vol. 1, Boston, Ginn, 1897, pp. 296-311.
  108. M. J. Preston, The Revesby Sword Play: An Eighteenth-Century Folk Play Adaptation, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Xerox University Microfilms, 1975, p. 2.
  109. Chambers, 1933, pp. 104-123, 239.
  110. Ordish, 1922.
  111. Lady [A. B.] Gomme, "A great pioneer", The Shakespeare League Journal: The Organ of the London Shakespeare League, Vol. 11, No. 1 (April-May, 1925), 6.
  112. T. F. Ordish, "A Shakespeare Memorial in London", The Times (March 29th, 1902), 10.
  113. Letter from Unwin to Ordish, February 3rd, 1914: Ordish Collection, E(I) 3.
  114. R. R. Marett, "Thirty-Seventh Annual Report of the Council", Folk-Lore, Vol. 26 (1915), 3-7; "Thirty-Eighth Annual Report of the Council", Folk-Lore, Vol. 27 (1916), 4-7; "Thirty-Ninth Annual Report of the Council", Folk-Lore, Vol. 28 (1917), 4-7; "Fortieth Annual Report of the Council", Folk-Lore, Vol. 29 (1918), 5-8; A. C. Haddon, "Forty-First Annual Report of the Council", Folk-Lore, Vol. 30 (1919), 4-7.
  115. H. Harding, Patent Office Centenary: A Story of 100 Years in the Life and Work of the Patent Office, London, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1953, pp. 39-40.
  116. Poel Collection, MS 31A: 169, 6.
  117. E. Clodd, Collection, Brotherton Library, University of Leeds.
  118. Letter from E. C. Cawte to Ron Shuttleworth, December 5th, 1998.
  119. J. L. Myers, "Forty-Seventh Annual Report of the Council", Folk-Lore, Vol. 36 (1925), 9.
  120. "Herne Bay Literary and Social Society Programme: 1921-1922".
  121. "Death of  Mr. T. F. Ordish".
  122. Council Minutes, April 22nd, 1925.
  123. Archives of the Folklore Society.
  124. Dean-Smith, 1958, 240.
  125. Letter from Keith Holland to Paul Smith, August 9th, 1999.
  126. Council Minutes, October 20th, 1954, November 17th, 1954; Dean-Smith, 1958, 240.
  127. Council Minutes, October 20th, 1954.
  128. Council Minutes, November 17th, 1954.
  129. A. Helm, The English Folk Play, Manchester, The Manchester District of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, 1954-1955.
  130. Helm, 1954-1955, Part 3, p. 39.
  131. Council Minutes, April 20th, 1955.
  132. Helm, 1955.
  133. Ibid., p. 236.
  134. E. C. Cawte in conversation with Eddie Cass, March 14th, 2000.
  135. Chambers, 1903, pp. 205-206.
  136. Chambers, 1933, pp. 236-244.
  137. M. W. Barley, "Plough Plays in the East Midlands", Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, Vol. 7, No. 2 (1953), 68-105.
  138. Helm, 1954-1955.
  139. Helm, 1955.
  140. Ibid., 361-362.
  141. Dean-Smith, 1955, 434.
  142. Ordish, 1889.
  143. R. Flower, "The Revesby Play", British Museum Quarterly, 11 (October, 1936), 23-24.
  144. Preston, Smith, and Smith.
  145. S. O. Addy, "Derbyshire Folk-Lore", in Rev. J. C. Cox, Memorials of Old Derbyshire, London and Derby, Bemrose and Sons, 1907, p. 347; G. Smith, "Literary sources of folklore scholarship in the nineteenth century: A re-assessment of armchair scholarship", Lore and Language, Vol. 2, No. 9 (1978), 26-42.
  146. S. O. Addy, "The Collection of Folk-Lore", Folk-Lore, Vol. 13 (1902), 297-299; J. Ashton, "Rush-bottomed chairs and ivory towers: S. O. Addy and the Folklore Society", The Folklore Historian, 15 (1998), 5-13.
  147. A. C. Haddon, "Practical Suggestions for conducting ethnographical investigations in the British Isles", in A. C. Haddon, The Study of Man, London, John Murray, 1898, pp. 434-489; Ordish, "Folklore in the Home Counties …", 1899, 28.
  148. Ordish, "The Mumming Play …", September, 1902, 296.
  149. Ordish, "Christmas Mummers …", December, 1892, 550.
  150. Ordish, 1889, 1891, 1893.
  151. G. Bennett, "Geologists and folklorists: Cultural evolution and ‘The Science of Folklore’ ", Folklore, Vol. 105 (1994), 25-37.
  152. Chambers, 1903, pp. 205-207; Chambers, 1933.
  153. Tiddy.
  154. C. R. Baskervill, "Mummers’ wooing plays in England", Modern Philology, 21 (1924), 225-272.
  155. A. Brody, The English Mummers and Their Plays: Traces of Ancient Mystery, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1969.
  156. Helm, 1954-1955.
  157. E. C. Cawte, A. Helm, and N. Peacock, English Ritual Drama: A Geographical Index, London, The Folklore Society, 1967.
  158. Dean-Smith, 1955, 434.
  159. R. Hutton, The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1996, p. 72.
  160. S. Tillis, Rethinking Folk Drama, Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood Press, 1999.
  161. D. Lowenthal, The Past is a Foreign Country, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1985, p. 412.

© 1997, Paul Smith. Contact: Last updated: 21/03/2008