John Johnson Collection

John Johnson Collection

About John Johnson

John Johnson of Fittleworth and his family collection of traditional songs

John Johnson lived from 1865-1941. He was born in Lambeth in London but in 1874 he went to Fittleworth in Sussex to start work on Street Farm. His working life on the farm was with the heavy horses, he eventually had charge of 28. Later he married a local girl, Harriet, and lived there the rest of his life.

John had songs from his father and also learned the traditional songs that were remembered and sung locally. He ate, drank and sang regularly in the Swan Inn at Fittleworth with George Attrill, Bill Sebbage and others.

(Mike Tristram 2016)

About The John Johnson Collection


In about 1954 Bob Copper was allowed by Gladys Stone who then held the book, to take down some of the songs. Subsequently these were published many years later in Bob's book, ‘Songs and Southern Breezes’. Bob only published the songs for which John’s family and friend could remember the tunes, because the work he was doing for the BBC was about voice and dialect recordings. He also contributed the words for Ratcliffe Highway in the Penguin Book of English Folk Songs from John Johnson’s A Guinea for a Bottle.

Bob recorded tunes from some of those who had heard John Johnson singing: John’s children Leslie Johnson (who worked as a gardener), Gladys Stone and John Johnson, also George Attrill and William Sebbage.

(Mike Tristram 2016)

See records from this collection

Singers