Edith Smith: The First Woman Police Officer in the UK

Edith Smith in uniform. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Edith_Smith_policewoman.jpg

Olivia Hennessy

To wrap up Women’s History Month, I would like to discuss a woman with a close-to-home connection. Grantham is my home town, with many recognised heritage sites and connections to well-known individuals. But has anyone heard of Edith Smith? She was the first woman police constable to gain the full powers of arrest in the UK, for her work in Grantham.

It’s worth pausing to consider the implications for women who came into contact with the law at a time when there were no female officers. Through the Victorian and Edwardian periods, women were cleared from court rooms during sexual assault cases, there was an extremely low conviction rate for sexual offenders and women convicted of crimes were treated extremely harshly.  Organisations such as the British Women’s Temperance Association began to agitate for an improvement, including the need for women police ‘matrons’ to protect women accused and convicted of crimes.

As with so many other aspects of women’s struggle for social equality, the First World War proved important: in return for their participation in the war effort, they won concessions. One of these was the foundation in 1914 of the Women’s Police Service in London – to fill the roles of men who were away at the front. This gave Edith Smith the opportunity to take on a full-time policing role.  Born in Birkenhead in 1876,  she married in 1897 but a decade later was already widowed with four children to support. She moved to London and trained as a nurse and midwife. She joined the WPS and was posted to Grantham, the first county town to form a branch of the WPS.

In 1915, Smith’s post became an official, paid one, at  £1.40 per week. For the remainder of the war, she served in Grantham. A substantial part of her job involved visiting families of girls considered to be at risk of prostitution and ensuring compliance with a wartime curfew imposed on women. Both duties were related to the fact that there were significant numbers of army recruits being trained near the town.  How to regulate relations between them and Grantham women became a huge issue locally. In 1917 Smith was granted powers of arrest – the first woman Police Constable to gain this power.  One researcher has remarked, ‘whether female police officers were there to protect women from men, or vice versa, is a moot point’. However, what is beyond doubt is that Grantham was the site of a key contest over rights of association between army men and civilian women, and women like Smith were mobilised to regulate these rights.

After the war, Smith returned to Halton, near Liverpool, and nursing. Her life could not have been easy and she took her own life in 1923. She was buried in an unmarked grave. In more recent years, as part of the centenary commemorations of the First World War, she has found renewed recognition. Merseyside police erected a proper headstone on her grave in 2018, and there are plaques dedicated to her memory on the Lincolnshire Police Headquarters at Nettleham, at Halton and in Grantham. There is also a street called Edith Smith way in Grantham, and the Grantham Museum mounted an exhibition on her life and career in 2018.


Alison Woodeson, The first women police: a force for equality or infringement? Women’s History Review, 2, 2, 1993, pp 217-232. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09612029300200025?needAccess=true

Grantham Civic Society. ‘PC Edith Smith’. Accessed 25th March 2021. http://www.granthamcivicsociety.co.uk/public/plaque_smith.php

BBC. ‘World War One at Home’ (4th February 2014). Accessed 25th March 2021. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01rp7g6


Murderous Millinery – Claire Arrand on Women Pioneers in Animal Welfare

This women’s month, Reimagining Lincolnshire project member Claire Arrand, has written a post on the women led campaign to end millinery on the University of  Lincoln Library Blog:

The full blog piece can be accessed here:


“Milliners were located around the city but concentrated on Silver Street, where there were up to 5 listed at any one time between 1857 and 1919, in either the Lincoln or Lincolnshire trade directories 

Millinery businesses were the target for two different groups of women, Etta Lemon in Croydon and Emily Watson in Manchester. In 1889 Etta joined a branch of the Fur, Fin and Feather Club, appalled at the fashion of trimming hats with feathers and other avian decoration. This club joined with Emily Watson’s Society for the Protection of Birds and eventually became the RSPB. They decided to try and change public opinion, highlight this cruel trade and persuade women to solely use the available alternatives, fake flowers, lace and velvet, which were used when feathers were temporarily not in fashion.” 

Stained glass?

Heather Hughes

We mark International Women’s Day 2022 with an account of the representations of Matoaka, better known as Pocahontas, in St Helen’s Church in Willoughby, Lincolnshire.  Her story is intimately bound up in United States foundational myths, which explains why there have been so many portrayals (and fabrications) of her in art, literature and film.[1]

The connection to Willoughby is through John Smith, who was born there and baptised in St Helen’s in early January 1580. In his mid-teens, he went to sea and in that age of exploration, soldiering, piracy and adventure, fought as a mercenary in various dynastic struggles in Europe as well as against the Ottoman empire in the eastern Mediterranean.   He became involved in the Virginia Company in London. Despite being accused of mutiny on the voyage (he was always a controversial character), he was a leading figure in founding the first permanent European settlement in North America, at Jamestown, in 1607.[2]

The settlement was not a happy one; apart from serious internal difficulties, relations with surrounding Native American polities were poor.  By Smith’s own account, he was captured by members of the Powhatan polity and threatened with execution. Chief Powhatan’s young daughter, Matoaka, intervened to save his life. Thus arose the myth that the new country was founded on love and intercultural harmony.[3]

As many scholars have pointed out, ‘the story of Pocahontas and John Smith tells of an “original” encounter of which no even passably “immediate” account exists’.[4]  Nevertheless, it has been endlessly embroidered to suit the needs of white Americans, in part by denying the violence and dispossession of colonial expansion. (By the same token, some Native Americans have regarded her as a traitor figure.)

Matoaka herself was captured in hostilities between the Powhatan and colonists in 1613 and converted to Christianity, taking the name Rebecca. She married colonist John Rolfe the following year; in 1615, she gave birth to a son and in 1616 the family travelled to London. She was feted in polite society as an example of ‘what a savage could become’; as they were preparing to return to Virginia, she became ill and died at Gravesend in Kent in 1617. She was only 20 or 21.

Her portrayal in St Helen’s thus arises from a claimed and very brief childhood association with John Smith, who had left Virginia in 1609, never to return. There are in fact three different portrayals, all from her young adult life. Two are in stained glass and another appears in an interpretive panel.

Pocahontas receiving instruction (H. Hughes)

One stained glass scene depicts her receiving Christian instruction, presumably before her conversion, from Alexander Whitaker, ‘the Apostle of Virginia’. The image is, by any measure, deeply problematic, partly because it is a relatively recent addition in the church (1985). She is the only dark-skinned figure in the window, and she is semi-naked. Tattoos are visible on her arms. She is bare-breasted and seems to be demurely trying to hide her nakedness in the presence of the heavily-clad apostle, but only half succeeds.  Her gaze is directed at the tall figure looking down on her, yet her facial expression is hard to interpret: is she interested, or is she ungrateful? Yet the gazes to which she, in her vulnerability, are subjected in turn are more powerful than her own, and they are all white (and in the artwork, male): that of the apostle, of the benefactor who paid for the glazing, Philip Barbour of Louisville, Kentucky; and those of the congregations and visitors, not all make of course, who have looked on the window since it was installed. It is hard to escape the demeaning othering.

Pocahontas, after van de Passe engraving (H. Hughes)

This is in sharp contrast to her portrayal in another window on the south side of the nave. Here she is profusely clothed in fine garments, as she would have worn during her London visit. It is based on the only likeness made during her lifetime, an engraving by Simon van de Passe. This image was meant to show how very well integrated into settler society she had become. So integrated, in fact, that she is not obviously a person of colour; we know that from the elaborate surrounding scroll that bears the name ‘Pocahontas’. This time, her gaze is directed outwards to us, the viewers: she holds her own and relates as ‘one of us’. She looks far older than her 21 years.

East Lindsey History Matters Panel (H. Hughes)

The portrayal in the interpretive panel is an image of the famous statue that stands in historic Jamestown. Cast in bronze to mark the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Virginia colony (but only completed in 1922), we see a young woman with open arms, modestly clothed in a westernised imagining of Native American fringed garments, with neat shoes on her feet. The statue’s hands, we are told,  have become shiny from all those who have held them to have their photos taken. A reproduction of this friendly, welcoming figure stands in the graveyard in Gravesend where she is buried.

Taken together, these images, as well as the context of their creation, underline the continuing complexities of Matoaka/Pocahontas, not only in US national myth but in the backstory of other key figures in the making of that myth. Their siting in a Lincolnshire parish church should also mean that they are acknowledged as difficult and contested heritage, which could open the way to meaningful dialogue about how we make our places of worship more inclusive.


[1] Monika Siebert, Pocahontas looks back and then looks elsewhere: the entangled gaze in contemporary indigenous art.. ab-Original: Journal of Indigenous Studies and First Nations and First Peoples’ Cultures 2, 2 (2018), pp. 207-226.

[2] For an overview, see Robert Appelbaum and John Wood Sweet (eds), Envisioning an English Empire: Jamestown and the Making of the North Atlantic World. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005.

[3] Derek Buescher and Kent Ono, Civilised colonialism: Pocahontas as neocolonial rhetoric. Women’s Studies in Communication 19, 2, 1996, 127-153.

[4] Peter Hulme, cited in Heike Paul, The Myths that Made America. Bielefeld, Transcript, 2014, p. 94.






The ‘Write a Lincolnshire Song’ Finals Night 28/10/21

BY JUDY HARRIS (Reimagining Lincolnshire researcher) with PAL CARTER[i] (folk singer)

Beneath the veneer of Lincolnshire’s agricultural calmness there are many vibrant communities full of vigour and interest. The life and history of Lincolnshire is varied and full of interesting and exciting tales which we want to preserve by encouraging people to write songs about them.  http://lincolnshiresong.co.uk/index.shtml

October 1st was Lincolnshire Day and Reimagining Lincolnshire Research Fellow Rob Waddington treated us to a blog tribute to the region’s talent and contributions to pop music over the last sixty years.

We continue that theme in this blog by drawing attention to a recent ‘voices’ from Lincolnshire event showcasing some more creative local singers and songwriters.

Aiming to stimulate and celebrate county-wide song writing, the ‘Write a Lincolnshire Song’ contest has been a popular annual event since 1992. Until last year it was supported by BBC Radio Lincolnshire. Traditionally, the finals night has been broadcast as a three-hour long radio show. This year was the first time the contest was supported by grassroots action and crowd funding. The finals took place in front of a live and good-sized audience at the Louth Riverhead Theatre on the evening of 28th October 2021.

All ten entries were written and performed especially for the contest. Each celebrated local history and heritage told or retold to old and new audiences. Whether yellowbellies[ii] or not, all the performers expressed a love of Lincolnshire!

The full recording is available on the ‘Write a Lincolnshire Song’ website, please click here:


What follows is a summary of the songs in order of performance followed by a short review by Pal Carter.

There were four awards: gold, silver, bronze and ‘outstanding performance’.

  1. The Bluestone Hills, written and performed by Caroline Cakebread and Pete Conner, accompanied by Jon Newby, Richard Hodgetts and Richard Nunn.

‘This gently flowing song is descriptive of Lincolnshire beaches and countryside. Caroline has a lovely clear voice, supported by guitar, keyboard, double bass and flugelhorn.’

  1. This is my Home, written by and accompanied on guitar by David Godfrey.

This song features highlights of life in a small Lincolnshire town called Wragby by a relative newcomer (he has only lived there for 15 years!). Delivered in a confident and accomplished style, amusing in places.’

  1. Our Patch of England, written by Andy Lenton, performed by Andy Tymens on guitar and Steve Scarfe on keyboard.

Unfortunately, Andy Lenton was away and could not perform. This is a protest song, railing against the proposed nuclear waste dump at Theddlethorpe. The harmonies in the chorus complement the very topical lyrics.’

  1. One Hour 2020, written and performed by Penny Sykes, accompanying herself on concertina.

Imagery of the fens and marshes around Holbeach feature in this song, along with references to birds and local flooding, hard to avoid these days. Another singer with a lovely clear voice.

  1. Toadman, written and sung by Amanda Lowe with banjo accompaniment.

This song is rooted Lincolnshire legend. Toadman is another name for a horse whisperer with devilish powers. The storyline is strong and the singers stage presence very communicative. Silver prize winner.

  1. The Knight of Castle Hills, written by Lynn Haynes and performed by her and Paul Bellamy on guitar.

‘Castle Hills is a medieval site north of Gainsborough and this is a ghost tale about a medieval knight. The lyrics are poetic, the guitar finely played and the singing strong and clear. Lynn Haynes also plays the tin whistle towards the end which is a nice touch’.

  1. The Winceby Stone, written and performed by Jan and Paul Ramsey, with guitar and harmonica accompaniment.

‘This is a legendary tale of a stone in a field, rumoured to hide buried treasure and what happened when people tried to dig it up. The introduction and choruses are sung a capella’. Bronze prize winner.

  1. Skipping with Annie, written by Angela King and performed by her and Paul Dickinson on guitar.

‘This song explores the connections between plants and people. There are lovely poignant chords and magical lyrics, giving the song a whimsical feel’.

  1. The Usher Imp, written by Julie Wigley and performed by Stonesthrow (Steve and Julie Wigley and Tony Fowkes).

‘This song is about the Lincoln Imp and the jewellery made in its image by James Usher in the 1800s.[iii] Sung unaccompanied, delivered with a variety of “actions” this was a worthy winner’. Gold Prize Winner and Performance Prize.

  1. The Luttrell Psalter, written by Kim Biggs and performed by her and Phil Biggs.

‘In the 14th century a landowner named Luttrell commissioned an illustrated psalter to depict the lives of tenant farmers in Lincolnshire. This song, accompanied by Kim on accordion and Phil on guitar, has some amusing lyrics. The book can be found in the British Museum.’

The variety of sources for these songs – people, legends, history, pagan stories, the rituals of rural life – set against landscapes of brooding marches and fens with big skies, deep ditches, sea frets and foggy mornings all within reach of the gentle rolling chalk hills and the wide shallow valleys of the Wolds with their babbling streams, old woodlands, market towns, small villages with ancient churches – make for a rich and evocative set of performances.

There was a balance between male and female performers, soloists, duos, trios, and even a quintet!

[i] Pal’s folk ‘career’ started in 1965 in the infamous Log Cabin above The Greyhound pub in Louth. The resident band was The Meggies (nickname for Cleethorpes). They had a singer called Sue Clark. After Sue left, Pal sang a few times; ‘The Waggoner’s Lad’ being the first song she sang in public. Leaving school in 1966, Pal moved to London and did very little singing over the next 38 years. In 1994, she met Tom Paley (American folk singer and musician) who invited her to the Cecil Sharp Folk Club (‘the spiritual home of English traditional music’, The Times, January 20190, where he played every week – https://www.efdss.org/cecil-sharp-house. So she went, sang The Waggoner’s Lad, and still sings at Sharps. These days she also writes CD reviews for Folk London magazine and sometimes does the emceeing at Sharps.

[ii] No-one really knows where this term comes from. It is definitely different from yellow-belly (meaning cowardly). At its simplest yellowbelly is someone born and bred in Lincolnshire. According to Wikipedia – ‘A yellowbelly is a person from Lincolnshire, England. The origin of this nickname is disputed, and many explanations have been offered. These include: The uniforms of the Lincolnshire Regiment were green with yellow facings. The fastenings of the uniform tunic, which were known as frogs, were also yellow.’ Other explanations link to term to the medication used for a malaria-like illness that turned fen residents’ skin yellow. Or perhaps it refers to labourers who harvested cereal crops?

[iii] The Usher family jewellery firm is still in business in Lincoln. The son of the founder James Ward Usher was appointed Sheriff of Lincoln in 1916 and bequeathed funds to build the Usher Art Gallery. The gallery opened in 1917 and contains Usher family collections of clocks, watches, porcelain, and miniatures.

Remembering Richard Hill

To mark International Abolition of Slavery Day on 2 December, this post features a prominent abolitionist with strong links to Lincolnshire, Richard Hill – someone who deserves to be far better known in this region.

The Hon Richard Hill. From https://nljdigital.nlj.gov.jm/items/show/411#?c=0&m=0&s=0&cv=0&xywh=-61%2C-4%2C345%2C351

Richard Hill was born in Jamaica on 1 May 1795. His father, also Richard, came from a well-established family in the Horncastle area and  emigrated to Jamaica in 1779, with his brothers George Edward, Charles and Robert.[1]

Richard senior settled in Montego Bay, became a successful merchant and married a woman of colour. They had three children, Richard, Ann and Jane. In the pernicious race classifications of the time (how much ‘black’ blood was there?), Richard and Ann were registered as ‘quadroon’, while Jane was registered as ‘mestee’.[2]

When he was still very young, Richard junior was sent to live with relatives in England and attended the Elizabethan Grammar School in Horncastle. On his father’s death in 1818, he returned to Jamaica as the head of the household and to sort out inheritance matters. His father had already made him ‘pledge himself to devote his energies to the cause of freedom, and never to rest until those civil disabilities, under which the Negroes were labouring, had been entirely removed; and, further, until slavery itself had received its death-blow’.[3]

In pursuit of this end, Hill travelled widely in the Caribbean, the United States and Canada,  and returned to England in 1827 to secure the assistance of the Anti-Slavery Society and its leading figures including Wilberforce, Buxton, Clarkson, Babington, Lushington and Zachary Macaulay. He delivered a petition to the House of Commons and remained in England for some time, writing and lecturing.[4]

It is of note that his sister Jane accompanied him to London; she remained in the UK until the early 1830s. Like her brother, she was active in the anti-slavery movement  although frustratingly little is known of her role.  According to Ryan Hanley’s Beyond Slavery and Abolition: Black British Writing c.1770- 1830,  they seem to have been on good terms with Thomas Pringle, secretary of the Anti-Slavery Society, who was well connected to a network of black women in London. It is likely that the Anti-Slavery Society supported both siblings financially.

The Society sent Hill to San Domingo in 1830 to investigate social and political conditions there. His visit lasted nearly two years. Back in Jamaica, he was witness to the formal ending of slavery, for which he gave credit to the struggles of both enslaved and free black people:

Slave uprising on Roehampton Estate. http://www.slaveryimages.org/s/slaveryimages/item/1435

‘The year 1830 saw the fires of rebellion lighted on the very mountains where the Maroon negroes had sounded the signal of insurrection thirty-five years before. The neighbouring valleys that had remained tranquil under the shock, were now the scene of general havoc and disorder. “Physical strength is with the governed.” That strength was felt, and roused into action … The struggle brought to a rapid close the question of colonial slavery. Two years after these events, in the month of July, 1834, I visited these very scenes in the quality of a magistrate specially commissioned to prepare both masters and slaves for the general emancipation’.[5]

Abolition was to be followed by a so-called apprenticeship phase, during which plantation workforces were to transition from slavery to wage labour. Hill was intimately involved in this process, having been appointed a magistrate to adjudicate cases between formerly enslaved apprentices and their employers.   Although highly regarded by British officials, Hill found himself criticised for his perceived  leniency towards apprentices; this led to him to resign his position.[6] He subsequently accepted the post of  Secretary to the Special Magistrates Department at Spanish Town – a sort of ‘deanship’ of all the stipendiary magistrates [7] and a position he held until 1871.

James Thome and J. H. Kimball, the authors of an anti-slavery study of 1837, wrote of him,

‘We spent nearly a day with Richard Hill, Esq., the secretary of the special magistrates’ departments … He is a colored gentleman, and in every respect the noblest man, white or black, whom we met in the West Indies. He is highly intelligent and of fine moral feelings. His manners are free and unassuming, and his language in conversation fluent and well chosen…. He is at the head of the special magistrates (of whom there are sixty in this island) and all the correspondence between them and the governor is carried on through him. The station he holds is a very important one, and the business connected with it is of a character and extent that, were he not a man of superior abilities, he could not sustain. He is highly respected by the government in the island and at home, and possesses the esteem of his fellow citizens of all colors. He associates with persons of the highest rank, dining and attending parties at the government house with all the aristocracy of Jamaica.’[8]

He held many leading civic and political roles through his long career. These included Agent General of Immigration, and serving on the Privy Council, Board of Education and the Royal Society of Arts and Agriculture.

The last-mentioned is a hint of his greatest love: nature and the natural history of Jamaica, on which he published many scientific papers. He corresponded with Charles Darwin and the curators at the Smithsonian and advised the famous naturalist Philip Henry Gosse on his Jamaican research. His contribution to natural history is slowly being recognised – for example, Sessions’ recent study argues that Hill influenced Gosse to treat nature and emancipation as intimately linked.[9]

Hill also wrote extensively, and eloquently, on Jamaican history: A Week at Port Royal (1858), Lights and Shadows of Jamaica History (1859), Eight Chapters in the History of Jamaica, 1508-1680 (1868), and The Picaroons of One Hundred and Fifty Years Ago 1869). He died in 1872.

In very recent times, there have been attempts to remember Richard Hill in Lincolnshire. The Horncastle History and Heritage Society ran an event with students from the grammar school, which knew nothing of him until said event. The Society also discovered that Hill had corresponded with Horncastle historian, printer and auctioneer George Weir; letters between them are held in the National Library of Jamaica.[10]

There is a way to go before this crusading emancipationist and naturalist occupies a proper place in a reimagined Lincolnshire.

Heather Hughes

[1] F.J. DuQuesnay, Richard Hill – Son of Jamaica at http://www.jamaicanfamilysearch.com/Samples2/fred09.htm  draws on family letters to shed light on his early life. [Accessed 1 December 2021].

[2] Elisabeth Griffith-Hughes, A Mighty Experiment: The Transition from Slavery to Freedom in Jamaica, 1834-1838. PhD Thesis, University of Georgia, 2003, p. 75.

[3] Frank Cundell, Richard Hill. The Journal of Negro History 5, 1, 1920, p.37

[4] Frank Cundell, Richard Hill, p.38.

[5] Richard Hill, Lights and Shadows of Jamaica History; Being Three Lectures Delivered in Aid of the Mission Schools of the Colony. Kingston, Ford and Gall, 1859, p. 93. Available at Lights and Shadows of Jamaica History: Being Three Lectures, Delivered in … – Richard Hill – Google Books [accessed 1 December 2021]

[6] Griffith-Hughes, A Mighty Experiment, p.75

[7] Monica Schuler, Coloured civil servants in post-emancipation Jamaica: two case studies. Caribbbean Quarterly 30, 3/4,  1984, p.95

[8] Jas A. Thome and J. Horace Kimball, Emancipation in the West Indies. A Six Months’ Tour in Antigua, Barbadoes and Jamaica in the Year 1837. New York, The American Anti-Slavery Society, 1838, p. 425-6.

[9] Emily Sessions, Anti-picturesque landscapes, entangled fauna, and interracial collaboration in post-emancipation Jamaica in the work of Philip Henry Gosse and Richard Hill.  Terrae Incognitae, 53, 1, 2021, 26-47.

[10] Email Ian Marshman to Heather Hughes 22 July 2021. Many thanks to Ian Marshman, Chair of the Horncastle History and Heritage Society, for this information.

Anti-Slavery Day 2021 – Local ‘Lincs’

Since 2010, and the passing of the UK’s Anti-Slavery Day Act, the 18th October has become an annual day of awareness-raising, and of reflection, on the continued plight of the millions of people who remain enslaved around the world today.

Globally, it is estimated that there are around 40 million people living in situations of ‘modern slavery’. An umbrella term, ‘modern slavery’ refers to situations of ‘exploitative labour that places one person in the control of another’.[1]  This could include forced or bonded labour, human trafficking, descent-based slavery, child labour and forced or early marriage. Forced labour is by far the most prevalent form of modern slavery, accounting for approximately 60% of all cases around the world.[2]

Modern forms of slavery can be found in every country around the world, including in the UK.[3] Forced labour is the most common form of slavery here, and is believed to be fuelled by a demand for cheap products and services. Often this labour sees people trapped into working on farms, in construction, nail bars, hospitality, car washes, or in factories. In 2019, over 10,000 people were referred to the authorities as victims of modern slavery in the UK but the true number of how many people remain enslaved in this country is believed to be much higher.[4] In 2017, the Centre for Social Justice used a new data modelling technique to analyse crime reporting and intelligence records. Applying their findings across the whole country, they concluded that there is likely to be at least 100,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK.[5] The situation over the last two years with Coronavirus is likely to have exacerbated the problem.

In 2017 Lincolnshire Police secured the successful conviction of a family of 11 perpetrators, in the largest modern slavery trial in UK legal history.[6] The Rooney family had kept victims in squalid conditions and forced them to work for little or no pay. One had been trapped by them for 26 years. This conviction was the result of a large scale, county-wide operation which had begun in 2014. In 2019, Lincolnshire Police reported a sharp rise in the number of victims of modern slavery identified across the county. This had quadrupled, from 51 victims identified in 2018 to over 200 the following year.[7] Another noted reality of the situation in the county was that the widely-accepted myth that modern slavery was only affecting foreign nationals was not true – the third highest number of victims were people from the UK.

Modern slavery is often hidden in plain sight, and as such can be difficult to identify. Anti-slavery International, founded in 1839 as the oldest human rights organisation in the world, has identified a number of signs that might mean someone is enslaved.[8] They might:

  • appear to be in the control of someone else and reluctant to interact with others
  • not have personal identification on them
  • have few personal belongings, wear the same clothes every day or wear unsuitable clothes for work
  • not be able to move around freely
  • be reluctant to talk to strangers or the authorities
  • appear frightened, withdrawn, or show signs of physical or psychological abuse
  • dropped off and collected for work always in the same way, especially at unusual times, i.e. very early or late at night.


If you’re worried about someone, having noted any of the above, then you can report your concerns directly with the Modern Slavery Helpline by calling 0800 121 700 or visit the Modern Slavery Helpline website where you can also complete a report online. Lincolnshire Police also recommend that you download the @UnseenUK app to find out more about the signs of modern slavery and how to report your concerns.

[1] Anti-Slavery International – FAQs

[2] Forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking (Forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking) (ilo.org)

[3] Modern slavery in the UK – Anti-Slavery International (antislavery.org)

[4] 2020 UK annual report on modern slavery (publishing.service.gov.uk)

[5] It still happens here: Fighting UK Slavery in the 2020s – The Centre for Social Justice

[6] Rooney traveller family jailed for modern slavery offences – BBC News

[7] Sharp rise in modern slavery across Lincolnshire | LincolnshireWorld

[8] Spot the signs of slavery and what to do – Anti-Slavery International (antislavery.org)

Thanks to Rebecca Craven who authored this blogpost. 

Francis Barber’s Lincolnshire connections

Francis Barber, born c. 1742, is best known as one of the servants in Samuel Johnson’s London household. He has appeared in the many biographies of Johnson and has himself been the subject of at least two.  Aleyn Lyell Reade’s was published in 1912.[1]  It claimed to be an exhaustive collection of all references to Barber in letters, memoirs, and biographies of Johnson; its emphasis was on Johnson’s beneficence rather than Barber’s personhood. The most recent is by Michael Bundock.[2]  On the whole, people are more important than places in Bundock’s account, but that makes it easy to miss Barber’s connections to Lincolnshire.

Barber was born into slavery in Jamaica, probably on the sugar-producing Orange River estate on the northern shores of Jamaica, in the parish of St Mary. It was owned at the time by Colonel Richard Bathurst, a prominent member of the plantocracy. Barber’s earliest-known name was Quashey, one that frequently appears in slave name studies.[3] It is testimony to the tenacity of enslaved communities’ cultural memories, for it references a day of birth, Sunday, originating in the Akan speech area of West Africa.[4]

By 1750, Bathurst was in severe financial difficulties. He put his Jamaican estates up for sale and returned to Britain; for reasons that remain obscure, he brought Quashey, now seven or eight years old, with him. They stayed briefly with Bathurst’s physician son, also called Richard, in London.[5]

Not long after arrival, Quashey was baptised and given the name Francis Barber, symbolically severing him from his African and slave background. The choice of the new Christian name is not clear and no record has (yet) been found of his baptism. As Bundock notes, “either the relevant entry [in a London parish register] has not survived or the baptism took place elsewhere”.[6]  There is at least a possibility that the ‘elsewhere’ was Lincoln. Bathurst senior’s home was in The Close, Lincoln, he made his will in Lincoln in 1754 and his burial occurred in St Mary Magdalene, Castle Hill, in the following year. The executor of his estate, Peter Lely, also lived in The Close.

He may well have brought Barber with him to the city, for he seems already to have selected a small school in Yorkshire for him to attend. Bundock asks the question, “why should Barber have been sent some 250 miles to go to school?” (p. 37) but this assumes a starting point in London. The choice makes more sense if Lincoln is taken as his point of departure. In any event he was not at school long; by early 1752, he had joined Samuel Johnson’s household.

Evidence suggests he was not entirely happy there. Col Bathurst’s will had decreed that “I give to Francis Barber a negroe whom I brought from Jamaica aforesaid into England his freedom and twelve pounds in money”. [7]  Barber used his inheritance to take up a position as apothecary’s apprentice, and then to join the navy. It was Johnson who got him discharged some years later and he rejoined the household as Johnson’s personal servant. Ingledew describes his responsibilities:

‘A literary party at Sir Joshua Reynolds’s’ by D. George Thompson, published by Owen Bailey, after James William Edmund Doyle. Stipple and line engraving, published 1 October 1851. NPG D14518 © National Portrait Gallery, London. Barber is thought to be the figure standing at the back on the right; Johnson is seated second from left.

“He performed all the routine duties of a valet, overseeing Johnson’s clothing, buying his provisions, reminding him of appointments, answering the door to callers and announcing their arrival to his master, or protecting him from unwelcome visitors, nursing him in sickness even to the extent of bloodletting, reading to him when his sight was too bad to let him do so himself, waiting at table, making coffee, fetching parcels from the post office, and booking coach seats for Johnson’s annual summer pilgrimages to such places as Oxford, Lichfield, Ashbourne or Lincolnshire, on which he accompanied and looked after his master. A number of tasks which Johnson thought might have been demeaning for Francis he would not let him do, such as buckling his shoes, or buying food for his cat, Hodge.” [8]

Bennet Langton. Carl Fredrik von Breda (1759–1818), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the Lincolnshire visits occurred in 1764, to Johnson’s close friend Bennet Langton at Langton Hall, near Spilsby. From this occasion is derived an insight into Barber’s physical attractiveness: Johnson is reputed to have told a group of friends some years later that

“When I was in Lincolnshire so many years ago, he attended me thither; and when we returned home together, I found that a female haymaker had followed him to London for love.” [9]

Johnson left £2000, the bulk of his estate, to Barber. While this was a very generous settlement, the amount was not given to Barber outright; rather, it was tied up in trusts, which included an annuity of £70 to be paid out of a lump sum of £750 administered by Bennet Langton. In a sense, this arrangement bound Francis Barber forever to Lincolnshire, although it is not known if he ever visited again. He and his family moved to Lichfield, where he died in 1801.

[1] Aleyn Lyell Reade, Johnsonian Gleanings Part II: Francis Barber The Doctor’s Negro Servant. Arden Press, 1912.

[2] Michael Bundock, The Fortunes of Francis Barber. Yale University Press, 2021.

[3] Handler, J and Jacoby, J. Slave names and naming in Barbados, 1650-1830. William and Mary Quarterly 53, 4, 1996, pp. 685-728; Burnard, T. Slave-naming patterns: onomastics and the taxonomy of race in eighteenth-century Jamaica. Journal of Interdisciplinary History 31, 3, 2001, pp. 325-346.

[4] Vincent Carretta, Francis Barber. Browse In Freedman/Freedwoman, 1775–1800: The American Revolution and Early Republic | Oxford African American Studies Center (oxfordaasc.com) accessed 11 October 2021.

[5] Reade, Francis Barber, p. 4.

[6] Bundock, The Fortunes of Francis Barber, p. 36.

[7] The will is reproduced in full in Reade, p. 3.

[8] Ingledew, J. Samuel Johnson’s Jamaica connections. Caribbean Quarterly 30, 2 1984, p. 7.

[9] Cited in Philip Butcher, Francis Barber, Dr Samuel Johnson’s Negro Servant. Negro History Bulletin 11, 2, 1947, p. 38.

Black Disabled activists/ Black Activism for disability: Johnnie Lacy

To mark Black History Month 2021, we will be posting several guest posts on unheard or little-known stories. Some are from Lincolnshire, others from the wider world may be better-known elsewhere, but we should know them better here, and find inspiration in them. This blog was written by Olivia Hennessy, on behalf of the University of Lincoln Students Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee (SEDIC).

The theme we have chosen for Black History Month is Black disability history. We felt that this group should be more represented and recognised by students so they can share the stories of Black disabled activists. This series will focus on activists and Black activism for disability. Let’s start with Johnnie Lacy.

Lacy’s upbringing in the US deep south shaped her understanding of race in the 1930s and 1940s. The education system in Louisiana demonstrates the racial segregation that Johnnie Lacy faced.

At the age of 19, Lacy contracted polio which left her paralysed. This was while she was in the middle of studying for a nursing degree. She also was battling ableism and discrimination. Lacy later went on to study at San Francisco State University, but her re-entry into education was not easy. Her head of department attempted to deny her entry onto her course. Eventually, Lacy was allowed to enrol, but was not allowed to participate in her graduation or be a part of her school. From her college experiences, Lacy describes how she viewed her blackness with her disability:

‘But I basically was forming my own personal philosophy and political philosophy, and I never really felt completely a part of a movement, African-American movement, mainly because I was very much aware that I was not particularly acknowledged as an African-American with a disability who had ideas, who could contribute, and all of those things. That also was kind of a later development for me.

It has been problematic for blacks to identify with disability. My classmates would have had to accept my disability within the same intellectual framework as my blackness–that of an oppressed minority opposite.’

I believe that African Americans see disability in the same way that everybody else sees it–worthless, mindless–without realizing that this is the same attitude held by others toward African Americans. This belief in effect cancels out the black identity they share with a disabled black person, both socially and culturally, because the disability experience is not viewed in the same context as if one were only black, and not disabled. Because of this myopic view, I as a black disabled person could not share in the intellectual dialogue viewed as exclusive to black folk. In other words, I could be one or the other but not both.’

All of this led to her become a disability rights activist, working for Berkeley’s Centre for Independent Living and similar institutions, and she eventually became the Director of Community Resources for Independent Living in Hayward, California.

Lacy often spoke of being excluded from the Black community due to her disability and from the disability community due to being a person of colour. As a Black woman in a wheelchair, she educated her communities about race and disability and served as a role model for many other black women with disabilities. She was, and continues to be, an inspiring woman that deserves more recognition, so that is why SEDIC has written about this powerful individual.


Ramp Your Voice. ‘Black History Month 2017: Johnnie Lacy, Defiantly Black and Disabled’, February 10th 2017. [Accessed on 29/09/21] http://www.rampyourvoice.com/black-history-month-2017-johnnie-lacy-defiantly-black-disabled/

Lincolnshire popular music 1961-2021: a history in 30 tracks

1 October is Lincolnshire Day. As with so many other invented traditions, it is a recent addition to the commemorative calendar (first celebrated in 2006) but has deep historical roots. It recalls the Lincolnshire Rising, which began in early October 1536. A county movement in the geographically wider Pilgrimage of Grace, it was the most significant Catholic revolt that Henry VIII’s breakaway Church of England faced.

We mark the day this year by celebrating cultural diversity. Reimagining Lincolnshire Research Fellow Rob Waddington has compiled this list as a tribute to the region’s contribution to pop music over the past sixty years. Enjoy!

1. The Allisons: Are You Sure? (1961; highest chart position no.2)

The Allisons were a duo who came second in the Eurovision Song Contest and reached number 2 in the UK charts with Are You Sure? Although the single did not hit the top of the charts, it sold well. In fact, according to the OCC (Official Charts UK), it was the 39th best-selling single of the 1960s, outselling 11 of the 21 Beatles’ singles released in that decade and all bar one of The Rolling Stones’ singles. The song, influenced by The Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly, was co-written by the two Allisons, Bernard ‘Bob’ Day and John Alford. Until recently, John Alford could often be seen cycling near his home in the West End of Lincoln.

2. Joe Brown & The Bruvvers: A Picture Of You (1962; no. 2)

Noted for his chirpy Cockney image, Joe Brown was actually born in Swarby, Lincolnshire on 13 May 1941, but his family moved to London when he was two.

The Beatles’ version of A Picture of You was recorded on 11 June 1962, just a week after they signed a recording contract with EMI. It was broadcast by the BBC four days later, on 15 June 1962; this was pre-stardom for the group. It features George Harrison on vocals. George Harrison and Joe Brown later became close friends: Joe played on some of George’s solo albums and in 2000, George was the best man at Joe’s wedding.

A pre-contract test for EMI in early June had sealed the fate of Ringo Starr’s predecessor, Pete Best (born in Chennia, India). George Martin was not impressed with him and the other three Beatles, along with Brian Epstein, planned his exit. At this time, Ringo was with Rory Storm & The Hurricanes in Ingoldmells. They had a twelve-week contract to play the summer season at Butlin’s Skegness. In mid-August, with a couple of weeks still left on their contract, Ringo was invited to join The Beatles. There are various stories about how this happened: some say that John Lennon phoned Ringo, some that Brian Epstein phoned Ringo. Eyewitnesses such as Johnny Guitar, who shared accommodation at Ingoldmells with Ringo, say that John Lennon and Paul McCartney actually visited Ringo there. Whatever the case, Pete was out and Ringo was in. He broke his contract at Butlin’s and first performed as a member of The Beatles at a Horticultural Society dance on 18 August.

3. The Groundhogs: Shake It (1965)

Tony McPhee, born in Humberston on 22 March 1944, was a founder member of The Groundhogs and is still in the group. He formed the group with Pete and John Cruikshank, who, like Pete Best, were born in India. McPhee pushed the band towards the Blues and they worked as John Lee Hooker’s backing band in 1964. Shake It was their first single, but it would be another five years before they would have commercial success with a series of top ten albums.

4. The Ivy League: Funny How Love Can Be (1965; no.8)

The Ivy League were a trio including Perry Ford (stage name of Brian Pugh, born in Lincoln 30

December 1933 and died in Lincoln 29 April 1999). This was their first hit and was followed by Tossing and Turning. The Ivy League also worked as session musicians. Perry Ford’s credits include playing keyboards on The Kinks’ All Day And All Of The Night and singing backing vocals on The Who’s debut I Can’t Explain. Moreover, Perry Ford wrote songs for Adam Faith, The Shadows, The Hollies and Lulu. His song Caroline, recorded by The Fortunes, was the theme tune for pirate radio station Radio Caroline.

Funny How Love Can Be is surely an influence on The La’s 1988 Indie classic “There She Goes”

5. The Casuals: Jesamine (1968; no. 2)

The Casuals were a Lincoln group led by Johnny Tebb (b. 1 October 1945, d. May 2018), who was raised on Outer Circle Road, and Howard Newcombe (b. 25 November 1945).

The Casuals were three-time winners of the TV talent show Opportunity Knocks in 1965, but commercial success was not immediate in the UK. They moved to Italy, where they recorded Italian versions of contemporary hits including an Italian No.1 with their version of the Bee Gees’ Massachusetts. Success in the UK finally came in 1968, when Jesamine reached No. 2. However, only one more minor hit followed.

Jesamine was co-written by Marty Wilde, under a pseudonym. Wilde had been one of Larry Parnes’ stable of rockers. Parnes came into rock and roll management with Tommy Hicks, better known as Tommy Steele. It was Parnes who renamed Reginald Smith as Marty Wilde and Ronald Wycherley as Billy Fury. Parnes also had Roy Taylor from Grantham on his books. Unfortunately, Taylor was towards the back of the line when it came to Parnes dispensing pseudonyms. Steele, Wilde, Fury – what aggressive, macho name did Parnes bestow on Roy Taylor? Vince Eager. Despite regular appearances on a BBC TV rock’n’roll show, Eager never had a hit. Joe Brown (see no 2 above) was also managed by Parnes, but had the sense to reject Parnes’ suggested pseudonym, Elmer Twitch.

6. The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band: I’m The Urban Spaceman (1968; no. 5)

The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band were a link between The Beatles and Monty Python. They appeared in The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour TV film and Paul McCartney produced their hit single I’m The Urban Spaceman, under a pseudonym. The Bonzos were a satirical band lead by the comic genius of their songwriters Neil Innes and Vivian Stanshall. The Bonzos were the resident band on the children’s TV show (mostly watched by adults), Do Not Adjust Your Set, a precursor to Monty Python and featuring three future Pythons. Other than Stanshall and Innes, the only constant member of the band was saxophonist Rodney Slater, who was born in Crowland on 8 November 1941.

7. Forest: Graveyard (1970)

A folk trio, originally called The Foresters of Walesby, was formed in 1966 by Adrian and Martin Welham (raised in Grimsby) and Dez Allenby. All three went to school in Winteringham. They signed to the Harvest record label and shortened their name to Forest.

Despite the support of John Peel on BBC Radio 1, their two albums were not commercially successful. However, Forest’s brand of folk psychedelia on these records has grown in reputation in recent years as part of the Acid Folk genre. Their second album Full Circle was listed in The Guardian’s ‘1000 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die’. The album cover is a psychedelic painting of the church at Walesby.

8. Matthews Southern Comfort: Woodstock (1970; no. 1)

Iain Matthews was born in Barton on Humber on 16 June 1946. His family moved to Scunthorpe

when he was twelve. He was a member of Fairport Convention, with whom he recorded three classic albums. He left Fairport when they changed their musical style from one influenced by American singer-songwriters to traditional British folk music. Fairport recorded two Joni Mitchell songs for their first album and it was a Joni Mitchell song, Woodstock, that would provide his new band, Matthews Southern Comfort, with a number one hit single.

9. T-Rex: Get It On (1971; no.1)

Steve Currie was the bass player with Glam Rock greats T-Rex from December 1970 to August 1976, the band’s halcyon period. He was born in Grimsby on 19 May 1947. Before he joined T-Rex, he played with the Grimsby group The Rumble Band, who released one single as Rumble. He played on eleven Top Twenty singles with T-Rex, including four number ones. After leaving T-Rex, he worked as a session musician. He died in a car crash in the Algarve on 28 April 1981.

T-Rex’s main man, Marc Bolan, had been killed in a car crash in 1977. There is a shrine on the site of the crash. A memorial plaque to Steve Currie has been mounted on this shrine.

10. Elton John: Grimsby (1974)

As most of Elton John’s hit singles are still so well known, this is a great track from Caribou, a number one album in 1974. As with many of the songs Elton co-wrote with Bernie Taupin at this time, it is about Taupin’s native Lincolnshire. The song is called Grimsby, but it is more related to the Grimsby/Cleethorpes conurbation.

As is often the case with Bernie Taupin’s lyrics about Lincolnshire places, there is a bit of a disconnect with reality. There never was a pub in Grimsby called The Skinner’s Arms. Both in his lyrics and his autobiography, A Cradle of Haloes: Sketches of a Childhood, Taupin renames places. For example, Market Rasen is thinly veiled as Market Slaten in the autobiography. An early John/Taupin song called When I Was Tealby Abbey is quite clearly about Bayons Manor, but other songs are harder to place. First Episode in Hienton is about a girl Taupin knew when he was young, but where is Hienton? Hainton, perhaps?

11. Steeleye Span: All Around My Hat (1975; no. 5)

Like Matthews Southern Comfort, Steeleye Span were formed by a Fairport Convention alumnus. Ashley Hutchings was pursuing the British Folk music route that Fairport began in 1969: whereas Fairport were essentially rock musicians playing folk, his new band would be folk musicians playing rock instruments. So Hutchings drafted in two folk duos, Terry and Gay Woods and Maddy Prior and Tim Hart.

Hart was born in Lincoln on 9 January 1948. It was Hart who suggested the band’s name. Steeleye Span was a character in the Lincolnshire folk song Horkstow Grange. Percy Grainger collected this song in 1905 by from George Gouldthorpe, who was an inmate of Brigg Workhouse at the time.

Hutchings and the Woods soon left Steeleye Span (Terry Woods would later join punkish folk band The Pogues), leaving Hart and Prior to lead the band to a rockier sound and commercial success.

Tim Hart died in the Canary Islands on 24 December 2009.

12. The Murgatroyd Band (aka Spencer Davis Group): Magpie (1971)

Magpie was ITV’s hipper answer to Blue Peter. The theme tune was co-written by Ray Fenwick, who has worked as a music teacher at Boston College. Ray Fenwick has been a member of the Spencer Davis Group, the Ian Gillan Band and Fancy, who had hit singles in the USA and Australia. He has also worked as a session musician on a number of Deep Purple solo projects such as Roger Glover’s Butterfly Ball and on Bo Diddley’s London Sessions album.

13. Heatwave: Boogie Nights (1976; no.2)

Rod Temperton was born in Cleethorpes on 9 October 1949. He was educated at De Aston School in Market Rasen before finding work as a fish filleter in Grimsby. Like a fellow former Market Rasen schoolboy, Bernie Taupin, he has written some of the biggest-selling records in music history. Moreover, Temperton has made a major contribution to black music. He wrote Thriller, Rock With You and Off The Wall for Michael Jackson; Give Me The Night and others for George Benson; Yah Mo B There for James Ingram, as well as writing for Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, Donna Summer, Rufus & Chaka Khan and others. Temperton was also a songwriter and performer with British soul band Heatwave who had a string of hits including Boogie Nights. Temperton died of cancer on 25 September 2016.

14. Bad Company: Feel Like Makin’ Love (1975; no.20)

Raymond ‘Boz’ Burrrell was born in Holbeach on 1 August 1946. He was the leader of Boz’s People, who released four singles in their own right and played backing for Kenny Lynch. The band also included Ian McLachlan, who was later a member of The Small Faces. Boz was briefly considered by The Who as a replacement for Roger Daltrey. From 1971-1973, Boz was a member of art-rock band King Crimson. However, he is best known as the bass player for Bad Company, a band formed in 1973 with two former members of Free. Bad Company had a run of hit albums into the 1980s. The original line-up of Bad Company disbanded in 1982, but reformed for a tour in 1998.

Boz died of a heart attack in Spain in 21 September 2006.

15. Magazine: Shot By Both Sides (1978; no. 40)

Howard Devoto was born in Scunthorpe on 15 March 1952, but was raised in Nuneaton and Leeds. He went to the Bolton Institute of Technology. Inspired by the Sex Pistols, he co-founded the Manchester punk band, The Buzzcocks, with Pete Shelley. After recording the Buzzcocks’ first record, the seminal Spiral Scratch EP, Devoto left The Buzzcocks to form Magazine.

Despite critical acclaim, Magazine only had limited commercial success and disbanded in 1981. Devoto formed another band, Luxuria, but by the 1990s, had moved away from the music industry. In the 2000s, however, he collaborated again with Pete Shelley and also reformed Magazine.

In 2009, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Bolton for his contribution to music.

Another member of Magazine, Dave Formula, has been a resident in Louth where he set up the Sweet Factory recording studio. Magazine also included Barry Adamson, one of the few black musicians to feature in punk bands.

16. Jilted John: Jilted John (1978; no. 4)

One-hit wonder, Jilted John is one of the two best known guises of musician, actor and longtime Louth resident Graham Fellowes (the other guise being the versatile singer/songwriter and organist from Sheffield, John Shuttleworth). This pastiche of punk was startling at the time, using language common in school playgrounds, but unfamiliar in the pop charts. The song is still beloved by people (mostly men) of a certain age. In 2018, Jilted John undertook a 40th anniversary tour. (TV chef and personality, Ainsley Harriett was Graham Fellowes’ brother-in-law for over twenty years. Apparently, the two could be found together in pubs in Louth.)

On the subject of Louth, mention should be made of Barbara Dickson, who has been a resident of the town. Amongst her hits is I Know Him So Well with Elaine Paige, the best-selling single by a female duet in the UK

17. The Motors: Airport (1978; no. 4)

Bram Tchaikovsky (real name Peter Bramall) was born in Lincolnshire on 10 November 1950. After playing with local bands, he joined The Motors in 1977. They had a couple of hit singles, but

Tchaikovsky left The Motors after their first album. He formed his own band, simply called Bram Tchaikovsky. Despite critical acclaim, declining sales lead to Tchaikovsky abandoning the music industry in the 1980s. However, he co-wrote the title track of Saxon’s 1990 album Solid Ball Of Rock. In his younger days, he had been in a band with Saxon’s Nibbs Carter (born Cleethorpes, 6 September 1966) before he joined The Motors. Biff Byford, lead singer of Saxon, was a resident of Horncastle.

18. Robert Wyatt: Shipbuilding (1983; no. 35)

Louth resident Robert Wyatt was a founder member of influential psychedelic rock/jazz band, The Soft Machine. As a solo artist, he had a minor hit single with I’m A Believer in 1974 and was given a slot on the BBC TV’s Top Of The Pops. However, he was threatened with being banned from the show: he had been paralysed the previous year and was a wheelchair user; he insisted on performing in his wheelchair. The producer refused to allow this, claiming that the wheelchair would not be suitable for family viewing. In the end Wyatt got his way.

Shipbuilding is a lament about the Falklands War, written by Elvis Costello and Clive Langer. They originally intended the song to be recorded by a number of different singers, but decided that Wyatt’s version was definitive. Wyatt is married to artist Alfreda Benge, who contributes to his records and designs the record covers. Wyatt’s often quirky music, his individual character and political stance have endeared loyal support to him. Various generations of musicians have guested on his records, including Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour and Nick Mason, Roxy Music’s Brian Eno and Phil Manzera, Mike Oldfield, Paul Weller, the aforementioned Elvis Costello and Mark Bedford from Madness.

19. Carmel: Bad Day (1983; no. 15)

Carmel McCourt was born in Wrawby and educated in Scunthorpe and Brigg. The band Carmel was a trio formed in Manchester. Bad Day was their sole top twenty single in the UK. However, they had more sustained success in mainland Europe, especially in France, where Carmel McCourt has been described as the new Edith Piaf and recorded with French music legend Johnny Halliday.

20. Swing Out Sister: Breakout (1986; no. 4)

Lead singer of Swing Out Sister, Corrine Drewery was born in Nottingham in 1959, but raised in Authorpe. Her mother founded the hedgehog rescue centre in Authorpe. She was educated at King Edward VI Grammar school in Louth and Lincoln College. Musically, she was influenced by the 1970s Northern Soul scene at Cleethorpes.

Swing Out Sister were formed in London and hit the charts with their second single, Breakout.

21. Roy Harper: Once (1990)

Like Robert Wyatt, Roy Harper has been a cult figure since the 1960s, a musician’s musician.

He has guested on songs by Pink Floyd and Kate Bush, recorded a joint album with Jimmy Page

and Led Zeppelin released a song about him. He has been cited as an influence by the likes of Johnny Marr, Joanna Newsom and Fleet Foxes. He lived near Folkingham and recorded albums such as Garden of Uranium and Once in Lincolnshire. The title track of Once features both Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd and Kate Bush

Garden of Uranium coincided with local protests in 1986-1987 to halt plans to dump nuclear waste at sites in Lincolnshire, including Fulbeck and South Killingholme. The prospect of nuclear waste dumping has emerged again in 2021, with plans for a site near Theddlethorpe.

Roy Harper sang backing vocals on Kate Bush’s 1980 album Never For Ever. Incredibly, although the album charts have been running since 1956, this was the first UK number one album by a British female solo artist (discounting Greatest Hits compilations and soundtrack albums).

22. Gary Clail On-U Sound System ft. Lana Pellay: Human Nature (1991; no. 10)

Alan Pillay was born near Grimsby docks in 1959 to a mother of Bajan descent and a father of Indian descent who worked as an engineer on trawlers. After leaving school, Pillay moved to Manchester, became involved in the drag scene and worked Working Men’s Clubs as a drag act.

As the transsexual Lana Pellay, they moved in the Manchester music scene, befriending the cult indie band The Fall and recording a couple of singles, one of which was a hit in Australia. They later appeared on Human Nature, a top ten UK dance hit for Gary Clail.

The foundation of Channel Four in the 1980s brought Pellay to a wider audience as they appeared in episodes of the alternative comedy series The Comic Strip Presents, alongside the likes of Rik Mayall, Dawn French , Adrian Edmundson and Jennifer Saunders. They were then given a starring role in the 1987 feature film Eat The Rich. They also appeared on Channel Four’s late night chat show The Funky Bunker as a film critic.

More recently, Pellay has concentrated on theatre work.

22. Gene: Olympian (1995; no. 18)

Gene bass player, Kev Miles, is based in Lincolnshire. Gene were formed from the ashes of a band called Spin. The lead singer of Spin was Lee Clarke from Cleethorpes. Spin came to an end when they were involved in a traffic accident and band members and crew were badly injured.

Two members of Spin drafted in a new vocalist and Kev Miles to form Gene. The band were commercially successful throughout the 1990s with a sound that was often likened to the 1980s Indie music greats The Smiths. Olympian is one of their seven top 30 singles and the title track of their first Top 10 album.

24. The 22-20s: Devil In Me (2004)

Named after a Skip James song 22-20 Blues, the band was formed by Martin Trimble from Heckington and Glen Bartrup from Fulbeck, who were both pupils at Carre’s Grammar School in Sleaford. The two school friends immersed themselves in blues and early 70s rock music.

22-20s’ songs have featured on adverts and on films. Devil In Me has been heard on adverts for the Vauxhall Astra and the Racing Post.

25. Girls Aloud: Love Machine (2004; no.2 )

Although raised in Cheshire, Nicola Roberts was born in Stamford. Her father was in the RAF at the time. Winners of Popstars: The Rivals in 2002, Girls Aloud have entered the Guinness Book of Records as the most successful reality TV music group. As well as a subsequent solo career, Roberts has campaigned for a law banning the use of sunbeds by under-age girls and against bullying.

26. Stephen Fretwell: Run (2005)

The end of Stephen Fretwell’s song Run is familiar as the theme to Gavin and Stacey, one of the most popular TV comedy series of recent years. (The cast of Gavin and Stacey includes Sheridan Smith from Epworth. As well as a career in musical theatre, she has released two albums.)

Rather than this exposure bolstering Fretwell’s career, however, it coincided with his walking away from the music industry.

Scunthorpe born Stephen Fretwell was once described by Q magazine as the town’s greatest-ever export. He released four albums in the early 2000s, the most successful, Magpie, reached the top thirty in the album charts. He supported the likes of Oasis, Elbow and Keane and toured with the Arctic Monkeys’ offshoot The Last Shadow Play as their bass player in 2008.

In 2018, The Arctic Monkeys released a cover version of his song Magpie. After a thirteen-year hiatus, he has returned to music with a new album in 2021.

27. Lana Del Ray: Video Games (2011; no.9)

What do Lana Del Ray, Ellie Goulding, Dua Lipa, Bats for Lashes, Rhianna and Keith Urban have in common? They have all recorded songs written or produced by Justin Parker, who hails from Boultham in Lincoln. Parker’s breakthrough record was Lana Del Ray’s Video Games, which he co-wrote with her. He won an Ivor Novello Award for that song in 2012. He won a second Ivor Novello Award in 2013 for Laura, which he co-wrote with Bats for Lashes. His biggest hit to date is Stay by Rhianna, which he co-wrote and produced.

28. Sleaford Mods: BHS (2017)

Although this duo are based in Nottingham, as their name suggests, they have Lincolnshire roots. Jason Williamson was born and raised in Grantham. Andrew Fearn was raised in Saxilby. Their music is rap-punk, combining hip hop influences with colloquial East Midlands lingo in a manner that is reminiscent of how Manchester punk acts The Fall and John Cooper Clarke used local dialect. Sales of Sleaford Mods albums have risen steadily over the last few years, the most successful being Spare Ribs, released in 2021.

29. Neck Deep: In Bloom (2017)

Pop-punk band Neck Deep were formed in Wrexham in 2012, but have drafted Fil Thorpe Evans and Sam Bowden, who were both raised in Lincoln, into their ranks. In Bloom won the Kerrang Award for Best Single in 2018. Their last three albums have reached the Top Ten.

30. Holly Humberstone: Please Don’t Leave Just Yet (2021)

Humberstone was born in Grantham in 1999. Since 2019, she has been studying at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts. She issued a self-released EP in 2020 and subsequently signed to a major label. Her first EP for the label will be released on 5 November 2021, it includes Please Don’t Leave Just Yet.

Rob Waddington, Research Fellow Reimagining Lincolnshire.