MARIAH RITCHIE’S MANUSCRIPT OF 1820-1830
I found this handwritten manuscript signed by Mariah in a local flea market in Horncastle in about 2001
for £2 .A momentous find .The book lay on my library shelves for several years ignored probably laying between my vast collection of music gathered during thirty years of adult life in my own home.
I cannot remember how, when or why I suddenly selected it to look at in 2009 .It would however give me a new interest in life and start a new society involving new friendships and associations which has grown from strength to strength.
Firstly, I was intrigued and curious to who had owned this and written in a hand of late Georgian style. I had not even looked at her name and the date until now. Mariah Ritchie, Walker Place ,South Shields.1820
I wanted to know more .
I contacted the libraries and museums locally in the Tyneside and then nationally, to see if Mariah was known as a local musician or even lady composer ,to no avail.
Luckily, a fellow musician and friend who is a dedicated genealogist and tracer of family trees was only to pleased to quence my curious thirst for details of Mariah and her life.
It was discovered that the lady was the wife of a South Shields ship’s master,who probably enjoyed a comfortable middle class life and lived next door to a piano tuner! There are jottings in the back of the book in Mariah’s hand looking like she had used it as an address book and some general regency doodles as if she had stood by the phone –whoops hadn’t been invented listening and scribbling at the same time and jotting down contacts.
Included in these doodles was an address for a workhouse tenant and we worried that Mariah was eventually to be destined to become an inhabitant .This would have been unlikely– if she was prosperous enough to be musically literate and afford a book in which to write her own and others music .It became apparent that a niece of hers had the misfortune to live in a workhouse establishment and wanting to keep in contact Mariah had wanted to keep in contact with her.It turned out to be Mariah’s neice who had perhaps hit hard times to warrant a workhouse life.
I felt I had begun to know Mariah while reading and playing the dances and songs that she had been fond enough to collect in her book ,the popular hits of the early decades of the nineteenth century.
What a find !
Mariah was alive again and I guessed that this book had laid somewhere stored and then sent for auction in Yorkshire where the local Horncastle junk dealer went to acquire stock for his shop. I wanted to bring her music to life and as she had signed the compositions I was quite excited as to whether they were her creations.
I was only to pleased to quence my curious thirst for details of Mariah .