Graves, John Woodcock

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Graves, John Woodcock Gender: M
born on 9 February 1795 at 08:00 (= 08:00 AM )
Place Wigton, England, 54n49, 3w09
Timezone LMT m3w09 (is local mean time)
Data source
Rodden Rating B
Collector: Scholfield
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_aqucol.18.gif 20°38' s_mo.18.gif s_libcol.18.gif 20°37 Asc.s_piscol.18.gif 01°19'


English composer and author of the traditional English nineteenth century song "D'ye ken John Peel".

While working as a woollen miller at Caldbeck, Graves was friendly with John Peel (1776-1854), with whom he hunted. He was sitting in his parlour one evening with Peel when Graves's little daughter came in and said, "Father what do they say to what granny sings?" "Granny was singing to sleep my eldest son with a very old rant called 'Bonnie (or Cannie) Annie'. The pen and ink being on the table, the idea of writing a song to this old air forced itself upon me, and thus was produced, impromptu, 'D'ye ken John Peel with his coat so grey'. . . . I well remember saying in a joking style, 'By jove, Peel you'll be sung when we're both run to earth'."

Graves neglected his woollen mills and lost a court case concerning it. Graves left for Tasmania, and arrived at Hobart in 1833 with his wife and four children, and about £10 in his pocket. Except for a short period at Sydney he remained in Tasmania for the rest of his life. Graves was inventive and "brought to considerable perfection several machines--especially one for preparing the New Zealand flax". His fortunes varied but he was able to give his children a good education. His eldest son, his namesake, became a well-known Hobart barrister but died before his father, and another son in business in Hobart looked after him in his last days.

He was married twice: firstly to Jane Atkinson and secondly to Abigail Porthouse. There were eight children of the second marriage, of whom at least one son and a daughter survived him. In 1958 a memorial to him was erected in St David's Park. Sidney Gilpin's The Songs and Ballads of Cumberland includes six poems by Graves.

Graves died at Hobart on 17 August 1886.

Link to Wikipedia biography


Source Notes

Sy Scholfield quotes data from "Sketcher: John Peel," Otago Witness [NZ], Issue 1985, 10 March 1892, p. 39, which quotes a "recent issue of the London Sporting Life": "In an autobiographical fragment published over a quarter of a century ago, he tells us that he was born at 8 o'clock on the morning of the 9th of February 1795."


  • Vocation : Entertain/Music : Composer/ Arranger
  • Vocation : Writers : Poet