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West Country Poets

GEORGE HAMLYN (c. 1819-)

This writer, who has been styled be some of his admirers the 'Dartmoor Bloomfield', was born at Lower Leigh, Bickleigh, near Roborough, April 6, 1819.  His father was a farmer and had a lease of that estate.  His parents were much respected amongst the neighbouring farmers. George was one of a large family, having three brothers and a sister his seniors, and two sisters younger.  He served an apprenticeship to a wheelwright and afterwards travelled about the country working at his trade.  On one occasion he walked from London to Plymouth encumbered with a basket of tools.  In 1843 he was foreman of a coachmaker's shop at Soho Square, London.  For many years he lived with his parents at Beer Ferris, taking the fruit to market in the old market-boat, and occasionally selling cattle.  About thirty-five years ago Mr. W. WOOD, the publisher, of Devonport, who has brought to light many budding literati, published a small volume entitled 'Rustic Poems by George HAMLYN, the Dartmoor Bloomfield,' in which we find the following introductory note:

'George HAMLYN is a native of Tamerton, and farms a small estate on the border of Dartmoor.  Although occupied necessarily in laborious work, he has found time to compose the present volume.  His numerous friends and acquaintances having frequently heard him recite the pieces, being solicitous of seeing them in print, the present little brochure is presented ed in its primitive state.  Should the sale be commensurate with the cost of printing, another collection will be issued.'  The pieces in this little volume are of varying order of merit:  some are of a very ordinary character, while others possess real poetical touches; but considering that they are the productions of a man who had little or no education, a veritable 'son of the soil,' they are very creditable.  In 1862 George HAMLYN went to Australia in company with two of his brothers.  They penetrated into the Bush, and had adventures with bushrangers in Gippsland, where they eventually settled down near the lakes.

HAMLYN returned to Devonshire, not having made a fortune, as so many West-Country men have done before and since, and settled down as a small farmer, for some time residing at or near Plymouth.  He has a high appreciation of the poet's mission; moreover, he has a firm belief in his own abilities, and invariably introduces himself to a stranger as the 'Dartmoor Bloomfield'.  Apart from his pardonable egotism and a certain eccentricity of manner, he is a very worthy man, and a character well worth of study.  He possesses a good fund of humour, tells a capital story, and is very fond of relating his experiences both in going to and returning from the Antipodes, and while resident in the Australian Bush.

HAMLYN is now (1895) residing at Plymouth, but having suffered from two strokes of paralysis, it is feared that he will not live to see this publication.  His latter days are, however, happy in the tender solicitude of a loving wife.

BICKLEIGH VALE

As the beauty of nature extends through the earth,
I've lately composed on the place of my birth;
Its true matchless splendour has given it fame,
It is near Plymouth Sound - Bickleigh Vale is its name.

. . . . six more verses in the same vein .. . .

Transcribed by Sandra Windeatt from: Wright, W.H.K., (1896) West-Country Poets:  Their Lives and Works. London: Elliot Stock, pp.228-230.

Last updated 22 Jul 2011 - Brian Randell.

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