He was a baronet, philanthropist, businessman and songwriter born in Charlton, Kent, England, who studied at Harrow followed by Balliol College, Oxford. An avid lover of music he led his school choir and while at Balliol he would continue his interest as well as branch out into literature which led him to co-founding and editing a contemporary poetry magazine.
After leaving university he went to Canada on a tour before returning to become part of the family business in their ownership of several chemical factories in Britain and Canada, and timber and railway sleeper works.
Much involved in charitable work he was a founder of the House of Shelter at Bow, London, which provided somewhere for the homeless to sleep and get help for employment, a co-founder of the Oxford House Settlement in Bethnal Green, London, an organisation for bush nursing in Australia and the Federation of the Working Men’s social clubs, for which he was president from 1895-1930 and the chairman of the Mendicity Society, Associated Tar Distillers and the Queen’s Institute of Nurses.
Never losing sight of music he collected many traditional folk songs and often wrote or translated lyrics for them. These included “The Skye Boat Song”, “The Castle of Dromore”, “Glorious Devon” and “All Through the Night”. Involved in the publication of music he edited and co-wrote Songs of the North, Our National Songs and Songs of Four Nations. This involvement in music resulted in him being made a director of the Royal Academy of Music in 1931.
He died in London in 1935 after a long illness when he was 75 years old.
Here is Paul Robeson singing Harold Boulton’s English transcription of “The Castle of Dromore”…