Madame Amy Joyner: A Barnsley Soprano

Guest blogger Jane Ainsworth explores the fascinating life of Soprano Amy Joyner who during the First World War raised money through charity concerts and spent five days in France entertaining the troops.

A potrait of Amy Joyner who is wearing a white dress.

Amy Amelia Joyner was born in 1880 in Barnsley, the oldest of five surviving children of Henry Joyner, Coal Miner, and Eliza nee Jaques, owner of a general dealer shop. Amy qualified as a ‘Professor of Singing’ at the age of 20, after studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London. She married Archibald William Jarman, Colliery Clerk, in 1906 and they lived at 57 Hopwood Street, Barnsley.

Amy experienced much tragedy in her life. Five younger siblings died under 5 years old, including Lewis Arthur, who died in 1894, aged 5; although young, she would have been aware of the loss. (It must have been a painful reminder to her mother when she had to complete the 1911 Census and record that five of her ten children had died).

Despite her own sadness, Amy gave a great deal of pleasure to others. She was a soprano vocalist and Associate of the Royal Academy of Music (ARAM), known professionally as ‘Madame Joyner’. She established a number of choirs across Barnsley and was involved with Cudworth’s for 23 years; she and her husband were both involved with the Choral Society in Cawthorne. 

A poster advertising one of Amy's recitals at the Arcade Hall
A programme from Barnsley Archives and Local Studies

The War Years

Barnsley and The War - an article which mentions Amy Joyner and her fundraising efforts
An article from the Barnsley Chronicle in 1914

During and after the First World War, she was very actively involved in entertaining and raising funds for men serving their country, at home and overseas, by organizing and participating in concerts. There are a number of adverts and reports about these in the Barnsley Chronicle and other local newspapers. The first concert in September 1914 raised £60 19s 10d (23,120) for the main Barnsley Patriotic Fund. Amy went out to France in summer 1917 with a group of vocalists to entertain the men at the front and there were many reports in the newspapers

“Five weeks with the boys in France” A pamphlet from Barnsley Archives about Amy’s time in France in her own words.

“I cannot describe to you what it is like to be singing out here to the boys who are fighting to keep us safe in England. If you could hear the shout when I am announced and see even caps thrown up with intense delight; if you could see their faces light up with pleasure – but more than all if you could feel the hard strong grip of a hand thrust into yours as you pass through on your way to another camp – you would never forget it. One boy said to me ‘You cannot understand, Madame, what it has meant to us to see you, hear you and really speak with you’. I looked at his war-worn face and my heart simply went out to him and all of our brave boys…”

Just two examples of the charity concerts which Amy Joyner was involved with, found using a digitised version of The Barnsley Chronicle which is free to use when visiting Barnsley Archives and Local Studies

Amy’s Family

Her youngest brother Bernard was killed in action on the Somme on 30 July 1916, aged 19, serving as a Private in the 6th Battalion of the Black Watch (Royal Highlanders). Another brother William Henry survived; he served in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps before being transferred as a Gunner to the 6th Reserve Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery.

Her father was killed in a colliery accident in September 1900, aged 42 leaving her mother, Eliza with five children to raise, the youngest only 4 years old. She had her own general dealer shop in 1901 and took in boarders, mainly railway workers. Eliza Joyner died on 22 December 1924, aged 64, and she was interred with her husband.

Amy and archibald’s marriage bands

Amy got married on 19 March 1906 at Cudworth St John to Archibald William Jarman (1877 – 1955) a colliery clerk then Juvenile Employment Officer for Barnsley. Archibald was born in Wormley, Herefordshire, to Charles Coombes Jarman, a schoolmaster, and Isabel Elmer, who had seven children. The family relocated to Woolley by 1881 then moved to Cudworth after Charles died, when his widow took in lodgers working for the railway to support her children.

Amy and Archibald occupied eight rooms at 57 Hopwood Street in 1911 and subsequently moved to Kirkhaven, Church Street, Cawthorne, where they remained.

A section of the 1939 register which mentions Amy and Archibald.

(On the 1939 Register, this was next door to Benjamin Harral, retail jeweller, born on 11 January 1876, his two daughters: Violet Anna born on 4 December 1899 and Sheila born on 24 January 1897, a nursery nurse who got married later to Mr Lewis, plus Margaret Marsham unpaid domestic duties aged 26 and a closed record).

Both of Amy’s children died young: Irene Hope Jarman was born on 16 December 1907 and died on 10 October 1912, aged 4 years and 10 months, while Charles Jarman was born and died on 21 August 1913, recorded in the Parish Register as living for just 15 minutes.

Amy in later life

The Barnsley Independent reported on 27 February 1926:

“Owing to indifferent health for some time Madame Amy Joyner, ARAM, is leaving Barnsley early next month to take up residence in Bournemouth. Madame Amy Joyner has been prominent in the local musical world for many years, and her many friends will hope that a change of air will prove very beneficial. A native of Cudworth, Madame Joyner qualified when seventeen for an Associated Board scholarship. She won prizes and medals during her six years’ training at the Academy, and the distinction of ARAM was conferred upon her. Madame Joyner sang for many years in oratorio, and at principal concerts in this country and Scotland”

Amy Amelia Jarman was an invalid for some time before she died at home at Kirk Haven on 18 February 1940, aged 59. The death notice in newspapers stated that she had passed peacefully away at home and “No mourning, by request”. The Barnsley Chronicle had previously reported that “Madame Joyner reading of the present war, said she longed for her former health and strength so that she could help the soldiers as she did in the last struggle”

The funeral service was held at All Saints Church in Cawthorne, conducted by Rev F B Greenwood with the assistance of three other Vicars; there was a lot of music and many floral tributes. She was buried in Cudworth Churchyard with other members of her family.

Thank you to Jane Ainsworth for researching the life of Madame Amy Joyner, if you have done research into a Barnsley family please share it with us! email

The photos and documents featured in this blog are from Barnsley Archives and Local Studies, a free to use service which has lots of resources such as Ancetry, Find My Past and The Barnsley Chronicle archive. Check their website for latest opening times

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