Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924) was born in Exeter on 28th January 1834, the eldest son of Captain Edward Baring-Gould, squire of Lew Trenchard in Devon, and his first wife Sophia Charlotte née Bond. Captain Baring-Gould had been a member of the East India Company's army but was invalided out of the service in 1830. In 1834 he moved his family, including the infant Sabine, to the Continent, remaining there until 1844; on return, Sabine attended King's College School in London in 1844-1846 and Warwick Grammar School in 1847 before his fragile health led Captain Baring-Gould to move the family abroad again. At seventeen Sabine set himself three tasks in life: to help in a spiritual rebirth of the British people, to restore the family home at Lew Trenchard, and to restore Lew Trenchard church.
In 1853 Baring-Gould entered Clare College, Cambridge, to read classics; here he was attracted to Tractarianism. On graduating in 1856 he wanted to become a clergyman but this was vetoed by his family: the expectation was that as the eldest son he would become the squire of Lew Trenchard in turn and his younger brother would enter the Church. For the next few years he taught at various schools but in 1863 his parents changed their minds about his becoming a priest when his younger brother refused to enter the Church. He was ordained deacon in 1864 and became a curate in Horbury, near Wakefield; in 1865 he was ordained priest.
Baring-Gould flung himself into his mission in the rough area of Horbury Brig. The hymns he wrote for the mission achieved lasting popularlity, most notably "Onward Christian Soldiers", and he proved a popular and effective priest. He also fell in love with a young factory girl, Grace Taylor, in 1866; after two years in which she was given the education she had previously been denied, she and Baring-Gould married in 1868, against the wishes of both families. The union was a lasting and affectionate one, in which Grace bore fifteen children.
Baring-Gould began a literary career whilst at Horbury, writing extensively on history, religious matters (his Lives of the Saints combining the two concerns), folklore and fiction; he continued this through his subsequent moves to Dalton in Yorkshire (1867-1871) and East Mersea, Essex (1871-1881), the latter a crown living presented to him through the agency of W.E. Gladstone. His father's death in 1872 brought him the Lew Trenchard estate but he did not move there until, in 1881, the death of his elderly uncle freed the living of Lew Trenchard church: at this time he returned to Devon to become rector and squire simultaneously. Here, again, he proved a popular and active parson. Whilst in Devon he began collecting folksongs (and sometimes rewriting them, if the lyrics were considered indecent): "Widecombe Fair" is probably the best-known of his finds. From 1904 he collaborated with Cecil Sharp on this project, which he regarded as his most important work.
Grace Baring-Gould died in 1916 and was buried beneath a headstone reading "Dimidium animae meae" ("Half my soul"). Sabine Baring-Gould died in 1924 and was buried with her.