Loosemore of Devon - Chapter 7


In this chapter we shall look at the two brothers Henry and George Loosemore, exact contemporaries of John Loosemore, the subject of Chapter 6.  Both men were organists and minor composers; Henry’s reputation at least is increasing as scholars direct more of their attention to his music.  Very little is known of the 17th century Loosemores of East Anglia and their exact relation-ship with the main family of Devon; the present account emphasizes the need for further research.

Henry Loosemore

Life and Family

Nothing definite is known of Henry Loosemore’s birth, though it is said to have been in Devon, c1600. [1]   In Chapter 5 we have suggested that he was probably a son of Samuel, born some time between 1605 and 1609.  His name first appears in the record with his appointment as organist of King’s College, Cambridge in 1627, initially at a quarterly stipend of £2.10s., increasing at Christmas that year to £3, and to £3.6s.8d at Lady Day, 25th March 1629. [2]   It has been established that he was not a lay-clerk there prior to 1627, as had earlier been supposed, nor was he an assistant to Giles Tomkins, his predecessor as College organist. [3]   He was to remain organist at King’s for the remainder of his life.

On 17th February 1633/4 the register of Chesterton parish, now assimilated into the northern part of Cambridge city, records a marriage by licence between ‘Henry Loosmore of Kings Coll: and Elizabeth Brookes’. [4]   We may suppose this to be the reason why, at Lady Day a month later, the College increased his stipend again, to £5/quarter.  No further details of the marriage have been found, marriage allegations and licences having not survived in Ely diocese for the inclusive period 1621-1659.  Henry’s wife may have been ‘Elizabeth Brooke, daughter of Richard Brooke’ who was baptized in St. Bodolph parish, Cambridge on 13th February 1594/5, though she would then have been 4 days past her 39th birthday at her marriage; Henry would have been 25-30 years old. [5]

Henry and Elizabeth lived first in the parish of St. Benedict, adjacent and to the north of St. Bodolph, conveniently close to King’s College.  Two daughters were baptized there: Anna on 27th March 1636 and Elizabeth on 5th March 1639/40.  The younger daughter’s parents are recorded in the register as ‘John and Ann’, but the bishop’s transcript entry reads ‘Elizabeth Loosemore, daughter of Henry and Elizabeth’; both sources spell the family name as Loosemore. [6]   Young Elizabeth was another victim of the prevailing high infant mortality rate, being buried in the parish barely a month after her baptism, on 8th April.  Anne fared better, for it is almost certainly she who was the subject of a licence issued on 5th June 1661 in London authorizing the marriage of

Benjamin Donne of St. Mary Strand alias Savoy, Widr 38 & Anne Loosemore Spr 22, daughter of Henry Loosemore of Cambridge University, Mus. B, at Lincoln’s Inn Chapel or Hornsey Middlesex. [7]

The discrepancy in her age (she was actually 25 at the time) was probably more a concession to human vanity than to arithmetic error.  No other children are known to have been born to Henry and Elizabeth, not surprisingly if, as we have tentatively suggested, Elizabeth was aged 39 at her marriage and therefore 45 at the birth of her second, short-lived, daughter.

The couple were resident in St. Benedict up to 1640, for ‘Mr Lusmore, organist of King’s College’ was assessed there at 3s. for ‘ship money’ in 1635, while ‘Mr Loosemore’ paid similar sums in the same parish returns for 1637, 19th December 1638, and January 1639/40. [8]   On 5th June 1640 Henry was proceeded B.Mus. from the University, on the supplication of King’s College avowing that ‘he had studied the art of musical composition for seven years, together with its practice, and has achieved the highest approval of those skilled in the art’. [9]   That he was held in high esteem by his college is evident from the fact that his supplicat was signed not by the Praelector as was usual but instead by Henry Molle, a Fellow of King’s, composer, and presumably a close friend.  His mandatory exercise, referred to as a canticum in the supplicat, was almost certainly the signed 8-part full anthem “Behold now praise the Lord”, later bound in with the Peterhouse Caroline part-books. [10]   The ascription on this anthem agrees with the only example of his signature and hand-writing in College and University records, viz. his subscription to the Three Articles of Religion, as was then required of all students proceeding to degrees at Cambridge.  Fortunately Henry wrote out the brief declaration instead of leaving it to the Registrar as was common, thus providing a specimen of his day-to-day hand in addition to the signature. [11]

At this period colleges were required to declare the privileged, non-academic members of their societies, including ‘clerks’ (adult choir members not in holy orders) and menial servants.  King’s College Chapel music staff consisted of 3 chaplains, 8 lay clerks, and 16 choristers; one lay clerk held the office of organist and master of the choristers, another the office of cantor.  In three such returns, dated September 1640 and 1641, and 23 December 1645, Henry Loosemore’s name appears among the clerks. [12]   The numbers of choristers remained sensibly constant until the latter date when they fell to eleven as ‘purification’ of the College commenced under the Puritans.  By 1650 they were reduced to three and from 1654 choristers disappear from College accounts until 1660.  Payment to the organ-blower ceased after 25 March 1645 until Michaelmas 1654 when it re-appears and continues throughout the Protectorate.  However, in spite of the gradual cessation of all musical activities in the Chapel the College continued to pay their organist his stipend for the whole period of the Interregnum, though we cannot say how much of the time he was required to spend on College premises. [13]   It would seem that at least until 1645 and perhaps until about 1650 Henry Loosemore performed his duties there to some limited extent, though the organ may have been silent between 1645 and 1654.  Some doubt remains whether or not it was actually dismantled during the 1650s and we shall look again at this point a little later.

A different picture of music and musicians in Cambridge during the Puritan regime emerges from a poem written in 1653 by the royalist Nicholas Hookes, who proceeded B.A. from Trinity College in that year.  Addressed ‘To Mr Lilly, Musick-Master in Cambridge’ it is mainly a panegyric on John Lilly’s skill as a violist, but in the concluding section he catalogues the surprising number of professional musicians then active in the City:

We have good Musick and musicians here,
If not the best, as good as anywhere:
…the Lusemores too, I think
For organists; …

together with references to players of the viol, Irish harp, lute, sackbut, cornet and violin. [14]

Considerable uncertainty surrounds Henry’s activities during this period when he could hardly have been occupied to any appreciable extent in College musical functions.  It is generally understood1 that for several years he was resident organist at Kirtling Towers, the Cambridgeshire seat of Dudley, 3rd Lord North, near Newmarket. [15]   The old lord was a domineering, irascible, tyrant who demanded, and obtained, instant unquestioning obedience from family and servants alike, but whose saving grace was an abiding love of music.  We know from his grandson Roger that ‘he kept an organist in the house, which was seldom without a profes’t musick master’. [16]   Roger North’s biographer confirms that for many years he kept an organist in his house, ‘one Mr Loosemore’, and that it was in 1660 that the better-known John Jenkins took up the position of musician-in-residence at Kirtling. [17]   The basis for these statements is a private account book owned by Dudley, 4th Lord North, in which every penny of his daily expenditure during the last twenty years of his life was said to have been recorded.  The 4th Lord North was buried late in June 1677; entries in the account book start in 1652.  The book disappeared some time after 1887 but has recently come to light in Roger North’s home at Rougham, Norfolk. [18]   Regular quarterly payments of £2 to ‘Mr Loosemore ye organist’ are recorded from November 1652 to August 1658 after which gaps appear, though these payments continue up to December 1663 after which he is retained mainly as a teacher, receiving less regular sums of £1/quarter.  The last payment of £1 to ‘Mr Loosemore’ is dated 29th November 1666.  John Jenkins first appears in an undated account for 1660 when £3 was paid ‘To Mr Jenkyns and Geo. Loosemore for musick lessons and teaching’ The formal mode of address to Mr Loosemore and Mr Jenkyns, by contrast with the simple reference to Geo. Loosemore, who at that time possessed no academic qualification, suggest it was indeed Henry Loosemore, with his Mus. B degree in music, who was resident in the North household, at least for the period from 1652-c1658 and perhaps later.

The old Lord North himself is our authority for accepting that both Henry and George Loosemore were welcome at Kirtling.  A remarkably friendly letter he wrote in 1658 to Henry Loosemore, in appreciation of his recent company at Kirtling when they had played compositions ‘by your brother George’ allows us to disregard the earlier belief that the two organists were father and son. [19]   If, as seems likely, Henry did stay at Kirtling for several years he would have been separated from his wife, for Dudley Lord north was not a great believer in the equality of women and men, and would have seen little reason to consider the private life of his organist.

Entries in College accounts of payments for blowing the organ re-appear in 1654 and continue throughout the remainder of the Protectorate, giving some support to the idea that the organ may have been used for secular and recreational purposes in this period.13 Yet an account by a 19th century Bursar and Vice-Provost of the College refers to an entry in their accounts in the year after the Restoration when, in order to revive the Chapel choral service, ‘Mr Henry Loosemore, the Organist’ lent his chamber organ for use in there, 35s. being charged for its removal thither from his house by Lancelot Pease, implying that the Chapel organ had been dismantled at some earlier time. [20]   Henry’s organ, probably a small instrument more appropriate for use in a private house, must have been found inadequate for it was removed a few months later, in the same academic year.  Lancelot Pease was paid £200 for a new chaire organ, which was also installed in 1661.

Henry Loosemore lived in St. Bodolph parish after the Restoration, though no details of his later life have been discovered.  Elizabeth his wife was buried there on 23rd August 1660, as was he ten years later, on 7th July 1670.

We may note here the only other contemporary family reference so far discovered in local records, even though its connection with Henry is conjectural.  On 28th April 1682 ‘Mrs Bridgit Loosmore of Cooton, Cambs.’ was buried in Shepreth parish.  Perhaps she was visiting friends, for Shepreth village lies some 6 miles south of Cambridge while Coton is a hamlet no more than one mile west of the City.  She was described in her will, dated 8th October 1678, as ‘Bridget Loosemore, sojourner at Whitwell widdow…’; Whitwell is one of the ‘lost villages’ of Cambridgeshire, in the parish of Barton cum Coton. [21]   Her beneficiaries were her son Benjamin Loyer/Loryer(?), daughter Elizabeth Loyer, son-in-law Robert Poole, Daughter Frances Garnett with three of her children, and another grandchild, Susanna Cletherow.  Bridget appointed Elizabeth Loyer to be her sole executrix and residuary legatee.

One may guess from the number of her grandchildren that Bridget Loosemore was about 50-55 years old when she made her will.  From the distinction made between her son Benjamin Loyer and son-in-law Robert Poole we may take it that she was twice married, Benjamin being issue of her first marriage.  There is no reason to believe that any other male Loosemore lived in Cambridge in the mid-17th century apart from Henry and George and, as we shall see later, George pre-deceased his wife.  The possibility therefore arises that Henry Loosemore may have married the widow Bridget Loyer some time after the death of his first wife Elizabeth in 1660.  No record of the event has been found.

Henry Loosemore: music

The study of 16-17th century English church music is a highly specialised subject, requiring not only a thorough understanding of cathedral and church service protocol of the period, but also a wide general knowledge of contemporary musical forms and styles together with the special musical characteristics of individual composers, their lives and interrelationships.  Much of their music is deposited in cathedral, collegiate and other libraries, not all of which has even been catalogued; much is incomplete.  Individual items of manuscript music still come to light in library collections; doubtless some remains scattered through widely-dispersed collections of family papers.  Difficulties often arise in attributing correctly the many unsigned works to particular composers.  For these reasons the music composed by Henry and his brother George listed in Appendix 11 should not be regarded as complete, nor does it record all known sources for those items listed.  Rather it collects together those items whose existence and provenance have been confirmed by specialists, who are cited in the References and Notes at the end of the Appendix, with a representative source for each work.

Almost all Henry Loosemore’s known music is sacred, consisting of two Services and a few separate Service items, together with some 30 anthems; two short secular pieces complete the catalogue.  Much of it is found in one or other of two important pre-Restoration sources.  The first, the so-called “Caroline part-books”, were found at Peterhouse, Cambridge and are now deposited in the University library.  They are a collection of 14 choir part-books, originally 18 in two distinct sets of 10 and 8, of irregular size, probably assembled from miscellaneous acquisitions between c1635-43.  They have been described in detail else-where10.  One Service and at least 5 anthems are found nowhere else; all of the organ accompaniments are lacking.  One of the five unique anthems, a setting in eight parts from Psalm 34:1, “Behold now praise the Lord”, is Henry Loosemore’s Mus.B. degree exercise.

The second source, known as Henry Loosemore’s organ book, was discovered by Thurston Dart in 1959 in New York Public Library among a collection of manuscripts assembled by the 19th century American philanthropist Joseph W Drexel. [22]   As its name suggests, it is a book of organ accompaniments, compiled by Loosemore for his own use in the King’s College organ loft.  Among 83 items it contains organ parts of 15 of his own anthem settings for 8 of which it is the unique source, plus the organ accompaniment to a short piece by him for three instruments (these parts are lacking).  The book is dated c1625-35 but it was probably still in use in King’s College Chapel as late as 1729.  One direct result of Dart’s discovery was the realisation that two anthems, “O Lord increase our faith” and “Why art thou so heavy, O my soul”, previously unquestioningly attributed to Orlando Gibbons were in fact composed by Henry Loosemore, a convincing measure of Henry’s ability. [23]

Several other anthems together with the remaining instrumental work are held in various collections in the British Library, listed in Appendix 11.  The Library is a unique source for the instrumental work, though the organ part is lacking.  Other anthems appear in the Tenbury collection now in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, and in the cathedral libraries of Ely, Lichfield, and Durham.  The Durham items are interesting since they indicate that Masters of choristers and/or organists in widely separated areas maintained close contact, incorporating the best of each others work into their own choral repertoire, in spite of the almost complete absence of facilities for cheap printing of manuscript music.

Henry Loosemore’s music is currently being re-assessed by scholars.  He is now acknowledged to be one of the most able of early 17th century provincial composers, though none of his music achieved any wide currency during his lifetime. [24]   A performance by the Clerkes of Oxenford on 25th January 1986 in New College Chapel, Oxford of his anthem “O Lord increase our faith”, a little gem, provided an opportunity to savour personally the unique quality of his art.  It is a matter of some personal satisfaction that the same anthem was performed during the wedding of my youngest daughter Alison, on 10th September 1988 in St. Nicholas’s Church, Abingdon, Oxon.

George Loosemore

Life and Family

In this section we collect together the meagre known details of George Loosemore’s life, and look at some circumstantial evidence implying that he, and therefore his elder brother Henry, were sons of Samuel of Bishops Nympton and Barnstaple, Devon.

Several authorities have stated that George was trained under his father (sic–Henry) as a chorister at King’s College.  The confusion regarding his relationship with his brother Henry may have been due to the large difference in their ages.  When Henry became organist at King’s in 1627 George was only 8 years old, a tender enough age to have left his family in Barnstaple but certainly consistent with his enrolment as a chorister.  Presumably George came to Cambridge under Henry’s supervision and protection but our understanding of the family separation might be clarified if the burial date of his mother Gillian could be found.

George was appointed organist of Jesus College on 13th June 1635 at the age of 15½, the College having contracted with Robert Dallam the previous year for a new organ at a cost of £200 to replace an older instrument sold in 1582. [25]   By a College Order dated 28th November 1634 the organist’s stipend was to be provided by a quarterly tax of 12d. on all College members, except for certain poor scholars (sizars) who, in lieu of payment, were required to blow the organ.  However, College accounts at this time contain no reference to payment of an organist’s stipend.  His name appears in lists of under-graduates from1638, he was admitted formally as a Pensioner (i.e. he was able to pay his own fees) on 28th March and on 13th July became a scholar.  All this suggests that rather than being a stipendiary organist he was given the diverted profits of a scholarship on the understanding that he play the organ. [26]   Yet there is no evidence that he ever either matriculated or proceeded to a B.A. degree.  He had vacated his scholarship by July 1641, when he also disappears from the Steward’s accounts. [27]   The organ was taken down at a cost of 40s.in 1643 and concealed from Puritan eyes until its re-installation after the Restoration.

Information regarding his life over the next few years is completely lacking, though one may suppose that he lived under the shelter of his brother Henry in St. Benedict parish.  Apparently he married about 1649, for the parish register then records several events of interest:

1649    Samuel Loosemore bap. Dec 3    [no details of either parent]

1651    Samuel Loosemore bur. Aug 19   [no details of either parent]

1652    Samuel Loosemore bap. Dec 14, son of Geo: [28]

Almost certainly the Samuel who was baptized in 1649 and buried 18 months later was a son of George, for by 1649 Elizabeth the wife of Henry would have been aged 54 years and it is therefore extremely unlikely that she and her husband were the parents.  The choice of given name, the same as that of George’s father, supports the hypothesis that these two Georges were one and the same person.

No trace of George Loosemore’s marriage has been found in any surviving Cambridge city parish register or in 132 others in the county; he probably married privately in 1648-9, in order to circumvent the growing Puritan insistence on a civil ceremony.  Shortly after 1652 he moved with his family to All Saints parish, in which lay Trinity College, where ‘Honor Loosemore the daughter of Georg and Honorah’ was baptized on 20th January 1656/7.  Baptism was unusual after so many years of Puritan rule and as he would no doubt have wished to conform to the practices of the episcopal church it is not surprising that later records of the birth of his children are lacking.  George settled in All Saints, for in the parish return for the Hearth Tax of 1662 he was assessed as a householder, on 4 hearths. [29]

Several authors have stated that he was employed for many years as organist in the North household at Kirtling and his name has been linked with that of John Jenkins on the basis of one undated entry in the North account book for 1660, which has already been mentioned in the section above on Henry Loosemore. [30]   Firm evidence that the Mr Loosemore whose name appears in the account book up to 29th November 1666 refers to George rather than his brother Henry seems to be lacking.  It is unclear how George could have made a lengthy stay before 1643 or after his marriage in c1649, and the period 1643-9 is considerably earlier than that generally accepted as the peak of musical activities at Kirtling.  Just possibly he might have left his young family between 1657-9, as a means of augmenting his income during a difficult period for church musicians.  Notwithstanding these uncertainties George had been a welcome, if occasional, guest at Kirtling for many years.  As late as May 1665 he sent a gift of a salmon to old Lord North, doubtless in appreciation of hospitality received. [31]

From 1660 onwards until his death George Loosemore was organist of Trinity College.  His name first appears in College accounts in 1660/1 but he must have been appointed some time previously, for in 1659/60, when the organ was being set up, we are told that work in the organ loft was ‘by Mr Loosemores direccions’. [32]   He may have acquired a certain skill in organ-building since not only was 10s paid in 1661 ‘To Mr Leusmore for mending the Organs’, and again in 1674/5 he received £3 ‘for tuning the Organ twice and mending it when eaten with Ratts’ but in Michaelmas term 1663 £1 was paid ‘To Mr Leusmore for removeing his owne Organ’. [33]   Evidently he, like his brother Henry, owned a chamber organ which perhaps he or Henry had constructed.  This small instrument must have been installed as a stop-gap, for in June 1662 it was agreed to spend £115 on a new organ to be supplied by Thomas Thamar of Peterborough, which was completed in 1663.32

In 1665 George was granted the degree of Mus.D by the University on a supplication of Trinity dated 20 January 1664/5. [34]   The official record refers to it as Musicae Magister, but all other authorities are unanimous in referring to it as Mus.D.  Music degrees were granted only rarely at this time and errors in the descriptive record were not unknown.

Five years later, on 1st April 1670, George’s son Samuel became a chorister at Trinity and was matriculated there in the same year. [35]   At 17 he would have been too old for a singing boy, but on a number of occasions in the 17th century the College recruited ‘drie Choristers’ who were not expected to sing.  The emoluments of a chorister under the Statutes were apparently better than those of a sizarship, almost if not quite equal to those of a scholarship, and the Master and Senior Fellows were in the habit of electing into vacant chorister places students with some special claim to their consideration. [36]   Doubtless a son of their organist came into that category.  Samuel proceeded to his B.A. degree in 1673-4 with the intention of entering the Church.  He was ordained deacon at Peterborough on 23rd September 1677 and advanced to the priesthood in London on 24th February 1677/8.1

It seems likely that George and his wife Honorah had at least one other son, also George, although no record of his birth has come to light.  An official list compiled in January 1679 of the militia in Cambridgeshire includes details of one company raised in the town of Cambridge, among whose personnel was George Loosemore, ensign. [37]   As a junior officer he would have been in his 20s, implying a birth date c1655.  This, coupled with the identity of given names, is consistent with the view that he was a son of George the Trinity organist.  Nothing is known of the life of young ensign George Loosemore.

The elder George continued his association with Jesus college while organist at Trinity.  A Jesus College Order dated 1 December 1679 enacted that for instructing scholars and discipuli of the choir Magistro Loosemore should receive a quarterly payment of 1s. from each pensioner and 6d. from each sizar of the college. [38]

George Loosemore died in 1682; the exact date and place of his burial remain to be discovered.  His widow, Honorah, outlived him by 9 years: she died on 3rd February 1691/2 but her place of burial is also unknown.  Her will dated 22 December 1691 is a simple document, according to which she left all her estate and personalty to be divided equally between her two daughters, whom she made her co-executrices, ‘Wingfeild Loosemore and Anne Loosemore.’ [39]   An inventory of her estate taken by Wm Hirst and Samuel Lufton has survived and is equally uninformative:

Inventory of Goods of Honorah Loosemore, Relict of George Loosemore, decd.

Imprimis her wearing apparrell 12-00-00
Money in her pocket and chamber 06-00-00
Wearing linnen 05-00-00
House linnen 21-19-00
Bedding 25-00-00
A carpet and other small things 02-10-00

This inventory was taken and the goods prized and valued by us
February 19, AD 1691/2. [40]

We may suppose that Honorah’s daughter Ann was the Mrs Ann Loosemore of St. Michael’s parish, adjacent to All Saints, who married John Rant of St. Edwards parish at St. Michael’s on 18th February 1706/7.  Nothing is known of her other daughter, Wingfeild Loosemore, nor have any other details of George’s family been discovered.

George Loosemore: music

George Loosemore was a less prolific composer than his elder brother if we are to judge from his surviving compositions.  They are almost all sacred, though we have good reason to believe that an unknown number of secular instrumental compositions have been lost.  The majority of his surviving works are to be found in one or other of two autograph sources.

The first is his organ book, now in the British Library, containing six of his own works (five anthems and a setting of the Athanasian Creed) and a further two by his brother Henry. [41]   All the voice parts for these pieces are missing.  The second is a single medius part-book from a set, containing 11 full anthem settings of Prayer Book collects for major church festivals, intended for use in Trinity College Hall, dated 1664. [42]   A twelfth anthem, apparently copied into the manuscript, is lost.

In addition to these choral compositions we know from the evidence of the 3rd Lord North that George Loosemore composed a number of instrumental Fancies.  In a letter written to Henry Loosemore in 1658, the text of which is given in Appendix 10, he refers to Henry’s recent visit when ‘To complement with your brother George and take in the pleasure of his Fancies, gave the occasion’.19

Some uncertainty surrounds the attribution of several of the brothers’ compositions to either one or the other.  For example, the anthem “O that mine eyes” has been attributed to Henry [43] , though in a British Library source it is signed simply ‘Loosemore’, while in a Tenbury MS it is ascribed to ‘G Loozmore’. [44]   A “Glory be to God” found uniquely in Tenbury MSS has also been ascribed to Henry although the late 17th century copier, the respected Rev. John Gostling, clearly attributed the parts to George. [45]   For these reasons both works have been allocated tentatively to George Loosemore in Appendix 11.

Exeter-Cambridge Links

Before leaving Henry and George Loosemore of Cambridge we must consider the question why Henry should have moved from Devon to Cambridge in the first place, rather than else-where.  To complete this sketch of the brothers’ lives and music we look here at some factors which could have contributed to his decision.

Vacancies for organists at the more important English cathedrals and collegiate churches occurred infrequently then, as now, and it is probable that questions of the succession were subject to personal influences.  No more than about six changes were made in the decade 1625-35 of which those at Canterbury Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and St. George’s Chapel at Windsor were special cases.  The latter two in particular came within the restricted ambit of the Chapel Royal.  At Hereford, Hugh Davies, apparently appointed in 1630, was a local man, one of the vicars choral.  Edward Lowe’s appointment to Christ Church, Oxford, in 1633 may have owed something to his connection with the powerful Hyde family of Salisbury, his birthplace, and to Dean Duppa’s impending translation as Chancellor of that diocese.  Changes at Salisbury at this time are unclear but this was a ‘plum’ post, eventually filled by Giles Tomkins, scion of a famous musical family, in 1631; he had earlier been organist of King’s College, Cambridge.2

The post at King’s thus became vacant in 1626-7, while another at Trinity, Cambridge was filled the following year, 1628, by Robert Ramsey whose bona fides was a Mus. B from the University obtained in 1616.  Luckily for Henry Loosemore a strong connection had existed for some time between Exeter and Cambridge in general, and with King’s College in particular, in the person of Edward Gibbons, member of another famous musical family.  He was the elder brother of Orlando and the oldest surviving son of William Gibbons (born at Oxford c1540) who in 1567 was one of the Cambridge city ‘waits’.  Edward was baptized in Cambridge in 1566, proceeding Mus. B there c1590.  Early in 1593 his name first appears as a lay clerk at King’s and at Christmas that year he became Master of the choristers, a post he held until 1598.

Some time before 1607, perhaps as early as 1599, Edward Gibbons was working at Exeter Cathedral.  By 1615 he became succentor and Master of the choristers, in which post he remained until 1645, or possibly somewhat later: gaps in the Cathedral account books then lead to uncertainty in our knowledge.  He died c1650.2  For more than 35 years Gibbons was a powerful and influential figure in the Cathedral, instrumental in raising its musical standards to a high level, as was confirmed by Lieut. Hammond in the course of his visit in 1635. [46]   In 1618 the Dean and Chapter even turned to him for advice in choosing ‘a sufficient man’ to mend the organ. [47]   There can be little doubt that Samuel and John Loosemore knew him well and that Gibbons played an important part in influencing Henry’s appointment to the post at King’s College.

A second musical link between the two musical establishments was forged through John Lugge, organist of Exeter Cathedral from c1605-1644, though this may have developed as a result of Henry Loosemore’s appointment rather than contributing to it.  We have already noticed the two sets of “Caroline” part-books belonging to Peterhouse College, which together constitute one of the most important pre-civil war collections of English church music.  They were probably assembled from miscellaneous acquisitions after the building of the College chapel and appointment of Thomas Wilson as organist. [48]   Several compositions by Lugge are included in the second set of books, confirming contact between the two places.

Henry Loosemore’s move to Cambridge may therefore be regarded as a result of the ‘old boys’ network in action, as was inevitable before the advent of modern publishing allowed widespread advertising of a vacancy.  There is no reason to suppose that either King’s, Trinity or Jesus had cause to regret the consequences.  Sadly, neither brother left a son to continue the family musical tradition in Cambridge.  As we have seen, of Henry’s two children only one daughter survived childhood, while George’s two putative sons disappeared into the Church or militia and out of the records.  We leave them there.


[1] J & J A Venn, Alumni Cantabrigiensis, Pt I to 1751, 4 vols., CUP, 1922-1927: iii, 1924, 104 for Henry, George and Samuel Loosemore.

[2] J E West, Cathedral Organists, 1921, 124.

[3] J Morehen, The Sources of English Cathedral Music c1617-1644, 3 vols., unpub. Ph.D thesis, Cantab. 1969, CUL ref. Ph.D 6740, i, 205-6.

[4] All Cambridge parish register referred to in this Chapter are held in the County Record Office, Shire Hall, Cambridge, unless otherwise stated.

[5] Transcript of St. Bodolph register at Society of Genealogists, 10 Charterhouse Buildings, London.

[6] Bishop’s transcripts for Ely diocese are held in CUL.

[7] Faculty Office Marriage Licences, Harl. Soc. xxiv, 1886, under date.

[8] CU Arch., Reg. 36.1, Nos. 24, 25, 27, 28.

[9] CU Arch., King’s College Supplicats 1639-1641 f.218, …ut studium septes annorus in Scientia Musicae, una cum assidua practica ejusdem, cum summa approbatione peritorum in eadem Facultate …ita tamen ut Canticum componat corum vobis solenniter cantandum aliquo tempore idoneo…

[10] Dom Anselm Hughes, ed., Catalogue of the Musical Manuscripts at Peterhouse, Cambridge, CUP, 1953.  The Caroline part-books are now in the CUL, MSS 475-491; Henry Loosemore’s signature is on e.g. MS 478.  See also Morehen, op. cit., i, 168.

[11] CU Arch., Subscription Book, ii, 32, dated 11 June 1640.

[12] CU Arch., Reg. 36.1, Nos. 29, 34, 45.

[13] J Saltmarsh, Music at King’s College Cambridge, quoted as Appendix I in P Scholes, The Puritans and Music, OUP, 1934, repr. 1969, 365.

[14] N Hookes, Amanda, 1653, 175-180, quoted in Scholes, op. cit., 176.

[15] A description of Kirtling Hall is given in J Nichols, The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth, 3 vols., 1823; ii, 219-221.

[16] J Wilson, ed., Roger North on Music, 1959, 10.

[17] A Jessopp, ed. The Autobiography of The Hon. Roger North, 1887, v, 212.

[18] The book was discovered by Mary Chan on the initiative of Eric Ashbee, see E Ashbee, Lord Keeper North’s Account Book, in Viola da Gamba Society of Gt. Britain, Newsletter, No. 59, October 1987, 7.  I have a photocopy of Dr. Chan’s rough notes of entries in the book from 1652-69, by permission of Dr Ashbee, through the good offices of Dr. Ian Payne, then one of Ashbee’s post-graduate students.

[19] See, for example, Wilson, op. cit., 4.

[20] T Brocklebank, The Ecclesiologist, xx, No.cxxxv, 1859, 393-400, see Scholes, op. cit., 177.

[21] For the Will see Ely Consistory Probate Records 1449-1858, on microfilm at Cambridge County Record Office, film No. C31:454.

[22] Thurston Dart, Cambridge Bibliographical Society Transactions, iii, 1963, 143-151.

[23] J Morehen, The Musical Times, cxii, 1971, 959-960.

[24] J Morehen, article on Henry Loosemore in New Grove.

[25] R Willis & J W Clark, Architectural History of the University of Cambridge, 4 vols., 1886, ii, 141-2; see also I Payne, Proc. Cambridge Antiquarian Society, lxxvi, 1987, 97-103.

[26] I am grateful to Dr.I.Payne for this information (his letter 2 Dec 1985).

[27] I Payne, op. cit., 100.

[28] A ts. transcript (copies at Society of Genealogists and Cambridge Record Office) gives the 1652 date as December 11, incorrectly.

[29] PRO E 179/84/436, 14 Chas II, under All Saints parish.

[30] See for example, P J Willetts, Music and Letters, xlviii, 1967, 124-7.  A contemporary organ book containing autograph pieces by George Loosemore and John Jenkins is B.L. Adds. MSS 29290.  DNB says that George Loosemore ‘appeared’ to have succeeded Henry as organist at Kirtling, on the strength of the North private account book quoted by Jessopp.

[31] Bodl. MS North c.49, f16, during the week 6-13 May 1665.

[32] I Payne, George Loosemore at Trinity College, Cambridge, 1660-1682, Proc. Cambridge Antiquarian Society, lxxvii, 1988, 145-150 see also Willis & Clark, op. cit., ii, 577.

[33] Payne 1988, op. cit., 146.

[34] Payne 1987, op. cit., 100.

[35] W W Rouse Ball and J A Venn, Admissions Trinity College, Cambridge, 1546-1700, 1913, 493.

[36] G F Cobb, A Brief History of the Organ in the Chapel of Trinity College, Cambridge, 1913, Cambridge, 7-9.

[37] Calendar of State Papers Domestic, 1679-1680, under January 17, 1679.

[38] Payne 1987, op. cit., 102.

[39] CU Arch. Wills IV (1658-1736), transcripts, 323.

[40] CU Arch. Reg. 21, No.53.

[41] B.L. Add. MS 34203.  See also Dart, op. cit., Payne 1988 op. cit., 146-7, and this text, Appendix 11, ref. 8.

[42] Trinity College MS R.2.58, see also this text, Appendix 11, ref.13.

[43] R T Daniel and P le Huray, The Sources of English Church Music 1549-1660, Pts I & II, 1972.

[44] B.L. Add. MS 34203, see also Dart, op. cit. and this text, Appendix 11, ref. 13.

[45] Tenbury Music MSS 1176-82.  See also Appendix 11.

[46] B.L. Lansdowne MS 213, ff347-384v, A Relation of a Short Survey of the Western Counties, August 1635; transcr. and ed. L G W Legg, Camden Society, liii, 3rd series, 1936, i-xiv, 1-128.  Extracts in extenso first appeared in the Gentleman’s Magazine, ccv, November 1858, 479-487.

[47] Exeter Dean & Chapter MS 3554, Chapter Act Book, entry on 4 November 1618.

[48] J Morehen, Appendix 11, ref. 2.