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The Musical Activities of the Spalding Gentlemen's Society

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2020

Simon David Iain Fleming*
Affiliation:
Department of Music,The University of Durham, Durham, UK

Abstract

The Spalding Gentlemen's Society is one of the oldest extant learned societies in the world. At the time of its foundation over 300 years ago such societies were popular and membership was viewed as an important attribute of middle-class life. Most societies were short-lived and extant references to them are rare. What sets Spalding over all others is not only its longevity but also the quality of its records, which contain numerous references to music. This article aims to present the musical activities of the Society and to put them into the context of the early eighteenth-century English and European musical world. It begins with a discussion of the annual anniversary concerts and a detailed study of the 1738–46 programmes, commenting on the music performed and those who took part; these programmes are given as appendices. This research is further augmented by an examination of the music-related matters discussed at their meetings and other events that took place in Spalding. It may be impossible to ascertain how unique the Society's musical activities were, but it is rare to have such detail, and this is the first time that these important records, at least in relation to music, have been discussed in any depth.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © 2017 The Royal Musical Association

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Footnotes

I am particularly grateful to the members of the Spalding Gentlemen's Society who provided me with access to their records; without their willingness to assist this article would not have been possible. I also wish to extend my gratefulness to the staff at the Vivacity Archives, Peterborough, the Lincolnshire Archives, Lincoln and the British Library. Individual thanks are particularly due to Michael and Diana Honeybone, both of whom have my utmost gratitude for their support and willingness to assist with this project. They also provided me with their transcriptions of the material relating to the SGS's anniversary concerts, for which I am most appreciative. Additionally, I would like to thank Marion Brassington, Michael Chisholm, Dustin Frazier, Tom Grimes, Andrew Hayden, Richard Hunt, Patrick Skells, Michael Talbot and Tony Trowles.

References

1 Daniel Defoe, A Tour through the Whole Island of Great Britain, ed. Pat Rogers, 3 vols (London, 1983), i, 10; ii, 233–5.

2 Peter Clark, British Clubs and Societies 1580–1800 (Oxford, 2001), 2.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid., 26.

5 Ibid., 60, 68–9.

6 For an overview of musical societies see Jennifer Burchell, ‘Musical Societies in Subscription Lists: An Overlooked Resource’, A Handbook for Studies in 18th-Century English Music IX, ed. Michael Burden and Irena Cholij (Oxford, 1998).

7 Simon Fleming, ‘Thomas Ebdon: A Durham Cathedral Organist’, Durham County Local History Society Journal, 79 (2014), 6–8; Simon Fleming, A Century of Music Production in Durham City 1711–1811: A Documentary Study (PhD diss., U. of Durham, 2009), 172.

8 Edinburgh Evening Courant, 19 January 1758.

9 Newcastle Advertiser, 22 November 1788.

10 Cumberland Pacquet, 7 July 1790.

11 See, for example, Elizabeth Chevill, ‘Clergy, Music Societies and the Development of a Musical Tradition: A Study of Music Societies in Hereford 1690–1760′, Concert Life in Eighteenth-Century Britain, ed. Susan Wollenberg and Simon McVeigh (Aldershot, 2004), 35–53; Bryan White, ‘“A Pretty Knot of Musical Friends”, The Ferrar Brothers and a Stamford Music Club in the 1690s’, Music in the British Provinces, 1690–1914, ed. Rachel Cowgill and Peter Holman (Aldershot, 2007), 9–44.

12 Anon, An Account of the Gentlemen's Society at Spalding. Being an introduction to the Reliquiæ Galeanæ. (London, 1784), ii, iv.

13 William Moore, The Gentlemen's Society at Spalding: It's Origin and Progress (London, 1851), 3.

14 David Boyd Haycock, ‘Johnson, Maurice (1688–1755)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004); online edn, Sept 2010, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/14908, accessed 19 January 2015; The Correspondence of William Stukeley and Maurice Johnson 1714–1754, ed. Diana Honeybone and Michael Honeybone (Woodbridge, 2014), xxii.

15 The minute books and treasurer's accounts of the SGS are preserved at the society's home in Spalding.

16 Michael Honeybone, ‘Spalding Gentlemen's Society (act. 1710–1770)’, in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online ed., ed. Lawrence Goldman. Oxford: OUP, September 2014. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/theme/59225 (accessed 20 January 2015).

17 The Correspondence of the Spalding Gentlemen's Society 1710–1761, ed. Diana Honeybone and Michael Honeybone (Woodbridge, 2010), xii, xviii.

18 There are several detailed accounts of the SGS including those in: Moore, The Gentleman's Society at Spalding; Honeybone and Honeybone, The Correspondence of the Spalding Gentlemen's Society; Dorothy Owen, ed., The Minute-Books of Spalding Gentlemen's Society 1712–1755 (Lincoln, 1981); Richard Gough and John Nichols, ‘Some Account of the Gentlemen's Society at Spalding’, Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century, ed. John Nichols, 6 vols (London, 1812), vi, 1–162.

19 Heighington also presented some shells to the SGS in 1740 and a collection of coins in 1742. A Brief History of Musick was published in 1731 at London.

20 Moore, The Gentleman's Society at Spalding, 27, 33–4; Honeybone and Honeybone, The Correspondence of the Spalding Gentlemen's Society; Moore, 225; John Ginger and Maurice Byrne, ‘Grano, John Baptist’, Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed 20 January 2015. http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/11628; Richard Platt, ‘Jones, Richard’, Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed 20 January 2015, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/14463.

21 Honeybone and Honeybone, The Correspondence of William Stukeley and Maurice Johnson 1714–1754, 41.

22 Letter from Johnson to Stukeley dated 8 January 1733. Honeybone and Honeybone, The Correspondence of William Stukeley and Maurice Johnson 1714–1754, 75.

23 Although the fact that a member did not pay their subscription at the concert is a good indication that they may have participated in the music, it is not the only reason as to why the fee might be waived. For example, in 1734 John Bullen attended the concert gratis as he was there to serve the tea.

24 Honeybone and Honeybone, The Correspondence of the Spalding Gentlemen's Society, 103, 113, 225.

25 The Grimadi harpsichord was dated 1728. In addition to the SGS's donation, John Johnson, John Green and Charles Townsend each gave £1 1s, and Robert Butter, Thomas Greaves and Mr Swaine 10s 6d each. Butter, in November 1745, brought to the SGS meeting a catalogue of music published by John Simpson, which contained several works by Heighington. Owen, The Minute-Books of Spalding Gentlemen's Society 1712–1755, xiii.

26 Letter dated 1 January 1733 [1734]. SGS/Bodgani/18. A note in the account book for January 1734 recorded that ‘Mr Jones, now a Member of ye Soc[iety]…is to be excused all payments when there’. Bogdani (1699/1700–71) was ‘one of the Clerks to the Ordnance’ at the Tower of London and Lord of the Manor of Hitchin in Hertfordshire. Honeybone and Honeybone, The Correspondence of the Spalding Gentlemen's Society, 224.

27 Brand was employed as the steward to the Duke of Northumberland's estate at Cheveley Park, near Newmarket. Honeybone and Honeybone, The Correspondence of the Spalding Gentlemen's Society, 224.

28 Ambler was at the time of the SGS's establishment in 1712 described as ‘a Performer in Music’. At the 1735 anniversary concert neither Hinson nor a Mr Sanderson made a payment.

29 There was a J. Rouse who organized several concerts at Oakham in the 1780s and who may have been related to the SGS's violinist. See Stamford Mercury, 4 March 1785, 18 August 1785, 25 August 1786. Quaker sermons tended to be chanted rather than said and presumably could be easily imitated on a violin. See Arthur Aikin, ed., The Annual Review and History of Literature from 1806 (London, 1807), v, 597.

30 In 1736 the SGS granted the musical society permission to store their music in a cupboard in the museum.

31 In January 1736 Greaves, Hinson and Rowse all had their subscriptions waived and in August it was Hinson, Walter Johnson, Mr Cock and Mr R Cock.

32 The dissertation survives at the SGS and is clearly intended for instructional use; one imagines that portions rather than the whole document were read out. Rather sadly, it has little in it on music production in the 1730s, although Bogdani was clearly annoyed by the ‘continual Stamping of every Performer in a Concert of Musick’ describing it as ‘a great Nuisance, & the Bane of all Harmony.’ Dr John Green's (1708–56) wife Jane was the eldest daughter of Johnson. Bogdani also produced an account of the ‘Musick of the Antients’, which was requested by Johnson and included with a letter dated 1 January 1733 [1734 in the modern calendar]. Bogdani regarded his account as ‘crude and indigested’. SGS/Bogdani/17–18; Honeybone and Honeybone, The Correspondence of the Spalding Gentlemen's Society, 227–8.

33 The Peterborough Archives Service: Minute book for Peterborough Gentlemen's Society 1730–1742, PAS/PGS/1/1. I am grateful to Diana and Michael Honeybone for making me aware of this source. The Peterborough Gentlemen's Society was an offshoot of that in Spalding and established in 1730 by a founding member of the Spalding society, the Rev Timothy Neve. Although few musical activities are recorded in their minute books there is reference to an anniversary concert held on 8 September 1736. See I.E. Burrows, The Peterborough Gentlemen's Society (unpublished dissertation, U. of Nottingham, 1995), 3, 11, 29, 30.

34 Honeybone and Honeybone, The Correspondence of William Stukeley and Maurice Johnson 1714–1754, 79.

35 In 1737 Francis Fane, John Swinsen, Dr Heighington, Mr Heighington, Edward Lawrence, Rowse and Hinson all had their subscriptions waived.

36 In 1738 Dr Heighington, Hinson, Anthony Oldfield were admitted gratis.

37 Henry Everard organized assemblies at Spalding that coincided with the town's race week. Stamford Mercury, 6 May 1785, 3 August 1787.

38 Letter from Johnson to Stukeley dated 13 July 1739. Honeybone and Honeybone, The Correspondence of William Stukeley and Maurice Johnson 1714–1754, 79.

39 Michael Tilmouth et al., ‘Ode (ii)’, Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, Oxford University Press, accessed 4 April 2016. <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/50067>.

40 Heighington also wrote odes in celebration of the King or Queen's birthdays. They were performed at the composer's Great Yarmouth concerts in 1734 and 1735. See Tony Trowles, The Musical Ode in Britain c.1670–1800 (PhD diss., U. of Oxford, 1992), ii, 99.

41 Ibid. It was commonplace for the instrumental introductions to make up a considerable position of the ode, and usually contained its best music.

42 Rosamond McGuinness and Tony Trowles observed that the odes written for the court ‘came to be successions of four or five affective arias or solo ensembles, accompanied by a variety of instruments whose choice was related to the text’. Tilmouth, ‘Ode (ii)’.

43 The term ‘cantata’ is normally used to describe a single piece formed of several movements. It may include recitatives, arias and choruses. See Colin Timms et al., ‘Cantata’, Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed 9 April 2016. <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/04748pg4>.

44 Honeybone and Honeybone, The Correspondence of the Spalding Gentlemen's Society, 120, dates this letter to 20 June 1739.

45 Heighington sent Johnson the ‘two Airs at the Conclusion of the Overture’. Letter from Heighington to Johnson. SGS/Heighington/3. No date, but Honeybone and Honeybone, The Correspondence of the Spalding Gentlemen's Society, 120, believes it to date from 1739.

46 For more details on Rogers see my forthcoming article ‘Music and Concert Production in Georgian Stamford’ in The Consort (due 2017). Dr Heighington, Hinson, Oldfield and Rogers were all admitted gratis in 1740.

47 Stamford Mercury, 30 December 1731, 12 February 1741. In 1741 Dr Heighington, Mr Heighington, Hinson, Howson Hargrave, two people recorded as Mr Hutchinson and a Mr Leammardin all attended gratis.

48 Letter from Heighington to Johnson dated 26 July 1743: SGS/Heighington/4.

49 Dr Heighington, Mr Allan and Mr Rogers were admitted gratis in 1742.

50 Honeybone and Honeybone, The Correspondence of the Spalding Gentlemen's Society, 229. Dr Heighington, Jackson, Allan and a Mr C Little did not pay a subscription in 1743. In 1744, for some reason, Heighington paid a 1s subscription for the concert. In 1745, a Rev Mr Ross and Mr Blog were admitted gratis.

51 Stamford Mercury, 1 August 1745.

52 On the 24 February 1747 a benefit concert for Hartley was held at St Martin's Church, Lincoln to mark the inauguration of their new organ, which he also built. Stamford Mercury, 5 March 1747.

53 Crawthorne may have been Michael Crawthorne, a former wait at Lincoln. He was discharged from his post on 28 April 1737 following his conversion to Catholicism. Lincoln Record Office: L1/1/7: Lincoln Corporation Common Council Minutes.

54 Honeybone and Honeybone, The Correspondence of William Stukeley and Maurice Johnson 1714–1754, 125.

55 Muskutt played the viola. Letters from Johnson to Stukeley dated 22 September 1750 and 13 October 1750. Honeybone and Honeybone, The Correspondence of William Stukeley and Maurice Johnson 1714–1754, 162–3, 165.

56 For an account of the craze for Italian music at the end of the seventeenth century, particularly that by Corelli, see John Wilson, ed., Roger North on Music (London, 1959), xx, 308–11.

57 Everard also subscribed to Anthony Birks and John Birks, Arithmetical Collections and Improvements. Being a Complete System of Practical Arithmetic (London, 1766).

58 Heighington was from the Durham area and in 1747 gave a concert at Newcastle (Newcastle Courant, 14 November 1747). He was the organist at Hull between 1717 and 1720. G.H. Smith: A History of Hull Organs and Organists (London, n.d.).

59 http://library.chch.ox.ac.uk/music/ (accessed 12 September 2015).

60 I am grateful to Andrew Hayden who provided me with a copy of Heighington's Six Select Odes.

61 Charles Cudworth, ‘Heighington, Musgrave’, Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed 15 September 2015. <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/12678>. Heighington's music to Alexander's Feast is unfortunately lost. Cudworth gives the date of its premiere as 22 October, however Trowles believes this performance took place in November. See Trowles, The Musical Ode in Britain, ii, 99.

62 Stamford Mercury, 14 June 1739, 23 May 1745.

63 See Appendices 1c, 1d and 1e. Ruzena Woods, ‘Hebden, John’, Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, Oxford University Press, accessed 15 September 2015. <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/12646>.

64 See Appendix 1j. Richard Platt, ‘Humphries, John’, Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed 11 September 2015. <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/13555>.

65 See Appendix 1i.

67 See Appendix 1a. For Zamparelli see Robert Eitner, Quellen-Lexikon der Musiker und Musikgelehrten der christlichen Zeitrechnung bus zur Mitte des neunzehnten Jahrhundertsm 10 vols. (Leipzig, 1904), x, 323. I am grateful to Michael Talbot for making me aware of this reference.

68 See Appendices 1a and 1e. David J. Nichols and Sven Hansell, ‘Hasse’, Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed 4 April 2016. <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/40232pg3>.

69 See Appendices 1a, 1c and 1e. John Walter Hill, ‘Veracini, Francesco Maria’, Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed 15 September 2015. <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/29178>.

71 Brian W. Pritchard, ‘Caldara, Antonio’, Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed 15 September 2015. <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/04576>.

72 A Pastoral Opera, Compos'd by Senior Antonio Caldara at Rome…. To be perform'd at the Theatre with other Entertainments, on Wednesday the 6th, Instant November, 1726.

75 See Appendices 1a, 1e and 1i.

76 Robert D. Hume, ‘Beggar's Opera, The’, The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, ed. Stanley Sadie, Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed 15 September 2015. http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/O002751; Stamford Mercury, 18 April 1728.

77 This may have been a bell harp. There is an example in the care of the University of Edinburgh. See http://www.mimo-db.eu/MIMO/infodoc/ged/view.aspx?eid=OAI_IMAGE_PROJECTS_LIB_ED_AC_UK_10683_17561 (accessed 10 April 2016)

78 Letter from Johnson to Stukeley dated 19 January 1754. Honeybone and Honeybone, The Correspondence of William Stukeley and Maurice Johnson 1714–1754, 193.

79 Letter dated 23 November 1719. Honeybone and Honeybone, The Correspondence of William Stukeley and Maurice Johnson 1714–1754, 31.

80 Spalding Town Husbands' account books are held by the SGS. It was established in the wake of the Reformation as a replacement to the charitable functions of the Priory, dissolved in 1540. They collected income from lands granted by local individuals and distributed it for charitable purposes and for schooling. This information was provided by Diana and Michael Honeybone in private correspondence.

81 Occasionally the name of the person who made the payment is recorded. In 1713 it was a Mr Ashton, 1721 Mr Holsworth, 1729 Mr Aston, 1733 Mr Brown, 1780 Signora Rossi, 1781 Mr Heyne, 1783 Messiers Johnson, Cunningham, Whitelamb and Bradford, 1784 Messiers Cooke and Short, 1786 and 1798 Mr Breslaw, 1791 Mr Wilkinson and 1797 ‘Sieur Rea’. Mr Stannard and his son hired the town hall in 1790 for a concert and ball (Stamford Mercury, 2 August 1790). The town hall was also available for other types of exhibition, such as in 1726 when it was ‘let to one [Mr] Nichols to shew some monsters’.

82 The Spalding Town Husbands' account books show that Mr Herbert hired the venue in the years 1730, 1731, 1734, 1737, 1742 and 1744. The Stamford Mercury also records that he was at Spalding in 1766,1772–4, 1781–2 in which years his visit was timed to coincide with the town's race week (Stamford Mercury, 3 July 1766, 11 June 1772, 17 June 1773, 7 July 1774, 31 May 1781, 27 June 1782). Several handbills produced by Herbert survive in the SGS archive presumably as Maurice Johnson and/or other members of the society attended these performances. The handwritten annotations on these handbills record that Herbert was at Spalding in October and November 1734, 1737, January 1740, May 1742, April 1744 and June 1748. In addition, a note on the handbill for 1734 mentions that his group normally stayed in Spalding for a period of six weeks providing three performances per week. Herbert performed in other local towns including Grantham, Lincoln, Peterborough and Stamford (Stamford Mercury, 11 August 1743, 9 July 1772, 23 March 1775).

83 Parry's concert may have been in 1732 as in that year a ‘Mr Perry’ paid Spalding Town Husbands 10s for the hire of the town hall.

84 Stamford Mercury, 7 September 1732, 21 June 1733, 25 July 1734. A ‘Mr Green’, perhaps John Green, was treasurer of the Spalding Assemblies and, in 1731, hired the town hall from the Spalding Town Husbands.

85 The SGS's website is at http://www.spalding-gentlemens-society.org/ (accessed 17 September 2015).

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