Henry Loosemore

Joseph Murray Ince:  King's College Chapel, Cambridge, 1843

The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge



Nothing definite is known of the birth or childhood of Henry. We know he must have been born between 1605 and 1609. We do know that in 1627 he was appointed as organist of King's College, Cambridge, at a stipend of £2. 10s a quarter which later was increased to £5.

It may seem strange that Henry, the eldest son of an Organ maker and repairer in North Devon, should gain this appointment in King's College, Cambridge. It may have been through Edward Gibbons, the elder brother of Orlando Gibbons. Edward was baptised in Cambridge and graduated Mus.B in the University. He became succentor and Master of the choristers at Exeter in 1615, a post he held until 1645 and even later. Through him the musical standards of Exeter Cathedral were extremely high. Or it may have been through the organist at Exeter Cathedral John Lugge who also had connections with Cambridge. Another possible connection may be in that in 1570 the Provost and Fellows of King's College, Cambridge became Lords of the Manor of the neighbouring manor of Samford Courtenay.

On the 17th February 1633/4 he was married to Elizabeth and took up residence in St. Benedict parish, Cambridge. Two daughters were born Anne on 27 March 1636 and Elizabeth on 5th March 1639/40. Elizabeth died in infancy, but Anne fared better and married Benjamin Donne.

Benjamin Donne of St. Mary Strand alias Savoy, Widr. 38 and Anne Loosemore, Spr 22, Daughter of Henry Loosemore of Cambridge University, Mus.B, at Lincoln's Chapel or Hornsey, Middlesex.

On 6th June 1640, Henry was granted the degree of B.Mus by 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 approval of those skilled in the art.' 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. His subscription to the three Articles of Religion, as was required of all students obtaining degrees at Cambridge was made by Henry who wrote a brief declaration which provides a specimen of his writing and his signature.

During the Puritan regime, no organ music was played during services but his stipend continued to be paid during this period. For several years he was a resident organist at Kirtling Towers of Cambridgeshire, the seat of Dudley, 3rd Lord North, near Newmarket. The old Lord was a domineering character but who had an abiding love of music. Roger North, his grandson records that 'he kept an organist in the house, which was seldom without a musick master' and later one Mr. Loosemore. During the Puritan regime a letter to John Lilly, a Music-Master in Cambridge states: We have good Musick and Musicians here, If not the best, as good as anywhere; ........the Lusemores too, I think For organists.

The Chapel organ may have been destroyed for a church account mentions that a year after the restoration a Leonard Pease was paid 35s for the removal of a chamber organ from Mr. Loosemore's rooms. It probably was found to be inadequate because it was removed within a few months and the same Lancelot was paid £200 for a new chaire organ, which was installed in 1661.

In 1660 the better known John Jenkins took up the position as musician in residence at Kirtling . The old Lord North wrote a remarkably friendly letter to Henry Loosemore in 1658 appreciating his recent company at Kirtling where they had played compositions 'by your brother George.' This is an important fact because it determines the relationship between Henry and George who were some 14 years apart in age. A list of the compositions of Henry is appended.

Elizabeth, his wife, was buried in St. Bodolph parish on 23rd August 1660, and Henry lived a further 10 years and was buried on 7th July 1670. There is a possibility that Henry married after 1660 to a widow Elizabeth. Her death on 28th April 1682 as Mrs Elizabeth Loosmore, widow of Cooton, Cambrideshire may be significant to this possibility as, to our knowledge, there were no other Loosemores living in Cambridge at that time.

See:  http://www.dvsonline.co.uk/loosemore/family1/fam1ch3.htm