Cornetts and sackbuts

Cornetts and sackbuts in Canterbury Cathedral at the Restoration (1660)

Praetorius, Syntagma musicum

In May 1660, the monarchy was restored in England after the period of Cromwell’s Commonwealth. On his return from exile in France, King Charles II stopped overnight in Canterbury on his way from Dover to London and attended a service at Canterbury Cathedral. Only two of the twelve canons were still alive at the Restoration and new appointments had to be made but the Cathedral administration was soon up and running again and its liturgy and music were revived.

The new Cathedral Chapter had ‘Decreed that the Sackbutters or Cornetiers haue a quarter of their stipends payd viz: 5£ at Christmas, & so continued to be payd quarterly hereafter.’ In the Treasurer’s Book for 1660/1661 (Canterbury Cathedral Archive CCA-DCc-TB/1), page 33 is headed ‘Stipendia Tibicinum’ (wages of the wind players). It records payment of £1-5-0 per quarter to each of Richard Mountere, John Foad, Francis Linnial and Francis Onsloe. Richard Mountere made his mark instead of signing his name (could he read music?). They all received 20 shillings each ‘for their surplices’.

There had been no cathedral music for 18 years since the iconoclastic events of 1642. Where did the Chapter find two cornett players and two sackbuteers? The answer seems to be that they were still living locally. They had petitioned the Dean and Chapter as former members of the Cathedral music to be re-instated (CCA-DCc-PET/217). In another petition, Liniall states that his sackbut was seized during the Commonwealth and asks for a loan to buy another instrument, to be repaid by deductions from his wages (CCA-DCc-PET/34). Liniall and Mountier were already recorded as Cathedral musicians in 1635/36 (CCA-DCc-TA/43). In the 1637 minutes of the Burghmote Court (City Council) they were both appointed to be members of the city’s Waits (CCA-CC-AC/4). At least one of the Cathedral’s wind players was listed as a member of the Waits in 1640 when the Waits were dissolved by the Burghmote (CCA-CC-AC/4 ff 158, 158v) for bad behaviour. The Waits were re-instated by the Burghmote in 1660.

These four men would probably have had other employment in the area during the Interregnum, possibly also when they had salaries from the Cathedral and the city. The Cathedral may well have re-employed them as an act of charity to former servants, as they did not replace them as they died. By 1662 only Foad and Liniall remained on the books (CCA-DCc-TB/3). Liniall was still repaying the loan for his new sackbut in 1663; his signature in the Treasurer’s Book for this year is very shaky. He disappears from the record in the Spring of 1669 when John Foad is the only one remaining to sign for a salary. The only entry in 1670 under ‘Stipendia Tibicinum’ reads ‘Giuen to bury John Foade to his brother — 5[s]. 0[d].’ Robert Foad made his mark to acknowledge receipt of the five shillings, which marks the end of Canterbury Cathedral’s wind band.¹

David Shaw

(Published in Southern Early Music Forum Newsletter, December 2016, p. 6)

A follow-up to this can be found at ‘What happened to the sackbuts and cornetts at Canterbury Cathedral?

1. Canterbury Cathedral first recruited a group of wind players in 1597, at first all playing cornetts. From 1610, the band consisted of two cornetts and two sackbuts which was the standard line-up until the civil war interregnum.  (Roger Bowers, ‘The Liturgy of the Cathedral and its Music, c. 1075–1642’, in: A History of Canterbury Cathedral, Oxford, 1995, p. 440.)

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