HUMFREY (PELHAM) Indenture signed twice ("Pelham: Humfrey") as witness to a deed signed by his future father-in-law, the singer and composer Captain Henry Cooke, 1661
Lot 81
HUMFREY (PELHAM) Indenture signed twice ("Pelham: Humfrey") as witness to a deed signed by his future father-in-law, the singer and composer Captain Henry Cooke, 1661
£2,000 - 3,000
US$ 3,200 - 4,900

Lot Details
HUMFREY (PELHAM)
Indenture signed twice ("Pelham: Humfrey") as witness to a deed signed by his future father-in-law, the singer and composer Captain Henry Cooke, Master of the Children of the Chapel Royal, and Cooke's wife Mary, leasing Copt Hall and associated property in Puckley, Kent, for twenty-one years to John Neppeker (or Nepeker), butcher; Pelham's two signatures, together with those of his fellow pupil Thomas Price, being on the verso, witnessing both the deed itself and a memorandum made the same day; the indenture bearing two seals in red wax (one incomplete) attached by vellum tabs, signed by Henry and Mary Cooke across the tabs, on one skin of vellum, minor rubbing, a light stain at centre and some dust-staining on verso, but overall in attractive and fresh condition, c.330 x 550 mm, 19 August 1661

Footnotes

  • EXCEPTIONALLY RARE SIGNATURES OF THE COMPOSER PELHAM HUMFREY, witnessing a deed signed by his fellow musician and future father-in-law, Captain Henry Cooke. Humfrey, about thirteen years old when he witnessed this deed, was to die in 1674 when only twenty-six, leaving behind some wonderful music (including the well-known setting of Donne's 'Hymn to God the Father'). He was, in the estimation of Bruce Wood, 'The most precocious of the brilliant first generation of choristers at the Chapel Royal after the Restoration': 'he spent the whole of his short adult life in its service. He had neither interest in nor aptitude for the old polyphonic style; instead he developed a distinctively English Baroque idiom, enriched by progressive French and Italian techniques, yet founded on the inflections of his native language, and far outstripping the experimental efforts of any earlier English composer both in consistency of approach and in technical fluency' (Grove Music Online). John Irving describes him as 'clearly a precocious talent, who, given a longer life, might have developed into a composer of the stature of Purcell' (ODNB).

    When he signed this deed Humfrey had only recently been assigned to the Chapel Royal of which Henry Cooke had charge, his voice not breaking for another three years. His fellow signatory, Thomas Price, is also recorded as being in Cooke's care, with Cooke being paid for his upkeep during 1664 (Lafontaine, King's Musick). In 1672 Humfrey was to become jointly with Thomas Purcell Composer of the Violins, and probably taught the young Henry: 'it is clear that Humfrey's knowledge and application of French and Italian styles of composition were to have no small impact on the impressionable chorister' (Irving). On Cooke's death in 1672, he succeeded him as Master of the Children of the Chapel Royal and Composer in the Private Musick, marrying Cooke's daughter Katherine that same year. The property in Puckley, Kent, with which the present deed is concerned, came into the family from Katherine's mother, Mary, co-signatory of the deed.

    We can find no record of a manuscript by Humfrey having appeared for sale.
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