York Music - Update

Update, 7th February, 2002
(see bibliography of waits literature at www.townwaits.org.uk)

www.townwaits.org.uk / bibliography_europe.shtml / yorkmusic_update.shtml



Since the publication of York Music in 1988 substantial new information on the York city waites has come to light, in no small part thanks to the late Thomas Parsons Cooper, 1863-1937, affectionately known in his time (and today by those who have discovered him) as "TPC". In a photograph taken in 1905 TPC can be seen aged 42 among the Old York Views and Worthies committee who, influenced by the enthusiasm of Dr William Evelyn, and later John Bowes Morrell, Oliver Sheldon and others, helped prevent the destruction of the medieval city walls and bars (gateways) and other familiar landmarks. He published small booklets on the city walls, clockmakers, inns, publishers & booksellers and of course York musicians. His many manuscripts of unpublished material are of great assistance to the modern researcher.

When I was researching York Music TPC's little book The Christmas Waites and Minstrels of Bygone York proved useful but not particularly inspiring. From somewhere I got its date as 1909, which may be the case although I am unable to verify at present. In May 1992, whilst still trying to "kill off" Dan Hardman, I requested a number of documents in York reference library which should have included this pamphlet, but it wasn't in the heap brought to me from the store. However, I had been accidentally provided with a typescript I had not seen before: The Waits and Minstrels of the City of York from the earliest times to the year 1835. It turned out to be remarkably like my own book York Music, written by TPC around 1934. It surprised and pleased me by ante-mimicking York Music, and tucked inside the front cover reposed a collection of letters, rather akin to my own correspondence with Anthony Rooley requesting a prestigious foreword. TPC was attempting to have this fuller version of his earlier pamphlet published and was writing to - I could not believe my eyes - my own dedicatee the, then very un-late Percy Scholes who had written to TPC congratulating him on Chistmas Waits and Minstrels which he had obtained from Cooper in Feb. 1934. The next letter, 22 April 1937 is again from Scholes, modestly agreeing to write the foreword for the new book and pointing out a very few errors, mainly relating to his own current passion with the universal misunderstanding of the Puritans' attitude to music (it is still thought that Cromwell's regime actively discouraged music and dance despite Scholes's authoritative refutation in The Puritans and Music). The work never reached his projected publisher, for TPC died later that year and the typescript has lain, just another TPC item, in the city library to this day. In the preface to York Music 1 had said: "I would most have liked to offer my story about the waites to Percy Scholes". It would seem that TPC had already done the job for me.

Thanks to TPC's typescript, some further research and correspondence since York Music was published, I now have additional material to add to, or clarify the story. It is offered here in chronological sequence.



PIPERS, MINSTRELS AND WAITES (YM p. 54; Appendix I)

Correspondence with Prof. Keith Polk of the University of New Hampshire has provided prodigious quantities of information on civic ensembles in Flanders, Germany and Italy, enabling comparison with what is known about British waites. There is material here for a separate discussion but I wish at this point to consider the four 14th century York freemen listed as pipers: Willelmus de Lyncoln, 1340; Rogerus Wayte, 1363; Willelmus de Cayton, 1373 and Johannes de Styllington, 1391. There was always a temptation to sweep to the conclusion that they were waites before the first mention of waytes in 1434, but this was avoided except in the case of Rogerus Wayte where I tentatively suggested that profession and name may have indicated such. Prof. Polk discovered the terms pfeifer/pijper/piffero in continental civic records concluding that, dependent upon context, piper could mean specifically either shawm player or city minstrel, i.e. waite. Of course the contemporary terms stadtpfeifer and stadspijper are yet more specific as town piper, which is occasionally encountered in English records. Our 14th century pipers in the York roll of freemen may well have been waites, but certainty still eludes us. Among musicians not known until the TPC typescipt turned up is Thomas de Melton, wayte of 1391. The source is not given and he is not in the freemens' roll, but TPC is reliable and there is no need to suspect this entry. 1391 is the same year as the freedom of Johannes de Styllington, piper and it is difficult to resist the temptation to list them both as early waites. Perhaps further information from other English cities will finally confirm this tantalising thesis e.g. Doncaster, 1457:

Allan Pyper and William Pyper are elected Pipers or Wayts.

Another York writer who concentrated part of his effort on musicians was John Ward Knowles, 1838-1931. He was a well-known glass painter and, as a young man, one of York's pioneer photographers. York city library houses many of his manuscripts and collections of press cuttings which include a large amount of material on York musicians. TP Cooper must have known this prominent York personality and, perhaps inspired by inaccuracies, hasty conclusions and Knowles's appalling handwriting, was stimulated into carrying out his own researches into York musicians. Knowles's work should not be underestimated, for it provides a picture of many musicians still remembered or alive in his time, and it is worthwhile sorting the historical reality from his manuscripts. Thanks to that handwriting I do find I need to write out a "translation" before I can begin reading in earnest! However, it was Knowles who provided the basis for my appendix I, the list of York musicians which 1 have now checked with various alternative and original sources in order to correct mis-spellings and weed out errors, e.g. Nicholas de Blackburne, 1394 has to go for he was never known to have been a minstrel, but was a mercer and Lord Mayor of some renown.


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THE MIDSOMEREVEN SHOW (YM p. 73)

I am indebted to Dr Eileen White for pointing out inaccuracies due to my (and others') misunderstanding of the records relating to the Midsomer Even shows of the 1580s. To put it right here is a reworking of the story:

Midsummer eve was a day of great importance to the citizens of York in the last decades of 16th century. The public highlight of medieval York's calendar had been the annual performance of the plays of Corpus Christi (see Early Theatre vol. 3, 2000), each trade guild having its own play to perform at given stations in Micklegate and around the city centre. This play cycle, now known as the York Mystery Plays, did not have the approval of the 16th century Protestant church and performances eventually ceased by 1580. The citizens had a need to participate in some great ceremony of their own and The Midsomereven Show, developed from 1581, was a popular substitute.

John Balderston, one of the waites soon to be dismissed for misdemeanours ....towching their evill and disorderlie behaviour.... took his fife and, accompanied by Edmund Archer, city drummer, went about the city for two and a half days before the event to warn the citizens of the impending pageantry. The day would begin at dawn with a mustering of York's available defences. All able-bodied men with the armour and arms kept by their parish - newly refurbished - gathered under the command of the parish constables, directed by the Sheriffs. This must have been a noisy event for, not only were the city defences inspected, but they were, it seems, also tested. The Sheriffs were allowed 30 lb (~15 Kg) of gunpowder, presumably to ensure that the rarely-used matchlocks and callevers had been correctly maintained. 30 lb of powder would make plenty of big bangs! It seems that Balderston and Archer, with fife and drum, would have been present for this event, but thefour waites with their shawms were perhaps to appear later as a play, the highlight of the day's entertainment, was wheeled on an old pageant wagon through the streets to be performed eight times at different stations.

As the wagon moved from place to place it was accompanied by a colourful procession led by fforerydinge Champions, perhaps characters from the play. They were followed by the mounted Sheriffs and the great white silken standard of York. Around the standard two handsword players twirled and flourished two-handed swords. We know that they flanked the standard because it cost one shilling to mend the flag, vnadvisedly rented by one of the enthusiastic swordsmen. Two drummers were present, one with the drum (the large city drum), probably Archer again, and the other with the litle drum, both refurbished for the occasion.

With them was the city trumpeter, and somewhere in the procession would have been the four waites playing the city's noys of shalmes. Their leader was the venerable Robert Hewet, first employed to knock the band into shape after their dismissal for their misdemeanour in 1556. Second in seniority was John Balderston, earlier that day player of the fife. John Clerke was a character, temporarily sacked, along with Balderston in October that year: .... for that they have gone abroad in the contry in very evill apparell, with their hose forth at their heeles, also that they are comon drunkerdes and cannot so connynglie play on their instrumentes as they ought to do.... Both were soon forgiven and reinstated but Clerke was again sacked, or rather "retired" in 1596, now an old man with 25 years as a waite behind him. His exasperated colleagues asked for his removal because he was old, deaf, and a dreadful drunkard; a hopeless liability. George Cowper was a fishy sort of chap, a southerner from Ipswich, hired in May 1584 and sacked in the following October for his part in a fraud concerning cloth and an elderly couple.

The waites would have played shawms, perhaps the three by a previous waite, John Harper, plus a bass shawm 1561 (probably what we would call today a tenor). Their cognizances, their badges of office, three made before 1667, were, it seems, in a sorry state, for early the following year they were delivered to Thomas Turner, goldsmith to be newly flourished and trimmed. The three surviving originals are solid silver, but they were almost certainly gilt in the 16th century, and the gold plate would have required replacement from time to time. As My Lord Mayor, the corporation and guests watched the play from one Thomas Colthirst’s house they entertained themselves well (at the city's expense!) with several hundred apples, ten pounds of sugar, five pounds of marmalaid, plenty of fyne suckett, carrawais, & biskyttes, maynebread & cakes, washed down with fourteen gallons of ale, seven and a half gallons of wine and claret, and a gallon of sack!



JOHN GIRDLER, 1597-1666 (YM p. 99)

TPC adds a single, useful addition to the Girdler story, though he gives no source to allow confirmation or follow up. He states of John Girdler's death: "He died in his 69th year on November 20th 1666, and his burial two days later in the adjoining churchyard (St Crux) is recorded thus: John Geirdler, chefe master of the Cittye Waites". From this we may deduce that he was born in 1597 or 1598 and that when he began his career as a York Waite in 1623 he was about 25 years old. There is no evidence that he was a York man and it seems likely that he apprenticed elsewhere, transferring to this city as an experienced musician.



WILLIAM TIREMAN, c. 1680-c.1761 and 1719-c.1777 (YM p. 108)

The next musician for consideration here is William Tireman who presented the frustrating problem expressed in the book on page 109. It was quite evident that he was in fact two men of the same name but who they were was unclear until aid arrived from a descendent who had read York Music. Some suggestions from Mr L N Kidd's family history research led us to believe that here we had a father and son called Williarn Tireman, and John Malden's microfiches Register of York Freemen 1680 to 1986 (Sessions of York, 1989) was consulted. A fair pedigree of the Tireman family was devised (not to be confused with Tyreman, not a spelling idiosyncrasy, but another York family). From this it was evident that there was a series:

William Tireman I, Cordiner (cordwainer), free 1625
William Tireman II, Currier (1642/3 - ?) free 1667. Chamberlain 1707
William Tireman III, Currier (c. 1680 - c. 1761) free 1702. Elected city waite 30 Nov. 1703 to replace Joseph Shaw, deceased. Sent to London for six months at his father’s expense ….to improve him in the way of music.
William Tireman IV Organist (1719/20 – 1777?) free 1740/1, Organist at St George's church,  Doncaster 1739, thence to Trinity College, Cambridge in 1741. Married to Miss Browne of Doncaster, 1746 - and £20,000. Matriculated BMus. 1757. Retired or deceased, Cambridge 1777.

Reference to the few 18th century electoral registers given in John Malden's work clarified the issue most satisfactorily:

Poll for Member in Parliament or the City of York begun the 13th May, 1741.
Tireman, Henry, barber, Coney Street
TIREMAN, WILLIAM, CITY-WAITE, DAVYGATE
TIREMAN, WILLIAM, ORGANIST, DONCASTER
and again in 1758
Tireman Tho., Flaxdresser, Fossgate (brother of Wm Tireman, organist)
WILLIAM TIREMAN, CITY WAITE, CONEY STREET

The York city chamberlains' accounts have regular entries recording that Mr Tireman received wages on behalf of the waites 1720-41 and 1746-61. It is now quite evident that William Tireman III, the city waite, was the recipient. The electoral roll for 1758 proves him to have been still alive that year, by then aged about 78 and he evidently worked on until he died or retired in 1761. During the three years 1742-5 perhaps he was sick or left York for a while (visiting his son in Cambridge?) during which Mr Bulckley was the waites' accountant. It may be noted that his address changed between the polls of 1741 and 1758. It looks as if his career, 1703-61 lasted a prodigious 58 years! Thus the William Tireman story is clarified almost as far as is possible. One can now check the index of wills from 1761 onwards in the hope of finding out more about the city waite (failed 18:7.89). Hearth tax records might also tell us more. Cambridge records may tell more about his son, the organist (so far no additional material).

So, the prosperous looking William Tireman depicted on page 108 is truly the prosperous organist, not the waite, who was his father.


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JOHN CAMIDGE, 1735-1803 (YM p. 113)

The search for the miniature portrait on a snuff box of John Camidge senior in his scarlet livery coat has been unsuccessful to date and no more of his secular music has been identified. I would like to point out that the assertion that Camidge took lessons with Handel appear to be universally unreferenced and, though it could well be true, it may come from a single source and become a much-quoted item of York folk lore. Two sources of his 'Duke of York's March' have turned up. Sir W E Parry (1790-1855) the Arctic explorer who discovered the North-west Passage route around the top of Canada, took on board his ship a barrel organ (built between 1801 and 1816) to provide entertainment for his men. Among the forty tunes it could play were hymns, the national anthem, popular dances and the Duke of York's March. The restored organ has been recorded by The York Waits' own recording company Saydisc [CSDL 2341]. To hear this on an organ barrel is to hear a near contemporary “recording”.

As well as TP Cooper’s arrangement (YM p. 41) a manuscript version of the tune occurs in a manuscript collection of a young Helperby musician by the name of Lawrence Leadley, 1828-1897 (Merryweather J. 1994 The Fiddler of Helperby. Dragonfly Music. ISBN 1-872277-18-7). It dates from before 1840 and is labelled with a “B” which may mean it is to be played on the keyed bugle (much further research is required to confirm this assertion). The Leadley collection contains hundreds of tunes and, if only one knew some titles, it may well contain other Camidge compositions. Patient research will, I am sure, provide further interest. In a recent conversation with another York music historian I learned of his opinion that Camidge may not, in fact, have composed The Duke of York's March, the whole tale being a fabrication put about by his grandson Thomas Simpson Camidge!



SAMUEL & PHILIP KNAPTON (YM p. 121)

Another useful TPC quotation from the council minutes helps clarify the waites' story further and introduces a family previously thought to have been separate from the common musicians of York:

July 20, 1789. Now Thomas Hill of the said City, Musician, is elected and admitted one of the Waites of the said City during the pleasure of this House in the Room of Samuel Knapton, resigned, and it is orderred that the said Thomas Hill be admitted to his Freedom of this City on payment of the sum of fifteen pounds to the Common Chamber of this City.

Cooper goes on to say that Samuel Knapton was the son of Philip Knapton, barber and peruke-maker, and was born in 1756, and baptised November 1st at Christ Church King's Square. After following an apprenticeship with his father, he was admitted a Freeman of the City in 1777; but, probably foreseeing a change in headgear and fashion, he left off the making of periwigs for minstrelsy. He was in his thirty third year when he relinquished his position as City Wait. He appears to have been a popular musician, and many notices occur of his engagements at the Assembly Rooms and other entertainments. [no sources given]

Knapton resigned as a waite in the same year as he took over the retail side of the music business founded by Thomas Haxby who wished to concentrate upon the manufacture of fortepianos, violins, etc. The Haxby shop in Blake Street is still easily identifiable by the rain heads of the roof drainage down-pipes, high on the eaves, all bearing the initials TH and dates from the 1770s. Knapton opened his shop opposite the Assembly Rooms. That property, if correctly identified, is now part green grocer, part electrical business, and bears the rain head BB 1765 perhaps Burton & Butler, who in 1784 are recorded as merchants in Blake Street, five years before Knapton's opened. The Knapton story is too detailed for this publication and has been written as part of a history of Banks' Music Ltd. (see below). Suffice it to note that Samuel Knapton became known as the Father of the Music Society of which he was for a long time an active member. His music business was transferred to premises at 34 Coney Street, near the junction with New Street, in 1803. He took in his son Philip as partner in 1820 and sold out to William Hardman in 1829. He died in 1831, Philip in 1833. Philip Knapton was a well-loved church organist at St Saviour's, a sensitive pianist and respected composer. He was regularly associate conductor with Dr John Camidge jnr. in the Great Yorkshire Music Festivals during the second quarter of the 19th century.



THE YORK HARDMAN FAMILY (YM p.121)

Daniel Hardman (1819-91) the last of the York city waites proved, for a long time, impossible to put to rest and at the time of creating the first version of this update he was still alive as far as I could tell. The last report of him alive was by Enderby Jackson (1896) in which he stated clearly that the man was alive and in his nineties. Prior to that date The Yorkshire Gazette reported Hardman's bankruptcy in 1847, proving him extant at that much earlier date. (NB:   I apologise for muddling the reference numbers for these Newspaper reports. If the reader finds it necessary to refer to them it is possible to re-order them by cross matching dates in the text and the list of references). Records in the York registrar's department and the St Catherine's register (both national listings housed in York probate office) were scrutinised from several years before 1896 up to 1914 and no trace of Dan Hardman's death could be found. It became difficult to believe or not to believe Jackson's report. I did, however, have his date of birth thanks to the Mormon records, 18th September, 1806, so that I alone could celebrate his birthday annually.

In 1991 new information on Dan's whereabouts began to emerge. I am grateful to Dr David Griffiths at the University of York's Morrell Library for acquainting me with a document relating to Dan Hardman when brother William's estate was being sorted out following his suicide. Dan was bankrupt in 1847 and, it appears that by William’s death he had emigrated to Australia! Hence, no record of his death in England.

Yet another fortunate encounter gave me the opportunity to contact a helpful soul in Australia. When I was at York Reference Library working on something completely un-waits, the librarian asked if I’d be willing to talk to a lady researching the genealogy of my surname for an Australian contact. I now have a regular correspondent in Australia, Jean Murphy, neé Merryweather, who very effectively traced Dan to Melbourne where he set himself up as a professor of music and where he died on the 17th August, 1891 aged 86 years. Enderby Jackson seems to have been lying....er....mistaken. However, Jackson says that Hardman was still drawing his pension in 1896, so perhaps the council was still supporting one of its ex-employees’ family, not knowing he had been dead for five years!

William Hardman (1792-1855) was a music shop owner who also published a deal of sheet music. Some has been found in the York city library, including Hardman's set of Favourite Quadrilles, composed expressly for the ball given in the York Assembly Rooms on the coronation of Her Most Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria (28th June 1838) arranged for the pianoforte. It is not clear whether or not they were composed by Hardman, but they were certainly played by his Quadrille band at the ball (Knowles etc.). The cover is inscribed, in his own hand: E.E. Strickland. From W.H. 1838.

John Hardman (1800-23+) was, we now know thanks to TP Cooper, a city waite. A minute of the City Council, dated January 23rd 1822 reads: And now John Hardman is by this House appointed one of the City Waites in the room of Henry Barnard deceased, with the usual salary. He played violin.

N.B. this minute is remarkably similar to that of 1486 recording the appointment of Robert Comgilton (YM page 59) yet its form is now unfamiliar to the modern reader.

James Hardman (c. 1804-54) was the fourth musical brother. He also played violin. James is among the violins listed in the Yorkshire Festival orchestra programme of 1823 and John is reported as a violinist by Knowles. It is intriguing to consider this musical family: William, a music seller on viola; Daniel (barber, innkeeper, oyster seller, music teacher, waite) on 'cello; John (hairdresser, confectioner and pastry cook, waite) on violin and James, (druggist) on violin, playing as a string quartet. I wonder?



LIST OF YORK WAITES & OTHER MUSICIANS (YM Appendix I, p133)


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YORK'S MUSIC SHOP: Haxby, Knapton, Hardman & Banks

1756 was an important year in music. There were two significant births. Abroad, W.A.C. Mozart, an Austrian composer of some note and in York, Samuel Knapton, city waite and respected local musician. John Camidge senior returned to his home city, allegedly having been taught music by Dr Maurice Greene and Handel at the Chapel Royal. He immediately took over as organist at York Minster, the first of three famous generations of Camidges in that post. Also, on the 29th June that year the York Courant printed the announcement which heralded the beginning of a new era in the city’s music, the shop which was to become Banks Music, still York’s main music supplier:

June 15, 1756

This day is opened, (at the Organ in Blake-street, York)

A MUSIC SHOP, where Gentlemen, Ladies and others may be furnished with all sorts of Musical Instruments and cases; Bows, Bridges, Strings and Wire; Music, Vocal and Instrumental; Books of Instruction, blank Books; rule Paper, &c. Wholesale and Retail, at reasonable prices, by

Their most obedient and Humble Servant,

THOMAS HAXBY

N.B. Instruments repaired, and kept in Order, in Town or Country.

Thomas Haxby’s premises can still be easily identified if one looks up at the eighteenth century rainheads topping the fall pipes from the roof gutters in Blake street. The appropriate ones are initialled T.H. and dated 1773. Haxby built up an impressive retail business whilst developing a more important musical instrument manufactory.

Eventually Haxby’s attention to manufacture and repair of keyboard instruments became the priority and he sought a purchaser for the retail side of the trade. Samuel Knapton, a hairdresser born in that special year, 1756, bought and transferred part of the business in 1788 to premises “opposite the Assembly Rooms”, perhaps no.4 Blake Street. Samuel Knapton was a ‘cellist and was so highly respected in York music that he became known as “The Father of the York Musical Society” of which he was president for some time. When Samuel’s son Philip (1788-1833) was of age he joined his father at the shop. He was organist at St Sampson’s Church, a composer whose works were published nationally. A number of his songs achieved universal popularity e.g. Caller Herring, Clan McGregor, and the ballad Ah, Country. His book of Psalm & Hymn tunes went into several editions sold, not only in York, but also in London by major music publishers including Chappell’s and D’Almaine’s. JW Knowles, the celebrated glass painter, pioneer photographer and York historian reports (1924), characteristically without punctuation or crossed t’s and virtually illegibly:

He composed several attractive pieces of music, for example La Fete Civique dedicated to Miss Clarke, the daughter of the Lord Mayor, A Scotch Air with Variations, a march Megan based on a Welsh air, besides overtures for Orchestra, concertos some of which were performed at the York Musical Society Concerts and piano forte pieces which were of excellent quality considering the state of music at this period.

The Knaptons began a side of the music business in which the firm of Banks later specialised, that of music publishing. Examples of their sheet music can be seen in York city library and they also turn up occasionally in antiquarian bookshops.

The next family to take on this singular York music trade was Hardman. Like the Knaptons, they began their careers in hairdressing and the manufacture of periwigs. They lived in Blake Street where they ran tea-rooms and oyster-rooms as a sideline, but they were also musicians. Four brothers, the sons of Edmund Hardman, perukemaker, played strings: William (1792-1855) viola, John (1800-1823+) violin, James (1804-1854) violin, and Daniel (1806-1891) ‘cello and double bass, a family string quartet. Both John and Daniel were city waits, musicians in the band which played for the Lord Mayor and the city. When the waits were abolished in 1836, Dan had already laid the foundations of the modern brass band, here in York (1832-3) with the trumpeter James Walker. It is probable that he played a brass instrument as well as ‘cello and double bass, but it is not recorded which.

William was the brother who took over the music retail business from the Knaptons in 1829, just two years before Samuel died aged 74. Philip continued as a professional musician and music teacher until his early demise, aged 44. His energetic life had overtaxed his health and after a lingering illness he died June 20 1833 at his residence in Holgate (Knowles). Portraits of both Knaptons, Samuel with his ‘cello, hang (or used to hang; they may be in the gatehouse at the Museum Gardens) in the Camera Cantorum at York Minster choir school. In 1803 Knapton’s relocated to number 36 Coney Street where the music shop remained for over fifty years, until the Banks era began in 1855. We have a good idea what was for sale at the time of Hardman’s take-over in 1829, for an inventory taken of the stock transferred at the time exists today. The total stock was valued was £1764:5s:8d and included a wide variety of keyboard, string and wind instruments, some familiar today: oboes, flutes, clarinets, bassoons (with fewer keys than now), pianos, violins, violas, ‘cellos and harps. Others, out of use today, include flageolets, keyed bugles, and barrel organs. Then there were the printed music and ruled paper, reeds and strings, all very much like the stock of Banks Music of today if we discount modern items such as CDs. A small-scale reconstruction of Knaptons shop front can been seen in York’s Castle Museum.

William Hardman was an accomplished musician and contributed to music making in the city throughout his life. He played viola at Selby Abbey, Westminster Abbey, and in the Great Yorkshire Festival orchestra of 1823 alongside his brother John and Samuel Knapton. He also directed a small orchestra in the Church of St Martin le Grand, Coney Street, near his shop and contributed to race day entertainments at the assembly rooms with his Quadrille Band accompanying the dancing. In 1838 his own set of quadrilles was performed by his band in the Egyptian room at the Assembly Rooms on the occasion of the coronation of Queen Victoria (28th June 1838). He published a piano reduction, a signed copy of which resides in York library.

The transfer to Banks resulted from a tragedy for William Hardman. Knowles relates:

His death occurred under the most distressing circumstances. It was his custom to visit in an evening to the Black Swan [in Coney Street, now demolished] and on Nov 25 1855 he departed as in usual health intimating to his housekeeper that he was going. In the morning he was found huddled up and suspended of the neck to the banister at the foot of the stairs - dead - He was buried the following day aged 63. The evidence at the inquest elicited the information that Mr Hardman had suffered from despondency for some months previous no doubt caused by the sudden death of his wife of apoplexy the previous April. Mr Banks the successor to the business was at the time of the sad event an assistant in the Music shop but lived in Redeness Street but was instantly sent for by William Boynton. He was rendered first aid by [illegible] and Dr Clarke who found life extinct on examination of the body. No stone records the death of either William Hardman or his wife but they lie interred in a grave next to the deceased family of Edmund Hardman the druggist of Bridge Street.

Henry Banks was born on Christmas day 1812, probably the son of a Coney Street bookseller and stationer, Christopher Banks who traded next-door to the Mansion House, where Debenham’s used to be until about five years ago. His wares were intriguingly varied, an advertisement stating that he also sold: ….a great variety of Ladie’s Pocket Books, Thread Cases, Silk Purses, &c. and has also added Lustring Umbrellas, and Wax and Spermaceti Candles. Orders received for London Newspapers.

Banks succeeded to the Hardman firm in 1855, having been there as an employee since before 1841. He is reputed to have put all of his energy into the music selling profession, building his shop into the finest in the north of England. In his capacity as concert organiser in the city it is said that he came into contact with all the great performers of the day. As a performer he was, like his predecessor Philip Knapton, a Church organist, indeed first at Knapton’s Church, St. Saviours and afterwards at the Wesleyan Chapel and two Roman Catholick Churches (Knowles). He married a Miss Theresa Golightly (hence the unusual middle name of his grandson Cecil Golightly Banks) and had two musical sons. The elder, William, was tutored in music in York until the local teachers could do no more. Then he was sent off to the Leipzig conservatoire before returning to York to become a music teacher and composer. Louis Henry (1849-1934) was a Minster chorister as a boy, later learning piano and organ, playing the latter for St Gregory’s RC Church). When his father died in 1881 he was next in line to take over the shop, staying there until his death in 1934.

The shop still exists, now at no.18 Lendal, within a hundred yards of all its previous sites. Maybe the more recent history can be added ere long, making particular mention of the late, legendary Miss Banks.


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