Hugh Davis's Commonplace Book: A New Source of Seventeenth-Century Song

Mateer, David (2001). Hugh Davis's Commonplace Book: A New Source of Seventeenth-Century Song. Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle, 32 pp. 63–87.



A hitherto unknown manuscript book of songs, poetry and prose came to the author’s attention among a miscellaneous collection of papers deposited in Stafford Record Office. The County Archivist was sufficiently persuaded of the importance of the discovery to have the volume, which was in a poor state of repair, sent for conservation. Fortunately, the scribe/owner is easily identifiable from numerous clues in the content of the manuscript. A fully documented biography is provided that connects various aspects of the collection with his life and career. A short bibliographical study of the manuscript’s structure and paper is followed by a catalogue of the songs, verse etc., listing concordant musical and literary sources. The find is significant for the light it sheds on music-making in Oxford around the middle of the seventeenth century, for the insights it gives into a parson’s life in a rural Hampshire living during the Commonwealth and Restoration periods, and for uncovering new sources of songs by Nicholas Lanier, Robert Jones, Charles Coleman, the Lawes brothers and others.

Although the article formed part of the RMARC volume for 1999, it was not published until 2001, hence its inclusion here.

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