New Purcell Documents from the Court of King's Bench

Duncan, Cheryll (2016) New Purcell Documents from the Court of King's Bench. Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle, 47 (1). pp. 1-23. ISSN 2167-4027 (Online) 1472-3808 (Print)

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Two legal documents recently discovered among The National Archives at Kew in London provide new information about Henry Purcell's final years. The only known instances of the composer's involvement with the law, these rare archival finds shed light on his familial relations and financial circumstances at that point in his career when he was turning his attention to the London stage. The first case involves Purcell's sister-in-law Amy Howlett, who owed him £40; and the second concerns his unpaid bill at an exclusive West End retailer's. The new material confirms beyond doubt the identity of Purcell's in-laws, and shows that he was not just short of money in the 1690s, but that he was actually in debt at the time of his death. Other areas of enquiry include the élite social milieu in which the Purcells increasingly moved, and their possible place of residence in 1691–3. These aspects are discussed in relation to Purcell's enhanced public profile at that time, and within the wider context of the culture of consumption and credit in late seventeenth-century England. The two lawsuits are transcribed and translated in full, and their legal implications explicated.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Henry Purcell, Frances Purcell, Amy Howlett, credit relations, Covent Garden
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature of music
Depositing User: Mr Peter Stacey
Date Deposited: 23 May 2016 20:57
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2021 11:36

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