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'At the mynde of Nycholas Ludford'; new light on Ludford from the churchwardens' accounts of St Margaret's, Westminster.

It is nearly 35 years since the last biography of Nicholas Ludford was published.(1) Since that time little further information has come to light regarding this elusive composer. However, in this article I shall present important new findings that expand and correct our knowledge of Ludford's life and musical career. The bulk of information previously assembled was, for the most part, based on his association with the royal chapel of St Stephen in Westminster, where he is known to have been a verger. Excluding the dissolution certificate of 1548, no significant documentary evidence concerning Ludford's employment at St Stephen's was believed to have survived from this period. The recent discovery of additional archival material at last provides us with a clearer picture of this shadowy figure, revealing his specific duties at St Stephen's and his long and continuous association with the parish church of St Margaret in Westminster.

It will be useful first to summarize the efforts of performers and scholars alike in restoring Ludford to his rightful position among the most eminent of composers for the pre-Reformation English church. Ludford scholarship has its beginnings early in the present century with the published discussions of H. B. Collins and Sir Richard Terry.(2) It was Terry's own chior at Westminster Cathedral that reintroduced the performance of Ludford's music as part of the liturgy. But Terry's promise in 1916 to publish Ludford's Masses after the Great War was never realized and Ludford was virtually forgotten for some 30 years, although a few pages were devoted to him in H. Grattan Flood's short study on the lives of Tudor composers.(3)

In the 1950s Hugh Baillie's archival work uncovered the first significant details of Ludford's career, which were gleaned from his more general study on London musicians in early Tudor England.(4) Around this time music by Ludford and lesser known composers was again being performed in London by Henry Washington's Schola Polyphonica, under the academic guidance of Hugh Baillie and Frank Ll. Harrison.(5) None of Ludford's music was available to the general public until John Bergsagel's edition of his Lady Masses was published in 1963, followed by a second volume in 1977 comprising four festal Masses and a Magnificat.(6) It seems surprising that these publications were not followed by more frequent performance, although this may be attributable to the scale and complexity of the music and the discouragingly expensive and weighty library editions in which they were exclusively available. In 1983 Ludford's Missa Lapidaverunt Stephanum, set in the context of a liturgical reconstruction for St Stephen's Day by Nick Sandon, was broadcast on BBC Radio 3. However, it is only in the present decade that Ludford's music has finally been made available on disc and has achieved widespread recognition.(7)

It is fortuitous that sources providing more information about Ludford's musical career have come to light at the same time as the recent accessibility of his music to the general public. The first new document is a certificate of Ludford's employment at St Stephen's, Westminster, which outlines his chapel duties and salary (appendix 1).(8) Documents concerning his life include a contemporary court copy of his will (found with those of John Sheppard and Robert White), which is recorded among the will registers of the peculiar court of the liberty of Westminster now housed in the Westminster City Archives (appendix 2).(9) In the Westminster Abbey Muniments Room is a register of christenings, weddings and burials for the parish of St Margaret's, Westminster (1538-1660); this provides the dates of Ludford's wedding and burial.(10) Most enlightening are the churchwardens' accounts for St Margaret's, which have survived remarkably intact from 1460 to the present day. (These too are kept in the Westminster City Archives.)(11) H. F. Westlake's book on St Margaret's, Westminster, published in 1914, provided transcriptions of selected parts of these accounts, and it is from this book that Baillie, and subsequently Bergsagel, quoted; the original manuscript accounts seem never to have been consulted. These new documents are vital sources for any study of church music in 16th-century Westminster, and for Nicholas Ludford's biography from c.1525 until his death. Included are payments for the copying and binding of choirbooks, details of Ludford's two marriages, and the accounts for his funeral expenses.(12)

We know from Cardinal Pole's pension roll that Ludford was still receiving an annuity in 1555-6.(13) From this information Billie and Bergsagel were correct in assuming that Ludford had died an old man in 1557; the burial register of St Margaret's tells us that 'Nycolace Ludfoorthe of age' was buried on 9 August of that year. Details of Ludford's early life and career, however, are still unclear, although it seems likely that he did not hail from Westminster originally. Baillie's discovery of a 'Master Nicolas ludford', recorded in the 1521 membership entries for the Fraternity of St Nicholas (a guild of London parish clerks), is still our first reference to the composer.(14) He next appears in the churchwardens' accounts for St Margaret's in 1525, when he paid 3s 4d 'for his parte of a pewe'.(15) Every inhabitant of Westminster, including employees of the king's palace and members of St Stephen's, was by the same token a parishioner of St Margaret's. This is the first entry in the accounts which refers to a Ludford, and the date 1525 seems to mark Nicholas Ludford's arrival in Westminster.

Within two years Ludford had gained a position in the royal chapel of St Stephen. In his contract of employment dated 30 September 1527 he was granted the office of verger (officium virgebaiulantem) and organist (officium organa perstrependi) for life. Roger Bowers was first to suggest that the unusual post of verger-cum-organist might have originated from St Stephen's,(16) and this new Ludford document strongly supports his theory. Bowers explains that a similar post was devised in early drafts of the statutes of Cromwell's college at Tattershall which were assembled c.1454-6. (Cromwell's agents were instructed to collect ideas from several existing foundations, including Westminster.) Although a verger was not provided for in the final draft of the Tattershall statutes, Bowers noted that the exceptional idea of a verger-cum-organist must have been borrowed from an arrangement that existed elsewhere. No statutes for St Stephen's have survived, so we are unable to trace the earliest instance of this post; however, the composer John Bedyngham is known to have been verger there in 1457.(17)

There is no reference in Ludford's contract to any musical duties in connection with his post as verger; presumably he held the office in its traditional role of overseeing chapel maintenance and leading the processions. His annual verger's salary was [pound]9 2s 6d, which was payable at the end of each month at the rate of 6d a day; he was also granted 13s 4d at Christmas each year towards his livery. He was also to receive a portion of mortuary payments, an undisclosed amount which people presumably were required to pay for the privilege of burial in the chapel. Apparently this was to be shared between the chapel officers (distributiones obituum).(18)

As organist, Ludford received 40s annually in addition to his verger's salary to be paid at the four quarters of the year; that is, at the feasts of the Nativity (25 December), Annunciation (25 March), Nativity of St John the Baptist (24 June) and St Michael, Archangel (29 September). In addition to his duties as organist he was also to assist in the chanting of plainsong (tam in arte cantandi quam organa perstrependi). It is not certain how large the musical staff of St Stephen's might have been at its zenith, but it may have reflected its sister foundation of St George's, Windsor, which by 1483 maintained 13 clerks and 13 choristers.(19) By the end of the reign of Henry VIII it would appear that chapel numbers at St Stephen's were severely depressed, especially those of the choir. At the Reformation, the chapel staff included only seven choristers and four lay clerks(20)--seemingly modest considering the forces required for the large-scale works performed there--although we are still uncertain as to the extent which the canons and vicars might have been involved in the musical performance of the opus Dei.

Records concerning St Stephen's during the period under consideration are not abundant, but we do have an account of the organs during Ludford's time there. According to the dissolution inventory, St Stephen's possessed 'iij payer of organs in the upper chapell' and 'one old payer of organs in the nether chapell'. (The building was divided into an upper and lower chapel; the latter was called 'Saint Mary-in-the-Vaults' and probably existed so that the household in the lower chapel could hear Mass celebrated above.)(21) It is unlikely that Ludford was ever in charge of the choir during his 20 years at St Stephen's; the post of choirmaster was separate from that of organist (both positions carried the same salary), and it appears that the former was regularly assigned to one of the chapel's singing men. In 1535 John Langisloo, a chantry priest at St Stephen's, left his 'best gowne' to the then master of the children and clerk, John Calcost.(22) In 1545 Thomas Wallys, a singing man, received an annual payment of 40s for teaching the choristers. (The annual salary of his clerkship was [pound]6 13s 4d.)(23) No record of Calcost's resignation or death has yet been found and he is not listed in the dissolution certificate of 1548.

Like the royal chapel of St Stephen, the parish church of St Margaret maintained a skilled choir competent in 'pricksong' or polyphony. On the great liturgical feasts St Margaret's seems to have been the centre of some considerable activity. The churchwardens' accounts show that members of St Peter's (Westminster Abbey, presumably the secular choir there) and of St Stephen's regularly assisted the parish choir in the singing of Mass on certain feast days. On the patronal feast of St Margaret (20 July) the high altar and quire were decorated with splendid cloths and silk hangings, which were usually borrowed from one of the royal residences near Westminster. John Coke (illus.1), a local tailor and sexton of St Stephen's, frequently received payment for the hire of such lavish cloths from the king's royal chapel situated only a few hundred yards from St Margaret's.(24)

Within the walled palace of Westminster music flourished not only at St Peter's, St Stephen's and St Margaret's, but also in the king's private chambers and household chapel. Early 16th-century Westminster must have enjoyed a period of intense musical activity, as is clearly evident from the increased expenditure on musical materials during this time. Besides the magnificent variety of musical instruments recorded in the king's privy purse expenses for Westminster in 1529-32, also listed there among the contents of the library is a 'pricke songe booke of masses and anthemes'.(25) Included in the dissolution inventory for St Stephen's are three 'grete priksonge bokes';(26) the 1511 inventory of St Margaret's reports one 'grete book in par chement priksonge';(27) and in 1533 the churchwardens of St Margaret's paid Ludford the sum of 20 shillings for 'a pryke songe boke' (illus.3).(28) It therefore emerges that at least six choirbooks were in use (or produced) in Westminster just before the Reformation. Only two Westminster sources have survived: the enormous choirbooks now at Lambeth Palace in London and Cambridge University Library, known respectively as the Lambeth and Caius choirbooks, both of which are assumed to have originated from a scriptorium closely connected to St Stephen's.(29) These are the principal sources for Ludford's festal Masses.

Although this is not the place to embark on a detailed manuscript study, we are now able to provide a few answers to certain mysteries that have long surrounded these sources. It had previously been believed that the choirbooks were copied and assembled sometime in the early 1520s, or possibly before. However, the fact that both sources include Ludford's Mass Lapidaverunt Stephanum suggests that the manuscripts would have been produced no earlier than the date of Ludford's appointment in 1527. Most of the composers represented have strong Westminster or London connections, and it would appear that the choirbooks were originally intended to be a collection of works by local musicians. Ludford is not only the youngest composer represented in the choirbooks, but also the only one living at the time of their production. This in turn would suggest that he may himself have influenced the choice of repertory to be included.

The choirbooks are handsomely decorated and (the Caius MS in particular) include several historiations, which in both manuscripts are reserved almost exclusively for the Masses of Fayrfax and Ludford. It is not clear whether these colourful scenes contain some hidden meaning or are simply fanciful illustrations of contemporary life. Nonetheless, they do seem to refer particularly to the composers whose works they decorate.(30) Several of Fayrfax's Masses are bordered with Tudor roses, probably reflecting his high placement among Henry VIII's musicians. Ludford's works are accompanied with general scenes of rural life and images of mermaids.(31) Perhaps as a pun on his surname, John Coke, the sexton of St Stephen's previously mentioned, is pictured beating a frying pan with a ladle in Ludford's Missa Videte miraculum in the Caius MS (see illus.1) and also in the anonymous Ave Dei patris filia in the Lambeth MS.(32) The latter work is interesting in that certain passages bear some of Ludford's stylistic fingerprints, including echoes from his known Mass settings. Several weak harmonic passages and abrupt changes in style, especially in the verse sections, preclude a firm attribution to Ludford, but it is possible that he may have had a hand in its production (especially in the verse 'Ave virgo feta').(33) The work may be a student composition under the guidance of Ludford or a joint enterprise of musicians at St Stephen's.

No entries have yet been found which describe the musical materials in use at St Stephen's, although disbursements are made at various intervals throughout the churchwardens' accounts of St Margaret's for the purchase and repairing of a number of pricksong books. In 1525 there was a payment of 6s 4d 'for a priksong boke bowght of browne at the request of master mason'.(34) Browne was presumably one of the parish bookbinders, for later in the same year he received 4d 'for the coveryng and binding' of the same choirbook.(35) In 1548 Nicholas Poole was paid 3s 4d 'for wryttying and prykyng of songe for the quire', and the same amount later in the year 'for the prykyng of divers songe'. Poole was regularly paid for his labour in the 'makynge engrosynge and Compylynge' the account books; his clear and elegant script probably gained him occasional employment as a music copyist. There is no evidence to suggest that Ludford himself had a hand in the music-making at St Margaret's and, in any case, his chapel duties at St Stephen's probably consumed most of his time. The accounts show that it was John Moore, one of the parish clerks, who was responsible for teaching the singing children. In 1529 Moore was paid 16d for 'pryckyng', and a slightly later and more interesting entry awards him 5s 4d for the 'prykyng of ix kyryes ix alleluyas viij sequence vj anthems a masse of iiij parts for men and a exultant for children'. On Corpus Christi Day in the same year 16d was paid by the churchwardens for 'iij quayers of paper and for byndyng coueryng and makyng of iiij bookes for prykesong'. This may refer to the materials which Moore required to execute his work outlined in the previous entry; however, it is interesting to note that Ludford's settings of the Lady Mass are also considered to have been produced around this time.(36)

Ludford might also have received extra commissions through one of the various guilds connected with the parish. By the 16th century no fewer than eight guilds were associated with St Margaret's, and it was these charitable fraternities that helped to finance several of the parish's enterprises. The smaller guilds were dedicated to Corpus Christi, St Christopher, St Anne, the Holy Trinity, St John, St George and St Cornelius, while the most prominent and influential guild in 16th-century Westminster was that of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, which controlled several properties in the parish and maintained its own chapel in St Margaret's.(37) The brotherhood is first documented in 1431. The motives of its founders are unrecorded, and its patrons included men and women of diverse trades. Besides the commemoration of the dead, which seems to have been the guild's chief function, regular social events for its members were also observed. The greatest of these was held on the patronal feast of the Assumption (15 August), which was celebrated only once in every three years. Events for this day included a spectacular feast accompanied by a band of minstrels, and a festal Mass of the Assumption celebrated in St Margaret's. Ludford's great six-voice Mass and Magnificat Benedicta et venerabilis (see illus.5), based on the verse from the Assumption chant Beata es virgo, might well have been commissioned by this brotherhood for its festal performance, although this is impossible to prove as the guild's account books are not extant after 1521.(38) It is very likely that Ludford was a member of this guild, as his name frequently appears with several known members.

Besides the wealth of musical entries recorded in the churchwardens' accounts, further details of Ludford's personal life are also revealed. It is now known that he married twice. In 1543 a 'Maistris ludford' is listed in the accounts for renewing the rental of her pew at the cost of 8d; this entry no doubt refers to Anne, his first wife.(39) Nicholas must have married Anne sometime before 1538, when the surviving marriage registers begin. The burial register records that on 9 December 1552 'Anne ludford' was buried in St Margaret's. Besides disbursement for her grave and hearse cloth, payment was also made for the church bells to be pealed in her memory at the funeral; this year's entries also record 'master ludforde' paying 3s 4d for the 'renewynge of his wyves pewe'. In December 1553, at the year's mind or commemoration of Anne, the church bells were again pealed in her honour, and payment received for the rental of the hearse cloth at the ceremony of her mind.(40) The following year, on 21 May, Nicholas Ludford took a second wife and was married to Helen Thomas in St Margaret's; the churchwarden's accounts for this year shows payment of 13d for the hire of the 'cerclet' for 'mastres ludforde'. (The 'cerclet' was an ornamental headdress hired out by the parish for weddings.)(41)

Ludford must have been, or thought himself to have been, a healthy man to marry Helen Thomas so late in life. Both Baillie and Bergsagel suggest that he was a retiring figure and perhaps infirm; this assumption was based on the lack of evidence of his movements in later life, and on a royal exemption of 1538, which excused him from 'serving on juries and from being made escheator, coroner, collector of taxes, constable, or other officer'.(42) In fact, members of religious foundations were normally exempt from serving in certain public offices. A similar writ of relief for the Dean and Canons of St Stephen's dates from as early as 1498.(43) Ludford himself tells us that at the time of writing his will on 4 May 1557, three months before his death, he was 'hole In bodye and perfyght In Remembraunce'.

Furthermore, the churchwarden's accounts show that he was quite active in parish administration throughout his time at St Margaret's: he bore witness to several signings of the accounts between 1537 and 1556.(44) His involvement with St Margaret's extended to donations for church monuments and payments for relics of the church after the Reformation. In 1527 he is listed among a large number of parishioners cited for their financial help in 'the makyng of seynt kateryn tabernakle' (compared with other recorded donations his contribution was relatively small--only 4d). With the Reformation came the removal of these elaborate wooden tabernacles from St Margaret's chantries. Some were saved from destruction, however, by William Henbury at the cost of 4os. In 1551 Ludford and one of his fellow parishioners, William Jenyns, paid 15 and 2s respectively for the base of a similar tabernacle which stood in the Trinity chapel. (Jenyns was both a churchwarden of St Margaret's and master of the Rounceval guild in 1540-42, and in 1542-5 was warden of the great guild of the Assumption.)(45) From 28 May 1552 to 5 May 1554 Ludford was himself elected a churchwarden of St Margaret's, along with Richard Castell (see illus.4).(46) The election was non-stipendiary, although 20 shillings from the church purse at least provided a supper for the 'wardens & other the worshipfull of the perisshe syttynge & takynge of [the] accompte'.(47) These politically uncertain years in the English church witnessed the death of Edward VI and the Catholic restoration upon the accession of Mary in 1553. Among the typical entries of the period, the churchwardens' accounts record the purchases of new plate and liturgical books upon Mary's enthronement, including four antiphoners, two Mass books, a processional, a hymnal and two legends.(48)

We are now also able to describe Ludford's living conditions during his time at Westminster. In 1549, when the seizure and redistribution of church property under the court of Augmentations was in full swing, he is recorded with William Pampion and John Hawclif to have held several properties in the parish of St Margaret's; these included 'the messuage called le Axe and the two messuages and buildings, shops, etc. ... in Longwolstable and le Kynges strete', which formerly belonged to the Dean and Chapter of St Stephen's.(49) The Axe was one of Westminster's several brewhouses which stood on the west side of King Street (now Whitehall) on the present site of Downing Street.(50) It also formed the southern boundary of Henry's new palace of Whitehall. The 1547 reference to this property most likely refers to Pampion, one of the singing men at St Stephen's, who records in his will dated 31 October 1558 that he held The Rose and The Axe in King's Street.(51) Hawclif, who was once town bailiff, is known to have held The Helme on the east side of King's Street in a deed dated 4 March 1546.(52) No deed concerning Ludford's tenement holdings has yet been found, although we are fortunate in possessing a number of lay subsidy rolls (records of tax collection) for Westminster from 1525 to 1550.(53) Inhabitants of Westminster were normally taxed on their goods rather than their property holdings. Ludford's name appears in the 1525 subsidy roll, when he was taxed on possessions amounting to [pound]10 5s.(54) From 1546, when the next series of subsidy rolls for Westminster survive, citizens are listed according to the street in which they live. Ludford appears in each of the rolls as being resident in Longwolstable Street, presumably in property held (or formerly held) by the Dean and Chapter of St Stephen's.(55) Longwolstable Street was located immediately outside the north wall and gate of New Palace Yard (a short distance from the present clock tower housing Big Ben). As he held this property before the dissolution of St Stephen's, and resided there as late as 1550, it is likely that he dwelled in Longwolstable Street during most of his life in Westminster.

In 1549 employees of St Stephen's were formally pensioned off; also discovered in the Public Record Office is a great volume of the court of Augmentations containing several copies of pension certificates for members of the royal chapel, including that for Ludford. The document stipulates that he was to receive an annual pension of [pound]12 for life (payable at the four quarters of the year), in compensation for the loss of his position at St Stephen's.(56) It would therefore appear that his housing and financial standing remained largely unchanged before and after the Reformation.

Ludford was in the third year of his marriage with Helen when he died early in August 1557. His will was begun on 5 May of that year and was not finished until 5 August (only four days before his burial), suggesting some urgency in its completion. The aged composer was probably no match against the lethal influenza epidemic that plagued England in 1557-8.(57) He left his entire estate to Helen, who was to assist in paying off his debts and funeral expenses. A full compliment of memorial devices was provided for the ceremony; the churchwardens' accounts record the following entries:

Item of Nycholas Ludford for iiij torchis--viijd.

Item of Nycholas Ludford for his grave--vjs viijd.

Item of Nycholas Ludforde for the belles--iijs iiijd.

Item at the monthe mynd of Nycholas Ludforde for iiij tapers--xvjd.

Item at the monthe mynd of Nycholas Ludford for the belles--xviijd.

Item of Nycholas Ludford for the [herse] clothe--xvjd.

Item at the monthe mynde of Nycholas Ludford for the [herse] clothe--viijd.(58)

Ludford's will confirms that his Catholic beliefs remained intact despite the Henrician Reformation, whose militant reforms extended to the end of Edward VI's reign. The preambles of Edwardian and Marian wills provide a vivid reflection of the impact of reform upon the Tudor laity; Ludford's pronounced invocation of 'Sayncte marye and all the holly company of heven' leaves no doubt that he died a devout Roman Catholic. As was customary in this period among writers of wills, Ludford left a token sum (3s 4d) to the high altar for any tithes which might have been overlooked or neglected during his life. He also requested to be 'buryed In sayncte margarete Churche ... as nere to my late wyffe An[ne] as maye be Convenyent'.

Parishioners of St Margaret's were usually specific when describing the location of their burial in the church or churchyard. Robert White chose the latter in his will dated 7 November 1574. John Sheppard, like several other parishioners, vainly desired to be buried in the abbey church, noting that 'yf I can not be sufferyd to ly there then In the parishe churche by my last wyfe'. (Sheppard was eventually buried in St Margaret's church on 21 December 1558.)(59) Ludford's request for burial inside the church intimates his higher standing within the parish and the evident bond with his late wife, Anne. Such graves were very costly: a graveyard burial at St Margaret's normally cost only one or two pence, while burial inside the church averaged 6s 8d. Presumably the payment included the cost of maintenance of any monument placed on or near the grave. No monuments from this period exist, so it is impossible to estimate where Ludford and his wife lie in St Margaret's. As stated above, he is known to have rented a pew in St Margaret's as early as 1525, and the accounts record frequent renewals throughout his life. However, when comparing sums paid by other parishioners, his relatively low payment suggests that he and his family did not hold a prominent position in the church.(60) It is possible that Nicholas and Anne were buried near or under their own pew, as was a common request, but almost certainly not near the high alter or a significant monument, which were the most expensive locations.

Among Ludford's mourners were probably the supervisors of his will, Robert Smallwood and Robert Davye, and the list of witnesses at its signing--George Bentham, curate, John Robertes, Anthony Cade and John Every. The witnesses, other than the curate, cannot at present be properly identified.(61) Robert Smallwood was a Westminster MP in 1545 (the first to be recorded) as well as a local beer-brewer; he was also a churchwarden during 1540-42 and Warden of the Assumption guild in 1542/3, and was buried in St Margaret's in 1559.(62) Robert Davye was a yeoman from the king's palace, where Ludford may have known him from his time at St Stephen's. A number of poor people of the parish also attended. It was customary and indeed desirable to have such citizens at one's burial, as the prayers of the poor were thought to be more powerful in the eyes of Christ;(63) Ludford's will provided 5s in bread 'to the pore people at my buryall'. John Sheppard would have been a fellow parishioner of Ludford's at this time, and it is tempting to speculate that he might have also been present at the funeral. Helen Ludford did not mourn for long, marrying a John Cute the following month (27 September); there is no reference for the year's commemoration of Ludford in the churchwardens' accounts. His will was proved on 22 November 1557, St Cecilia's Day. Had he survived another year he would have been subject to further Protestant reforms under Elizabeth, and would have witnessed for a second time the desecration of his faith. At least we may take comfort in knowing that Nicholas Ludford departed his life in a Catholic nation where, as he himself states, 'yt shall please allmyghtye god to take me from this worlde'.

Appendix 1

Nicholas Ludford's Certificate of Employment at St Stephen's, Westminster (London, Public Record Office, E40/13426) [V]niversis(*) christi fidelibus presentes [l]itteras inspecturis [d]ecanus et Capitulum Libere Capelle Regie beate marie virginis sancti quam Stephani prothomartiris infra palatium Regium westmonasterii salutem in domino sempiternam Sciatis quod nos predictus decanus et capitulum vnanimu assensu et voluntate tocius capituli nostri consideratione multimodorum seruitiorum nobis impensorum et imposterum impendendorum per dilectum nobis in christo Nicholaum Ludforth Virgebaiulantem dicte capelle Regie tam in arte cantandi quam organa perstrependi que deo et beate marie ac sancto Stephano in dicta capella preantea fecit ac que in futuro facere intendit dedimus et concessimus ac per presentes damus et concedimus eidem Nicholao Ludforth pro nobis et successoribus nostris Officium virgebaiulantis predictum necnon Officium organa perstrependi in dicta capella habendum tenendum et exercendum eadem officia in dicta capella ad terminum vite sue seruiendo deo et ocupando ibidem circa divina officia ac sese gerendo in dictis officiis secundum formam et ordinationem statutorum dictem [sic] capelle mea parte edicorum et secundum consuetudinem prefate capelle prout ceteri virgebaiulantes hactenus se gesserunt capiendo et precipiendo annuatim pro stipendio virgebaiulantis officii Nouem libras duos solidos et sex denarios sterlingorum soluendos eidem Nicholao in fine cuiuslibet mensis secundum distributionem sex denariorum pro qualibet die et pro liberatura videlicet Toga sua annuatim tresdecim solidos et quatuor denarios sterlingorum solvendos prefato Nicholao ad festum Nativitatis domini necnon pro dicto officio perstrependi organa Quadraginta solidos sterlingorum ad quatuor anni terminos in dicta capella vsuales per manus Thesaurarii eiusdem capelle pro tempore existentis [sic] annuatim solvendos et percipiendos distributionesque obituum prout alii virgebaiulantes hactenus percipere consueuerunt concessimus per voluntes solvendas ut moris est et fuit Prouiso semper quod si contingat prefatum Nicholaum decubare seu infirmari aut alias causa rationabili cum licentia decani[dagger] se absentare tunc ex propriis sumptibus alium sufficientem deputatum ad officia sua predicta exercenda et perimplenda tociens quociens idem Nicholaus absens fuerit inueniat et conducat In cuius rei testimoniam Sigillum nostrum commune presentibus apponi fecimus Datum in domo nostra capitulari vltimo die Septembris anno domini millesimo quingentesimo vicesimo septimo. To all Christ's faithful who shall inspect these letters the dean and chapter of the royal free chapel of the blessed virgin Mary and of Stephen the first martyr within the royal palace of Westminster eternal greeting in the Lord. Know that we the aforesaid dean and chapter by the unanimous assent and will of our whole chapter in consideration of the manifold services performed for us and hereafter to be performed by our beloved in Christ Nicholas Ludforth verger of the said royal chapel both in the art of singing and in that of playing the organ which he has carried out in the said chapel in honour of God and blessed Mary and saint Stephen and which he intends to carry out in the future have granted and conceded and by these presents grant and concede to the same Nicholas Ludforth on behalf of us and our successors the office of verger and the aforesaid office of playing the organ in the said chapel [and] to have and to hold and to exercise the same offices in the said chapel to the end of his life in the service of God and carrying out his duties there in respect of the divine offices and conducting himself in the said offices according to the form and order of the statutes of the said chapel set forth on my part and according to the custom of the said chapel just as the other vergers have hitherto conducted themselves drawing and receiving annually as the stipend of the office of verger nine pounds two shillings and sixpence sterling to be paid to the said Nicholas at the end of each month at the rate of sixpence a day [lit. according to the distribution of six pence for each day] and for livery namely his toga annually thirteen shillings and fourpence sterling to be paid to the aforesaid Nicholas at the feast of the Nativity of the Lord and in addition for the said office of playing the organ forty shillings sterling annually to be paid and received quarterly in the said chapel as usual [lit. at the four usual terms of the year in the said chapel] by the hands of the treasurer of the same chapel for the time being and the distributions of obits as the other vergers hitherto have been accustomed to receive we have very willingly conceded to be paid as was and is the custom. Provided always that if it should happen that the said Nicholas should be bedridden or ill or should otherwise for reasonable cause with the permission of the dean absent himself then as long as the same Nicholas should be absent he should find and obtain at his own expense another sufficient deputy to exercise and carry out his aforesaid offices. In testimony of which thing we have caused to be affixed our common seal to these presents. Given in our chapter house on the last day of September in the year of the Lord one thousand five hundred and twenty seven.

(*)Decoration of the initial letters in 'Vniversis', 'litteras', and 'decanus', was never executed in this document.

[dagger]Underlined text was inserted later.

Appendix 2

Last will and testament of Nicholas Ludford (Westminster City Archives, MS Bracy, ff.108-108v.)

In the name of god amen the ffourthe daye of maye in the yere of our lorde god a thousand ffyve hundereth fyftye and seven and the thirde and ffourthe yeres of the Raygnes of kynge Phillipe and Quene mary I Nycholas ludford of the Cyttye of westminster being hole In bodye and perfyght in Remembraunce do make this my testament and laste wyll in maner and forme as hereafter foloyth. ffyrste I bequethe my Soule unto allmyghtye god my maker and Redeamer thoroughe the merytyes and passyon of oure lorde Iesu Chryste and to hys Blessyd mother Sayncte marye and all the holly company of heven and my bodye to be buryed In sayncte margarete Churche In westminster aforesayd as nere to my late wyffe An[ne] as maye be Convenyent, and I do departe my lyfe in westminster or else In Crystyain buryall where yt shall please allmyghtye god to take me from this worlde. Item I bequethe to the hyghe alter for tythes forgotten [iij.sup.s] [iiij.sup.d]. Item to the pore people at my buryall [v.sup.s] in breade. All the Residewe of my goodes moveable and unmoveable unbequethed my dettes and my funeralle dyscharged I bequethe to Elene Ludforthe my welbeloved wyffe whome I make my executrix alone and I wyll also that master Robert Smalwod gentyllman and Robert davye yeoman shalbe the supervisors of this my laste wyll written the ffyfth daye of Auguste / wyttenes george Bentham, Curate, Iohn Robertes, Anthony Cade, John every.

By me nicholas ludforde.

Probatum fuit coram magistro georgio ffrevell Archidiacono westm' dictum testamentum etc [xxii.sup.o] die mensis novembris anno domini [1557.sup.o] Iurato Relicite et executrice? medicin' et committatur eadem etc Administracio etc quam acceptavit etc et habet ad exhibendum Inventarium quinto conceptionis Beate marie virginis decimo februarii anno predicto exhibit Inventarium.

I wish to thank Dr John Caldwell and Dr John Milsom for their helpful comments and suggestions during the preparation of this article.

(1)J. D. Bergsagel, 'An introduction to Nicholas Ludford (c.1485-c.1557)', Musica disciplina, xiv (1960), p.105; see also J. D. Bergsagel, 'Ludford, Nicholas', New Grove.

(2)H. B. Collins, 'Latin church music by early English composers--part II', Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association, xliii (1916-17), pp.107, 116.

(3)H. Grattan Flood, Early Tudor composers (London, 1925), p.72.

(4)H. Baillie, 'Nicholas Ludford (c.1485-c.1557)', Musical quarterly, xliv (1958), p.196.

(5)My thanks to Bruno Turner for this information.

(6)Nicholas Ludford: Collected works, ed. J. D. Bergsagel, 2 vols., Corpus Mensurabilis Musicae, xxvii (1963-77).

(7)A series of Ludford's festal Masses and votive antiphons is recorded on the ASV Gaudeamus label performed by The Cardinall's Musick, directed by Andrew Carwood.

(8)London, Public Record Office, Chancery Lane [PRO], E40/13426; abstract printed in Ancient deeds in the Public Record Office, v (London, 1906), p.510. I wish to thank Dr Steven Tomlinson and Dr Michael Webb of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and Dr John Caldwell for their assistance in transcribing this document.

(9)From now on PCW. An index to all wills from this collection is printed in A calendar of grants of probate and administration and of other testamentary records of the Commissary Court of the Venerable the Dean and Chapter of Westminster (London, 1864); Ludford is recorded on p.86. It should be noted that a number of musicologists have independently located these registers; among these is Fiona Kisby, who recognized their musicological significance early in 1992.

(10)Also printed in Memorials of St Margaret's Church, Westminster, ed. A. M. Burke (London, 1904).

(11)Three volumes are used in the present study, all unfoliated: Westminster City Archives [WCA], E.2 (1510-30), E.3 (1530-50), and E.4 (1550-70).

(12)I am most grateful to Dr Tony Trowles, of Westminster Abbey Muniments Room, and to Mr Richard Bowden, of the Westminster City Archives in Victoria Public Library, for their kind assistance in handling the original documents.

(13)London, British Library, Add. 8102, membrane 7v; first mentioned in Baillie, 'Nicholas Ludford', p.199.

(14)The assertion that Ludford probably came from a family of London musicians has not yet been proven. Nicholas's alleged father, the late 15th-century English composer John Ludforde, was admitted to the guild of St Nicholas in 1495. Like Nicholas Ludford, John Ludforde might not have been a resident of London as the guild had several non-resident members.

(15)WCA, E.2 (1524-6, first year).

(16)R. Bowers, Choral establishments within the English church: their constitution and development, 1340-1542 (PhD diss., U. of East Anglia, 1976), pp.A036-A038.

(17)PRO, C54/308, membrane 21v.

(18)The original Latin is unclear as to whether this payment was to be shared between the vergers or between the verger and others in the chapel. There is no evidence that two or more vergers were employed at St Stephen's, and only one is listed in the 1548 chantry certificate. The only reference to a verger other than Ludford is in 1517, when 3s 4d was paid by 'the verger of Saint Stephyns for parte of a pewe for hys wiffi' at St Margaret's; presumably this was Ludford's predecessor. WCA, E.2 (1516-18, first year).

(19)See F. Ll. Harrison, Music in medieval Britain (London, 1958, 4/Buren, 1980), p.19.

(20)PRO, E301/88, membrane 8v. Choristers: Thomas Clerke, Thomas Gilberte, William Clerke, John Lane, Nicholas Roddes, John Rudde, and Richard Horpe. Clerks: Robert Lawney, John Fuller, William Pampion, and Thomas Wallys; Nicholas Ludford is listed first among the officers. A complete list of the canons, vicars, chantry priests, bedepersons, and officers is transcribed in 'London and Middlesex Chantry Certificate 1548', ed. C. J. Kitching, London Record Society (1980), p.79. The 1525 lay subsidy roll for Westminster also lists only four singing men at St Stephen's (PRO E179 238/98): William Hawkyns, Thomas Crawley, Henry Medowe and William Marshall.

(21)PRO, E117 11/49. For a detailed description of St Stephen's, Westminster, see M. Hastings, St Stephen's Chapel (Cambridge, 1955).

(22)PCW, MS Bracy, ff.52v-53. Calcost may be the same person as John Catcott, whose setting of Trium regum survives in Cambridge University Library, Peterhouse MSS 472-4. Also mentioned in Langisloo's will are Thomas Goodyn, 'chanter', and Robert Browne, 'a childe and now being a chorister'. It is interesting to note that Langisloo also willed that his books be distributed among his colleagues of the chapel, 'eche of them j boke as shall seme best to there capacites and witts, prayng them to pray for me'.

(23)PRO, E40/13427.

(24)Coke is mentioned in the churchwardens' accounts at various intervals between 1523 and 1531. In Thomas Wolsey's chancery proceedings Coke is described as a tailor and sub-sexton of St Stphen's (PRO C1 466/8). For a fuller account of parochial life in 16thcentury Westminster, see G. Rosser, Medieval Westminster (Oxford, 1989), especially ch. 8, 'The religion of the lay community', p.251.

(25)PRO, E315/160, f.107v.

(26)PRO, E117 11/49.

(27)WCA, E.2 (1510-12, first year).

(28)WCA, E.3 (1532-4, second year). Both the St Margaret's choirbooks appear to have been sold off or destroyed by 1572, when the next inventory was made.

(29)A detailed account of both choirbooks is given by G. Chew, 'The provenance and date of the Caius and Lambeth Choirbooks', Music and letters, l (1970), p.107. The most recent study is by P. Fulger, 'The Lambeth and Caius Choirbooks', Journal of the Plainsong and Mediaeval Music Society, vi (1983), p.15.

(30)These historiations and their placement in the Lambeth and Caius choirbooks are discussed in greater detail in my DPhil thesis (in progress).

(31)The possibility that Ludford may have originated from Ludlow, the town that boasts the beautiful medieval Ludford Bridge leading to the parish of Ludford, has not been established. However, it is interesting to note that the mermaid that appears in Ludford's works is also the crest of John Merbury, a 15th-century patron of Ludlow parish church, whose device was 'a Mermaid holding in a dexter-hand a mirror, in her sinister a comb'. The image is found on a number of 15th-century misericords, including those at All Souls, Oxford, and St Laurence's, Ludlow. See P. Klein, 'the misericords and choir stalls of Ludlow parish church', The Ludlow Parochial Church Council (Ludlow, 1986).

(32)'John Coke' in these historiations has been hitherto unidentified. See Chew, 'Caius and Lambeth Choirbooks', p.111.

(33)Anonymous: Ave Dei patris filia, ed. D. Skinner, The Cardinall's Musick Edition, CME5 (1994), p.16.

(34)WCA, E.2 (1524-6, second year).

(35)Another binder to appear in the accounts is Richard Hall, who in 1538 was paid 2s for 'coveryng of the pryksong booke'; this may refer to the parish's new choirbook bought from Ludford in 1533. WCA, E.3 (1536-8, second year).

(36)London, British Library, Roy. App. 45-8. See also J. Milsom, 'The date of Ludford's Lady Masses: a cautionary note', Music and letters, lxvi (1985), p.367. Dr Milsom has noted the connection between the printed music paper on which Ludford's masses were copied and that used for the publication of XX songes (London, 1530), suggesting a similar date for the two enterprises.

(37)Rosser, Medieval Westminster, p.281.

(38)The accounts for the years 1487-90, 1505-8 and 1515-21 are bound in a single volume in Westminster Abbey Muniments Room.

(39)WCA, E.3 (1542-4, first year).

(40)From 1535 the Fraternity of St George, one of St Margaret's smaller guilds, possessed the 'St George's cloth', which was hired out for use at funerals and minds to drape over the coffin. From after the Reformation, the cloth appears in the churchwarden's accounts as simply the 'herse cloth'. The guild apparently also possessed 'a piece of the head of St George, set in silver-gilt'. See Rosser, Medieval Westminster, p.284.

(41)According to the Oxford English dictionary, the circlet has its origins in the late 15th century and was 'a ring or band of gold or jewels worn as an ornament, especially on the head'. The hiring out of a circlet is apparently unique to St Margaret's; the churchwardens' accounts show that it was used by only a handful of women annually, although there were dozens of marriages in the parish each year. It may have been one of the jewelled treasures of St Margaret's and served as a special wedding headdress for the more prominent members of the parish.

(42)Letters and papers, foreign and domestic, of the reign of Henry VIII, ed. Brewer, Gairdner and Brodie (London, 1862-1910), part 13, p.561.

(43)PRO, E179 238/93.

(44)Ludford was present, with a number of other witnesses, at the following signings: 1 June 1537, 'Nicholas ludfford'; 25 May 1542, 'mr ludford'; 25 May 1544, 'mr ludford'; 10 June 1547, 'Nicolas ludford'; 17 May 1549, 'Nicolas ludford'; 22 May 1551, 'Nicolas ludford'; 21 May 1556, 'Nycholas ludforde'.

(45)Rosser, Medieval Westminster, p.383.

(46)Churchwardenships were always held by two parishioners elected biennually.

(47)WCA, E.4 (1552-4, second year).


(49)Patent rolls of Edward VI, iii, p.10 (PRO, C66/821, membrane 9).

(50)See Survey of London: St Margaret's, Westminster, part 2 (London, 1930), pp.12, 258.

(51)PCW, MS Bracy, f.136.

(52)PRO, E40/13430.

(53)I am grateful to Fiona Kisby for directing me to these sources.

(54)PRO, E179 238/98.

(55)Ludford's name also appears in the following subsidy rolls: PRO, E179 141/141 (1546), [pound]16 5s 4d in goods; PRO, E179 141/162 (1547), [pound]10 in goods; PRO, E179 142/184 (1550), [pound]12 in goods; PRO, E179 142/170 (1550), [pound]10 10s in goods.

(56)PRO, E315/105, f.41. The sum of [pound]12 conflicts with the amount of [pound]13 3s 4d given in the 1548 chantry certificate.

(57)It was probably this sickness that also affected John Sheppard, who died in December 1558, first suggested in D. Wulstan, 'Where there's a will', Musical times (January 1994), p.25. For contemporary accounts of this epidemic in Westminster see transcriptions in Walcott, The memorials of Westminster, p.153.

(58)WCA, E.4 (1556-8, second year).

(59)Robert White's will is printed in Tudor Church Music, v (London, 1926), p.xvi; John Sheppard's will is transcribed in Wulstan, 'Where there's a will'.

(60)In his will Ludford does not mention any children, and other Ludfords do not appear in the churchwarden's accounts during his life. However, certain entries in the register of marriages and burials at St Margaret's suggest that he might have had at least two children by his marriage with Anne. An entry dated 27 January 1566 records the marriage of Thomas Ludford to Agnes Gerye. Thomas was buried in the churchyard of St Margaret's on 7 November 1574. The same register also records the marriage of 'William Brasbrage with Annis Ludford' on 14 May 1579; Anne was also buried at St Margaret's on 2 April 1597.

(61)'John Every' is probably John Ivery, a sexton of St Margaret's, who was present at several signings of wills in PCW, MS Bracy.

(62)Rosser, Medieval Westminster, p.399.

(63)For a fascinating account of death rituals in late medieval England, see E. Duffy, The stripping of the altars: traditional religion in England, 1400-1580 (New Haven and London, 1992), esp. ch. 9, 10.

(1)A portrait of John Coke, sexton of St Stephen's, Westminster, placed before the alto part of the Agnus Dei of Ludford's Missa Videte miraculum (Cambridge, Gonville & Caius MS 667/760, p.44; by permission of the Master and Fellows of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge)

(2)A detail from Wyngarde's panoramic view of London (c.1550), showing St Stephen's chapel off the south end of Westminster Hall, with Westminster Abbey behind (Oxford, Ashmolean Museum)

(3)St Margaret's churchwarden's accounts, E.3 (1532-4), unfoliated (Westminster City Archives). Payment to Ludford for a choirbook is listed first among the necessary payments for the second year.

(4)St Margaret's churchwardens' accounts, E.4 (1552-4), unfoliated (Westminster City Archives). Detail from titlepage when Ludford was churchwarden with Richard Castell.

(5)(overleaf) Opening of Ludford's Missa Benedicta et venerabilis (Cambridge, Gonville & Caius MS 667/760, pp.47-8; by permission of the Master and Fellows of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge)
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Author:Skinner, David
Publication:Early Music
Article Type:Biography
Date:Aug 1, 1994
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