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Further light on the career of 'Captain' Francois De Prendcourt.

As Michael Tilmouth has pointed out in The New Grove, 'nearly everything that is known' about Captain Prendcourt, the keyboard player and composer, 'is derived from the account of Roger North who, as Attorney General in James II's administration, could have known him well'.(1) Prendcourt was a German member of James II's Catholic chapel at Whitehall in 1687-8, but, to quote Tilmouth again, 'when James II fled the country in December 1688 Prendcourt was thrown on his own resources and taught the harpsichord'.(2) The only other information concerning Prendcourt's career was included in John Wilson's edition of North's musical commentaries.(3) In 1705, Prendcourt was employed privately by Thomas Coke (Vice-Chamberlain to Queen Anne), to make arrangements of music and to correspond in French with the marechal-comte de Tallard.(4)

There is only one known surviving manuscript of Prendcourt's music - a volume of harpsichord pieces kept at York Minster. This volume was identified over twenty years ago by Michael Tilmouth, who also observed that 'the titles in the York manuscript are all in correct French, a very rare thing in sources of English provenance at this time'.(5) Tilmouth discussed the available information concerning Prendcourt's career, concluding that 'he was clearly of French origin', but that he had remained in England after the 'Glorious Revolution' of 1688.(6)

Documents have now come to light which reveal that Prendcourt actually left England immediately after the fall of James II, and was imprisoned in the Bastille from the spring of 1690 to the autumn of 1697. The Bastille archives, now at the Bibliotheque de l'Arsenal, Paris, contain hitherto unknown details about Prendcourt's career, and thus help us date the surviving manuscript of his music and understand its style and presentation.(7) It seems clear that Roger North was generally well informed about the details of Prendcourt's activities, but deliberately chose, for political reasons, to suppress the fact that he had been imprisoned.

According to the near-verbatim record of an interrogation carried out at the Bastille in March 1690, Prendcourt was born at Wurzburg during the 1640s and described himself as a 'Gentilhomme de la Franconnie'. He gave his name as Francois de Prendcourt but said he was also known as 'Coutamberg du Eguilghausen' - presumably Weigolshausen, about fifteen miles north-east of Wurzburg, and unknown to the French clerk.(8) North understood that 'he was of Saxony, and served in the court of that Elector as a page of honour',(9) which might mean that Prendcourt left Wurzburg as a young man. But North himself was uncertain, and it is possible that Prendcourt felt it more respectable in England to claim that he had worked for a Protestant Elector than a Catholic Prince-Bishop.

The 'interrogatoire' gives us no further details of Prendcourt's early life. According to North, he 'talked little of his following course of life, but one might gather he had bin in Spain and the Indies; he spoke French, Spanish and Latin readily'.(10) It is possible that Prendcourt was ordained a priest, but he claimed to have been a soldier. He may have served in the Spanish army during the 1670s and '80s, but he was certainly not a captain: in the Bastille archives he is always referred to (even by himself) as a lieutenant, and must therefore have invented the higher rank after his release in 1697.

Prendcourt was appointed Master of the Children of the new Catholic chapel at Whitehall, which opened at the close of 1686.(11) He was responsible for teaching Latin, music and singing to the eight children concerned. The Master of the Chapel was Innocenzo Fede, recently arrived from Rome, and various comments in North's account of Prendcourt's life suggest that the two men did not work well together. North relates that Prendcourt 'was a very proud man, he took state upon him, and affected greatness, attendance and ease, as if he had bin a publick minister'.(12) He also described himself as 'maestro di capella', which was actually the more senior position held by Fede.(13) There were also disagreements over the repertory to be performed in the Catholic chapel. According to North, Prendcourt 'could not bear the performing of any compositions but his owne'.(14) Such arrogance was bound to make him unpopular not only with Fede but also with the other composers working in the chapel, notably Gottfried Finger, James Paisible and Bernardo Bernardi. Fede had previously worked in Rome, where he had known both Alessandro Scarlatti and Corelli. North tells us that Prendcourt's 'contempt of all others even Corelli himself for a trifler, and setting up for a sovereignty of skill in himself, made all the masters of his time deride and despise him'.(15)

At some time in the autumn of 1688, Prendcourt was 'dismissed for misconduct'.(16) The details are not clear, but it seems that he had an affair with a Protestant girl who had been in Ireland and whom he subsequently married.(17) If Prendcourt was indeed a priest, that would have been sufficient reason in itself for removing him from his post.

The invasion of William of Orange and the fall of James II broke up the entire establishment of the Catholic chapel. Fede followed the king and queen into exile at Saint-Germain-en Laye, where he continued his career as Master of the Chapel and Master of the Private Musick, and created a centre of Italian music in France.(18) For Prendcourt, recently dismissed, this was no longer a possibility. Instead he went to Ireland and resumed his military career. When James II arrived there with a French army in the spring of 1689, Prendcourt joined him and was 'received into favour again by His Majesty'.(19) He was then appointed military governor of the town of Armagh, near the fortress of Charlemont.(20) This was a post of considerable responsibility, particularly after the arrival in August 1689 of Marshal Schomberg, commanding the troops of William III. The Jacobites withdrew from most of Ulster; soon, Armagh and Charlemont were the only Jacobite garrisons left in the province. Prendcourt now came under suspicion of treason. It was revealed that he had become a Protestant after being dismissed from the Catholic chapel at Whitehall, and that he had returned to the Catholic faith only in order to gain favour with the king.(21) He was also suspected by the French of betraying Jacobite military plans.(22)

James II agreed that Prendcourt should be removed from his command, but in an honourable manner. He was to act as a special messenger carrying a single set of despatches to Saint-Germain-en-Laye, after which he would relinquish his position. James also insisted that the comte d'Avaux, the French Ambassador in Ireland, should send his despatches to Versailles via Prendcourt. Avaux reluctantly agreed, but warned Croissy, the French Foreign Secretary, that Prendcourt was extremely dangerous and not to be trusted:

The King of England . . . is sending his mail bags with a German called Prantcour, whose original profession was as an organist. He is said to have become a Protestant in this country, but since the arrival in Ireland of the King of England he has appeared to be a Catholic . . . But I feel obliged to tell you . . . that it would be extremely dangerous to trust him. I must add that it is the King of England who is sending him and who has entrusted him with this commission. He simply asked me for my mail bags . . . and that is why I feel that I should let you know about the man's character.(23)

Prendcourt left Ireland at the end of December 1689 and was in Paris by the beginning of February 1690. Having delivered the despatches he was meant to leave France and return to Germany, his safe conduct assured by one of the other French Secretaries of State. Instead of doing so he remained in France. When Louis XIV and his court travelled via Compiegne to visit the army at Mauberge, Prendcourt followed them. When he returned to Paris he changed both his name and address and was eventually arrested on 30 March on suspicion of espionage for William III.(24) His papers were searched, revealing a ciphered correspondence (via Holland) with the Irish Protestant Archbishops of Dublin and Tuam. Interrogated at the Bastille the following day, Prendcourt claimed to be a faithful servant of King James, and argued that he had not been given a proper passport to leave the country: he had followed Louis XIV to Compiegne and Mauberge in an attempt to obtain one. He denied corresponding with England, and claimed that his walks at Mauberge had merely been to take the air. On the recommendation of Gabriel-Nicolas de La Reynie, Lieutenant-General de Police at Paris, Prendcourt was then informed that he would be imprisoned in the Bastille until the end of the war (which continued until September 1697).(25)

Prendcourt was released on 15 October 1697, shortly after the Treaty of Ryswick.(26) He then petitioned Pontchartrain, the Secretary of State in charge of the Bastille, for the return of his personal possessions (P1.I).(27) With the exception of his papers, all items had been kept by his arresting officer; they were promptly given back.(28) His papers, however, had disappeared. Prendcourt thought they had been taken by Gaudion, the clerk who had assisted during his interrogation, but the latter specifically denied ever seeing them.(29) Prendcourt explained during a subsequent visit to the Bastille that he was particularly keen to recover 'quelques livres de musique', but there is no evidence that they were ever returned.(30) We may only guess as to what these books contained, but it seems very probable that they were part of the music of the Catholic chapel at Whitehall. According to North, Prendcourt 'had 5 persons at [pounds]50 per annum apiece salary for wrighting under him, and to make it appear they work't for their mony he once shewed the King the books and papers of the Chappell, that were growne to almost a cart load'.(31) None of this music has ever been discovered, and it is therefore possible that Prendcourt had taken some of it away with him when dismissed for misconduct. If so, it must have perished at the Bastille in 1789.(32)

After his release, Prendcourt lived in the rue de la Tisseranderie. The road no longer exists, but it was roughly on the site of the present rue de Rivoli, and stretched from the church of St-Gervais to the Hotel de Ville. During this period he would almost certainly have heard Francois Couperin play the organ of St-Gervais, the closest parish church, and approximately one minute away.(33) He asked to be allowed to remain in France, but was ordered to return immediately to England.(34) He then offered to work for Louis XIV, possibly as a spy, but more probably in the Catholic chapel of the comte de Tallard, the new French ambassador in London.(35) His petition rejected, he was sent under military escort to Calais, and crossed to England at the beginning of December 1697, having been absent for approximately nine years.(36)

According to North, Prendcourt now had to find 'means to support himself by pauming his facultys upon such as were called lovers of musick'.(37) Even before he left Paris his wife had apparently found him a patron in London,(38) and he then 'crept into good familys, where he, his horse, and dogg, had free and warm quarters, and himself, many times, very good presents, till his behaviour (for he could not shake off greatness) rendered him and his family of brutes fastidious and consequently his entertainment short lived'.(39) One of Prendcourt's patrons was presumably the comte de Tallard, who lived in London between 1697 and 1701 and returned to England as a prisoner of war after the Battle of Blenheim, from December 1704 until November 1711. If Prendcourt had previously worked in the embassy chapel, he would have been an obvious choice for Thomas Coke to use as his go-between when corresponding with Tallard.(40)

Tallard spent part of the summer of 1705 at Clifton Park (Rotherham, Yorkshire), where he was said to have been accompanied by 'three other French officers, and four English gentleman'.(41) Prendcourt was among them, and the only one whom Tallard took with him to visit Coke at Melbourne Hall.(42) Since Prendcourt wrote to Coke in French, he was presumably counted as one of the French officers;(43) the summer of 1705 might, therefore, have been the period when he first pretended to be 'Captain' Prendcourt.

Knowledge that Prendcourt was imprisoned in the Bastille for seven-and-a-half years helps us resolve a number of enigmas that have surrounded him. It is now clear why Roger North concealed Prendcourt's name on the copy of the tracts that he sent to a friend:(44) North was a Jacobite, and continued secretly to work as Attorney-General for Mary of Modena after her exile to Saint-Germain-en-Laye.(45) As a convicted anti-Jacobite spy, Prendcourt was a rather unsuitable contact, and it would have been safer to suppress all reference to his imprisonment. On the other hand, North was wrong in suggesting that Prendcourt was a Jesuit.(46) If he had been, there would certainly have been some reference to the fact in the French archives.

The Prendcourt manuscript at York can also be rather better understood, and in particular the fact that the titles of the pieces are all in correct French.(47) We are also able to confirm some of Tilmouth's other conclusions. The proper spelling of the composer's surname was 'Prendcourt', not 'Prencourt',(48) and his first name was Francois, not a name beginning with 'G', as suggested by the Historical Manuscripts Commission.(49) The fact that we now have another example of Prendcourt's official handwriting, in a petition that he presented to one of the French Secretaries of State, confirms beyond any shadow of doubt that Tilmouth was right to argue 'that the York Minster manuscript consists of music by Prendcourt in his autograph':(50) the handwriting in the two documents is identical, as can clearly be seen (cf. Pl. I & Pl. IIa & b).(51) The earliest possible date for the manuscript itself must be 1698, after Prendcourt's return to England, because he would not have had access to that particular volume of music paper while he was in the Bastille. The account of his life by Roger North, probably written in 1707,(52) makes it clear that Prendcourt had by then recently died, thus indicating the manuscript's latest possible date. However, there is no reason why some of the music should not have been composed a little earlier, in France. The manuscript contains 24 pieces for harpsichord, all of them with French titles, making four suites. John Vanbrugh, who had also been arrested as a spy, was in the Bastille at the same time as Prendcourt, and occupied himself there by writing his play The Provoked Wife.(53) 'The suites in the York collection tend', to quote Tilmouth, 'towards the inclusion of more Galanterien than was usual in other English collections'.(54) We may wonder if at least some of these pieces were not similarly composed by Prendcourt as a means of occupying himself during the seven-and-a-half long years that he spent at the Bastille.

[Musical Expression Omitted]

[Musical Expression Omitted]

1 Michael Tilmouth, 'Prendcourt (Prencourt), "Captain" ?F. de', The New Grove, xv. 214-15. I should like to thank Andrew Ashbee for drawing to my attention the published literature concerning Prendcourt. Roger North's account is in British Library Add. MS 32531, ff. 1-41.

2 Tilmouth, 'Prendcourt', p. 215.

3 Roger North on Music, ed. John Wilson, London, 1959, pp. 51-63, particularly pp. 52-3.

4 Historical Manuscripts Commission, Cowper MSS, Pt. iii, London, 1889, pp. 67, 166-7. Camille d'Hostun, comte de Tallard, was created marechal de France in 1703 and duc d'Hostun in 1712.

5 Michael Tilmouth, 'York Minster MS. M. 16(s) and Captain Prendcourt', Music & Letters, liv (1973), pp. 302-7, at p. 306.

6 Ibid., pp. 305-6.

7 The dossier on Prendcourt is contained in the Bibliotheque de l'Arsenal (henceforth F-Pa) MS 10489, and was published in part in the Archives de la Bastille, ed. F. Ravaisson, ix (Paris, 1877), 248-9, 265-6.

8 F-Pa MS 10489, 'Interrogatoire a la Bastille du Sieur de Prancour, Gentilhomme Almand', 31 March 1690: 'Francois de Prendcour, alias Coutamberg de Eguilghausen, aged between forty and fifty, a Gentleman from Franconia, native of Wurzburg' ('Francois de Prendcour, autrement Coutamberg de Eguilghausen, age de quarante a cinquante ans, Gentilhomme de la Franconnie, natif de Vursebourg'). The name 'Coutamberg' probably represents an attempt by the French clerk to record the name 'Gutenberg', as said quickly by the German musician during his interrogation. All quotations preserve the original orthography.

9 Roger North on Music, p. 52.

10 Loc. cit.

11 Ibid., pp. 52-3; and Andrew Ashbee, Records of English Court Music, ii (Snodland, 1987), 17, 21. The equivalent post in the Anglican Chapel Royal had been held from 1661 to 1672 by Henry Cooke, also known as Captain Cooke. Cooke's duties, which were no doubt the same as Prendcourt's, are given in Franklin B. Zimmerman, Henry Purcell, 1659-1695: his Life and Times, 2nd edn., Philadelphia, 1983, p. 30.

12 Roger North on Music, p. 54.

13 Ibid., p. 52.

14 Ibid., p. 56.

15 Loc. cit. Although Prendcourt spoke German, English, French, Spanish and Latin, there is no mention of his having spoken Italian.

16 Martin Haile, Queen Mary of Modena, London, 1905, p. 261. Haile quotes a letter of 5 April 1690 from Rizzini (the Modenese Envoy at Paris) to the Duke of Modena, in which he refers to 'a man of the name of Prancour a German, who had been choirmaster in the King's Chapel at Whitehall and dismissed for misconduct'. The precise date when Prendcourt was dismissed is unclear, but must have been between 20 September (when the musicians returned from Windsor) and the beginning of December.

17 F-Pa MS 5133, f. 1, 'Registre de Du Junca', covering 24 October 1690 to 26 August 1705. Du Junca was Lieutenant du Roi at the Bastille.

18 Edward T. Corp, 'The Court of James II and James III: a centre of Italian music in France, 1689-1712', Journal of the Royal Musical Association, cxx (1995), 216-31.

19 Haile, Queen Mary of Modena, p. 261 (Rizzini to the Duke of Modena, 5 April 1690).

20 Mistakenly referred to as Bellamont Castle by Roger North (Roger North on Music, p. 52).

21 Ibid., p. 53.

22 Negociations de M. le comte d'Avaux en Irlande, 1689-90, ed. Arthur Gordon, privately printed, London, 1845 (copy in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris); facsimile reproduction by the Irish Manuscripts Commission, Dublin, 1934, p. 618 (Avaux to Croissy, 22 December 1689).

23 Loc. cit.: 'Le Roy d'Angleterre . . . envoye ses paquets par un Allemand nomme Prantcour; son premier mestier a este d'estre organiste. On dit qu'il s'est fait Protestant en ce pays, mais depuis l'entree du Roy d'Angleterre en Irlande il nous a paru Catholique . . . Mais je suis oblige de vous dire qu'il est fort dangereux de s'y fier . . . Je dois aussi vous dire . . . que c'est le Roy d'Angleterre qui l'envoye et qui luy fait faire cette course; il m'a seulement demande mes paquets . . . et c'est par cette raison que je me suis cru oblige de vous informer du caractere de cet homme'. See also ibid., p. 629 (Avaux to Louis XIV, 25 January 1690).

24 Archives de la Bastille, ix. 249 (Pontchartrain to La Reynie, 26 and 30 March 1690); F-Pa MS 10489, 'Interrogatoire', 31 March 1690. The details of the arrest were as follows: the duc de Duras, 'capitaine des gardes' of Louis XIV, who thought he was Irish, advised the comte de Pontchartrain on 26 March that Prendcourt should be arrested as a spy. Pontchartrain consulted La Reynie, who agreed. Louis XIV was then woken up during the night of 29-30 March to obtain his consent, and his Premier Valet de Chambre (Bontemps) was sent from Versailles to Paris with the warrant, signed by the marquis de Seignelay: Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale (henceforth F-Pn) MS Clairambault 283, f. 341, 'Memoire de prisonniers qui sont a la Bastille sur des ordres de M. de Seignelay'. During the period before his arrest, Prendcourt lived mainly in the rue des Blancs-Manteaux in the Marais, a few yards to the south of the Hotel de Guise (later the Hotel de Soubise, and now part of the Archives Nationales).

25 F-Pa MS 10489, 'Interrogatoire', 31 March 1690; Archives de la Bastille, ix. 265 ('Rapport' on Prendcourt submitted to Pontchartrain. Undated but extracted from F-Pn MS Clairambault 283, f. 353, 'Memoire des prisonniers qui sont a la Bastille, la plus part desquels semblent pouvoir estre mis en liberte, a present que la Paix est faite', 13 October 1697). This latter memorandum makes reference to a document concerning Prendcourt which is now lost: a 'Memoire de M. de la Reynie 22e decembre 1692'. In the 'Repertoire des Prisonniers d'Etat' (F-Pa MS 12719), Prendcourt is described as a 'German gentleman who betrayed King James by whom he was employed as the Lieutenant of the town of Armagh in Ireland' ('Gentilhomme allem.d qui trahissoit le Roy Jacques auquel il etoit attache en qualite de Lieutenant de Roy de la Ville D'Armagh en Irlande'). In another list of prisoners (F-Pa MS 12536), the reason for his detention is given as 'suspected of intrigues against the King and the State in a foreign country' ('soupconne d'Intrigues en pays etranger contre le Roy et l'Etat'). When Du Junca was appointed Lieutenant du Roi at the Bastille in October 1690, he made a list of all the prisoners already there, adding the reason for imprisonment beside each name. The entry for Prendcourt makes no reference to politics or espionage, and lists the prisoner simply as 'Mr de Prencourt, a German and married in Ireland' ('Mr de prencourt aleman et marie en irlande'). See F-Pa MS 5133, f. 1, 'Lestat de tousles prisonniers que je trouve en arivant a la bastille et leurs nom a commencer du lime du mois doctobre 1690'.

26 Prendcourt was one of five prisoners released on the same day, and he left in the private carriage of Francois de Besmaux, Governor of the Bastille. The details were recorded by Du Junca: 'on Tuesday 15 October [1697] at six o'clock in the morning, Monsieur de Besmaux received orders from the court, sent by Monsieur de Pontchartrain, to release immediately and set completely free five incarcerated prisoners, and to take them to wherever he saw fit. Concealing from me what was to be done, Monsieur de Besmaux and his officers, on his orders, sent Sergeant Levous to release Messieurs Imbert de Bry and Gedeon Philibert. At midday Sergeant Levous also released Messieurs Prendcourt and Elrington, to both of whom Monsieur de Besmaux said goodbye, and ordered his carriage to take them to their hotel accompanied by Monsieur de la Berne. At six o'clock in the evening Monsieur de la Berne returned and also released Girard Bosredon, who has contacts in Holland. These five prisoners have been released without any precautions being taken to see where they have gone, or to search them and their belongings in view of the possibility of intercommunication between the rooms in each tower'. ('du mardy 15me du mois doctobre [1697] sur le six heures du matin monsieur de besmaux a reseu des ordres de la cour envoies par monsieur de pontchartrain pour faire sortir dans le moment et metre dans une entiere liberte cinq prisonniers renfermes et daler ou bon lui semblera. Monsier de besmaux me quachant tout se qu'il y a a faire et ces officiers par son ordre se qui regarde le service du Roy il a envoie le sergent levous pour faire sortir mesieurs de bry de buiselles [Imbert de Bry] et gesnon filibert de lion [Gedeon Philibert]. Sur le midy le sergent levous a fait aussi sortir mesieurs de prandcourt et elrington a qui monsieur de besmaux a donne adieu a tousle deux et son carosse conduis a leur auberge par le sieur de la berne. Sur le six heures du soir le sieur de la berne revenue a este et fait sortir aussi de bois bordon [Girard Bosredon] fesent comerse en holande le quels cinq prisonniers on amis de hors sans auquune precaution de les visiter ny fete foulier et leurs hardes a cause de communication quil y a dans toutte de tours'.) F-Pa MS 5134, f. 35, 'Registre des sorties de la Bastille', prepared by Du Junca, 24 October 1690 to 15 July 1705. Details of the other prisoners are given in Frantz Funck-Brentano, Les Lettres de cachet a Paris: etude suivie d'une liste des prisonniers de la Bastille, 1659-1789, Paris, 1903, pp. 106, 108, 114, 116.

27 F-Pa 10489, Prendcourt's petition of October or November 1697; see also Archives de la Bastille, ix. 265 (Pontchartrain to Argenson, 17 November 1697). Argenson succeeded La Reynie as the Lieutenant-General de Police at Paris in 1697.

28 Archives de la Bastille, ix. 266 (La Girardiere to Argenson, 22 November 1697). La Girardiere was a Lieutenant de Police.

29 F-Pa MS 10489. On 19 November 1697, Gaudion told Argenson: 'je n'avoit jamais vu des papiers du gentilhomme'.

30 Ibid., in a note added by La Girardiere to his letter of 22 November 1697, and omitted from Archives de la Bastille, ix. 266.

31 Roger North on Music, p. 54.

32 There is a document at the Bibliotheque de l'Arsenal (MS 12536) entitled 'Tableau des prisonniers entres a la Bastille, avec des notes manuscrites prises vers les dernieres annees de l'ancien regime (1785-89) par les commis aux archives de la Bastille, sur les dossiers des prisonniers embastilles de 1660 h 1773'. The entry for Prendcourt states that at that time his personal dossier contained six documents: these are now in the Arsenal's MS 10489. But the same entry states that there was also a dossier of Prendcourt's private papers: 'Nombre de pieces . . . 6 plus une liaisse de 19 pieces qui contient les papiers particuliers de Prendcourt'. These nineteen documents were never recovered after the pillage of the Bastille archives in July 1789.

33 MS 10489, undated note by Prendcourt: 'Francois de Prendcourt demeure chez Mr. Brochet a l'enseigne du Brochet rue de la Tisseranderie' ('lives with Mr. Brochet at the Pike Inn').

34 Archives de la Bastille, ix. 265 (Pontchartrain to Argenson, 17 November 1697).

35 Ibid., p. 266 (La Girardiere to Argenson, 22 November 1697).

36 F-Pa MS 10489 (Pontchartrain to Desgrez, 3 December 1697); Archives de la Bastille, ix. 266 (Desgrez to Argenson, 24 December 1697). Desgrez was a Lieutenant de Police.

37 Roger North on Music, p. 54.

38 This is clear from Archives de la Bastille, ix. 266 (Desgrez to Argenson, 24 December 1697): Prendcourt had apparently written from Paris to his wife in London, asking her to reply to Montreuil (on the road to Calais between Abbeville and Boulogne-sur-Mer). Having received her letter, Prendcourt had then written two letters to a certain demoiselle Prudhomme in Paris, but had not been allowed to post them from either Montreuil or Calais. The three letters were seized and brought back to Paris. 'Here are the letters that the constable has brought back from Montreuil, where he had given the address to Prendcourt. It would be good to know the identity of this patron who is referred to by his [Prendcourt's] mistress in the letter which is so full of loving sentiments, and the address of the other letters to Mademoiselle Prudhomme. I am sending the three letters to you. The constable says that when the governor [of Calais] forbade Prendcourt to write, the wretched man swore and blasphemed against God in the most shocking way'. ('Voila des lettres que l'archer a rapportees de Montreuil, ou l'archer avait donne l'adresse a Prendcourt. II serait bon de savoir qui est ce patron que sa maitresse parle dans cette lettre qui est si remplie de tendresse d'amour, et l'adresse des lettres a la demoiselle Prudhomme. Je vous envoie ces trois lettres. Ce miserable Prendcourt, quand M. le gouverneur [de Calais] lui defendit d'ecrire, l'archer dit qu'il jura et fit des blasphemes contre Dieu qui faisaient peur'.) Unfortunately the three letters are not in the Prendcourt dossier (see n. 32, above).

39 Roger North on Music, p. 54. It was at this point, and not during the early 1690s as previously supposed, that Prendcourt 'acquired a bad reputation by selling the furnishings of the rooms he occupied to relieve his financial distress' (The New Grove, xv. 215).

40 Tallard's chaplain in England was the Abbe Francois Gaultier, who had been a vicar at Saint-Germain-en-Laye and must have known Fede and the musicians of James II's Catholic chapel in France. He had been dismissed for taking too much leave without permission, and was welcomed by Tallard to serve in his chapel in London. See the exhibition catalogue La Cour des Stuarts a Saint-Germain-en-Laye au temps de Louis XIV, ed. Edward T. Corp & Jacqueline Sanson, Paris, 1992, p. 87. The Hotel de Tallard was a short walk (up the present rue des Archives) from the rue de la Tisseranderie (see n. 33, above).

41 Cowper MSS, Pt. iii. 165-6 (Elizabeth Coke to Thomas Coke, 30 July 1705, and Prendcourt to T. Coke, undated). One of the French officers was Monsieur de Lionne.

42 Ibid., 167 (Prendcourt to T. Coke, undated [1705]).

43 Ibid., 166 (Prendcourt to T. Coke, undated [1705]).

44 'For some reason connected with Prendcourt's character or affiliations North thought it wiser to conceal the name', footnote by John Wilson in Roger North on Music, p. 51.

45 Roger Schmidt, 'Roger North, Historian and Attorney-General to Queen Mary of Modena', The Stuart Court in Exile and the Jacobites, ed. Eveline Cruickshanks & Edward Corp, London, 1995, pp. 101-11, at p. 104.

46 Roger North on Music, pp. 53-4. North argued that only a Jesuit would have been given such an important post in the king's Catholic chapel. However, Innocenzo Fede, who had an even more important post, was definitely not a Jesuit.

47 Tilmouth originally assumed that Prendcourt was French (see n. 6, above), but in The New Grove, published seven years later, he said that Prendcourt was of Saxon or French origin (see n. 1, above). According to the 'Interrogatoire', in 1690 Prendcourt spoke 'French fairly well' ('aussy bien la langue francoise') (see n. 8, above). When released in 1697 he was described as an 'educated man [who] speaks several languages' ('homme poli, [qui] sait les langues') (see n. 25, above).

48 Tilmouth, 'York Minster MS. M 16(s)', p. 303.

49 Ibid., pp. 305-6.

50 Ibid., p. 307.

51 Tilmouth argued on musical grounds that 'the evidence points clearly enough to the York manuscript having been written by Captain Prendcourt himself or by a scribe absolutely conversant with his notational mannerisms' (ibid., p. 304). Two of Prendcourt's three letters, printed by the Historical Manuscripts Commission in 1889, were 'no longer to be found in the muniment room at Melbourne Hall' (ibid., p. 305). Tilmouth reproduced the third letter and showed that its hand was the same as that of the York Minster manuscript (ibid., p. 306). The handwriting in the letter is much less tidy than that of the petition, but the latter is virtually identical to that of the manuscript.

52 I am grateful to Andrew Ashbee for this information.

53 Paul Hopkins, 'John Vanbrugh's Imprisonment in France, 1688-1693', Notes and Queries, xxvi (1979), 529-34, esp. p. 532.

54 Tilmouth, 'York Minster MS. M. 16(s)', p. 307.
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Author:Corp, Edward T.
Publication:Music & Letters
Article Type:Biography
Date:Feb 1, 1997
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