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Kent Composers
The following composers published collections of psalm and hymn settings, some including anthems, for the use of country choirs during the West Gallery period (1750-1850):

  Abraham Adams of Shoreham
  John Barwick of Canterbury
  Thomas Clark of Canterbury
  Richard Cook of Crayford
  John Deffray of Old Romney
  James Evison Kent/Surrey border
  William Flackton of Canterbury
  James Francis of Ruckinge
  John Hill of Lydd
  William Marsh of Canterbury
  William Newman of Stockbury
  William James Porter of Gravesend
  Thomas Purday of Folkestone
  David Senior of Sittingbourne
  George Shaw of Horsmonden
  James Shoubridge of Canterbury
  Henry Tolhurst of Chart Sutton
  William Wraight of Elham

Map of Kent


Abraham Adams of Shoreham, (c.1730-90)

The Psalmist's New Companion
No copies known of the first 5 editions
6th edn [c1760]; preface, gamut, 41 psalm tunes, a funeral hymn and 25 anthems; copy in Brit.Lib.
many pieces are composed by Evison and Knapp and published without attribution
10th edn [c1775]; 11th edn [c1785];
12th edn [c1795] contains 43 psalm tunes, a funeral hymn and 23 anthems; a copy used by Kemsing parish church is held by the Centre for Kentish Studies at Maidstone.
Little is known of Abraham Adams.

MP3 file : Psalm 25OV (Barton tune)


John Barwick of Canterbury, (1741 - c.1800)

Harmonia Cantica Divina, pub.June 1783;
Preface, gamut, 33 psalm settings, (many named after Kent towns and villages), and 4 anthems; copy in Brit.Lib.

Harmonia Cantica Divina, Second Part , pub.April 1793; 22 psalm tunes, with symphonies
Copies of both books in Canterbury Local Studies Library
Barwick was probably born in Great Mongeham near Deal, and later moved to Canterbury where he was a grocer, gaining his freedom of the city in 1764 and marrying in the following year. He lived in All Saints parish in the centre of Canterbury, where he served as churchwarden in 1780-2 and as a Guardian of the Poor from 1782-6. The church no longer exists, having been demolished in 1938 in a road widening programme. He played the bassoon at musical gatherings in the city as well as the oboe and flute with the Canterbury orchestra in winter concert seasons during the 1780s.

Read a more detailed biography HERE

Midi files : Folkstone tune (Psalm 19NV) | Psalm 11OV |

MP3 files : Psalm 34NV | Psalm 125OV (Northbourne Tune) | Psalm 149OV (Sturry Tune)


Thomas Clark of Canterbury, (1775-1859)

Thomas Clark was born in Canterbury in 1775 and spent virtually the whole of his life in that city. He was a boot and shoe maker by trade, continuing his father's business in St.George's Street in the city centre, but he must have spent most of his spare time involved with church music. Clark was leader of the Wesleyan choir at Canterbury for many years, and is thought to have later joined the General Baptists who tended towards Unitarian beliefs. He died in his house in Stour Street, Canterbury, in 1859.

Possibly more than any other composer, he evolved a style of non-conformist hymnody, using the technique of repeated lines and imitative vocal entries, which epitomised nineteenth-century non-conformist tunes, which must have been an anathema to the devotees of the old, solid, homophonic psalm-tunes. Clark's published works include the following:
1805 to 1825 Nine sets of Psalm Tunes
1805 to c.1823 Twelve sets of Psalm and Hymn Tunes
1828 The Sacred Gleaner
1828-35 Congregational Harmonist
1841 The Union Harmonist (arranger)
1842 The Union Tune-Book, 2nd edn. (editor)
1842 The Juvenile Harmonist
1843 David's Harp (settings for all 150 Psalms)

Biographies of Clark appear in Lightwood, James (1935) The Music of the Methodist Hymn-Book, London, and Barkley, John (1979) Handbook to the Church Hymnary, London.

Read a more detailed biography HERE

Midi files : Psalm 95NV | Gloria Patri from Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis

MP3 files : Cornhill | Cranbrook | Dunstable | Psalm 33NV | Psalm 57OV | Salem


Richard Cook of Crayford(?), (fl.1770-5)

Kentish Psalmodist's Companion, pub.c.1770; 27 psalm tunes (all named after Kent places) and 10 anthems
The Psalmodist's Companion, pub.c.1777; 29 psalm tunes and 12 anthems. This is a reworking of the previous collection, obviously aimed at a wider audience, containing mostly the same tunes, but with different names. Many pieces are composed by Evison and Knapp and published without attribution.
Nothing is known of Richard Cook except that he probably lived in northeast Kent, near Crayford, as many of the psalm settings in his two books are named after quite small villages in that area.

Midi files : Deptford tune (Psalm 35OV) | Anthem from the 47th Psalm


John Deffray of Old Romney, (c.1670-1738)

John Deffray was a French Protestant who fled persecution in France in 1684 and after spending a few years in London became rector of St.Clement, Old Romney. He was so disappointed in the lack of religion there that he started a Religious Society, similar to those he had seen in London, to encourage young men to study the bible and learn to sing psalms and published two collections of music, mostly settings by John Playford, he did not compose any music himself. His efforts were well received and it brought people back to church.

Read a more detailed biography HERE


James Evison, (fl.1747-69)

A Compleat Book of Psalmody, 5 editions pub.1747-69
Many pieces are composed by Knapp and others and published without attribution, but a dozen or more are of his own composition; tune names suggest he lived in the Croydon, Reigate, Sevenoaks area.


William Flackton of Canterbury & Faversham, (1709-1798)

Hymns for Three Voices, pub.c.1780
Flackton was organist at St.Mary's, the parish church of Faversham, from 1735 - 1751 and a stationer and printer in partnership, first with his brother, John, and later with Marrable in Canterbury from 1774. According to an advertisement in the Kentish Gazette, he published three collections of church music but no copies of two have yet been discovered. There is a page with more details of his life on Wikipedia.

Midi file : Faversham tune (Psalm 22OV)


James Francis of Ruckinge, (fl.1790s)

James Francis of Ruckinge was probably a singing master. Several tunes in an Aldington manuscript book are attributed to him and two of his arrangements, named Ruckinge and Bilsington, were published in the Congregational Harmonist, edited by Thomas Clark of Canterbury, who knew him well.


John Hill of Lydd and Rugby, (1723-1797)

[c1757] A New Book of Psalmody; contains 27 psalms (many in 2 parts), 8 anthems, 13 hymns and 2 canons
He later moved to Rugby, Warwickshire, and published in c.1788-94:
Church Music Vol.1 contains 13 psalm tunes, 4 anthems and 2 hymns (for Christmas and Easter)
Church Music Vol.2 contains 16 psalm tunes, 5 anthems, 2 hymns (for Christmas and Easter) and a canon
Quarterly collections of Hill's Church Music, nos.I - XII, each of 8 sides of music; in total 24 psalm tunes, 16 anthems and a charity hymn
The First Sabbath - an oratorio

MP3 files : Shepherds Rejoice | Psalm 23 | Hymn of Thanksgiving


William Marsh of Canterbury, c.1780 - 1815+

A Set of New Psalm & Hymn Tunes pub.1815; contains 25 psalm and hymn settings
Marsh was a bookseller in Palace Street in St.Alphege parish, Canterbury. His setting "Pentonville" is still sung to the words "While Shepherds Watched" by carollers in the Sheffield area each Christmas.

Midi files : Pentonville tune | Wingham tune

MP3 files : Nativity - The Branch, the mighty branch


William Newman of Stockbury, near Sittingbourne, fl.1799

In 1799, Newman advertised for subscribers for "a new set of PSALMS and ANTHEMS; an entire new composition" but no copy has been discovered to date.


William James Porter of Gravesend*, fl.1795 - c.1840

Parochial Psalmody pub.1807; containing "A Selection from the New Version of the Psalms of David"
*previously curate of Lydden, Nonnington & Womenswould in East Kent.


Thomas Purday of Folkestone, 1765 - 1838

Musica Sacra Londinensis pub.c.1805; contains 115 hymn and psalm settings (35 by Purday) and 21 "anthems and sacred odes" (10 by Purday)
Beauties of Sacred Harmony, pub.ca.1820
Harp of Jubal, pub.ca.1822
Songs of Zion: or the Weslyan Harmonist, pub.1824; contains 100 "entirely new and original Tunes, in Four Parts, adapted to the Hymns of the Rev. John Wesley"
Purday was schoolmaster and ran a circulating library in Sandgate from about 1795. He was the editor and major contributor to the Musica Sacra Londinensis, together with various composers from the southeast of England. He was a baptist, the son of Thomas, the baptist minister of Rye, but lived in Folkestone for most of his adult life. Groves Dictionary says that he was the successor to the successful music publishing business of Thompson & Son in St.Paul's Churchyard, London (est. since 1746). He went into partnership with S.J.Button c.1805 (the business was then called Button & Purday) but he left it in c.1808, after which the business became Button & Whittaker. He probably returned to Sandgate (in the parish of Folkestone) where he ran a business as a bookseller and stationer, and operated a circulating library.

Midi files : Nativity


David Senior of Sittingbourne, (c.1744 - 1777)

The Food of Devotion pub.c.1775;
David Senior seems to have lived all his short life in Sittingbourne where he was a schoolmaster. He died at the young age of 33.

Midi files : Psalm 119NV | Psalm 57NV


George Shaw of Horsmonden (1769 - 1842)

Four Services pub.1812.
An advertisement appeared in the Maidstone Journal newspaper for Four Services but no copy has been discovered to date.


James Shoubridge of Canterbury and later, London, (1804-1872)

Original Psalm and Hymn Tunes pub.c.1840

James Shoubridge was a lay-clerk of Canterbury Catherdral; he married Catherine, daughter of Thomas Clark, in 1837 and lived in London, where he was a music teacher and minor composer.

MP3 files : Pasture


Henry Tolhurst of Chart Sutton, etc, (1778 - 1814)

Six Anthems and Six Psalms pub.1802.
A Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis pub.1803.
A Second set of Six Anthems and Six Psalms pub.1804.
Nine Psalms and Three Anthems pub.1807.
Four Psalms, Four Hymns and Four Anthems pub.1808.
Born in Langley, SE of Maidstone, he lived for a while in nearby Leeds and later in Deal, possibly trying to earn a living as a music teacher. He returned to Maidstone where he died aged 36, his obituary describing him as a "celebrated psalm singer and musician". He was buried in Langley.

Read a more detailed biography HERE

Midi files : Psalm 121NV | Anthem from Psalm 67 (first part)


William Wraight of Elham, near Folkestone (fl.1768-77)

Divine Melody, pub.1769
Subscribers were sought by newspaper advertisement in August 1768 and publication commenced in 4 parts (each containing 12 pieces) from March the following year. No copies are known. Wraight was appointed schoolmaster at Elham Charity School in 1756 founded in 1725 to teach 6 boys ...

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