Clifton, John C. (DNB00)

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CLIFTON, JOHN C. (1781–1841), musical composer, born in London in 1781, was intended by his father to become a merchant, but his early talent for music was so pronounced that he was placed under the care of a relation, Richard Bellamy [q. v.], with whom he studied music for five years. He next became the pupil of Charles Wesley, and eventually determined to follow music as a profession, throwing up an appointment in the Stationery Office, which he held for about two years. His first professional engagement was at Bath, where he conducted the Harmonic Society. In 1802 he went to Dublin, and in 1815 he produced there a musical piece called 'Edwin,' which is said to have been successful. He also gained some credit by organising (together with Sir John Stevenson) a concert on a very large scale in aid of the sufferers from the Irish famine. About 1816 he invented an instrument for facilitating singing by sight. This he called the 'Eidomusicon,' but it does not appear to have been patented. About the same time he finished a work on the theory of harmony, and came to London in 1818 in order to obtain the publication of his invention, in which he was unsuccessful. Clifton next adopted the Logierian system of musical instruction, and for some years was a teacher of repute in London. He married the proprietress of a ladies' school at Hammersmith, where the last years of his life were spent. About 1838 he became possessed with the idea that he was enormously wealthy, and the mania grew to such an extent that it was found necessary to place him under restraint. He died at Teresa House, Hammersmith, 18 Nov. 1841. His compositions were unimportant, chiefly consisting of songs and glees.

[Dict. of Musicians, 1827; The Georgian Era, iv. 529; Musical World, 26 Nov. 1841 ; Gent. Mag. 1542, i. 112.]

W. B. S.