Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Blagrave, Thomas

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BLAGRAVE, THOMAS (d. 1688), musician, was a member of an old Berkshire family. Dr. Rimbault and Colonel Chester state that he was the eldest son of Richard Blagrave (eldest son of John Blagrave [q. v.] of Bullmarsh and Reading, Berkshire) by his third wife Anne, daughter of Thomas Mason of Northwood, Isle of Wight; but it is difficult to reconcile this statement with the very detailed family tree of the Blagraves in Berry's ‘County Genealogies of Berkshire’ (145–8). Blagrave's name occurs amongst the gentlemen of the chapel at the coronation of Charles II (23 April 1661), and about 22 Oct. in the following year he was appointed clerk of the cheque. He was also a member of Charles II’s private band, and Wood says that he was ‘a player for the most part on the cornet-flute, and a gentill and honest man.’ Blagrave's name occasionally occurs in Pepys’s ‘Diary.’ On 7 March 1662 by his means Pepys obtained admission to the Chapel Royal, Whitehall, and on 11 Sept. 1664 the same chronicler records that he had been ‘with Mr. Blagrave, walking in the Abbey, he telling me the whole government and discipline of White Hall Chapel, and the caution now used against admitting any debauched persons.’ Blagrave is also mentioned as one of the king's ‘musick’ at whom Pelham Humphreys laughed on his return from France in 1667, saying ‘that they cannot keep time nor tune, nor understand anything.’ On 14 Oct. 1645 Blagrave was married, at St. Margaret’s, Westminster, to Margaret Clarevell or Clairvox of Parson’s Green. He died 21 Nov. 1688, and was buried in the north cloister of Westminster Abbey on 24 Nov. By his will (dated 14 May 1686) he left to his widow his house and lands at Teddington, and bequeathed various sums to his kinsmen, among whom were another Thomas Blagrave, and John Blagrave, ‘my brother Anthony Blagrave's youngest sonne.’ A portrait by J. V. Souman of a Thomas Blagrave, which is preserved in the Music School at Oxford, has always been said to represent the subject of this biography; but this clearly cannot be the case, as the picture represents a boy, and bears the inscription ‘æt. 12, 1702.’ A few songs by him may be found in the publications of Playford and other contemporary collections.

[Chester's Registers of Westminster Abbey; Old Cheque Book of the Chapel Royal (ed. Rimbault); Probate Registers; Egerton MS. 2159; Hawkins's Hist. of Music (1853), ii. 767; Pepys's Diary (ed. 1848), i. 332, ii. 375, iv. 263.]

W. B. S.