Clegg, John (DNB00)

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CLEGG, JOHN (1714?–1746?), violinist, is said to have been born in Ireland, and to have studied the violin under Dubourg and Buononcini. He travelled in Italy with Lord Ferrers, and made his first appearance in London in 1723, when he played a concerto by Vivaldi. For several years he stood at the head of his profession as an executant, but over-study drove him mad, and on 21 Jan. 1743–4 he was confined in Bethlehem Hospital, where during his sane intervals he was allowed to play on the violin. Burney relates that it was long ‘a fashionable, though inhuman amusement to visit him there … in hopes of being entertained by his fiddle or his folly,’ and adds that ‘no one who ever heard him would allow that he was excelled by any performer in Europe on the violin.’ He was discharged as cured 20 July 1744, but on 15 Dec. of the same year was readmitted, and remained in the hospital until 13 Oct. 1746, when he was again discharged, his condition at this time not being stated. His death is supposed to have occurred shortly afterwards. Before his admission to the hospital Clegg lived in the parish of St. James's Westminster.

[Burney, in Rees's Cyclopædia; Grove's Dict. of Music and Musicians, i.; Hawkins's Hist. of Music, v. 361; Burney's Hist. of Music, iv. 609; Chrysander's G. F. Händel, ii. 256; Records of Bethlehem Hospital, communicated by Mr. G. H. Haydon.]

W. B. S.