Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Brewer, Thomas (b.1611)

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BREWER, THOMAS (b. 1611), a celebrated performer on the viol, was born (probably in the parish of Christchurch, Newgate Street) in 1611. His father, Thomas Brewer, was a poulterer, and his mother's Christian name was True. On 9 Dec. 1614 Brewer was admitted to Christ's Hospital, although he was only three years old. Here he remained until 20 June 1626, when he left school, and was apprenticed to one Thomas Warner. He learnt the viol at Christ's Hospital from the school music-master, but although his compositions are met with in most of the printed collections of Playford and Hilton, published in the middle of the seventeenth century, nothing is known as to his biography. His printed works consist chiefly of rounds, catches, and part-songs, but in the Music School Collection at Oxford are preserved three instrumental pieces, consisting of airs, pavins, corrantos, &c., for which kind of composition he seems to have been noted. Two pieces by him are in Elizabeth Rogers's Virginal Book (Add. MS. 10337). In a collection of anecdotes (Harl. MS. 6395), formed by one of the L'Estrange family in the seventeenth century, the following story is told on the authority of a Mr. Jenkins: 'Thom: Brewer, my Mus: seruant, through his Pronenesse to good-Fellowshippe, hauing attaind to a very Rich and Rubicund Nose; being reproued by a Friend for his too frequent vse of strong Drinkes and Sacke; as very Pernicious to that Distemper and Inflamation in his Nose. Nay Faith, sayes he, if it will not endure sack, it's no Nose for me.' The date of Brewer's death is unknown.

[Bodl. Lib. MSS. Wood, 19 D (4), No. 106; Records of Christ's Hospital (communicated by Mr. R. Little); Hawkins's Hist. of Music (ed. 1853), ii. 569; Burney's Hist. of Music, iii. 478; Catalogue of Music School Collection; Harl. MS. 6395; Grove's Dict. of Music, i. 275 a.]

W. B. S.