Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pilkington, Francis

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PILKINGTON, FRANCIS (1564?–1638), lutenist and musical composer, was probably related to Richard Pilkington of Rivington, Lancashire (whose son, named Francis, died in 1597). Pilkington's father and brother were in the service of Henry Stanley, fourth earl of Derby. The lutenist found a patron in Ferdinand, fifth earl.

After joining the Chester Cathedral choir in 1578 he was admitted Mus. Bac. Oxford, on 10 July 1595, from Lincoln College (Wood). In 1623– 1624 he was minor canon and chaunter of Chester Cathedral.

His compositions were not distinguished by much originality (Burney, Hist. iii. 326, 347). He published: 1. ‘The First Book of Songs or Ayres of four parts; with Tableture for the Lute or Orpherion, with the Violl da Gamba,’ 1605. 2. ‘The First Set of Madrigals and Pastorals of three, four, and five parts,’ 1613. 3. ‘The Second Set of Madrigals and Pastorals of three, four, five, and six parts, apt for vyolls and voyces,’ 1624. A pavan by a Lord Derby appears in the same volume. Pilkington contributed two sacred songs to Leighton's ‘Teares and Lamentations,’ 1614. His part-song ‘Rest, sweet nymphs,’ has been republished in the collections of Hullah and Stafford Smith. ‘When Oriana walked’ is included in Hawes's ‘Triumphs,’ and five others in Oliphant's ‘Madrigals.’

Pilkington was the father or near relative of Thomas Pilkington (1615?–1650?), also a chorister of Chester Cathedral, and said to be one of the musicians to Henrietta Maria (Wood). Thomas was the inventor of the orphion, and ‘did command all instruments with his unequall'd hand’ (Cokayne). He died during the interregnum, aged about 35, and was buried at Wolverhampton. Sir Aston Cokayne celebrated his merits in an epitaph and an elegy.

[Wood's Fasti, i. 269; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Hawkins's Hist. pp. 493, 522, 571; Burney's Hist. iii. 326, 347; Chester accounts, by the courtesy of Mr. St. John Hope, at the Society of Antiquaries; Pilkington's History of the Pilkington Family, 1894; authorities quoted.]

L. M. M.