Peerson, Martin (DNB00)

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PEERSON, PIERSON, or PEARSON, MARTIN (1590?–1651?), musical composer, was born probably about 1590 at March, Cambridgeshire. He graduated Mus. Bac. from Lincoln College, Oxford, in 1613. Fulke Greville, first lord Brooke [q. v.], was his earliest patron. In 1604 he wrote music for the song, ‘See, oh see, who here is come a-maying,’ (Private Musicke) in Ben Jonson's ‘Penates,’ with which the king and queen were entertained on May-day at Highgate. Peerson afterwards became master of the choristers at St. Paul's Cathedral ‘when John Tomkins was organist there’ (Hawkins), i.e. between 1617 and 1636 (Payne Fisher); but no record of his appointment appears before 1633. In that year the buildings around St. Paul's were condemned to destruction preliminary to the repairing of the cathedral, and Peerson's ‘demolished’ or threatened house was the subject of several orders and counter-orders. The commissioners finally purchased for 240l. (and a certain rent) Partridge's house, which was part of the petticanons' college, and large enough for Peerson and his boys.

Peerson died between 26 Dec. 1650 and 17 Jan. 1650–1, and was to be buried in St. Faith's Church, under St. Paul's. He was twice married. Among his legacies he left 100l. to the poor of March, for the purchase of freehold land of the yearly value of 4l. or 5l., the proceeds to be distributed every Sunday in twopenny loaves, to eight, nine, ten, eleven, or twelve poor persons. He held property in the parishes of St. Giles's-in-the Fields and Walthamstow, Essex.

He published: 1. Three sacred songs, in four and five parts, in Leighton's ‘Teares and Lamentations,’ 1614. 2. ‘Private Musicke, or the First Booke of Ayres and Dialogues, contayning songs of 4, 5, and 6 parts; of severall sortes, and being verse and chorus, is fit for voyces and viols. And for want of Viols they may be performed to either Virginal or Lute, where the proficient can play upon the Ground, or, for a shift, to the Bass Viol alone. All made and composed according to the rules of art.’ They were dedicated to ‘the right vertuous, beauteous, and accomplished Gentlewomen, Mistris Mary Holder, daughter to the worshipful Cle[ment] Holder, prebend residenciary of the collegiate church of Southwell’ (probably sister to the musical canon, William Holder [q. v.], of St. Paul's); ‘and Mistris Sara Hart, daughter of the worshipful John Hart of London, esq.,’ 1620. A copy of this work, ‘perhaps the rarest set of part-songs by an English composer,’ is in the Douce collection in the Bodleian Library (Rimbault). 3. ‘Moottetts [meaning madrigals], or grave Chamber Musique, contayning songs of 5 parts of severall sortes, some ful, and some verse and chorus; but all fit for voyces and viols, with an organ part; which for want of organs may be performed on Virginals, Base-lute, Bandora, or Irish Harpe. Also a mourning song of 6 parts for the death of Sir Fulke Grevil … Lord Brooke … composed according to the rules of art,’ 1630. The dedication was made to Robert, second lord Brooke. Clifford's ‘Divine Anthems’ includes the words of Peerson's ‘I will magnify Thee’ and ‘Blow the Trumpet.’

In manuscript are the following; Six fantazias and seven almaines, a 6, Brit. Mus. Addit MSS. 17786–92; part-songs, including ‘O Arabella’ (ib. 29372 and 29427); Four pieces in the virginal book, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; service and mottetts in Peterhouse, Cambridge.

Some lines by Peerson in praise of the book are printed in Ravenscroft's ‘Discourse on Music,’ 1614.

[Hawkins's History, p. 571; Grove's Dict. of Music, ii. 683; Wood's Fasti, i. 351; will re- gistered P. C. C., Grey, f. 9; State Papers, Charles I, Dom. vol. ccxxxvi. No. 17; Payne Fisher's Tombs in St. Paul's, p. 79; Prefaces to Peerson's publications.]

L. M. M.