Waterhouse, George (d.1602) (DNB00)

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WATERHOUSE, GEORGE (d. 1602), musician, held some appointment in Lincoln Cathedral, whence he was called to the Chapel Royal in July 1588. On 7 July 1592 he supplicated for the degree of Mus.Bac. at Oxford. His name repeatedly appears among the signatures in the cheque-book of the Chapel Royal, which records his death on 18 Feb. 1601–2.

Waterhouse devoted himself with extraordinary diligence to the favourite task of the Elizabethan composers, the construction of canons upon the plain-song ‘Miserere.’ Morley, who calls Waterhouse ‘my friend and fellow,’ justly says that he ‘for variety surpassed all who ever laboured in that kinde of study,’ and expresses a wish that the canons should be published ‘for the benefit of the world and his own perpetual glory.’ Morley made the very reasonable suggestion that Waterhouse should give a few words of explanation as heading to each canon. Probably owing to Waterhouse's death and the extent of the work, the canons were not published; and it is noteworthy that the ‘Medulla Musicke’ of William Byrd and Alfonso Ferrabosco, which also consisted of canons upon ‘Miserere,’ is known only by an entry in the ‘Stationers' Registers,’ while of John Farmer's similar work only a single imperfect copy is preserved. Two manuscript copies of Waterhouse's canons were in the possession of a certain ‘Henry Bury, clerke,’ who bequeathed them to the universities, to be ‘kept or published in print for the credit of Englishmen, and for better preserving and continewing that wonderful work.’ Bury's will seems to have been proved in 1636, but through neglect the manuscripts were not immediately delivered, and one has disappeared. The other reached Abraham Wheelocke [q. v.] on 1 Feb. 1648, and was deposited in the Cambridge University Library, where it is still preserved. It is an oblong quarto, containing 1,163 canons, two-in-one, the plain-song being written above each, with an explanation of the construction. The work can only be regarded as a useless monument of patience and ingenuity. The science displayed is indeed amazing, and students might perhaps benefit by a glance through what Morley calls ‘those never enough praysed travailes of M. Waterhouse, whose flowing and most sweet springs in that kind may be sufficient to quench the thirst of the most insatiate scholler whatever.’ Owing to the defective indexing of the catalogue of the Cambridge University manuscripts the volume has been overlooked (Davey, History of English Music, pref.), and it was unknown to Rimbault and C. F. Abdy Williams.

[Cheque-book of the Chapel Royal, ed. Rimbault (Camden Soc.), 1872, pp. 4, 6, 34, 60–8,

195; Wood's Fasti Oxon. col. 767; Williams's Musical Degrees, p. 74; Morley's Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke, 1597, pp. 115, 183 (reprint 1771, pp. 129, 211); Cambridge University MS. Dd. iv. 60; Davey's History of English Music, p. 197.]

H. D.