CAREY, HENRY (d. 1743), English poet and musician, reputed to be an illegitimate son of George Savile, marquess of Halifax, was born towards the end of the 17th century. His mother is supposed to have been a schoolmistress, and Carey himself taught music at various schools. He owed his knowledge of music to Olaus Linnert, and later he studied with Roseingrave and Geminiani. He wrote the words and the music of The Contrivances; or More Ways than One, a farce produced at Drury Lane in 1715. His Hanging and Marriage; or The Dead Man’s Wedding was acted at Lincoln’s Inn Fields in 1722. Chrononhotonthologos (1734), described as “The most Tragical Tragedy that ever was tragedized by any Company of Tragedians,” was a successful burlesque of the bombast of the contemporary stage. The best of his other pieces were A Wonder; or the Honest Yorkshireman (1735), a ballad opera, and the Dragon of Wantley (1737), a burlesque opera, the music of which was by J. F. Lampe. He was the author of Namby-Pamby, a once famous parody of Ambrose Philips’s verses to the infant daughter of the earl of Carteret. Carey is best remembered by his songs. “Sally in our Alley” (printed in his Musical Century) was a sketch drawn after following a shoemaker’s ’prentice and his sweetheart on a holiday. The present tune set to these words, however, is not the one written by Carey, but is borrowed from an earlier song, “The Country Lasse,” which is printed in The Merry Musician (vol. iii., c. 1716). It has been claimed for him that he was the author of “God save the King” (see National Anthems). He died in London on the 4th of October 1743, and it was asserted, without justification, that he had committed suicide. Edmund Kean, the tragedian, was one of his great-grandchildren.
The completest edition of his poems is Poems on Several Occasions (1729). His dramatic works were published by subscription in 1743.