Blewitt, Jonathan (DNB00)

BLEWITT, JONATHAN (1780?–1853), composer, son of Jonas Blewitt [q. v.], is generally said to have been born in 1782 or 1784, but is also stated to have been at the time of his death in his 73rd year. He was educated by his father and his godfather, Jonathan Battishill [q. v.], and he also received some instruction from Haydn. At the age of eleven he acted as deputy to his father, and subsequently he held several appointments as organist in London. He was also successively organist of Haverhill, Suffolk, and of Brecon, at which latter place he remained three years. About 1808 he returned to London for the production of an opera he had written for Drury Lane, but the theatre was burnt down before the work was brought out. Blewitt next went to Sheffield, and thence he proceeded (in 1811) to Ireland, where he lived for a time with Lord Cahir. He was appointed organist of St. Andrew's, Dublin, composer and director of the music at the Theatre Royal, and grand organist to the Freemasons of Ireland, the latter post being given him by the Duke of Leinster. On Logier's introducing his system into Ireland, Blewitt joined him, and was very successful as a teacher, but in 1820 he was back in London, and began the long series of pantomime compositions with which his name was connected for the rest of his life. For upwards of twenty-five years he wrote pantomime music for most of the London theatres, and his last work, 'Harlequin Hudibras,' was brought out at Drury Lane the year before his death. In 1828 and 1829 he was director of the music at Sadler's Wells Theatre, and he was also, at different times, musical director at Vauxhall, at the Tivoli Gardens, Margate, and pianist to Templeton's Vocal Entertainments. He wrote a few light operas and upwards of 2,000 pieces of vocal music, most of them comic songs, for which he was very celebrated, the best remembered being 'Barney Brallaghan.' In his latter years Blewitt sank into great poverty, and suffered much from a painful disease. He died in London 4 Sept. 1853 and was buried at St. Pancras. He left a widow and two daughters totally unprovided for.

[The Georgian Era, iv. 550; Grove's Dict. of Music, i. 241); Musical Time's, 1 Oct. 1853; Gent. Mag. 3rd ser. xl. 429.]

W. B. S.