Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Chelle, William

CHELLE or CHELL, WILLIAM (fl. 1550), precentor of Hereford, took the degree of Mus. Bac. at Oxford on 3 April 1524. In 1532 he held the prebend of Yne or Eigne on the establishment of Hereford Cathedral. In 1535 he was sub-chanter, and in 1545 he exchanged his prebend of Eigne for that of East Withington. In 1554 he was precentor, but after the accession of Elizabeth, five years later, was deprived of all his cathedral appointments, doubtless on doctrinal grounds, and nothing further is known of his history. Chelle has been described by Bishop Tanner (Bibliotheca, ed. 1748, p. 174) and other writers as the author of two treatises on music. The authority for this statement is a manuscript volume in the Archiepisco al Library at Lambeth (No. 466), which is described as ‘Guillielmi Chelle (Musicæ B.) Musicæ Compendiii; script. A. 1526. Ejusdem Tractatus de Proportionibus.’ But the greater part of this volume consists of treatises by John Dunstable and John Otteby, and it seems most probable that the volume was only transcribed by Chelle, especially as a similar collection exists in the British Museum (Add. MS. l336), transcribed by John Tucke of New College, Oxford, in 1500. Chelle’s copy was written by him in 1526, and, according to an inscri tion in the manuscript, was given by him to his pupil, John Parker, who was probably the son (born in 1548) of the archbishop. Matthew Parker was elected archbishop of Canterbury in 1559—the year of Chelle’s deprivation; so it would seem that after this date the ex-precentor occupied himself in teaching music. The date and place of his death have not been discovered.

[Wood's Fasti, ed. Bliss, i. 66; Havergal’s Fasti Herefordenses, 60, &c.; Hook’s Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury; Athenæ Cantab.; Calendar of Hatfield MSS. i. 307.]

W. B. S.