Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gamble, John (d.1687)

GAMBLE, JOHN (d. 1687), musician and composer, was apprenticed (Wood) to Beyland, one of Charles I's violinists, and afterwards played at a London theatre. In 1656 (according to the title-page) he published ‘Ayres and Dialogues to be sung to the theorbo, lute, or base violl,’ many of the verses for which were by Thomas Stanley. This music won Gamble renown at Oxford, and Anthony à Wood in July 1658 was proud to entertain him and another eminent musician after their performance at Will Ellis's meeting-house. A second book of ‘Ayres and Dialogues, for one, two, and three voyces,’ was published in 1659 (Grove); a manuscript commonplace book, formerly in the possession of Dr. Rimbault, but now in America, containing songs by Wilson for the ‘Northern Lass,’ and many compositions by H. and W. Lawes, as well as common songs and ballads, bears the same date (Chappell). Gamble's admission to the king's household dated from the Restoration; his services as ‘musitian on the cornet’ were available at the Chapel Royal, where in 1660 the want of trained boys' voices was supplied by wind instruments and men's falsetto, and where at a later date cornets and sackbuts were employed on Sundays, holy days, and collar-days to heighten the effect of the music. Docquet-warrants of 1661 and 1663 record Gamble's claim to wages of twenty pence per diem and 16l. 2s. 6d. per annum for livery, from the midsummer of 1660; a petition in 1666 represents Gamble as having lost all his property in the fire of London; his name also appears in an exchequer document of 1674 (Rimbault, Roger North, 99) as one of the musicians in ordinary, with a salary of 46l. Gamble is said (Wood, MS. Notes) to have played the violin in the King's band, and to have been composer of lessons for the king's playhouse. He signed a will in 1680, leaving his books of music and 20l. due to him out of the exchequer to his grandson, John Gamble, ‘now servant to Mr. Strong,’ cutting off other relatives with a shilling, and bequeathing the residue to his widow. Gamble died in 1687, advanced in years. His portrait, engraved by T. Cross, is prefixed to the volume of ‘Ayres’ of 1656.

[Wood's manuscript lives of English Musicians, Bodleian; Wood's Fasti, vol. i. col. 517; Wood's Life, p. 32; Locke's Practice of Music, 1673, p. 19; State Papers, Charles II, Dom., communicated by Mr. W. B. Squire; Rimbault's Memoirs of Roger North, p. 99; Chappell's Popular Music, i. 378; Chamberlayne's Angliæ Notitia, iii. 227; P. C. C. Registers of Wills; Grove's Dictionary, i. 580; Musical Times, xviii. 428.]

L. M. M.