Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hawkins, James

HAWKINS, JAMES (1662–1729), organist and composer, was a chorister of St. John's College, Cambridge, where he graduated Mus.Bac. in 1719. In the same year he dedicated his anthem, ‘Behold, O God, our Defender’ (a manuscript in the library of the Royal College of Music), ‘to the Very Rev. Mr. Tomkinson, and the rest of the great, good, and just nonjurors of St. John's.’ Hawkins succeeded John Ferrabosco [see under Ferrabosco, Alfonso, d. 1661] as organist of Ely Cathedral in 1682. He remained at Ely forty-six years. During that period he carefully arranged in volumes what fragments remained of the old manuscript choir books of the cathedral, many of which had been destroyed and many mutilated in the great rebellion. With these he bound up in manuscript seventeen services and seventy-five anthems of his own composition. Some doggerel lines by Hawkins in praise of Handel, inscribed on one of two copies of that master's ‘Jubilate’ (and quoted by Dickson), illustrate the ‘cheerfulness’ recorded in Hawkins's epitaph. He died on 18 Oct. 1729, in the sixty-seventh year of his age, and was buried ‘among many of his relations’ in the cathedral. Under the same black marble was laid (1732) Mary, his wife, ‘the tender mother of ten children.’

Vol. vii. of the music manuscripts in the Ely Cathedral library is lettered ‘Mr. Hawkins' Church Musick.’ It contains 532 pages of his compositions. These pieces, with others bound up in various volumes in the same library, comprise: ‘Services in A’ (two: one in Tudway's Collection); A minor (full score); B minor; B minor (chanting); B flat; C; C minor (chanting, founded on a chant ascribed to Croft, and generally sung in B minor); D (chanting); E minor (two); E flat (two); G (part of it in Tudway's Collection); F minor; ‘Burial Service;’ ‘Gloria in excelsis.’ Of Hawkins's seventy-five anthems, sketches, and fragments, nine are in the collection of Tudway, who was in correspondence with Hawkins (Harl. MSS. 7341–2).

His son, James Hawkins the younger, was organist of Peterborough Cathedral from 1714 to 1750. Manuscript copies of an anthem by him, ‘O praise the Lord,’ are preserved both in Tudway's Collection and at Ely.

[ickson's Cat. of Ancient Music in Ely Cathedral; Bentham's Hist. of Ely Cathedral, App. p. 50; Husk's Cat. of Music of the Sacred Harmonic Society; Grove's Dict. of Music, i. 699; Grad. Cant. p. 223.]

L. M. M.