Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hayes, William (1706-1777)

Baptised 1708, according to the ODNB.

HAYES, WILLIAM (1706–1777), professor of music at Oxford, was born at Hanbury in Worcestershire, late in 1706 (not at Hexham in 1707, as stated in the Appendix to Grove's ‘Dictionary’). While he was singing as chorister in Gloucester Cathedral, the beauty of his voice attracted the attention of Mrs. Viney, an enthusiastic patroness of music, who interested herself in him, taught him the harpsichord, and articled him, when his voice broke, to William Hine, organist of the cathedral. He was appointed organist to St. Mary's, Shrewsbury, on the expiration of his articles in 1729. In 1731 he became organist to the cathedral at Worcester, and in 1734 organist and master of the children at Magdalen College, Oxford. In the latter year he acted as steward at the meeting of the Three Choirs at Worcester.

At Oxford he took the degree of Mus.Bac., pro forma, on 8 July 1735, and not long afterwards was admitted a member of the Royal Society of Musicians. On 14 Jan. 1742 he was elected professor of music of the university, in succession to Richard Goodson the younger [q. v.]; and on the occasion of a performance, which he directed, at the opening of the Radcliffe Library, on 14 April 1749, he was created Mus.Doc. Some years later he became a member of the Catch Club, and in 1763 won three of the prizes then offered for the first time by the club with his canons ‘Alleluja!’ and ‘Miserere Nobis,’ and a glee, ‘Melting airs soft joys inspire.’ In 1754 he acted as deputy steward, and in 1763 as conductor, at the meeting of the Three Choirs at Gloucester.

He died at Oxford on 27 July 1777, and was buried in the churchyard of St. Peter-in-the-East. His portrait, by John Cornish, hangs in the Music School at Oxford. His widow, Anne Hayes, died 14 Jan. 1786. His second son Philip is separately noticed.

Hayes's compositions include a set of ‘English Ballads,’ published while he was at Shrewsbury; ‘Twelve Arietts or Ballads, and two Cantatas,’ Oxford, 1735; ‘Vocal and Instrumental Music, containing (1) The Overture and Songs in the Masque of Circe; (2) a Sonata or Trio, and Ballads, Airs and Cantatas; (3) an Ode, being part of an Exercise performed for a Batchelor's Degree in Music,’ London, 1742; ‘Catches, Glees, and Canons,’ London, 1757; a second set of ‘Catches, &c.,’ London, 1765; ‘Instrumental Accompaniments to the Old Hundredth Psalm for the Sons of the Clergy,’ London, 1770; ‘Sixteen Psalms from Merrick's Version,’ London, 1775; ‘Cathedral Music in Score,’ published by his son Philip, Oxford, 1795; ‘Six Cantatas,’ London [1740?]; ‘Collins's Ode on the Passions’ [1775?].

Hayes was especially successful in part-writing for the voice. His glee, ‘Melting Airs,’ and a round, ‘Wind, gentle Evergreen,’ were great favourites in their day, and Burney states that he considered his canon ‘Let's drink and let's sing together’ to be the ‘most pleasant’ composition he knew in that form.

Hayes was also the author of ‘Remarks on Mr. Avison's Essay on Musical Expression,’ published anonymously in London in 1753, and now rare. He considered Avison's essay to be an attack upon Handel, for whom he entertained a great admiration, and his ‘Remarks’ display a passionate anxiety to do justice to the great composer.

Hayes, William, the younger (1742–1790), his third son, born in 1742, was a chorister of Magdalen College, Oxford, for two years from 27 June 1749; matriculated at Magdalen Hall on 16 July 1757; graduated B.A. on 7 April 1761, and M.A. (from New College) on 15 Jan. 1764; and was successively appointed minor canon of Worcester Cathedral in 1765, minor canon of St. Paul's 14 Jan. 1766, and vicar of Tillingham, Essex, in 1783. The latter appointment he held till his death on 22 Oct. 1790. He published several sermons, and contributed a paper to the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ in May 1765 on ‘Rules necessary to be observed by all Cathedral Singers in this Kingdom.’

[Grove's Dict. of Music, i. 722, 723; Fétis's Biog. Univ. des Musiciens, iii. 271; Gent. Mag. xlvii. 404, lx. 961; App. to Bemrose's Choir Chant Book, p. xix; Harmonicon for 1833; biography of the elder Hayes prefixed by Philip Hayes to ‘Cathedral Music in Score;’ Lysons's Hist. of the Three Choirs, pp. 168, 190, 194; baptismal register of the elder Hayes at Hanbury; Cat. of Music in British Museum; information regarding the younger Hayes from the Rev. W. C. Miller, vicar of Tillingham; Bloxam's Magdalen Coll. Reg. i. 164.]

R. F. S.