Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hughes, William (d.1798)

HUGHES, WILLIAM (d. 1798), writer on music, was possibly son of William Hughes who became minor canon of Worcester in 1718, and in 1721 was presented to the vicarage of Old Sodbury, Gloucestershire, which he held until his death in 1768. The younger William Hughes was, on 25 Nov. 1741, admitted a minor canon of Worcester Cathedral, an appointment he held for upwards of forty years. When admitted, he apparently had no degree, but in 1757, when, on resigning the rectory of Bredicote and curacy of St. Clement's, Worcester, he was presented by the chapter to the vicarage of St. Peter's in that city, he is described in the chapter-house minutes as M.A. Hence he may have been the William Hughes who graduated B.A. at Lincoln College, Oxford, in 1749, and proceeded M.A. in 1752. He died at Leominster on 31 July 1798, bequeathing his property to the Worcester Infirmary. His cheerful disposition made him a great favourite in Worcester. According to an epitaph upon him written by a contemporary wit, 'Great was his genius, small his preferment. The Oracle of a coffee-house, he wished not to shine in a more exalted sphere. He laughed through life, and his face made others laugh too; not that it was particularly comic, but ludicrously serious.'

Hughes was generally interested in music, although he published no compositions. He was the author of 'Remarks upon Church Music, to which are added several Observations on Mr. Handel's Oratorios,' Worcester, 1763; and published two sermons, one being 'On the Efficacy and Importance of Music,' preached at the meeting of the Three Choirs, 13 Sept. 1749.

[Gent. Mag. 1798, pt.ii. p. 725; Chambers's Biog. Illustrations of Worcestershire, p. 469; information from the Bishop of Peterborough.]

R. F. S.