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

KENT, JAMES (1700–1776), organist and composer, born at Winchester on 13 March 1700, was admitted in November 1711 as chorister of Winchester Cathedral. From 1714 to 1718 he was a chorister of the Chapel Royal, under Dr. William Croft [q. v.] In 1718, through the influence of the subdean (the Rev. John Dolben), he was appointed organist to the parish church of Finedon, Northamptonshire. ‘An organ stool, still preserved at Finedon, on which Kent carved “J. K., 1717,” probably records an anticipatory visit’ (Bemrose). In 1731 he was elected organist to Trinity College, Cambridge, and held the post till 1737, when he succeeded John Bishop [q. v.] as organist of Winchester Cathedral and College. The latter appointment he resigned in 1774 to Peter Fussell, and died in Winchester on 6 May 1776. He was married to Elizabeth, daughter of John Freeman.

In 1773 Kent published, in London, a collection of twelve anthems. He also wrote services in C and D, and assisted Dr. Boyce in the compilation of the latter's ‘Cathedral Music.’ His anthems were republished in London by T. Gresham in 1844. Eight of them, together with Kent's two services, were edited by Joseph Corfe.

Kent's music never rose above mediocrity, and he unscrupulously plagiarised the works of the Italian composers, especially Bassani, and also of Dr. Croft, whose style he closely followed. He took the chorus ‘Thy Righteousness,’ in the anthem ‘Lord, what love,’ from Bassani's ‘Magnificat’ in G minor, with little alteration; and the ‘Hallelujah’ in the anthem ‘Hearken unto this’ is transcribed note for note from Bassani's ‘Alma Mater.’

[Grove's Dict. of Music, ii. 50, and i. 150; Bemrose's Choir Chant Book, App. p. xxii; Hogarth's Musical Hist. p. 299; Winchester Chapter Books; Kent's music in Brit. Mus.]

R. F. S.