Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Paxton, Stephen

PAXTON, STEPHEN (1735–1787), violoncellist and composer, was born in 1735. He played principal parts at oratorio meetings, and his full and sweet tone on the violoncello, together with his judgment in accompanying, was praised by Burney. In 1780 Paxton was a professional member of the Catch Club, and the following part-songs by him gained prizes: ‘How sweet, how fresh this vernal day,’ 1779; ‘Round the hapless André's urn,’ 1781; ‘Ye Muses, inspire me,’ a catch, 1783; ‘Blest Power,’ 1784; ‘Come, oh come,’ 1785. He wrote masses in D and in G, and motets for the Roman catholic church, to which he belonged; and composed also pieces for his instrument, and sold his music at 29 Titchfield Street, London. Paxton died at Brompton Row on 18 Aug. 1787, aged 52, leaving a widow, whom, in his will, he recommended to practise works of charity. Paxton himself was respected for ‘his exemplary virtues and universal charity’ (Gent. Mag. 1787, ii. 837). He was buried in Old St. Pancras churchyard.

Paxton published: 1. ‘Six Solos for the Violoncello,’ 1780. 2. ‘Eight Duets for Violin and Violoncello.’ 3. ‘Six easy Solos for Violoncello or Bassoon.’ 4. ‘Four Duets for Violin and Violoncello, with two Solos.’ 5. ‘A Collection of Glees’ (his own, nineteen altogether). 6. ‘Twelve easy Lessons for a Violoncello and Bass.’ Many of Paxton's glees are included in ‘Ladies' Amusement,’ 1791, vols. i. and ii.; and in Warren's ‘Collection of Catches;’ and the two masses were printed in Webbe's volume of ‘Masses,’ 1792; other sacred music of Paxton's has been arranged by Butler and Robinson.

To Paxton's brother, William Paxton (fl. 1780), another violoncello-player and composer of glees, has been ascribed the glee, ‘Breathe soft, ye winds,’ which appears in Stephen Paxton's collection. William Paxton gained prizes at the Catch Club for two canons, ‘O Lord, in Thee,’ 1779; and ‘O Israel, trust in the Lord,’ 1780.

[Grove's Dict. ii. 677, &c.; Burney's Hist. iv. 677; Roffe's Tomb-seeker, p. 35.]

L. M. M.