Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Staggins, Nicholas

STAGGINS, NICHOLAS (1650?–1700), musician, born about 1650, was son of Isaac Staggins, who from 1661 to his death in 1684 was one of the musicians of the royal household. The names of father and son stand in the list of Charles II's ‘Private Musick,’ or violinists, of 1674 (Rimbault's Notes on North's Memoires, p. 99). In February 1674–1675 Nicholas was appointed master of ‘his majesty's musick’ in the room of Louis Grabu, with a yearly fee of 200l. He attended James II's coronation, and served during that reign. His appointment was confirmed by William III in 1693 (Treasury Papers, 17 Aug.).

In 1682 he was admitted Mus. Doc. of Cambridge—it was said through interest and without due tests. To meet such allegations, a grace was passed on 2 July 1684 constituting Staggins professor of music at the university (Cooper, Annals, iii. 601). A statement was also published to the effect that Staggins, having been desirous to perform his exercise for the degree of doctor of music upon the first public opportunity, had acquitted himself ‘so much to the satisfaction of the whole university this commencement that by a solemn vote they had constituted and appointed him public professor of music there’ (London Gazette, No. 1945). There was at that time no endowment for this professorship at Cambridge, and the appointment must have been purely honorary. Staggins was a steward of the St. Cecilia Music Festival, 1684 and 1685. A concert of Staggins's vocal and instrumental music was announced in the ‘London Gazette’ of 10 May 1697 to take place on the 13th at York Buildings. His house and property were situated at Chelsea, but he was at Windsor when, on 13 June 1700, he was found dead in his bed (Luttrell, Relation). He was survived by his mother, two brothers, and a sister.

Staggins's compositions were very slight. They include: 1. Duologue from Dryden's ‘Conquest of Granada,’ pt. ii., ‘How unhappy a lover am I.’ 2. Songs, ‘Whilst Alexis’ and ‘How pleasant is mutual love,’ published in Playford's ‘Choice Ayres,’ 1673. 3. A jig, in Playford's ‘Dancing Master,’ 1679. He wrote music, which was not published, for odes on William III's birthdays, 1693 and 1694, by Nahum Tate. There are six songs by Staggins in the British Museum Additional MS. 19759.

[Hawkins's Hist. of Music, p. 739; Calendar of State Papers, 1661–2 p. 176, 1668–9 p. 446; Treasury Papers, 17 Aug. 1693; Husk's St. Cecilia's Day, pp. 14, 15, 18; Sandford's Coronation of James II; Chamberlayne's England, 1682–1702; Gentleman's Journal, 1693, 1694, p. 269; Registers of Wills, P. C. C., Noel 106; Dyer 55; Administration grant, December 1684; Luttrell's Brief Relation, iv. 656.]

L. M. M.