Lacy, John William (DNB00)


LACY, JOHN WILLIAM or WILLIAM (1788–1871), singer, born in 1788, was about 1795 a pupil, at Bath, of Venanzio Rauzzini (1747–1810). Some three years later he appeared at various concerts in London, but being dissatisfied with his own powers, he went to Italy for further study; there he 'entirely mastered both the language and style of singing of the natives.' Returning to England soon after 1800, he sand repeatedly at the Lenten Oratorio and other important concerts, but owing to weak health he never succeeded in taking the prominent position among contemporary vocalists for which his natural ability and great talent qualified him. In 1812 Lacy married Jane (1776-1858), the widow of Francesco Bianchi (1752-1810), an Italian opera composer, and teacher of Sir Henry Bishop. She was the daughter of an apothecary named John Jackson in Sloane Street, Chelsea, and married Bianchi in 1800. Like Lacy, she was a singer of repute, making her first appearance in London on 25 April 1798, and singing as Miss Jackson at the Concerts of Antient Music in 1800. While Mrs. Bianchi she often sand at Windsor in the presence of George III and Queen Charlotte, and was considered one of the finest singers of Handel's music. She was a good linguist, pianoforte-player, and painter. With Lacy she took part in the concerts of Billington, Naldi, and Braham at Willis's Rooms on 1 March 1809 (Parke, Musical Memoirs, ii. 35), and at the Vocal Concerts, Hanover Square Rooms, 2 March 1810 (ib. p.49). In 1818 the Lacys accepted an engagement at Calcutta, where they remained seven years, giving frequent performances at the court of the king of Oude. After returning to England about 1826 they retired into private life. For some years they resided at Florence and other continental cities, but eventually settled in England. Lacy died while on a visit to Devonshire about 1865. His wife died at Ealing 19 March 1858.

Lacy possessed a bass voice of great excellence. So highly was he esteemed by the Italians that he was offered lucrative engagements at the Operas of Milan and Florence, and later at the King's Theatre in London (Quart. Mus. Mag. and Rev. i. 338 n.). He was 'considered by competent judges to be without question the most legitimate English bass singer, the most accomplished in various styles, and altogether the most perfect and finished that has appeared in this country. He was endowed by nature with organs of great strength and delicacy; his voice was rich and full-toned, particularly in the lower notes; his intonation perfect, and his finish and variety in graces remarkable' (Dict. of Music, 1824, ii. 33).

[Authorities given above; Grove's Dict. of Music; Brown's Dict. of Music; Quarterly Musical Magazine and Review, i. 333 sq. (1818); private information.]

R. H. L.