TOMKINS family, musicians

Although this family of musicians was Cornish in origin some members of it were associated with Pembrokeshire. There are full accounts in the D.N.B. and in the fourth edition (vol. v, 1940) of Grove, Dictionary of Music and Musicians.

THOMAS TOMKINS 'I' (c. 1545 - c. 1626/7), organist and precentor

He was the first to establish a connection with Wales. He was a member of a family which had for generations been settled at Lostwithiel, Cornwall. He went to S. Davids as ' Master of the Choristers and Organ-player ' in the cathedral. He married (1) Margaret Poher (or Pore), and (2) Ann, daughter (or sister) of Richard Hargest, Penarthur farm, S. Davids. Later he took holy orders and became a canon in Gloucester cathedral and vicar of S. Mary de Lode in that city.

THOMAS TOMKINS ' II ' (1572 - 1656), composer and organist

The most famous of THOMAS TOMKINS 'I''s sons. Born at S. Davids of his father's first marriage. He became organist of Worcester cathedral in 1596 and, in 1621, one of the organists of the Chapel Royal. He was B.Mus. of Oxford. Fuller details of the career of this noted composer - his instrumental music, his church music, and particularly, his madrigals - are given in the D.N.B. and by Groves in his Dictionary. He died at Martin Hussingtree, where he was buried 9 June 1656.

JOHN TOMKINS (c. 1586 - 1638), college organist

He was a half-brother to Thomas Tomkins 'II,' being a son of Thomas Tomkins ' I ' by his second marriage. He went to King's College, Cambridge, was appointed college organist in 1606, and two years later graduated B.Mus. In 1616 he became organist of S. Paul's cathedral, London. His wife was Margaret, daughter of Dr. Sylvanus Griffiths, dean of Hereford. For further details see D.N.B. and Groves, op. cit.

GILLES TOMKINS 'I' (died 1668), organist

Another son of Thomas Tomkins 'I' by his second marriage, also became organist of King's College, Cambridge (1624); later he was organist at Salisbury cathedral. In 1630 he received the additional appointment of ' Musician for the Virginals to King Charles I.' He was buried at Salisbury 4 April 1663. His son, GILES TOMKINS 'II' (1633 - 1725), was also organist of Salisbury; later he held the same post at Worcester cathedral.


He was the seventh son of Thomas Tomkins 'I', and became one of the musicians in king Charles I's household in 1633.


Published date: 1959

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