Carey, Henry


An English composer and minor poet, supposed to be the natural son of George Savile, Marquis of Halifax. He received a little instruction in music from Roseingrave and Geminiani, but was otherwise self-taught. He taught music for a time, but spent most of his life writing for the theatres. He died by his own hand at London. Carey is chiefly remembered for his ballad, Sally In Our Alley, which has always enjoyed a wide popularity, being almost as popular today as it was in his day. By some he was credited with being the author of God Save the Queen, but this is one of the knotty points in musical controversy and has never been decided with any degree of authority. His opera, The Dragon of Wantley, was an attack on Italian opera, and the success of it, although its music was sparkling and dainty, was due entirely to Carey's clever satire. It ran sixty-seven nights at Covent Garden. In 1715 he wrote a farce and the music to it, called The Contrivances, which was produced at Drury Lane with great success. In 1737 he published one hundred ballads under the title, The Musical Century. Among his other works are about nine music dramas or ballad operas which had considerable success; cantatas; ballads and interludes. His posthumous son, George Savile Carey, inherited his father's talent to a considerable extent, but finally became an actor. The last years of his life he sought to secure recognition of his father's claim to haying written God Save the Queen. His daughter Anne was the mother of Edmund Kean, the tragedian.