Linley, Thomas, sr.


English composer; born at Welis, Somerset; the son of a carpenter. His first musical instruction was obtained from Chilcot, an organist, at Bath. Later he studied at Naples under Paradies. Upon his return to Bath he became a very successful singingteacher and also conducted popular  concerts, at which he produced much of Handel's music. In 1774 he succeeded John Christopher Smith as joint-manager, with Stanley, of the Drury Lane Oratorios, and upon the death of Stanley conducted them jointly with Dr. Arnold. In 1775 he and his eldest son, Thomas, composed and compiled the music for Sheridan's comic opera, The Duenna, which was very successful, running for seventyfive nights at Drury Lane, a very unusual occurrence at that time. Upon the request of Sheridan, who was his son-in-law, he went to London, and with him and Richard Ford purchased Garrick's share in Drury Lane. He was director there for fifteen years and composed several successful pieces. In 1777 he became a member of the Royal Society of Musicians. Of twelve children, only three survived him, and grief at their loss and shock at the sudden death of his son, Thomas, undermined his health, and he died suddenly at sixtythree years of age in London. He was buried in Wells Cathedral, where a monument has been erected to his memory by his son William. Linley ranks very high as an English composer. Besides The Duenna, already mentioned, he composed The Royal Merchant; The Carnival of Venice; The Triumph of Mirth; Tom Jones; Richard Coeur de Lion; the song in the School for Scandal; and accompaniments to the songs in The Beggar's Opera. He also set such parts as were intended for the voice in Sheridan's Monody on the Death of Garrick; six elegies for three voices; and twelve ballads. Much of his work, also that of his son, Thomas, was published posthumously.

Elizabeth Ann, 1754-1792, his eldest daughter, born at Bath, was a concert soprano. She had the title of The Maid of Bath. In 1773 she married Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and retired at the height of her popularity. She was painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds as St. Cecilia and sat for the Virgin in his Nativity. She died of consumption of Hotwells, Bristol.

Mary, his second daughter, 17561787, was born at Bath. She studied with her father and sang with her sister. She married Richard Tickell. She died at Clifton.

Maria, his third daughter, and also a singer, died at Bath, in 1784. at an early age.