Richard Edwards [Edwardes]


English composer and poet, who became a member of the Chapel Royal for the coronation of Queen Mary September 17, 1553, became Master of the Children of the Chapel Royal in 1561 and wrote two plays for them. His five surviving songs, of which the most famous is In going to my naked bed, show the influence of the Franco-Flemish style on English music before the arrival of the Italian madrigal. Three keyboard arrangements of 3 part-songs (only one assigned to him, but the other two assumed to be his from his authorship of the words) survive in MS.

Richard Edwardes was born in March of 1525 (some records say 1523) in the Parish of North Petherton, Somerset. Edwardes entered Corpus Christi College, Oxford, on the 11th of May in 1540 at the age of 15 years and two months; he was admitted as a Fellow on August 11, 1544, He received his BA degree on Nov 1, 1544, and his MA degree and was ordained on February 3, 1546, a Priest of the Catholic Church in England. Later he was ordained in the Anglican faith, and was elected Theologian at Christ Church College on April 11, 1550. He studied music with George Etheridge. Richard Edwards resigned as Rector of St. Helen's, Worchester, in the house and presence of Simon Cofton and Thomas Fryare of St Faith's Parish near St. Paul's Cathedral and his resignation was witnessed by Richard Bradhourne,July 12, 1555. In 1558, he was allotted seven yards of black cloth as a gentleman of the Chapel Royal for the funeral of Queen Mary. For the coronation of Elizabeth he "shone resplendent" in four yards of scarlet cloth. In a list of the "Camera Hospitium" during the first year of Elizabeth's reign, Edwards is found in the list of the Queen's Chamber and not on the list of the Chapel Royal. But a patent to him as Gentleman of the Chapel Royal was dated 27 May 1560. He also became on this date Deputy Master of the children. On 26 July 1561, Richard Bower, Master of the Children since 1545 died and Richard was appointed his successor. "This position was one of considerable responsibility and prestige, the incumbent being one of the upper court circle, which accompanied the sovereign on progresses as well as in London."

On December 25, 1564, Edwards produced a play with his own music entitled Damon and Pythias. In 1564 he was admitted as an honorary member of Lincoln's Inn. On April 22, 1560, Edwards was married to Margaret Babb in the parish of North Petherton, Somerset. There is an entry in that parish for the christening of William Edwardes on 9 November 1561.

February 2, 1565, at Candlemas, Edwards produced another play Misogomus. Then on the 2nd and 4th of September 1566 he produced a play for his Queen entitled Palamon and Arcite. It is said that he "...possessed a courtly tact which gained him the Mastership of the Children of the Chapel Royal, and the favor of Queen Elizabeth. The record of the Oxford visit in 1566 show him in very close and cordial relations with her. At the close of his play she made an informal and gracious speech of thanks to him, and on the next day we hear of his standing beside her on the steps of St. Mary's Church and exchanging witticisms." He died on Oct 31, 1566.

Further reading:

Tudor Settings of the Lord's Prayer: A short essay by Ben Byram-Wigfield

Links on this site:

A Partial Richard Edwards Discography  |  IV M: England Through 1635 | English Keyboard Composers Index