JONES & SNETZLER
In 1997 I published an article about the Snetzler organs of Huntingdon1 in which I expressed some scepticism regarding Snetzler's partnership with James Jones. However, research has moved on; John Marsh's journal records explicitly in November 1783 that 'Jones [was] late partner with and successor to the famous Snetzler', and Samuel Green told him at that time that Jones was about to retire.2
In June 1784 Jones was 'now retir'd to Kentish Town' when Marsh sought him out, but he was still supplying bits of pipework to Marsh late in 1786.3 Bernard Edmonds has tracked down the Huntingdon references to A History of Huntingdon published in 1824: payments are recorded there to Jones & Snetzler at St Mary's in 1773 and All Saints in 1775.4
One more instrument is ascribed to the partnership: the Edinburgh Evening Courant, 27 July 1801, offers 'An Organ to be Sold . . . in Saint Cecilia's Hall . . . Made by Jones & Snetzler'. This had been made in 1775, and was transferred in 1802 to the Assembly Rooms. 5
1. 'A Snetzler Redated', BIOSRep XXI, No. 4 (1997), 11-12.
2. Robins, Brian (ed.), 'The John Marsh Journals. The Life and Times of a
Gentleman Composer', Sociology of Music 9 (Stuyvesant, New York 1998), 303.
3. ibid., 320, 393.
4. BIOSRep XXII, No. 3 (1998), 24-5.
5. Kitchen, John, 'The Organs of St Cecilia's Hall, University of Edinburgh', JBIOS 24 (2000), 55
A chamber organ was sold from Willingham Hall, Lincs. in 1907, said in the sale catalogue to be by Snetzler and 'signed behind the pallett' . Four stops (ex info. Robert Pacey). Sir Watkins Wynn commissioned an organ from Snetzler in 1772 for Ruabon Church near his country seat.6
Several instruments attributed to Snetzler were advertised for sale in the nineteenth century:
'For sale, a CO by Metzler [sic] from John Owen of Chester. 4 stops.'
The Musical Times I (1860),214.
'For sale, an organ by Snetzler, 7 ranks, GG compass, from T.R. Willis of Minories.' (This may be the organ now at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham, since it is the right size, and bears T.R Willis's signature inside.)
The Musical Times IV (1863), 239.
'The organ at Kells P.C., Co. Meath is said to be a Snetzler. No further details, but very old fashioned'.
Musical Standard (1877), 677.
'The G.P. England organ at St John's Episcopal Church, Edinburgh is said to have succeeded a Snetzler.'
Musical Standard (1880), 820.
Stephen Taylor of Leicester put forward a view in 1878 which unlikely to be shared by many members of BIOS:
Snetzler is the name of another old organ builder, of about 1764: in fact, this is the date in two of his organs which I have had in my possession and which I was very glad to get rid of, since they were wretched instruments, being like all other old organs, poor, thin, screamy, and nasal toned.
John Marsh records visits to various instruments by Snetzler, including one otherwise unknown:
. . . to the Steyne Hotel (in Worthing) to hear the Organ in the assembly room (used also as a Freemason's Hall), a good one of Snetzler's . . .
The following are some notes on Snetzler instruments described in Barnes & Renshaw, according to their gazetteer numbers:
5. Moravian Chapel, Fetter Lane. The rebuilder in 1898 was actually Alex J.
Hunter of Catford, later active in Australia, rather than Alfred Hunter.
13. Sir Ronald Johnson, Edinburgh. Sold in 1999, now in Canada.
42. Cobbe Collection, Hatchlands Park. Restored by Goetze & Gwynn in 1996.
48. Bredons Norton. Restored by John Budgen in 1999.
69. Kedleston Hall. Restored by Goetze & Gwynn in 1993.
78. Brookthorpe. Moved to the nearby church of Whaddon in 1997.
83. St Peter's Convent, Horbury. Sold recently, owner unknown.
88. Wynnstay Hall. Restored (in its 1864 state) by Goetze & Gwynn in 1996 and
moved to the National Museum and Galleries of Wales, Cardiff.
Doubtful attributions list:
5. Leatherhead, ex St Mary, Watford. Pipework from this instrument was identified by Martin Renshaw as of domestic rather than Snetzler manufacture. This can now be confirmed, as a payment of £163 to Thomas Parker in August 1766 has been found, misplaced, in the Watford records.8
15. Witney. According to a Victorian local history, an organ by 'Schnetzler' was
brought from the Portuguese Embassy in 1794.9 This is hard to reconcile with
Sperling, who says that the Portuguese Chapel, South Street had an organ by
Jordan, enlarged by England, in 1808.
33. Whaddon, Cambs. This instrument certainly has eighteenth-century style
'sandwich' keyboards. According to local information the 1857 donor bought it
at a music shop in Royston, and it was originally of one manual.
38. Candlesby. I think this is a simple mistake deriving from the first edition of The
English Chamber Organ (p.104, excised from the second edition). Candlesby
and Scremby are adjacent villages, and the organ at Scremby (45) is surely
meant: it too has eight stops and is dated 1775.
6. Wilson, Michael, The Chamber Organ in Britain, 1600-1830, 2nd edition
(Aldershot, 2001), 154.
7. S. Taylor, 'The Iconoclast Abroad' (April 1878)', The Organ 2 (October 1921),
8. Forsyth, Mary, 'A New Organ at Watford', South West Herts.Archaeological
and History Society, 57 (Summer 1993), 18-19.
9. Monk, W., History of Witney (no publication details), 194-5.
10. 8 July 1821, unpublished reference kindly supplied by Martin Renshaw.
WILLIAM ALLEN AND ROBERT ALLEN
The accounts of Thomas Green, organist and tuner of Hertford, record a payment in 1787 to 'Mr Lowe organ builder' for putting a new Stopped Diapason into Green's house organ, and another to 'his Man, Mr Allan, for 5 Days work in fitting in Ditto and other alterations';11 could this be William Allen? Allen's first known independent appearance is in 1794 and John Lowe left for America in 1795, so it seems possible.
Robert Allen of Bristol is sometimes alleged to be the successor of another William Allen, also of Bristol (?), but this is not so. Robert's father was another Robert, carrier, born in London in 1810. Robert junior and his brother John, a metal pipe-maker, were both born in Hoxton, in 1831 and 1833;12 any relationship with William and Charles Allen has yet to be discovered.
11. Sheldrick, Gillian (ed.), 'The Accounts of Thomas Green 1742-1790',
Hertfordshire Record Publications, VIII (Hertford, 1992), 84.
12. Information from Elizabeth Newbery of Penzance, who is Robert Allen's
(twice) great-grand-daughter (2002).
SOME MEDIEVAL BUILDERS
Lady Jeans's article in JBIOS 11 (1987) regarding the organ-builder formerly known as William Wotton has resulted in some confusion. Her thesis was that the Wotton who constructed an organ at Merton College in 1488 was the same as a Thomas Wotton, also of Oxford, mentioned in an undated document as having worked at St Peter's, Barnstaple. Furthermore, she follows Antony Wood in believing that Lambert Simnel, the pretender to the English throne, was the son of this same organ-builder.
There are several problems with this interpretation. It is quite clear that William Wotton was the builder of the organ at Merton College. In the agreement of March 1488 he is referred to as William five times.13 If the transcription of the undated Barnstaple / Bristol document (JBIOS 11 (1987), 52) is correct in reading Thomas Wotton, this must be a different person, perhaps a relation.
Anthony Wood claims that Lambert Simnel was the son of an organ-maker of Oxford, and that this was therefore Wotton, but he is generally thought to be a most unreliable source, apart from the fact that he infers from events that took place two hundred years previously.
Finally, according to the Oseney Rental,14 Wotton and Thomas Simnel lived two doors apart in the parish of St Thomas, Oxford in 1479. Simnel is documented as a joiner15 and his connection with organ-building appears to be a case of crossed wires.
It would be interesting to work out roughly how many builders there were in medieval Britain, and how this compares with other countries. One problem is that of identifying individuals, given the chaos of medieval orthography and transcription.
It has been plausibly suggested, for instance, that Mighaell Glocetir (St Mary-at-Hill, 1477-9) and Myghell Glancets (St Michael Cornhill, 1475) are the same person. Others are less easy. J(oh)n Hunden: 'citizen and organmaker of London'; to be buried at St Stephen Walbrook according to his Will for which probate was granted in 1455;16 he was surely the same as John Hudene, who built an organ at Saffron Walden in 1451,1 but is he also John Hemden, who was similarly described as 'citizen and organmaker' when a plea of debt to him was recorded in 1440?18 We will probably never know.
One medieval builder on whose existence doubt might be thrown is Walter the Organer, since his only known activity was making a clock at St Paul's in 1344.19 Organer might be a mistake for 'orloger', i.e., Horloger, a clockmaker. A later Walter Orloger fl. 1420-1458 is recorded as a freeman of Norwich and maker of a clock in the Cathedral there.20
13. Salter, H.E., 'Registrum Annalium Collegii Mertonensis 1483-1521', Oxford
Historical Society, LXXVI (1921), 109.
14. ibid., 33
15. Harvey, John, A Biographical Dictionary of English Architects down to 1550,
2nd edition (Gloucester, 1984), 274.
16. Fitch, Marc (ed.), Index to Testamentary Records in the Commissary Court of
London, Vol. 1 1374-1488 (London, 1969), 102.
17. Freeman, Andrew,'Records of British Organ Builders', in Dictionary of Organs
and Organists, 2nd edition (London 1921), 10.
18. ibid., 11
19. Archeological Journal, XII, 17, (and repeated in many places).
20. Bird, C. and Y., Norfolk and Norwich Clocks and Clockmakers
(Chichester, 1996), 140.
J.W. WARMAN'S BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THE ORGAN
Many know Warman's intricately arranged bibliography, or at least the four parts of it that were published. What is not so well-known is that the manuscript of the entire work has come to rest in the Special Collections of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Unfortunately, it consists of thousands of pages of exceptionally spidery scrawl, so any potential transcriber might feel the result unworthy of the effort. John Watson Warman himself is a faintly-intriguing figure. He was born in 1842, and apprenticed 'to a Canterbury organ-builder'. After being organist of Quebec Cathedral he worked for Hill 'for some months'.21 J.W. Warman of Faringdon, presumably the same person, made repairs and additions at Leominster Priory.22
21. Matthews, John, Handbook of the Organ (London, 1897), 174.
22.The Musical Times, (1867) VIII, 292.
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