Francis Tregian the Younger
When Francis was a boy, his father Francis Tregian the Elder was dispossessed for being a Roman Catholic, and the family had to leave their home in Probus, Cornwall. He was educated in France, and in 1592 obtained a position in Rome as chamberlain to Cardinal William Allen. On Allen's death in 1594 he returned to England to reclaim his father's estates. Things did not go very well for Tregian in England. Although his family was well-connected socially, Tregian was imprisoned, as his father had been before him. He took out loans buying back the family estate in Cornwall from Elizabeth Spencer. It seems that it was this debt, aggravated by the penalties for recusancy, which led to his being imprisoned in the Fleet Prison in London. Tregian died in prison and was buried at St Bride's, Fleet Street.
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There is circumstantial evidence that Francis Tregian the Younger was the copyist of musical anthologies, and since the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book was first published at the end of the nineteenth century, the hypothesis that he copied out the manuscript has been widely accepted. Tregian has been credited as the main copyist of four anthologies:
- The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, the best-known of the anthologies.
- British Library MS Egerton 3665 (which has been published in facsimile).
- The Sambroke Manuscript formerly in the Joseph William Drexel collection, conserved in the New York Public Library.
- Christ Church, Oxford, Music MSS 510-14A
Various pieces of evidence link Tregian to music manuscripts:
- He is known to have kept a lot of books in prison. (This was perhaps not as unusual as it may seem; another inmate, John Jones of Gellilyfdy, was also active as a copyist).
- Dedications to some of the pieces in the Fitzwillian Virginal Book indicate that the composers knew the Tregian family.
- It is possible that Tregian was himself a minor composer, as some pieces are marked with his initials.
On the other hand, the hypothesis that he was the copyist of the manuscripts (supposedly confirmed by comparisons with autograph mss known to be by Tregian) has lately been disputed. Moreover, although Tregian died in prison, recent research suggests that he was in captivity less time than previously thought. It has been suggested that imprisonment would have given him the leisure necessary for copying music, but it now seems less likely that he could have undertaken the vast amount of copying work attributed to him while in prison.
- The dates are disputed. Lynda Sayce in the liner notes to The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book: Transcriptions for a Mixed Consort (1999, Signum SIGD009) gives the dates as 1574?-1618.
- Three Ms anthologies are noted in John Caldwell, ed., The Oxford History of English Music: vol. I From the beginnings to c. 1715, s.v. "Secular vocal music, 1575-1625", p. 390 note 1.
- edited in 1899 by Fuller-Maitland and Barclay Squire, who suggested that the manuscript was compiled by the younger Francis Tregian; see Jonathan Wainwright, Musical Patronage in Seventeenth-century England: Christopher, first Baron Hatton , 1997:190.
- The Tregian Manuscript, with introduction by Frank A. D'Accone ('Renaissance Music in Facsimile', viia), New York & London, 1988.
- NYPL Drexel 4302
- John Caldwell, English Keyboard Music Before the Nineteenth Century 1985:129.
- Kah-Ming Ng, liner notes to The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book: Transcriptions for a Mixed Consort, 1999; Signum Records Ltd. SIGD009.
-  David J Smith: Francis Tregian the Younger as music copyist.