John Baptist Grano

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John Baptist Grano
Born c. 1692
Died c. 1748
Residence London, England
Occupation Trumpeter, flutist, composer
Known for Imprisonment in the Marshalsea prison, 1728–1729
Notable work(s) Dairy of John Baptist Grano, held in the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford (Rawlinson D. 34)
Spouse(s) Mary Thurman
Parents John Baptist Grano or Granom, Jane Villeneuve

John Baptist Grano (c. 1692 – c. 1748) was an English trumpeter, flutist and composer, who worked with George Frederick Handel at the opera house in London's Haymarket.[1]

Grano is best known for having been imprisoned for a debt of £99 in the notorious Marshalsea prison in Southwark from May 1728 until September 1729. He kept a diary of his time there, the manuscript of which is held in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. It was published in 1998 as Handel's Trumpeter: The Diary of John Grano, edited by John Ginger, with a foreword by Crispian Steele-Perkins. The diary has become an important primary source of material about the Marshalsea. It details Grano's friendships, love affairs and adventures as he struggles to earn enough money to buy his freedom.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Grano's father, John Baptist Grano (also written Granom), and his mother Jane Villeneuve, originally from France, lived in London toward the end of the 17th century. An entry in the poor rate returns in 1698 places them in Angel Court, Charing Cross. John Ginger writes that the father may have been a regimental trumpeter in the Dutch Guards who travelled to England during the Glorious Revolution of 1688, when James II was overthrown.[3]

The couple later moved to Pall Mall, where they ran a haberdasher's. Their first son, John Baptist, died in 1691, and their second son, the John Baptist of this article, was given the same name. There were three other children: Jane, born in 1697, Mary and a brother Lewis. The two brothers were both given a musical education.[3]

Grano married Mary Thurman at St James Piccadilly on 30 July 1713. Ginger writes that the application for the marriage licence states that bride and groom were both over 21, though Mary was just 15 years old. The marriage produced one child and ended in or around 1719.[3]

Career[edit]

Marshalsea
Marshalsea.jpg

Notable prisoners
Sir Francis Barrington
Edmund Bonner · Henry Chettle
Richard Cox · Robert Culliford
Robert Daborne · John Dickens
Thomas Drury · John Eliot
John Gerard · Hannah Glasse
John Baptist Grano · Nicholas Grimald
Charlotte Hayes · William Herle
Denzil Holles · Ben Jonson
Thomas Malory · Philip Massinger ·
George Morland · Nicholas Owen
Sally Salisbury · John Selden
Richard Shelley · Ralph Sherwin
Nicholas Udall · Robert Wingfield
George Wither

Related articles
Marshalsea Court

Related prisons
Borough Compter · Clink
Fleet · King's Bench
Tower of London

Prison reformers
James Neild · John Howard
James Oglethorpe

Related categories
Marshalsea


Ginger writes that, around 1709, Grano joined the orchestra in the Haymarket. He was paid 10 shillings per performance twice a week, playing the rest of the time in salons in Lincoln's Inn Fields or St James's Square, where he earned between two and four guineas an evening. The earliest record of him as a trumpeter is around 1711, when the Duchess of Shrewsbury hired him to play during a reception in the Lord Chamberlain's apartment at Kensington Palace. [3]

Grano joined the Horse Guards on a salary of 17s. 6d., but Ginger writes that in 1719 he left suddenly for The Hague, absent without leave. A reward of three guineas was offered for his return. A notice of the reward in the Daily Courant described him as a "short black man in a light tye wig," a malicious joke on the part of Grano's commander, the Marquess of Winchester, who intended to imply that Grano was a common runaway of low social status, according to Ginger.[4]

Grano returned to England around March 1720, playing his trumpet and flute compositions in several salons, including in Drury Lane. During the same year, his name was added as a member of the orchestra of the proposed Royal Academy of Music, with George Frederick Handel as master of the orchestra and John James Heidegger as manager. He set up home in Oxford Street – between Holles Street and Cavendish Street, the less fashionable part – with John Jones, a violinist. By 1728 there is a record of Jones's wife living with them.[5]

Imprisonment[edit]

Ginger writes that Grano's financial problems began with the South Sea bubble of 1720. He writes that it was a bad time for anyone who relied for their living on the moneyed classes, as Grano did. A smallpox epidemic reduced the attraction of the opera still further.[6]

As a result, Grano was imprisoned for debt in the Marshalsea from 30 May 1728 until 23 September 1729, owing 99 pounds to "Andrew Turner et al."[7] He was held on the "Master's side" of the prison, which catered for wealthier prisoners able to pay both the prison fees and an additional amount that allowed them to leave the prison during the day. This was crucial, as it meant he could work to pay off the debt.[8] These privileges existed in contrast to the squalid "Commons side," where prisoners were held indefinitely and routinely starved to death. A parliamentary committee reported in 1729 that 300 inmates had died of starvation within a three-month period.[9]

Grano kept a diary of his 480 days there, the 510-page manuscript of which is part of the Bodleian Library's Rawlinson collection, as Rawlinson D. 34.[10] It was published in 1998 as Handel's Trumpeter: The Diary of John Grano, edited by John Ginger.

Musical legacy[edit]

Grano has an entry in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. A book of his flute sonatas was published in 1728.[11]

See also[edit]

English diarists

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ White, Jerry. "Pain and Degradation in Georgian London: Life in the Marshalsea Prison", History Workshop Journal, 2009, 68 (1), pp. 69-98.
  2. ^ Grano, John Baptist and Ginger, John. Handel's Trumpeter: The Diary of John Grano. Pendragon Press, 1998.
  3. ^ a b c d Grano and Ginger, pp. 1, 3.
  4. ^ Grano and Ginger, p. 12.
  5. ^ Grano and Ginger, pp. 13–14.
  6. ^ Grano and Ginger, p. 16.
  7. ^ House of Lords Records Office, "An Account of the Prisoners in the Marshalsea, February 1729," cited in Grano and Ginger, p. 25, footnote 99.
  8. ^ "Angel Place", "Southwark Prisons," Survey of London, volume 25: St George's Fields, 1955), pp. 9-21.
  9. ^ Grano and Ginger, p. 45, footnote 14.
  10. ^ Grano and Ginger, p. 354.
  11. ^ Ginger, John and Byrne, Maurice. "Grano, John Baptist," in Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell (eds.). The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Volume 10. Oxford University Press, 2001.