Elizabeth Rogers' Virginal Book

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Elizabeth Rogers' Virginal Book is a musical commonplace book compiled in the mid-seventeenth century by a person or persons so far unidentified. Of all the so-called English "virginal books" this is the only one to mention the name of the instrument (the virginal) in the title, the others being so-called at a far later date.

The manuscript[edit]

The manuscript is a folio volume of sixty pre-lined pages of six staves containing 94 pieces for keyboard and 18 Voycall [vocal] Lessons. It was rebound using part of the original covers, in 1949. The first page bears the inscription Elizabeth Rogers hir virginall booke. February ye 27 1656. However, on the same page the name Elizabeth Fayre is written, and it has been suggested that these two Elizabeths are the same person, before and after marriage.

There are various other writings, including the name "John Tillett", who may have been a subsequent owner of the manuscript, some poetic fragments, and a note concerning the tuning of the viol. There are also three incomplete tables of contents. Four different hands have been discerned.

The manuscript is now in the British Library, catalogued as Additional Manuscript 10337. The American Institute of Musicology published an edited version by George Sargent in 1971.[1]


The pieces contained in the manuscript are relatively simple, and written for the amateur performer. There are settings of popular tunes, dance movements and vocal pieces. None of the keyboard pieces bear a composer's name, and only a few of the vocal pieces are attributed, but many are identifiable from other sources. These include: William Byrd, with his Battel suite, dating from at least 1591; Orlando Gibbons; Henry Lawes and his brother William; Robert Johnson; and Nicholas Lanier. Several pieces are attributed to Thomas Strengthfield, of whom nothing is known, but who may have been Elizabeth's music teacher. Other pieces are attributed to John Balls (died 1622), a wait or public musician of the city of London; and John Wilson, who replaced him.

  1. Sr Tho: ffairfax Marche[2]
  2. Nanns Maske (Orlando Gibbons)
  3. Almaygne
  4. The ffairest Nimphes the valleys or mountaines euer bred, & c.
  5. The Scots Marche
  6. Prince Ruperts Martch
  7. One of ye Symphon(ies)
  8. One of ye Symphon(ies) (William Lawes)
  9. Selebrand (Sarabande)
  10. When the King enioyes his owne againe
  11. Almaygne
  12. A Trumpett tune
  13. Essex last goodnight
  14. Almaygne per Tho: Strengthfield
  15. The Corrant to ye last Alm(aygne) per Tho: Strengthfield
  16. Ruperts Retraite
  17. Almaygne per Tho: Strengthfield
  18. Corrant to ye former Alma(ygne) per Tho: Strengthfield
  19. [Untitled]
  20. The Nightingale
  21. Corrant Bear
  22. Selebrand Beare
  23. Corrant Beare
  24. Almayne
  25. Corrant
  26. Corrant Beare
  27. Corrant Beare
  28. The Battaile (William Byrd): The Souldiars summons
  29. The Martch of ffoote
  30. (The) Martch (of) horse
  31. The Trumpetts
  32. The Irish Martch
  33. Bagpipes
  34. The Drum and fflute
  35. The Martch (to) ye ffight
  36. Tarra-tantarra
  37. (The) Battell Joyned
  38. Retrait
  39. The Buriing of the dead
  40. The Souldiers delight
  41. Corrant
  42. Selebrand
  43. A Maske
  44. Corrant
  45. Selebrand
  46. Ly still my Deare
  47. The Chestnut
  48. Cloris sight (sighed)
  49. Now ye springe is comne
  50. Oh Iesu meeke
  51. Corrant
  52. Corrant
  53. Maske
  54. Corrant
  55. Almaygne
  56. Lupus Ayre (Thomas Lupo?)
  57. Could thine incomparable eye
  58. Almaygne: Mr Johnson
  59. Mock-Nightingale
  60. What if the King should come to ye City
  61. The Kings Complaint
  62. Almaygne
  63. Corrant
  64. Selebrand
  65. My delyght
  66. A Scotts Tuen
  67. An Irish Toy
  68. Allmayne
  69. The spaynard (Spaniard)
  70. [Untitled]
  71. Selabrand
  72. The ffinex (Phoenix)
  73. The faithfull Brothers
  74. A Corant
  75. This soldier loues
  76. Carron o carron (Charon)
  77. A horne pipe
  78. Almaygne
  79. Corrant per Tho: Strengthfield
  80. Selebrand
  81. Almaine
  82. Corant
  83. Almaygne
  84. I wish noe more (Nicolas Lanier)
  85. [Untitled]
  86. Selebrand
  87. Loue is strange
  88. Almaygne Mercure
  89. Glory of ye North
  90. Almaine
  91. Merceur (Mercury)
  92. Corrant
  93. Corrant
  94. Phill: Porters Lamentation
  95. Psalme 42 (William Lawes)
  96. Must your faire
  97. Since tis my fate
  98. No flattring pellow
  99. Baloo my boy
  100. Ile wish no more
  101. Deerest loue
  102. No noe I tell ye no
  103. O that myne eyes
  104. Yes I could loue
  105. Lett god the god of Battaile Rize
  106. Sing to the king of kings (William Lawes)
  107. Psalme 39. verse 12 (William Lawes)
  108. I preethe sweete (Henry Lawes)
  109. fyer (Nicholas Lanier: lyrics by Thomas Campion)
  110. Come you pritty (Thomas Campion)
  111. All you forsaken louers
  112. Think not deare (William and Henry Lawes)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sargent, George (1971). Elizabeth Rogers' Virginal Book 1656 (PDF). American Institute of Musicology. Retrieved 23 January 2015. 
  2. ^ Sargent, George (1971). Elizabeth Rogers' Virginal Book 1656 (PDF). American Institute of Musicology. Retrieved 23 January 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Elizabeth Rogers hir Virginall Booke, edited by Charles J. F. Cofone. New York: Dover Publications, 1975. ISBN 0-486-23138-0. Contains an introduction and transcription of the entire MS.