James P. Aykroyd

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James P. Aykroyd (1810– July 1835 in Nashville, Tennessee[1]) was an early American composer, arranger, and music educator of piano, organ, and voice in New Bern, North Carolina, Raleigh, North Carolina, and Nashville, Tennessee.[2][3] He also owned a general store — first in New Bern, then in Nashville — selling dry goods, groceries, sheet music, and musical instruments – including pianos. In New Bern, Aykroyd was the organist and choir director at the 1824 dedication of the then newly constructed Christ Episcopal Church.[4]

Music in North Carolina[edit]

In nearly every North Carolina village where there was an academy there was also a music teacher, an art teacher, and sometimes a dancing teacher. In some of these towns, such as New Bern, Raleigh, Greensboro, and Wilmington, there were music teachers independent of academy patronage. Aykroyd's general store was "One door North of the Bank of Newbern."[5]

Aykroyd, as early as August 11, 1821, advertised in the Newbern Sentinel:

The inhabitants of Newbern are respectfully informed that JAMES AYKROYD, Professor of Instrumental and Vocal Music, contemplates establishing himself in Newbern, the ensuing November, as a Teacher of those Sciences, and respectfully solicits a portion of publick patronage. His terms will be moderate.

Piano Fortes and other musical instruments, warranted to be of the best quality, together with every description of Music, can be had by leaving orders with John W. Guion, Esq. N.B. Piano Fortes, &c. tuned and repaired by J.A.

July 28—eow t1 Nov.—175

In 1823, Aykroyd, then of New Bern, "respectfully informed the citizens of Hillsboro and its vicinity that he intended giving lessons in music there during the summer months." His terms were "for the Piano, twelve dollars a quarter, for lessons every other week; and three dollars for vocal music, two lessons every other week."[3][6]

In 1826, Aykroyd posted an announcement in the Raleigh Register:

From Newbern
RESPECTFULLY informs the inhabitants of Raleigh, that, agreeably to the purpose which he made known in a former advertisement, he has arrived here and will commence the duties of his profession as soon as a sufficient number of pupils shall be obtained.
A subscription paper is left in the hands of Gen. B. Daniel.
June 7, 1826
Raleigh Register, June 13, 1826[7]

In Nashville, until his death in 1835, Aykroyd had a large music store on Union Street, near the Union Bank.[8]

Selected compositions[edit]

  • The Siren: A Collection of Sacred Music, edited and arranged by James Aykroyd, published by G.E. Blake, Philadelphia (1822) OCLC 55853682
  • "How Dear to the Heart," sung by Mrs. French, published by G.E. Blake, Philadelphia
    Poetry by Stephen Mitchell Chester, Esq. (1793–1862), composed for and dedicated to Miss Mary Taylor[9]
  • "Yet Stay Awhile," with variations for the Piano Forte of Harp, published by G.E. Blake, Philadelphia
    Composed for and dedicated to Miss Henrietta B. Smith,[a] by J. Aykroyd; the poetry is original[10]
  • The American and New Orleans Favorite Waltzes for the Piano Forte, published by G.E. Blake, Philadelphia OCLC 22050150 OCLC 726900766
    Composed & respectfully dedicated to Miss Caroline Chapman, by J. Aykroyd[11]

From the Thomas Alva Edison Collection of American Sheet, Music Library of the University of Michigan

Sample sheet music that Aykroyd sold[edit]

Aykroyd used an ink stamp to identify himself as a music dealer on the sheet music he sold. It read:

Sold by JAMES AYKROYD, Teacher of Music, New Bern. Where are sold, Music and Instruments of every description.

A sample of the sheet music sold and stamp he used is at the Music Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; viz:

  • "The Blue Bell of Scotland," with variations for the piano forte or harp (a new edition) by Jean Tatton Latour (1776–1840), published by George E. Blake, Philadelphia[15]

Musical family[edit]

James married Elizabeth Bettner (died 12 March 1869).[16][17] James and Elizabeth were married on July 12, 1824, in New Bern, Craven County, North Carolina.[18][19] Elizabeth was a music teacher in both New Bern and Nashville.[20] Elizabeth's will was filed July 10, 1869, in Will Book 21, Page 345, Davidson County, Tennessee.

James and Elizabeth Aykroyd had four children, all born in New Bern:

  1. Julia Blake Aykroyd, (born 21 July 1825; died 28 July 1825 New Bern)
  2. William James Aykroyd (born 28 July 1827; died 5 November 1832, Nashville) photo of grave marker
  3. Eliza Jones Aykroyd (born 11 December 1828)
  4. Maria Caroline Aykroyd (born 20 June 1831)

Eliza Jane McKissack and Maria Caroline Cauthorn (born 20 June 1831, New Bern, North Carolina;[21] died 17 September 1894) taught music.

Maria had married Benjamin F. Cauthorn[22] (born 20 July 1836, Virginia; died 1 June 1902); both were buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery, Nashville, Tennessee (tombstone image for Maria); (tombstone image for Benjamin). Maria was a music teacher in Nashville.[23] Maria's will was filed September 1894 in Will Book 32, Page 438, Davidson County, Tennessee.

Eliza Jane McKissack was the founding head of music (1890) at what now is the University of North Texas College of Music.


Aykroyd is listed as an 1823 member of the Dialectic Society.[24]


Aykroyd died in early July 1935 in Nashville "from the effects of laudanum" and was buried July 5, 1935.[25] The community held a benefit for his children, for which the following announcement was posted in the Nashville Banner and Nashville Whig, October 12, 1835:

Orphan Children of the Late J. Aykroyd
MR. MAREK, with the aid of professional gentlemen and amateurs, proposes to give a Concert of Sacred Music, or Oratorio, for the benefit of the orphan children of the late JAMES AYKROYD, under patronage of the gentlemen named below, who have kindly volunteered to act as managers, on Wednesday evening next, the 13th inst, at 7 o'clock, in the EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
Tickets to be had at the several Bookstores.
Thomas Crutcher[26]
John Summerville,
H. L. Douglass,
H. R. W. Hill,
E. H. Foster,
J. P. Erwin,
G. M. Fogg,
E. D. Hicks,
Alexander M'Intosh,
A. A. Cassady,
A. H. Litton,
Thomas J. Read,
Hugh Kirkman,
John M. Hill,
Thomas H. Fletcher,[27]
David Craighead,
Washington Barrow,
W. Hasell Hunt,
Benj. Litton,
Joseph Henning,
R. C. K. Martin,
E. B. Littlefield,
William Armstrong,
Henry Ewing,
S. B. Marshall,
S. Nye.


Explanatory notes

  1. ^ Miss Henrietta B. Smith of New Bern, North Carolina, married John B. Carroll (died 1837) of New York on January 2, 1836. (Christ Church Parish Marriage Records, New Bern, North Carolina)

Inline citation notes


  1. ^ "List of Burials: James Aykroyd," Tri-Weekly Banner (Nashville), July 8, 1835
  2. ^ Candace Bailey (born 1963), Music and the Southern Belle: From Accomplished Lady to Confederate Composer, Southern Illinois University Press (April 7, 2010); OCLC 649913239
  3. ^ a b Advertisement, Hillsborough Recorder, North Carolina, June 25, 1823
  4. ^ Recollections of Newbern, N.C. Fifty Years Ago, by Stephen Franks Miller (1805–1873), Columbus, Georgia (self published), September 1873; OCLC 13066971, 679764872
        Index: OCLC 679937592
  5. ^ Advertisement, Newbern Sentinel, August 4, 1827; OCLC 10503128
  6. ^ Ante-Bellum North Carolina: A Social History, Guion Griffis Johnson (1900–1989), University of North Carolina Press (1937), Chapter 10, pg. 290
    Electronic ed.: transcribed by Apex Data Services, Inc., Melissa Meeks, and Natalia Smith; Images scanned by Andrew Leiter; 1st ed., Academic Affairs Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2002)
  7. ^ North Carolina Schools and Academies, 1790–1840; A Documentary History by Charles Lee Coon, Raleigh, North Carolina: Edward & Broughton Printing Company (1915), pg. 529; OCLC 2360464
  8. ^ Advertisement of John B. West, Nashville Banner and Nashville Whig, July 24, 1835
  9. ^ 19th-Century American Sheet Music at UNC: "How Dear to the Heart"
    Music by James P. Aykroyd
    Poetry by Stephen M. Chester, Esq.
    Published by George E. Blake
    (1824); OCLC 871260442
  10. ^ 19th-Century American Sheet Music at UNC: "Yet Stay Awhile"
    Music by James P. Aykroyd
    Poetry by James P. Aykroyd
    Published by George E. Blake
  11. ^ 19th-Century American Sheet Music at UNC: "The American and New Orleans Favorite Waltzes"
    Music by James P. Aykroyd
    Composed and dedicated to Miss Caroline Chapman
    Published by George E. Blake
    (1823); OCLC 22050150, 726900766
  12. ^ Wolfe, pg. 374
  13. ^ Wolfe, pg. 377
  14. ^ Wolfe, pg. 379
  15. ^ "The Blue Bell of Scotland" (sans lyrics)
    Original lyrics by Anne Grant
    (née Anne McVicar; 1755–1838)
    Variations arranged for piano or harp
    By Jean Tatton Latour (1776–1840)
    Published by George E. Blake
    (circa 1820); OCLC 68893328, 62711261
  16. ^ Elizabeth Aykroyd was buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery, Nashville, Tennessee (tombstone image)
  17. ^ Elizabeth's brother, James S. Bettner (died testate 1858, Westchester County, New York), acquired a patent of land in Kendall County, Texas, the survey for which bears his name
  18. ^ Christ Church Parish, "Marriage Entries," James Aykroyd and Elizabeth Bettner, July 12, 1824
  19. ^ "North Carolina County Marriages, 1762–1979," FamilySearch (accessed 30 December 2014), Jas Aykroyd and Elizabeth Bettner, 12 July 1824; Craven County
  20. ^ 1860 US Census, Davidson County, Tennessee, pg. 402b, line 40, house number 971
  21. ^ Christ Church Parish, "1833 Baptisms," Maria Caroline Aykroyd, born 20 June 1831, baptized 22 May 1833
  22. ^ "Marriages Recorded in Nashville, 1864–1905," online, Metro Archives, Nashville Public Library, Benj. F. Cauthorn and Maria C. Aykroyd, 21 July 1869
  23. ^ Nashville Directory, George H. Roger (compiler) Marshall & Bruce, Nashville, Vol. 18 (1882); OCLC 866629559
  24. ^ Catalogue of the Members of the Dialectic Society, Instituted at the University of North Carolina, June 3, 1795, electronic ed., University of North Carolina (1793–1962), Dialectic Society; OCLC 4761249192
  25. ^ "Obituary: Jas. Aykroyd," Nashville Banner and Nashville Whig, July 8, 1835
  26. ^ Thomas Crutcher (born 18 February 1760 Spotsylvania, Virginia; died 8 March 1844, Nashville, Tennessee): W. Woodford Clayton (1844–1924), History of Davidson County, Tennessee, J. W. Lewis, Philadelphia (1880)
  27. ^ "Obituary: Thomas Hamilton Fletcher" (born 15 September 1792 Albemarle County, Virginia; died 12 January 1845, Nashville, Tennessee), Times-Picayune, January 24, 1845