Master of the Children of the Chapel Royal
The Master of the Children of the Chapel Royal was the choirmaster of the Chapel Royal of England. They were responsible for the musical direction of the choir, which consisted of the Gentlemen of the Chapel and Children of the Chapel. In some periods regarded as the most prestigious choral directorship in the country, the holder was given power to take boys into service from the leading cathedral choirs.
As well as singing in divine service in the chapel, in Tudor times the Masters of the Children were also involved staging plays with the choristers. Initially these were for the entertainment of the Royal Court, but by Elizabethan times were taking place in theatres for the paying public. This culminated in the Clifton Star Chamber Case when the then Master of the Children, Nathaniel Giles, allowed his warrant for recruiting choir boys to be used for legal abduction of a nobleman's son to act in a theatre in which he had a financial stake. Following this case the practice declined.
Upon the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, Captain Cooke, who had been a soldier in the Civil War, was appointed Master of the Children and reconstituted the choir. There followed a period of excellence in the choir of the Chapel Royal, with many of the boys under his tutelage in those years become famous musicians such as Pelham Humfrey, Henry Purcell, John Blow and Michael Wise.
List of office holders
- 1444 John Plummer
- 1455 Henry Abyngdon
- 1478 Gilbert Banester
- 1486 Lawrence Squier
- 1493 William Newark
- 1509 William Cornysh
- 1526 William Crane
- 1545 Richard Bower
- 1561 Richard Edwardes 
- 1566 William Hunnis 
- 1569 Richard Farrant [a]
- 1597 Nathaniel Giles
- 1633 Thomas Day
- 1654 Vacant
- 1660 Henry Cooke (composer)
- c1672 Pelham Humfrey
- 1674 John Blow
- 1708 William Croft
- 1727 Bernard Gates
- 1757 James Nares
- 1780 Edmund Ayrton
- 1805 J.S. Smith
- 1817 William Hawes
- 1846 Thomas Helmore
- Cambridge History of English Literature 6, Part 2: The Drama to 1642.
- Charles William Wallace (1912). The evolution of English drama up to Shakespeare.
- Nigel Saul (ed.). St George's Chapel, Windsor, in the Fourteenth Century. Boydell Press. p. 8.
- David Lasocki (1998). A biographical dictionary of English court musicians, 1485-1714, Volumes I and II. ISBN 9781315097817.
- Bullen, Arthur Henry (1900). "Edwards, Richard". Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 17. Smith, Elder & Co.
- Cousin, John William (1910), "Hunnis, William", A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature, London: J. M. Dent & Sons, p. 205 – via Wikisource
- David Baldwin (1990). =The Chapel Royal : Ancient and Modern. Duckworth.
- R O Bucholz (ed.). "The Chapel Royal: The children and their masters". Office-Holders in Modern Britain. 11 (Revised) Court Officers, 1660-1837.
- William Hunnis appears to have continued in the role after 1575 when the Chapel Royal and Windsor choirs were merged