Collection of Songs of Dr. John Wilson, Musician (1595-1674)

Archive Collection

Administrative / Biographical History

John Wilson was born in Faversham, Kent, on 5 April 1595. He became a distinguished lutenist and in 1635 he succeeded Alphonso Bales as Musician to the King. When Oxford was the stronghold of the court of Charles I, Wilson's compositions won great popularity, particularly around the university. In 1645, he graduated Mus.Doc.Oxon. and the following year, on the fall of the Oxford garrison, he entered the service of Sir William Walter of Sarsden. In 1656 he was appointed Choragus at Oxford (at Oxford, a Choragus was originally appointed to superintend the practice of music) but in 1661 he resigned the post to become Chamber Musician to Charles II. The following year, in 1662, he was appointed Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, and was given accommodation at Horseferry. John Wilson died on 22 February 1674. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Conditions Governing Access

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol. 21. Whichcord-Zuylestein. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1909.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

The local Indexes show other references to Wilson material in the Laing Collection and elsewhere (check the Indexes for more details):  From the fair Lavinian shore at La.III.491/20; and, microfilm of song book, 17th century, Bodleian Library, Oxford, at Mic.M.1332.