Stainer Archive

Scope and Content

The collection contains manuscript, printed and photographic items as well as objects created and collected by the Stainer and other related families between 1762 and 2018 (predominantly 1850s-1900s). The bulk of the collection relates to JohnStainer (1840-1901). Among the papers of John Stainer and his immediate family are numerous autograph manuscript scores and corrected proofs of his works, as well as large collections of correspondence and family photographs.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Stainer was an organist, composer, musicologist and educationalist active in Great Britain in the second half of the 19th century. His career began as a chorister at St Paul's cathedral. There followed appointments as organist to StMichael's College, Tenbury (1857); Magdalen College, Oxford (1860); and St Paul's cathedral (1872-1888). He was appointed professor of organ and harmony at the National Training School (1876-1883), later succeeding Sir Arthur Sullivan as principal;he sat on the council of the newly founded Royal College of Music; and he worked as an examiner around the country both for schools and training colleges - as H.M. Inspector of Music (from 1883) - and also for universities. Upon his return to Oxfordfrom London in 1888 Stainer was appointed professor of music at Oxford University (1889-1899).

Stainer came from a large musical family, living in Southwark: the collection contains numerous letters between Stainer and his siblings, in particular William Stainer, Ann Stainer and Mary Stainer. In 1865 Stainer married Eliza C. (Sissey)Randall, who came from an Oxford family. Together they had seven children: John F. R. Stainer; Elizabeth Cecil (Cecie) Stainer; Ellie Stainer; Edward Stainer; Charles Lewis Stainer; Frederick Henry Stainer (1872-1874); William Edgar Stainer.


The collection is divided into two parts. The first part contains records of John Stainer, and of his immediate family and close relations as they directly relate to John Stainer. The second part of the collection contains records relating tothe Stainer and other related families.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for consultation.

Acquisition Information

The bulk of the collection was formally deposited in Durham University Library's Special Collections by Juliet Dusinberre, Marion Milford, John Newsom, Michael Newsom, Gareth Stainer and John Ranald Stainer, 10 March, 2010 (accessionsMisc.2008/9:99 and 124). Subsequent deposits donated by: J.E.R. Stainer, 20 October, 30 November, 14 December 2010 and 12 March 2011 (accessions Misc.2010/11:33, 47-48 and Misc.2010/11:69); Jeremy Dibble, 10 November 2010 (accessionMisc.2010/11:41); Andrew Stainer, 17 February 2011, 8 October 2015, 25 June 2018 (accessions Misc.2010/11:64, Misc.2015/16:54, and Misc.2017/18:122).

Other Finding Aids

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Sub-Librarian, Special Collections (e-mail and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. The Library will assistwhere possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.


Further accruals are expected.


Dibble, Jeremy John Stainer: a life in music, Boydell & Brewer (2007). Dibble, Jeremy Stainer, Sir John (1840–1901), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford UniversityPress (2004).