Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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TOMKINS family, musicians .

Although this family of musicians was Cornish in origin some members of it were associated with Pembrokeshire . There are full accounts in the D.N.B. and in the fourth edition (vol. v, 1940 ) of Grove , Dictionary of Music and Musicians . The first to establish a connection with Wales was

THOMAS TOMKINS ‘I’ ( c. 1545 c. 1626/7 ), organist and precentor .

He was a member of a family which had for generations been settled at Lostwithiel , Cornwall . He went to S. Davids as ‘ Master of the Choristers and Organ-player ’ in the cathedral. He m. (1) Margaret Poher (or Pore ) , and (2) Ann , daughter (or sister) of Richard Hargest , Penarthur farm , S. Davids . Later he took holy orders and became a canon in Gloucester cathedral and vicar of S. Mary de Lode in that city. His most famous son was probably

THOMAS TOMKINS ‘ II ’ ( 1572 - 1656 ), composer and organist .

Born at S. Davids of his father's first marriage. He became organist of Worcester cathedral in 1596 and, in 1621 , one of the organists of the Chapel Royal . He was B.Mus. of Oxford . Fuller details of the career of this noted composer — his instrumental music, his church music, and particularly, his madrigals — are given in the D.N.B. and by Groves in his Dictionary . He d. at Martin Hussingtree , where he was buried 9 June 1656 .

JOHN TOMKINS ( c. 1586 - 1638 )

was a half-brother to Thomas Tomkins ‘II,’ being a son of Thomas Tomkins ‘ I ’ by his second marriage. He went to King's College , Cambridge , was appointed college organist in 1606 , and two years later graduated B.Mus. In 1616 he became organist of S. Paul's cathedral , London . His wife was Margaret , daughter of Dr. Sylvanus Griffiths , dean of Hereford . For further details see D.N.B. and Groves , op. cit.

GILLES TOMKINS ‘I’ (d. 1668 ),

another son of Thomas Tomkins ‘ I ’ by his second marriage, also became organist of King's College , Cambridge ( 1624 ); later he was organist at Salisbury cathedral . In 1630 he received the additional appointment of ‘ Musician for the Virginals to King Charles I .’ He was buried at Salisbury 4 April 1663 . His son, GILES TOMKINS ‘ II ’ ( 1633 - 1725 ), was also organist of Salisbury ; later he held the same post at Worcester cathedral .


the seventh son of Thomas Tomkins ‘ I ’ , became one of the musicians in king Charles I 's household in 1633 .


Sir William Llewelyn Davies, M.A., LL.D., F.S.A. (1887-1952), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959