Skip to main content

Westminster Abbey and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Abbey will re-open for sightseeing visitors from Friday 21st May.

In the meantime, we remain open for worship and you are welcome to join us at our daily services. We are also open for individual prayer from 10:30am - 12:30pm, Monday to Saturday.

Dr John Wilson

In the Little Cloister of Westminster Abbey is the grave of Dr John Wilson, distinguished lutenist and chamber musician to Charles I. He was born in Faversham in Kent on 5th April 1595. After an apprenticeship he was made a freeman of the Grocers' Company. His first musical composition was heard at Court in 1614 and for many years afterwards he was a song writer for the King's Men company of actors. He was most likely the Jack Wilson alluded to in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, 1623. As a favourite of the king he followed the Court to Oxford and was made a doctor of music there in 1644. Later he was professor of music at the university.

His first wife was Anne and their daughter was Rebecca (Bowerman). On 31st January 1671 he married Anne Penniall, widow, in the Abbey. He composed over 300 songs and many were published in 1652. He died at his house in Westminster. The inscription on the stone (in Old Style dating) reads:

John Wilson Musick here interr'd February ye 22 1673 aged 78 yeares 10 months and 17 dayes

Further reading

Over 200 of his songs are in a manuscript at the Bodleian Library, Oxford (MS.Mus.b.1)

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004


5th April 1595


22nd February 1673


Musician; composer


Little Cloister

Memorial Type


Dr John Wilson
Dr John WIlson grave

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2021 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Related commemorations

It’s very hard not to be enthusiastic working at the Abbey. If this place doesn’t make you smile I don’t know what will.

Valerie - Foundation Director

Twitter logo Tweet this