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Robert White

Robert White was Organist and Master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey from 1569 to 1574 and he was buried in St Margaret's Westminster on 11th November 1574. He has no memorial or gravestone.

He was born about 1535 and his father Robert lived with him in the Abbey's Almonry, where many of the church singers resided. His father gave some organs to St Andrew's Holborn in London where the younger Robert may well have been the organist. He studied at Cambridge and while Master of the Choristers at Ely cathedral he married Ellen daughter of the celebrated Dr Christopher Tye and his wife Catherine. Their daughter Margery was baptized at Holy Trinity church in that town. He then moved on to Chester cathedral to hold the same post and finally in 1569 was appointed to the Abbey. He composed psalm motets and Latin liturgical works as well as anthems. His viol fantasias are among the earliest known in England.

Daughter Elizabeth was baptized on 24th February 1572 and Prudence on 23rd August 1573. Another daughter was Anne. Ellen died of the plague and was buried at St Margaret's on 11th November 1574 followed by Prudence and Elizabeth in the same year.

Wills for Robert and Ellen are in the City of Westminster Archives Centre.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Robert White
St Margaret's church

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2020 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

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I’ve worked here for over thirty years and have seen many of the major services - it’s strange to realise that you are in a small way part of history.

Pamela - Rector's Secretary

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