Bernard & Elizabeth Gates

Bernard Gates, Master of the Choristers at Westminster Abbey 1740-1757, is buried in the north cloister of the Abbey with his wife Elizabeth. He was born on 23rd April 1686 at The Hague in Holland, a son of Bernard and his wife Mary. His brother was Gabriel-Abel and his sister Eleanor married John Downes. From 1697 he was a chorister at the Chapel Royal and later became a Gentleman there and Master of the Children in 1727. He was also in the Abbey choir and a clerk at St George's chapel Windsor. A minor composer he was also a founder member of the Academy of Vocal Music. He retired to North Aston in Oxfordshire but directed that he should be buried near his wife and daughter in the cloisters.

A white marble monument was erected for the Gates family and his wife's friend Elizabeth Atkinson. This is currently being conserved. The inscription reads:

Near this place lies the body of Mrs Elizabeth Atkinson whose truly benevolent temper render'd her universally belov'd, and especially by the poor, whose relief was her care and constant pleasure. She had the honour to serve Her late Majesty Queen Anne during her whole reign as body-laundress.
Likewise near this place lies the body of Mrs Elizabeth Gates, united again in death to her bountifull friend Mrs Atkinson, who had bred her up from her childhood with an affection in all respects equal to that of the fondest parent. She was the truely loving and for her many excellent qualities the most deservedly beloved wife of Mr Bernard Gates, Master of the Children of His Majesty's Chapel Royal, one of the Gentlemen of the said Chapel, and a member of this Collegiate Church. He had issue by her two sons and two daughters, the eldest daughter, her first born, dy'd in the birth: the two sons were cut off in their infancy, and the second daughter Atkinson Gates dy'd in the eighteenth year of her age, to her parents inexpressible grief and rest here with their dear mother, in hope of a glorious resurrection.
Elizabeth Atkinson dy'd March the 9th 1725 aged 64, Eliz. Gates dy'd March the 10th 1737 aged 48, her daughter Atkinson dy'd November the 24th 1736.
Near this place lieth the body of Bernard Gates, Gent. of His Majesty's Chapel Royal, and of the choir of this Collegiate Church. He died the 15th day of Nov. 1773 aged eighty eight years

Two other children were buried in 1717 and 1719 (Bernard and an earlier daughter called Atkinson)

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004


23rd April 1686


15th November 1773




Cloisters; North Cloister

Memorial Type


Bernard & Elizabeth Gates
North Cloister

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

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