William Shield

William Shield, musician and composer, is buried in the south cloister of Westminster Abbey, in the same grave as his friend and fellow musician Johann Peter Salomon. The grave adjoins that of Muzio Clementi. He was buried in the Abbey at the request of George IV, as Shield was a special favourite of this monarch. The choirs of the Chapel Royal and St Paul's cathedral augmented the Abbey choir. The Dean of the time for some reason would not allow a tablet to be erected to his memory and the gravestone was not inscribed until 1892. It reads:

William Shield musician and composer born March 5th 1748. Died January 25th 1829.

An inscription to Salomon is below this, added in 1938.

William was born at Swalwell in County Durham, son of William (d.1757) who was a music teacher. He was apprenticed to a boat builder but continued his music studies and became a professional musician and conductor. In 1773 he moved to London and wrote songs and music for operas and pantomimes. The tunes to Auld Lang Syne and Comin' through the rye are his. He became composer at Covent Garden and in 1817 was master of musicians to the King. His partner was Ann Stokes, who he may possibly have married.

Further Reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography


5th March 1748


25th January 1829


Musician; composer


South Cloister

Memorial Type

Grave; stone

Material Type


William Shield
William Shield grave with J. Salomon

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

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