Samuel Arnold

Samuel Arnold, composer, is buried in the north choir aisle of Westminster Abbey, to the north of Henry Purcell. A white mural tablet, with a lyre and sickle below the inscription, was erected nearby. The sculptor was Joseph Nollekens. This inscription reads:

To the beloved and respected memory of Samuel Arnold, Doctor of Music: Born July 30th O.S. [Old Style dating] 1740: Died Oct. 22nd 1802 aged 62 years and two months; and is interred near this spot. This tablet is erected by his afflicted widow.
Here rests of genius. probity, and worth, all that belongs to nature, and to earth: the heart that warmly felt, and freely gave; the hand that pity stretch'd to help and save; the form that late a glowing spirit warm'd, whose science tutor'd, and whose talents charm'd; that spirit, fled to Him who spirit gave, now smiles triumphant o'er the feeble grave, that could not chain it here; and joins to raise with Heav'n's own choir, the song of pray'r and praise. Oh shade rever'd! - our nation's loss and pride! (for mute was harmony when Arnold died !) Oh let "Thy still-lov'd son" inscribe thy stone, "and with a "mother's sorrows" mix his own"

The gravestone inscription reads:

Samuel Arnold Mus. Doc. Organist and Composer to the Chapel Royal 1783 Organist of Westminster Abbey 1789. Died 22 October 1802

Samuel was a son of Thomas Arnold and was a child of the Chapel Royal, where he was later organist and composer from 1783-1802. As composer to Covent Garden theatre he wrote many operas and The Prodigal Son is his best known oratorio. He also composed many anthems. He succeeded Benjamin Cooke as Abbey organist 1793-1802. He married Mary Ann Napier in 1771 by whom he had four children - Samuel James, who became a London theatre manager and married Matilda Pye, Caroline who was buried in the west cloister of the Abbey in 1795, Marianne who married William Ayrton, and another daughter.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography


10th August 1740


22nd October 1802


Composer; musician


North Choir Aisle

Memorial Type

Grave; tablet

Material Type


Samuel Arnold
Samuel Arnold

See page for author [GFDL, CC BY-SA 4.0 or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Samuel Arnold
Samuel Arnold memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2023 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Samuel Arnold
Samuel Arnold grave

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2023 Dean and Chapter of Westminster