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John Parsons

John Parsons, organist and composer, was buried in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey on 3rd August 1623. He was the Abbey's Master of Choristers from 1613-1623, combining this with the post of Organist from 1621. His parents are unknown but possibly his father was Robert. He was also organist at St Margaret's Westminster in 1616 and lived nearby in the Abbey almonry. His setting of the burial service was sung at Charles II's funeral. His wife was Jane and his children were William, Dorothy and Thomazine.

No epitaph was recorded for him in Abbey guidebooks of the period and the exact position in the cloisters is not known. However William Camden in his "Remains concerning Britain" (1674 edition) prints the following as a tribute:

Death passing by and hearing Parsons play,s tood much amazed at his depth of skill. And said "this artist must with me away" (for Death bereaves us of the better skill), but let the Quire, while he keeps time, sing on. For Parsons rests, his service being done.

Further Reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

His will is at the City of Westminster Archives Centre


3rd August 1623


Musician; composer



Memorial Type


John Parsons
North Cloister

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2020 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

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