Chapter 1 : Introduction

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“In the richest and fairest parts of Europe there rules such discontent that whole families resolve to quit their fatherland. The spirit of restlessness and dissatisfaction is so widespread that it must have a more profound cause than human foolishness. Whoever seeks there alone the cause which drives men from the land of their fathers knows little of men. We are bound by the eternal bonds of Nature to the ground upon which life welcomed us, and we enjoyed our happiest years, where parents and kinsmen rest, and so many departed friends; and only a power stronger than all these attachments can break so strong a bond … He must be truly unfortunate who will give up a certain present for a doubtful future, his homeland for an alien country, the known for the unknown.” [1]

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries many in Europe were on the move. Millions of individuals, and in some cases, whole families, did indeed leave their fatherland and travel to an uncertain future in an alien country. Many who did so were from the German-speaking lands and some came to these shores, a number staying in England for a short period of time only, while others remained much longer. This dissertation concerns such people, and will focus primarily on the period from the middle of the eighteenth century to the middle of the nineteenth. It will be divided into two main sections. The first part analyses the emigration and settlement of those who were musicians. It will investigate the factors involved in their decision to emigrate and their migration patterns, and will explore the community of German musicians in the capital, London, and their assimilation into English life. It will also attempt to gauge how they fared – in as far as that is possible. The second part will be a case study of the Griesbach family of musicians, five of whom came to England in the late 1770s and ’80s to play in Queen Charlotte’s private band, and settled here. It will try to assess whether their experiences typified those of their contemporary fellow-countrymen. There are two appendices: the first an annotated transcript of the memoirs of George Griesbach; the second: the database of those German musicians who came.

This introduction serves to outline the range of manuscript and published sources which have been used for the purposes of this study. It outlines why they are important and explains the methodology, and how the study fills a gap in the historiography of migration and the royal  music scene in London for the period in question.

i) German musicians in London: migration, community and assimilation

[1] Quoted in Walker, Germany and emigration, p.1
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    In the eighteenth century Germany should not be thought of as a unified sovereign state. ‘The Holy Roman Empire’ provided a loose framework for its c300 independent states (see map opposite). The term ‘German’ is used in this thesis to cover migrants who originated from this vast area of German-speaking  territories.[2]

Much has been written on the theory and experience of migration. The ‘laws of migration’ of E.G. Ravenstein (1834 – 1913) – himself a German immigrant to England – have been used as a basis to explore the migration and emigration of German musicians to England. Ravenstein was one of the first scholars to suggest that clear ‘laws’ of migration characterised migrants, their destinations and the nature of migration streams. He developed these hypotheses in three papers which still provide a useful framework for analysis today and for this study.[3]

As regards migration in Europe, and from Germany more specifically, the papers by Bernard Bailyn: ‘Europeans on the Move, 1500 – 1800’, and George Fertig: ‘Transatlantic migration from the German-speaking parts of Central Europe, 1600 – 1800’ have proved useful, as has that by Hans Fenske: ‘International Migration: Germany in the Eighteenth Century’.[4] Eda Sagarra’s A social history of Germany 1648-1914, provided useful background of the ‘sending’ country. Of significance also has been Tim Blanning’s work The culture of power and the power of culture: old regime Europe 1660 -1789 which explores the cultural revolution which transformed eighteenth-century Europe, setting the scene in Germany and explaining why there were such opportunities for foreign musicians in the ‘receiving’ country, England.[5]

Regarding the immigrant in his new home, an early, but nevertheless invaluable, thesis by R.A. Grauman on ‘Methods of studying the cultural assimilation of immigrants’ provided a wide-ranging appraisal of the various areas of immigrant life and experience which can be investigated.[6]  Other case studies of immigrant communities and their assimilation into the society around them have been analysed to provide models, as follows:

R.D. Lobban studied the Irish community in Greenock in the nineteenth century, focussing on the employment opportunities open to the Irish, their residence,

[2] Fenske, ‘International migration’, pp.332; Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol.11, p.610
[3] Ogden, Migration, p.13; Pooley and Whyte, ‘Introduction’, p. 2
[4] Bailyn, ‘Introduction’, p.1 - 5; Fertig , ‘Transatlantic migration’, pp.192 - 235; Fenske, ‘International migration’, pp.332 - 47
[5] Sagarra, Social History; Blanning, Culture
[6] Grauman, ‘Cultural assimilation’
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marriage patterns and the church in which they chose to marry.[7]  Todd Endelmann studied communal solidarity among the Jewish elite of Victorian London, and found evidence of this in a number of areas. Also he found a high degree of consanguinity amongst the leading families.[8] Lien Bich Luu studied the colonies of alien craftsmen in Elizabethan London using a variety of sources. He assessed how far the aliens were segregated from the native citizens, and attempted to assess how much antagonism there was towards aliens and the effect of hostility on the communities. He also looked at whether they continued to speak their native languages; what their clothing and dietary habits were, their religious affiliation and marital assimilation.[9]  Andrew Pettegree studied the immigrant population of Elizabethan London too. He looked at  resentment and antagonism by native artisan groups and how the foreigners reacted to such antipathies. He sought out one form of personal expression on the part of the foreigners themselves towards the end of their lives: their wills, the only document in which an ordinary law-abiding member of the community would record the names of those closest to him or her. He found that some mentioned goods or property abroad, and left legacies to those at home, whereas increasingly those who had been in England for longer had increasing wealth, and left legacies to English  friends and neighbours, indicating a move away from an exclusive dependence on their own kind. When Englishmen were named as overseers of the will, it suggested the forging of significant relationships outside the immigrant community.[10]  Luu has rightly pointed out, however, that a study of this sort is of limited value, since it cannot  shed light on the integration of aliens who did not, or were unable to, leave wills for one reason or another; possibly because they were very poor, or did not die in London.[11]

Lastly, a number of scholars have looked into the incidence of ‘outstanding individuals’, ie individuals from the immigrant group who have achieved a certain status in the receiving community, and have concluded that these give some indication of the group’s ‘accommodation’, or the degree of acceptance and actual participation of an immigrant group in the country of their adoption. This is illuminating, since it looks at the assimilation of immigrants from the aspect of the

[7] Lobban, ‘Irish community’, pp.270 -281
[8] Endelman , ‘Communal solidarity’, pp. 491 -526
[9] Luu, ‘Assimilation or segregation’, pp.160 - 172
[10] Pettegree, ‘Thirty years on’, pp.297-312
[11] Luu, ‘Assimilation or segregation’, p.161
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native society.[12]

Panikos Panayi is a prolific writer on the settlement of Germans in Britain:  the collection of essays edited by him in Germans in Britain since 1500, and his own German immigrants in Britain during the nineteeth century have been particularly apposite. Margrit Schulte Beerbühl has shown the significant role German merchants played in the business life of the city in ‘Naturalization and economic integration: the German merchant community in 18th-century London’.[13]  Susanne Steinmetz’s ‘The German Churches in London’ provides an overview of the congregations that Germans might choose to affiliate themselves to, while Graham Jefcoate’s ‘German immigrants and the London book trade’, provides information on what was being published for German speakers in their mother tongue.[14]

A number of key texts have been studied to provide a background to the music scene in London. Cyril Ehrlich’s The music profession in Britain since the eighteenth century demonstrates the significant part played by foreigners, as do Simon McVeigh’s The Violinist in London’s concert life,1750 -1784 and Concert life in London from Mozart to Haydn. (Both of McVeigh’s works include discussion on Queen Charlotte’s bands, which are invaluable for the study of the Griesbachs’ work.)[15] Of immense value too has been Deborah Rohr’s The careers of British musicians, 1750 – 1850: a profession of artisans, which traces the daily working life and aspirations of musicians in Britain during the period of this study, and, most importantly, their individual perceptions. Only one article focusses exclusively on the part played by German musicians in England: Herma Fiedler’s ‘German musicians in England and their influence to the end of the eighteenth century’.[16]

One key aim of this study has been to try to determine the experience of individual German musicians who worked in London at some stage between 1750 and 1850. Information on individuals has been extracted mainly from biographical dictionaries and musical directories. The dictionary which has proved the most fruitful (in terms of numbers) has been A biographical dictionary of actors, actresses, musicians  …  in London: 1660 -1800  as all  musicians are featured, whether they were much in the public eye, or not – so long as evidence of their

[12] Grauman, ‘Cultural assimilation’, pp.124, 33 -35; Larminie, ‘Immigrants in the DNB’, pp.175 - 183
[13] Panayi, Germans in Britain; Panayi, German immigrants; Beerbühl, ‘German merchant community’, pp.511 - 516
[14] Steinmetz, ‘German churches’, pp.49 - 71; Jefcoate, ‘German immigrants’, pp.503 - 510
[15] Ehrlich, Music profession; McVeigh, Violinist; McVeigh, Concert life
[16] Rohr, Careers; Fiedler, ‘German musicians’, pp.1-15
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working in London remains.  All obvious German musicians from these volumes have been extracted.[17] Another dictionary providing a wealth of material on individuals (and much more) is The New Grove dictionary of music and musicians. It  features few entries for individual musicians of lesser importance however.[18]  Another which complements those listed above is Doane’s A musical directory for the year 1794, which indicates, amongst others, musicians who were members of the Queen’s band.[19] A dictionary of musicians, first published by Sainsbury in 1824, has also been significant. Sainsbury’s agents wrote to almost any musician requesting a sketch of their career and a list of their published compositions, resulting in biographies of a cross section of British musicians, not just the big names.[20] And therein lies its value for the purpose of this study. It is fortunate too that many, though not all, of the letters/biographical papers returned by musicians are extant in the Euing Collection at Glasgow University Library (approximately 200 in total). These papers have been consulted for the purposes of this study and they have provided an additional insight into the careers, interrelationships and perceptions of German musicians, and the part Germans played in the careers of others in Britain. Lastly, the Royal Academy of Music’s Musical Directory (1855/1856) has been useful for the end of the period.[21]

The vital life events from the various sources mentioned above regarding approximately 290 individual German musicians have been collated into a database for comparative purposes in order to establish if there were patterns in their migration, careers and way of life. The database  includes those ‘first generation migrants’, ie those were born in the Holy Roman Empire, or who were born to German parents elsewhere, or who spent a formative part of their youth in a German-speaking territory,[22] and who stayed in Britain longer than a year. It also includes ‘visitors’, ie those from a similar background who came to work in Britain for less than a year.  It also includes those ‘second-generation migrants’, ie those

[17] Highfill, Burnim and Langhans (editors), Biographical dictionary
[18] Sadie (editor) New Grove
[19] Doane, Musical Directory
[20] Sainsbury, Dictionary; ‘John Davis Sainsbury’, ; Langley, ‘Sainsbury’s Dictionary’, p.97,95;
[21] ‘Euing Collection’,; ‘John Davis Sainsbury’, ; Royal Academy of Music, Musical Directory (1855/1856)
[22] Grauman has argued the danger of defining nationality as determined by place of birth, and suggests national descent is more important and/or that the place where a major part of a person’s formative years was spent (8 -16, or a similar period) should be taken into account. Also of the existence of ‘hybrids’. Grauman, ‘Cultural assimilation’, pp.142, 106,180
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born on British soil  to parents who were of German origin. Finally, the study focusses mainly on musicians in London, but not exclusively so, for migrant musicians were inherently mobile.

The resulting database has its weaknesses. Firstly, the sheer numbers involved have meant that what has been attempted has been limited by the time involved. There have also been the inevitable problems of record linkage. In addition, it is incomplete: there were certainly more, probably many  more, German musicians who came to London who remain ‘invisible’.  Also, the data is almost certainly more representative of the earlier period of the study rather than the later, because Highfill’s Biographical Dictionary includes all musicians, but finishes c1800, whereas New Grove does not. It has, however, been possible from the data collected to draw a number of conclusions. These are discussed in Chapter 2.

ii) Case Study: The Griesbachs, a migrant family of musicians.

The case study of the Griesbachs will provide an in-depth analysis of the lives and careers of the five brothers who came to England in the 1770s and 80s and who settled here. An attempt has also been made to explore the careers of the second-generation Griesbachs who became musicians. A broad range of sources have been used for this.

The first and most important source is the memoirs of the eldest brother, George, the first to emigrate, in which he recorded details of what he perceived to be the key events and persons in his life. A copy has come to light recently (it was found amongst the family papers of one of his descendants: Ivan Sharman, my stepfather), and a transcription of his life story forms Appendix I of this thesis. This manuscript is not the only copy.[23] However, as far as I have been able to ascertain, there is no mention of this document at all in the related historiography of the London music scene of the period, and I therefore conclude it has never been published. I believe its contents are of immense value from a number of angles.

A crucial factor in the Griesbachs’ migration was the fact that their mother was Sophia Herschel, the eldest sister of a Hanovarian family of musicians, the most well-known of whom was William Herschel, who eventually became astronomer to George III. It was due to the Herschel connection that George, the first of the brothers to emigrate, was originally selected to become a member of the royal

[23] ‘The Memoirs of George Ludolph Jacob Griesbach’, (hereafter abbreviated to ‘Memoirs’).
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band. The Herschel family is well documented, some of which is in print. An account of the Herschels’ origins and the Griesbachs’ mother’s generation’s early years can be found in The Herschel Chronicle: the life-story of William Herschel and his sister Caroline Herschel. Also, the Memoir and Correspondence of Caroline Herschel was edited by her niece, John’s wife. Both of these provide an excellent background to the extended family of which the Griesbachs were an integral part.[24]  Michael Hoskin has this year published two works – both invaluable as regards this study – on William and Caroline: The Herschel Partnership – as viewed by Caroline, and Caroline Herschel’s autobiographies, (edited) both of which include information about the home and early years of the Griesbachs hitherto unpublished.[25]

It is acknowledged that Caroline’s prolific writings are the most important source of information on the Herschel family. In 1822,  Caroline decided to return to live in Hanover, having spent fifty years of her life in England. She carried on a correspondence with William’s widow Mary, her nephew John, and John’s wife Margaret for well over twenty years.  In many of the letters she reflects on what she has heard (by letter or by word of mouth), which includes information about the Griesbachs. It has been possible for the purposes of his study to extract all references to the Griesbachs in the original letters in an attempt to piece together a picture of her nephews’ lives (and deaths) at a period when their responsibilities to and employment by royalty had ceased, and about which George’s memoirs are silent. The resulting gleanings, though she is often critical of the Griesbachs, have been most revealing.[26]

As members of the royal band the Griesbach brothers were involved with royalty on an almost daily basis.  An important source on the King, the first Hanoverian King to be born on English soil, has been John Brooke’s King George III.[27] Hedley’s Queen Charlotte, and Dayton’s Lives of the Hanoverian Queens of England are informative on her life, but oddly enough do not mention her band by name.[28]  On life at the royal residences Healey’s The Queen’s House, Hedley’s ‘George III and life at Windsor, and Hibbert’s The Court at Windsor: a domestic history have been most informative.[29] On life in the royal household – both formally

[24] Lubbock, Herschel Chronicle; Herschel, Memoir
[25] Hoskin, Partnership; Hoskin, Autobiographies
[26]London, British Library, Correspondence of Caroline Herschel: Egerton 3761, 3762
[27]Brooke, King George III
[28] Hedley, Queen Charlotte; Dayton, Lives
[29] Healey, Queen’s House; Hedley, ‘George III’; Hibbert, Court
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and informally – there are a number of personal accounts of persons in service or their relatives which have been worth studying. The most important has proved to be Court and Private Life in the time of Queen Charlotte, the journals of Mrs Papendiek,  whose father and husband, both pages in the royal household, were German. Despite misgivings about the reliability of her diary, she clearly moved in the circles the Griesbachs moved in, and her writings provide insight into the German ‘community’ of the royal court.

As to the place that music played in George III’s court, ‘Royal patronage of music’ and Scholes’s ‘George III as music lover’ have been particularly relevant.[30]  Some sketchy fragments of the Griesbachs’ employment by royalty survive in the accounts of the Royal Archives at Windsor, but they are far from a complete picture.[31]

An attempt has been made to gather information on the Griesbachs’ more public appearances as instrumental performers. The constraints of time have made it necessary to limit research to three series of concerts in which they were involved: the Concerts of Antient Music, The Handel Commemoration Concerts and those of the (Royal) Philharmonic Society.  The Concerts of Antient Music, were founded in 1776 and were a regular season of twelve, later eight, concerts managed by the aristocracy, and patronized by the cream of English society. The programming was often done in collaboration with the King, who was actively involved in expressing his views and exerting his influence. The instrumental performers are listed in the programmes from 1788 onwards, and from then until 1848 when the concerts ceased, there is only one year when Griesbachs were not listed as performers.[32] The Handel Commemoration Concerts were organised in 1784 by the directors of the ‘Antient Concerts’, in collaboration with the Society of Musicians (see below), and celebrated Handel’s supposed centenary by means of an elaborate festival at Westminster Abbey and the Pantheon, followed by further festivals in subsequent years. The Griesbachs were part of the orchestra, which together with the choir numbered 525 – forces unprecedented at the time.[33] The Philharmonic Society was founded in the early nineteenth century by professional musicians who worked in London, and wanted a regular platform for serious,

[30] (Author unknown) ‘Royal Patronage’,pp.154 - 164; Scholes, ‘George III’
[31]Windsor, Windsor Castle, Royal Archives: Payments of the Groom of the Stole.
[32] Palmer, Dragonetti, pp.122- 125; Blanning, Culture, p.172; Rohr, Careers, pp.46-47; Concerts of Ancient Music (1780 - 1848)
[33] ‘London V.2 . Concert Life’ ; Burney, An Account
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predominantly instrumental and orchestral music. It has been possible to explore to a certain extent (though by no means exhaustively), the services of Griesbachs, both first and second generation, as orchestral players: members of the family performed in the concerts from its inception in 1813 until well into the 1860s. These findings reveal something of the Griesbachs’ careers in the public sphere.[34]

Two other sources which have been used to study the Griesbachs’ fortunes, especially in relation to the later stages of their life cycles, are the records that survive of the friendly societies which they belonged to. The first is the Royal Society of Musicians (RSM), an organisation that came into being in the early eighteenth century. In 1738 three London musicians (interestingly two of whom were German) were standing at the door of the Orange Coffee House when they happened to see two boys driving asses, obviously in a desperately impoverished state. They recognised the boys to be the sons of a former colleague, Kytch, an oboist who had come to England from Holland at the end of the seventeenth century, who had died suddenly leaving his family destitute. The three musicians were moved to contact a number of others in order to raise subscriptions to support the boys. From this small beginning soon grew a permanent fund to alleviate similar cases of hardship, which was initially known as the ‘Fund for the support of decayed musicians or their families’ and later became the Royal Society of Musicians. The Society enjoyed Royal patronage after procuring a Royal Charter from the King in 1790.[35] Seven members of the Griesbach family belonged to the RSM and fortunately their papers all survive. These documents are an important source for the case study.[36]

The other society that George at least belonged to was the New Musical Fund (NMF). This was founded in 1786 by George Smart, the music publisher, to provide relief to infirm musicians, their widows and children, especially for the benefit of those who were not eligible to join the RSM. It admitted provincial members – thus Alexander Herschel, the Griesbachs’ uncle working in Bath, was able to join.[37] George Griesbach was a member of the NMF from 1788 until 1804 when the King, as patron, wished him to switch to the RSM. Unfortunately, very

[34] Ehrlich, Philharmonic, pp.1-4; London, British Library: Royal Philharmonic Society Manuscripts: RPS MS. The archives of the RPS have been purchased by the BL this year, and are currently being comprehensively catalogued.
[35]Drummond, ‘RSM’, pp.268-278; Matthews, History RSM, p.17
[36] London, Archives of the Royal Society of Musicians of Great Britain, Members’ Files.
[37] Sadie, (Editor), New Grove,17 pp.808-809; Drummond, ‘RSM’, pp.288-289
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few papers survive of the NMF.[38]

This introduction has outlined the multi-faceted aspects of this thesis and the most important sources used for it. The study is possibly the first of a particular ethnic group of musicians in London. It is also unique in that there is no other similar study based on the memoirs of a member of the Royal Band for this period of history. The addition of the memoirs of George Griesbach as an appendix makes an significant contribution to the historiography of the time.

[38] ‘Memoirs’, p.28 ; London, Archives of the RSM, Members’ Files: Charles James Griesbach, George Adolphus Griesbach, George Ludolph Jacob Griesbach, John Frederick Alexander Griesbach, John Henry Griesbach, John William Griesbach, Justus Heinrich Christian Griesbach; London, British Library: Programmes, etc., of the NMF: Case 61.g.20
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