A RETURN TO KENT
Anton Kammell’s life ends with a mystery. Though his will, dated March 1784, is freely accessible, and includes the date of his death, 5th October, there appears to be no trace where he died of where he is buried. He was only 54 years old.
Michaela Freemanova suggests that a possible reason for this lack of information is that Kammell was a Roman Catholic and that Catholic burials may have been secret and not recorded. This is unlikely to be the case.
Kammell was married in a Church of England church. All his children were baptised in Church of England churches. Unless Roman Catholics had a connection with private family chapel, or the chapel of a catholic embassy, they would be married, baptised, and buried in Anglican churches. There was no doctrinal objection to this.
Marriages had to be solemnised by a Church of England minister to be legal. Most Christian churches believe that people can only be baptised once and accept the validity of a baptism in another church. As far as burial is concerned anyone can be buried in a parish graveyard. There was no alternative. It would usually be necessary, for obviously practical reasons, to bury someone at the most convenient cemetery to where they had died. Very few people would have their remains transported 150 miles to a family vault, as Thomas Anson did.
If Kammell was buried in a Church of England church it would be remarkable if no trace of the burial could be found. There were no death certificates in the 18th century but burials would be recorded in Parish Register books. Some of these may be missing, lost, or destroyed by accident or war, but anyone searching the records which are now available on-line will find that there are surprisingly few gaps, even when the records are 250 years old.
In fact, the few fragments of information that exist from Kammell’s last year all point to a solution to this mystery. They all point to a return to the friends who supported him at the beginning of his career nearly twenty years earlier, and they point to Kent, in the South East of England, where he had spent the summer of 1766.
Ann Kammell’s sister Lydia Edicatt became a pupil of Kammell. She was only 11 when Ann and Anthony (as he was now known) were married. As their parents had two much younger children, William, and John, aged six and three, and another daughter to follow in 1767, perhaps Lydia was looked after by the Kammell’s to relieve the burden on her parents.
In 1778 Kammell wrote:
“…my wife’s sister is living with us, she is 17 years old, she is a beauty and sings like angel, what a pleasure it would be for Your Excellency to see and hear her. She is my pupil.” (FREEMANOVA 1)
Lydia (with her name appearing as Edicatt) sang at three Kammell benefit concerts: in 1778, 1779 and 1780. She also appeared with Kammell in the Northampton concert in 1778 which seems to have been a success, with the paper praising “their masterly performance.”
During the five years between 1778 and 1783 Lydia performed at 6 London concerts, mostly at the Tottenham Street Rooms, her last known concert in London took place at Freemasons Hall on 10th March 1783. The review of her last concert, conducted by Salomon, was less enthusiastic than the Northampton one:
“This lady seemed to be indisposed, and could not give a full scope to her vocal powers”. (Morning Post, 11th March 1783.)
This is an unfortunate end to an apparently successful career. She had performed with the very best musicians of the time, and not only as part of the Kammell family. She had shared the stage with J C Bach and Carl Abel and in this last concert she performed with Salomon, who would be the impresario who brought Haydn to London in 1791, and in a concert which included a Haydn symphony.
Less than two weeks later, Lydia Edicatt married a German merchant Charles Christian Besser and left the musical scene.
The witnesses to the wedding were Kammell and “Henry Noel”, who may have been the Earl of Gainsborough, once more incognito – if it had, indeed, been the Earl who had travelled to Edinburgh with Kammell in 1766.
The application for a wedding license for Lydia and Charles Christian Besser has another curious feature. The applicants had to pledge themselves to £200 to the Bishop of London. In this case there are two signatories, Besser and “John Doe” – who must be a wealthy supporter acting anonymously. The use of “John Doe” as a pseudonym, or as a fictitious character, is usually associated with America, but it was a commonly used term in English law before the 19th century.
The marriage bond of Lydia Edicatt, 30th March 1783
Is this John Doe, who would have to be wealthy enough man to bear the financial risk, also the Earl incognito?
The last known appearance of Kammell in London, or at least the last known advertisement for an intended appearance, was for a concert on 10th May 1782, which also included a violinist called Nicolai and his old colleagues the oboist Fischer and the cellist Crosdill. There is no evidence to suggest that this concert did not take place or that Kammell was too ill to give a satisfactory performance.
This is not his last performance – or, perhaps, his last intended performance.
The Stamford Mercury for Thursday 25th December 1783 advertised a concert which was to feature Kammell as the star performer, playing a concerto by Corelli, and was also to include two of his symphonies and a quartet.
“C. ROGERS’S THIRD SUBSCRIPTION CONCERT OF MUSIC (The last this season.) will be at the TOWN HALL in STAMFORD, on Monday the 5th of January 1784.
The first violin and solo by Mr. KAMMELL.”
His music had been performed at one of C Rogers’s previous concerts , on 29th December 1778. Just as with the concerts in Northampton he was a composer who would have been well known to the audience who was now making a personal appearance.
According to his letter from the Mann’s house in Rutland he had performed two pieces in Stamford in 1767, but this is the only record of him playing in that town that can be found in the British Newspaper Archive on-line. It is the only record of a performance of any kind after his London concert on 10th May 1782.
Here he was, then, back at Stamford, only 11 miles from Cottesmore, the estate of Lady Lucy Mann, sister of Henry Noel, Earl of Gainsborough, who may or may not have been the Henry Noel who guaranteed Lydia Edicatt’s marriage licence incognito as John Doe, and who was witness to her wedding as himself.
Two of Kammell’s last published works are evidence of a renewed connection with Kent, the county of Bourne Place, Sir Horace and Lady Mann’s other country estate.
Op. 16 is a set of Six Trios dedicated to John Cockin (or Cochain) Sole. This is the “Esquire Solis” who Kammell had been with at Bourne Place in 1766, and who was a near neighbour of Lord Teynham, the music loving lord who was probably the “Tay (lor?)” with whom Kammell travelled from London to Kent that year.
This work was published no earlier than 1779. The date can be estimated in comparison with the date of the next published work.
This is Op. 17, “6 Divertimentos” dedicated to Lady Banks. This is Kammell’s only work for solo keyboard. The six pieces are very simple indeed, each in two movements.
Op. 17 cannot be earlier than 1779.
Lady Banks was Dorothea Hugessen. She married Sir Joseph Banks, the botanist who had sailed with Captain Cook and the President of the Royal Society in March 1779 which gives the earliest possible date of these Divertimenti.
The dramatically interesting fact about Lady Banks is that her family home, her personal property, was a house called Provender, This is the nearest house to John Cockin Sole’s house, Norton Court. These two dedications point to a very specific corner of Kent.
Until all editions of Kammell’s music which were printed abroad, mostly in Paris, have been compared with the English editions published in his life time it is very difficult to know what were his last compositions. At least some of are the French editions which seem to be new works with higher opus numbers are identical to works that had were already published in London. For example, the Paris printing of Six sonatas claiming to be “Op. 16” is actually the set of trios Op. 9, dedicated to Miss Ottley. A performance of these trios at Shugborough in 2016 used the keyboard part from the English edition and the violin and cello parts from the Paris edition.
If these European editions are all duplicates there are only two more published works which can have been written after this pair of publications dedicated to the Kentish neighbours. These are a set of violin duets Op. 18 and, lastly, a set of Six “Notturnos” Op. 19 for two violins and cello, which are dedicated to Sir William Young.
An unpublished work was discovered recently in a collection of music that had come from Moccas Court in Herefordshire.
This had appeared in the Otto Haas Catalogue 2012:
“KAMMEL, Antonín (1730-1784): IV Menuetti è Due Andante [for keyboard], Composti da’ Antonio Kammell, umilissimamente offerti à Miss Cornewall. [London: ca. 1775]. Score: 4 ff., oblong quarto. Sewn as issued. Autograph manuscript, in brown ink on 10-stave paper.”
The “Miss Cornewall” to whom these four minuets and two andantes are dedicated was Catherine-Frances Cornewall (1773-1826), who married Samuel Peploe of Garnstone Castle, Weobley on 15 March 1796.
Her father was Sir George Cornewall (8 November 1748 – 26 August 1819. He had been born George Amyand, and in 1766 he succeeded his father as 2nd Baronet and inherited his interest in the banking firm of Amyand, Staples and Mercer. He was related by marriage to James Harris Jnr, the son of the promoter of the Salisbury music festival.
On 18 July 1771 he married Catherine Cornewall, only daughter and heiress of Velters Cornewall of Moccas in Herefordshire, MP. As part of the marriage agreements George Amyand took the name Cornewall.
This is the only known manuscript of a work composed by Kammell in England. The original is now in a private collection in Switzerland but some of the pieces were performed from a copy, by permission of the owner, at Shugborough in 2016.
(With thanks to Nicola Schneider)
These are pieces of extreme simplicity. The style is very similar to the very primitive keyboard style of the Divertimenti dedicated to Lady Banks. Though the handwriting is legible there are very obvious mistakes. At one point Kammell miscounts the number of beats in a bar. Though they were written for a young girl, which might justify their simplicity, they have a sense of childishness about them which might well be due to physical or mental illness.
“Miss Cornewall” would only have been six in 1779, the earliest date that the 6 Divertimenti for Lady could have been written. Unless some of the Parisian editions printed after 1780 can be proved to be new works these simple pieces are probably his last attempt at composition.
The concert at Stamford was to be held on 5th January 1784. Kammell’s will was written, in his house at Half Moon St, only two months later, on 18th March 1784. Had the concert taken place? Had he actually travelled to Stamford? Unfortunately, the Stamford Mercury for January 1784, which might have had news of its cancellation, is not available. Something had happened to convince him and his family and friends that provision had to be made for his children. He still had savings, but if he could neither perform nor compose the main source of his income would dry up completely.
The will gives an impression of the composer’s property in his last year. He bequeaths to his wife, Ann Kammell, “all my Household Gods Plate & China and the Sum of one hundred Pounds.”
To his daughter Elisabeth Rosana he bequeaths “three hundred Pounds four per cent bank annuities and I order the same to be transferred to her on the Day of Marriage provided she marries with the consent of my said wife Ann Kammell…”
As his sons would be left without an income he instructs that his executors should “place them out apprentice to any such Trade as my wife and executors think proper” if and when they should attain the age of fourteen. From the decease of his wife the property would be divided between his four surviving children, who were:
Elizabeth Rosana (aged nearly 12), George Anthony (8 or 9) John Christian (6) and Henry (3).
The Kammell’s had also had three children (at least) who had died young. Lucy (1769-70), William (born 1770, but died before 1784) and Horace Christopher, born 22nd February 1779 and no longer alive by 1784.
It is very interesting to look at the names of the children – which are another sign that in these last few years there had been a return to the old friends and supporters in Kent.
The first child, Lucy, must have been named after Lady Lucy Mann and the short-lived son, Horace, must have been named after Sir Horace Mann, but he was born 1779, the time when the works dedicated to the Kentish neighbours John Cockin Sole and Lady Banks were written.
Elizabeth was the Christian name of both Lady Young of Delaford and Miss Ottley. The rare middle name “Rosana” is intriguing. William was born at the time Sir William Young was in England and holding his private concerts on Sundays. George must be named after George Pitt. John Christian was obviously named after Johann Christian Bach. Henry was born in 1780. Was he named after Henry Noel?
(The sons’ names appear in various forms in different documents, but the forms given in the will would have been dictated by Kammell himself and must be the most reliable,)
The executors of the will were Charles Reeve of Half Moon St, Charles Christian Besser, the husband of Lydia Edicatt, and Benjamin Starling, of James St. Covent Garden.
In the entire international resources of ancestry.co,uk (as of July 2017) there is only one record of a burial of anyone with the surname “Kammell” within the ten years between 1779 and 1789.
This is the record of a burial of “Geo. Kammell” buried on 8th October 1784 at the church of St Mary, Norton, Kent.
Entry in the burial register St Mary’s Norton, from Canterbury Cathedral Archives.
The only other entry of any kind on ancestry,co.uk for the surname Kammell in that ten-year period is the entry for Anton Kammell’s will.
This entry clearly gives the name as “Geo. Kammell, Gent.” There is no doubt that the capital letter of the surname is a K as it can be compared with the H of “Hall” three lines below.
The date of the burial is three days after the recorded date of death. The will was proved on 15th of October 1784 in London.
Taking just the rarity of the surname and the date into account a strong case could made that this was, indeed, the burial record of Anton Kammell, and that the first name was a clerical error.
The chances of this not being the composer are enormously reduced by the fact that this church, St Mary, Norton, is literally next door to Norton Court, the home of Kammell’s friend, John Cockin Sole, and a short distance from the home of Lady Banks.
There are no traces of the composer at all from the date the will was signed, in March, until his death. He might have been in Kent for months, having travelled down at the end of the season. The fact that he had made a will suggests that his life was threatened by illness. It is easy to imagine that his friends brought him to the country in the hope that cleaner air would help him.
Norton Court, seen from the churchyard of St Mary’s.
St Mary, Norton
This, surely, has to be the last resting place of Anton Kammell.
No memorial survives. There is nothing unusual about this. There might have been one, perhaps paid for by Mr Sole, but it might not have been thought necessary, or appropriate, as it was far from Kammell’s home
There is a simple explanation for the incorrect Christian name in the burial register. In 1784 first names were never used in conversation between gentlemen. This was true until recent times, and might still be true in some places, such as public schools. To a group of gentlemen, he would be “Mr Kammell”, or, if being very informal, just “Kammell.”
It is perfectly possible that, when he died that October, there would be no one in the house, assuming he was at Norton Court, who knew his full name, Even John Cockin Sole might not have remembered it, He would only have seen the name “Antonio” on printed music. Sole might easily not have been there when Kammell died.
Kammell’s son, then only 8, was George. If he had been with him in Kent he would have been known as George – and it would be very natural at the time to assume that the eldest son had taken the name of the father.
Sylva Simsova has researched another very important piece of evidence to support the case for Norton as the scene of Anton Kammell’s death.
There is no mention in his will of his music or his instruments. The violin (and probably viola) would be valuable. His manuscripts would, surely, be valued by Ann and the family?
Sylva Simsova discovered that, six years after Kammell’s death, the violin was offered in The Times for sale by auction:
“Sales by Auction. By Mr. Greenwood at his room in Leicester Square, on Thursday 24th Inst. And following day at Eleven o’clock. A well chosen and valuable library of books, books of prints, and pictures, a capital violin which formerly belonged to the celebrated Kammel. Manuscript music never published, a two-feet telescope, several fine French, Carlo Marratt, and other burnished gold frames, and many other effects of J.C.Sole Esq. Brought from his seat, Norton Court, Kent. To be viewed to the Sale, and catalogues had.” [The Times 22/6/1790, 25/6/1790]
John Greenwood of 50 Leicester Square was a well-known auctioneer of art objects. In this particular auction he was selling effects of John Cockin (or Cockain or Cockayne) Sole of Norton Court.
Sole’s heir, according to the Adminstration [PROB 6/166 p.162], was his only daughter Catherine Elizabeth Sole. Presumably it was she, or her agents, who asked John Greenwood to auction the violin. The question is how had Sole acquired it? Did Ann Kammell sell it to him after Anthony’s death? This seems unlikely, as the violin is not listed among her inheritance giving her the right to dispose of it.
The puzzle of the incorrect name in the register might leave a question mark hanging over the story, but the advertised auction of his violin on June 25th 1790, however, is a fact. The question remains, what happened next and where is the violin now? And even more tantalisingly – where is the music – “manuscript music never published” – which must have included concertos and symphonies?