Henry Searle

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Born: 1785

Died: 30 August 1860


Henry Searle was born in East SheenLink to the English Wikipedia article in 1785 (place of birth given in the 1851 census) and was christened at St. Mary's parish church, MortlakeLink to the English Wikipedia article on 8 May 1785, the son of John and Susanna Searle (register held at Surrey History Centre, ref. 2397/1/3).

On 21 April 1808 he married Lucy Diddams Hale at St. Bride, Fleet StreetLink to the English Wikipedia article. The marriage took place after banns and both husband and wife were recorded as resident in the parish. Both signed, as did their witnesses John Hale and Betsy Wimpory (register at London Metropolitan Archives, ref. P69/BRI/A/010/MS06542/003).

There are two items in W. J. White's The Sacred Herald, London: [c1820] attributed to 'H. Searle': a hymn tune 'Whetstone' setting 'Begin, my tongue, some heavenly theme', and 'Salvation', a through-composed setting of 'Salvation, O the joyful sound'.

The policy register of the Sun Fire office records an insurance policy dated 19 June 1823 for Henry Searle, tailor, of 9 Grange Court, Carey Street (London Metropolitan archives, ref. MS 11936/498/1005715).

While the catalogue of the British Library dates Searle's book A Set of Psalm and Hymn Tunes to [1827?], it would appear from reviews of the work that it was published towards the end of 1828 or at the beginning of 1829. The imprint of the book states that it was 'Printed & Sold by J. Hart, 2, Hatton Garden; Sold also by the Author, 9, Grange Court, Carey Street, Chancery Lane'. A notice of the book's publication (but no review) was given in the 'Select List of Books Recently Published, Chiefly Religious' on p41 of the Wesleyan Methodist Magazine for January 1829 (vol. VIII of the Third Series or vol. LII from the commencement). A negative review was given on pages 25-26 of the Baptist Magazine, volume 21, January 1829:

'A Set of Psalm and Hymn Tunes. By H. Searle.

There are no works more coldly received by the public than detached pieces of original sacred music. Not suited to public worship because original, and therefore not generally known; not fit for mere amusement beacuse sacred, the demand for them is confined to those few circles, domestic and social, where music is a familiar language, and devotion is allied to harmony.

Nor does this necessarily imply any deficiency of merit; we are acquainted with publications of this class, of first rate excellence, (and in their foremost rank, some by a respected member of our own denomination, C. W. Banister,) which although associated with the most pleasurable youthful recollections, of many now turning the brow of the hill of life, and never opened, but with a feeling of gratitude to their respective authors, are yet unknown beyond this limited sphere, which have never taken their place in our public worship, nor remunerated their authors, (we apprehend,) for the trouble of copying them out for the engraver.

If such be the fate of sterling merit, and acknowledged genius, that of mere mediocrity may be easily anticipated, and to no higher praise can be consider this work entitled; the airs are easy and agreeable, the harmony generally correct, and had we found them in a large and popular collection, and been ignorant of the original on which some of them have been evidently, although perhaps unintentionally modelled, they would have passed nearly uncensured, but the author has not, we conceive, sufficient originality of conception, and feeling for the poetry of music, to justify his public appearance as a contributor to our already abundant stores of Psalmody.'

The book received a more complimentary review in the 'Brief Survey of Books' in the June 1829 issue of the Imperial Magazine, (columns 563-564 of vol. 11):

'A Set of Psalm and Hymn Tunes for the Organ, Pianoforte, &c. &c. by H. Searle, (Hart, London,) seems well adapted for the end proposed. They contain variety and harmony; and there can be but little doubt that many of them will find their way into our places of public worship, as well as into private circles, where instrumental music forms a considerable portion of domestic entertainment. In some few there is a degree of elevated pathos which renders them peculiarly striking, and none among them will be neglected from a want of merit.'

There are two set-pieces (through-composed settings of metrical texts) attributed to Searle in Thomas Jarman's collection The Voice of Melody, London: [c1827-1835]: 'Sing to the Lord that built the skies' ('Acclamation') and 'The Lord's ascended up on high' ('The Ascension').

In the 1841 census, Henry Searle is shown as a tailor at Grange Court, with five of his children, of whom the eldest two were also tailors (The National Archives: HO107/731/8, St. Clement Danes, enumeration district 13, folio 25).

Henry Searle's wife Lucy died in 1844, by which time they had moved to 9 Upper Penton Street, Islington.

In the 1851 census, Henry Searle is shown as a tailor at 67 Chapel Street, Islington, with two of his daughters, of whom one was a tailoress and one a stock-maker (The National Archives: HO107/1518, Pentonville, enumeration district 4, folio 90). He died at the same address in 1860.

List of choral works

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  • A Set of Psalm and Hymn Tunes, London: [c1829]

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