William Heather

William Heather (or Heyther), composer and singer, was buried in the south transept of Westminster Abbey on 1st August 1627 but had no marker. During a commemoration service for him in the Abbey in 1926 a stone was unveiled, by Viscount Cave, near the monument to Heather's old friend William Camden. The inscription reads:

In memory of William Heather D.Mus. Born 1563 Died 1627: buried near this spot: singer of the Abbey Choir Gentleman of the Chapel Royal: founder of the music professorship at Oxford 1626: This stone is inscribed on the three hundredth anniversary May 11 1926 by the University of Oxford.

He was born around 1563 at Harmondsworth in Middlesex but his parentage is not known. (Possibly he was some relation of a William Heather who worked at Magdalen College Oxford as a music copyist.)  He was a Lay Vicar (male singer) in the Abbey choir from 1586-1615 and a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal from 1615. At the Abbey he attended the funerals of Elizabeth I, James I and his queen Anne of Denmark and the coronation of Charles I. He lived in the Abbey Almonry but had lands in Bexley, Kent bequeathed to him by Camden. On 24th June 1589 he married Margery Fryer at St Margaret's Westminster. She was buried with him on 6th September 1635, having lived in their house at Chislehurst after his death. No children were mentioned in either of their wills. He made many charitable bequests.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

Biographical Dictionary of English Court Musicians...vol.1 compiled by A. Ashbee and D. Lasocki, 1998

His will is at The National Archives, Kew and both are at the City of Westminster Archives Centre

Buried

1st August 1627

Occupation

Musician; composer

Location

South Transept

Memorial Type

Stone

William Heather
William Heather

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2022 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

William Heather
William Heather stone

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2022 Dean and Chapter of Westminster