James Shoubridge was born in Edenbridge, Kent, around 1804. He established himself as a musician in Canterbury by the 1830s, as did his older brother William Shoubridge (born c. 1801): both are mentioned in reports of musical gatherings in the Canterbury-based Kentish Gazette.
From p3 of the Kentish Gazette of 3 December 1833:
We congratulate the inhabitants of the villages adjacent to the Halfway House on the Dover Road, upon the establishment of an excellent Harmonic Society at the above house, the second meeting of which was held on Monday evening, and was attended by nearly 70 gentlemen. Mr. Marten, of Bartrestone, was unanimously elected President for the season. The Messrs. Shoubridge and Mr. Dobson, from this city, were present, and delighted the company with several songs, duets, glees, &c.
A report on p3 of the Kentish Gazette on 6 January 1835 relates to a concert involving both James Shoubridge and Thomas Clark:
Sacred Harmonic Society. - The second concert of this Society, on Thursday, was graced with the presence of much of the fashion and beauty of this neighbourhood - the Guildhall Concert-room being completely crowded on the occasion. The performance was the same as at the preceding concert, with the addition of Handel's beautiful overture to Esther. - It was truly gratifying to observe, that the pieces which seemed to excite the greatest interest, and to hold the audience most firmly fixed in fascination, were the production of native talent - we allude to the "Last Judgment," by Mr. James Shoubridge, and "At anchor laid," the composition of Mr. Thos. Clark. Both these pieces were certainly executed con amore which distinguished them above the other performances: - we do not set ourselves up as arbiters of taste in music, but we do think that they fully merited the compliments they received. The whole of the performance was so highly approved that it actually betrayed a Canterbury audience into "Brummagem" indecorum, and each piece of solemn sacred music was followed by the clapping of fair hands and other noisy demonstrations of delight! - But why are not these delightful meetings held oftener - why should they be "like angels' visits, so few and far between"? The Catch Club holds a meeting once a week - What hinders a fortnightly concert by the Sacred Harmonic Society?
James Shoubridge's collection Original Psalm and Hymn Tunes was published early in 1837: it was listed in the 'Weekly List of New Publications' on p128 of The Musical World, No. 48, Vol. 4, of 10 February 1837, as 'Shoubridge's original Psalms and Hymns'.
Plans for a benefit concert for Shoubridge were noted on p3 of the Kentish Gazette on 11 April 1837:
Sacred Harmonic Society. - We have much pleasure in stating that a Subscription Concert is contemplated to take place shortly in this city, to ensure a suitable acknowledgment to the conductor, Mr. James Shoubridge. Several of the clergy and leading citizens and neighbouring gentry have become subscribers; and we are sure that no one who has witnessed the effective services of Mr. S. on previous occasions, will fail to second the exertions of the Society. A celebrated vocalist from London will be engaged, and the concert will be got up in the first style.
A tune 'Sovereignty' (a setting of The Lord Jehovah reigns), attributed to J. Shoubridge, was published in No. 30 of The Congregational Harmonist, edited by Thomas Clark, which was listed in the 'Weekly List of New Publications' on p192 of The Musical World, No. 64, Vol 5, of 2 Jun 1837.
James Shoubridge married Catherine Clark, the daughter of the composer Thomas Clark, in August 1837. A notice of the marriage was given on p3 of the Kentish Gazette of 5 September 1837:
August 31, at St. George's, Hanover-square, Mr. James Shoubridge, one of the Lay-Clerks of Canterbury Cathedral, to Miss Kate Clark, daughter of Mr. Clark, shoemaker, of St. George's-street.
A tune 'Amazement' (a setting of Lord, when I count thy mercies o'er), attributed to J. Shoubridge, was published in No. 32 of The Congregational Harmonist, edited by Thomas Clark, which was listed in the 'Weekly List of New Publications' on p64 of The Musical World, No. 82, Vol. 7, 6 Oct 1837.
James and Catherine's daughter Ann Amelia Shoubridge was born in Canterbury in 1839. The family moved to London, and a son Thomas Clark Shoubridge was born in Islington in 1843. Both Ann Amelia and Thomas Clark were baptised at St Mary's Church, Islington on 5 January 1844. Another son, James Frederick Shoubridge, was born in Islington on 19 July 1845 and baptised at St. Mary's on 15 August 1845. (London Metropolitan Archives, Islington St Mary, register of baptisms 1841-1845, ref. P83/MRY1/1177).
At the time of the 1851 census (the night of 30 March 1851), the family was living at 7 Vincent Terrace, Islington. James is described as a 'Professor of Music', and the three children as 'scholars'. No occupation is given for Catherine. Also living at the same address was Mary A. Norris, a 20-year old unmarried 'House Serv[ant]' born in St. Margaret's, Westminster. (The National Archives, ref. HO 107/1501, folio 82)
A further son, John Clark Shoubridge, was born in Islington on 26 July 1851 and baptised at St. Mary's on 24 November 1854 (London Metropolitan Archives, Islington St Mary, register of baptisms 1853-1856, ref. P83/MRY1/1180).
The deaths of William Shoubridge and Thomas Clark Shoubridge were reported on p3 of the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald of 1 April 1871:
Death by Misadventure. - Some of our musical friends in Canterbury will recollect Mr. William Shoubridge who was a lay-clerk of our Cathedral, and who used to be very effective in the alto-parts of glees at the Catch Club and Apolloian Club, in the "good old days of the Clubs." He had been for many years lately residing in the neighbourhood of Tunbridge, and met with his death, at the age of 70 years, in the way thus narrated:- At the Town Hall, Tunbridge, on Tuesday, before the Hon. F. G. Molyneux and W. F. Browell, Esq., Edwin Wells was charged with causing the death of William Shoubridge, on the 17th inst. The daughter of deceased deposed to her father being brought home about ten o'clock at night, when he complained of pain from his left temple. John Neal, hawker, deposed that at a quarter to ten on the night of the 17th inst., he saw a horse and trap being driven along the Calverley-road, towards the Grovenor-road, at a fast rate. He passed the deceased, who was going off the path into the road, but did not notice him again until he was knocked down, when he went back and helped to pick the deceased up, and lay him on the pavement. He was then taken home. Witness heard Wells call out before the deceased was knocked down. Charles Jenner Filtness said he saw the horse and cart driven by Wells, and it was going at a moderate rate, certainly not a fast trot. He heard Wells call out for the deceased to get out of the way, and he pulled the horse towards the left, but deceased went in the same direction, and the front part of the horse struck him and knocked him in the face. The bench discharged the prisoner, considering the affair was purely accidental. An inquest on the body of William Shoubridge was held on Tuesday, by J. N. Dudlow, Esq., coroner, when the evidence of three witness examined before the magistrates was given, and other corroborative testimony adduced; and after some of the jury had expressed an opinion against furious driving, a verdict of "Accidental death" was returned. We are sorry to have to add that the above is not the only painful circumstance in connection with the Shoubridge family which we have to note. A very promising young man, the son of Mr. James Shoubridge, brother of the above, who will be recollected as one of our leading Canterbury professors of music for many years, and who is now a lay-vicar of St. Paul's and of the Temple Church, died last week.
At the time of the 1871 census (the night of 2 April 1871), the family was living at 19 Devonshire Street (latterly known as Devonia Road), Islington. James is described as a 'Professor of Music'. No occupation is given for Catherine or for Ann Amelia. James Frederick is described as a 'Stock Exchange Clerk', and no occupation is given for John Clark.
James Frederick Shoubridge married in 1872.
James Shoubridge died on 9 December 1872. A death notice on p1 of the London Daily News of 14 December 1872 reads:
SHOUBRIDGE. - December 9, at Devonshire-street, Islington, J. Shoubridge, Esq., vicar choral of St. Paul's Cathedral, aged 68.
Ann Amelia Shoubridge married in 1876.
Catherine Shoubridge died on 30 March 1881. A death notice on p1 of the London newspaper The Standard of 7 April 1881 reads:
SHOUBRIDGE. - March 30, at Stoke Newington, after a few days' illness, in her 74th year, Catherine, widow of the late James Shoubridge, Esq., vicar choral of St. Paul's Cathedral, and formerly of Canterbury.
View the Wikipedia article on James Shoubridge.
List of choral works
- How pleased and blest was I
- The Lord Jehovah reigns
- Lord, when I count thy mercies o'er
- Through all the changing scenes of life
Click here to search for this composer on CPDL
- Original Psalm and Hymn Tunes, London: Published for the Author by W. Blackman, 5 Bridge Street, Southwark,