Thomas Farthing, Renaissance  Musician and Composer

From Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, edited by Eric Blom, Volume III F-G, (New York:  St Marin's Press Inc, 1955), p. 35-6:

Farthing (Farthyng), Thomas (b. ?, c. 1475; d. Greenwich, 12 Dec. 1520).
    English singer and composer.  He was a singer in the private chapel of Henry VII's mother, the Countess of Richmond and Derby, who on her death in 1508 left him an annuity, together with Hugh Aston and others.  In 1508 Farthing became a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal under Cornysh.  He attended the funeral of Prince Henry on 22 Feb. 1511, took part in the court masques and in 1513 accompanied Henry VIII to France with the Chapel Royal, singing in its services at Therouranne, Lille and Tournai in Sept.  In 1520 he was in France again, taking part in the ceremonies of the Field of the Cloth of Gold in June.  On 21 Nov. of the same year the king granted him a mansion at East Greenwich.  On 9 Dec. 1520, only three days before his sudden death, he took part in revels at Greenwich. His annuity of 10 marks was assigned to John Heywood.

     Farthing's surviving works are not of great value, but much of his music must have lost, and Morley, in his appendix to the 'Plaine and Easy Introduction to Practicall Musicke', mentions him as late as 1597 as an old English composer.  His secular vocal pieces include 'In May, that lusty season', 'The thoughts within my breast', 'With sorrowful syghte', 'I love truly' and an unnamed piece in 3 parts.

From The International Cyclopedia of Music and Musicians, Editor in Chief Oscar Thompson, (New York:  Dodd, Mead & Company, 1964), p. 630:

   Farding (Farthing), Thomas (b. c. 1475-d. c. 1520), English composer mentioned by Morley in his list of authors whose works he either cited or used in his Plaine and Easie Introduction.  Farding was best known as a composer of rounds and madrigals.

From The English Noble Household 1250 - 1600, Good Governance and Politic Rule, by Kate Mertes, (London:  Basil Blackwell, 1988), p. 145:

...Thomas Farthyng, Margaret Beafort's choirmaster, has left numerous compositions which exhibit his skill and illustrate his importance to the development of English music.  Men like Farthyng and Excestre are of obscure origins and clerical backgrounds, which took them to the great cathedral schools where they learned and perfected their singing skills.  In the case of both these men, noble patronage proved a stepping stone to royal favour:  Farthyng, like Excestre, became master of the Chapel Royal under Henry VIII.

From The New Oxford History of Music III  Ars Nova and the Renaissance 1300-1540:

    The early Tudor period saw the beginnings of secular court polyphony in forms other than the carol.  The manuscript Add. 31922 in the British Museum contains vocal and instrumental pieces by King Henry VIII, Cornysh, Dunstable, Fayrfax, Lloyd, Thomas Farthyng (chorister at King's College, 1477-83; clerk there 1493-9; then probably in the household chapel of the Countess of Richmond and Derby, Henry VII's mother; Chapel Royal, 1511-20)......Cornysh's 'Adieu mes amours' and Farthyng's 'The thowghts within my brest' illustrate the influences at work at the birth of the secular song of the English Renaissance.  The former is clearly an imitation of the contemporary French chanson, while the latter represents a simpler and perhaps native style, which may be a development of the lost songs of the court minstrels.

From Ars Nova and the Renaissance 1300-1540, edited by Dom Anselm Hughes and Gerald Abraham, (London:  Oxford University Press), p. 305:

The chapel of the royal household, later known as the Chapel Royal, originally a small group of chaplains and clerks, was enlarged by Richard II and Henry IV, and under Henry V consisted of a dean, twenty-seven chaplains and clerks, and sixteen choristers. By the mid-fifteenth century a Master of the choristers had been appointed, and in 1483 the household chapel was incorporated by Edward IV, whose ordinances provided for twenty-four chaplains and 'gentlemen clerks', that is, singers with the household rank of 'gentleman', eight children and a Master.  Henry VIII increased the number of choristers to twelve and maintained some twenty gentlemen.

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