MC:P293 A History of the Magdalen Vagabonds, 1862-1899
The Magdalen Vagabonds were a group of young singers who gave concerts for charity during the long vacations. The history of the group by E. Vine Hall records the names of members, the programmes, venues and proceeds of concerts. Hall was a chorister at Magdalen from 1845-55, and an academical clerk from 1855-59. He obtained his B.A. in 1859, and his M.A. in 1862. He held the position of assistant organist at Magdalen in 1858-9. From 1877-90 he was a precentor of Worcester Cathedral, becoming Vicar of Bromsgrove in 1890.
This copy of A History of the Magdalen Vagabonds 1862–1899 by E. Vine Hall was bequeathed by the author in 1909 to Lady Stainer, and given to the College by her son J.R.F. Stainer in 1934. Several letters are pasted into the volume. Magdalen possesess another copy of the History (MS.408). This is an earlier edition, complete with photographs, newspaper cuttings, programmes etc. pasted into the volume. There are significant differences between the two versions of the text, quite apart from the various items added to each. In general the earlier edition is more anecdotal and ‘chatty’ in tone.
Where basic details about an Old Member are readily available, they have been given.
Formerly catalogued as MS 539. Re-catalogued by Emma Burgham in December 2006.
Following the title page there is an inscription to Lady Stainer ‘in memory of Sir John Stainer, organist of Magdalen and of S. Paul’s Cathedral, the kindest of friends and the most illustrious member of the far-famed Magdalen Vagabonds.’
Hall writes the purpose of the group was to wander from place to place, collecting as much money as possible (p.1). They raised thousands of pounds for a variety of causes (p.2).
Members of the group are listed according to the part that they sung and given a short biographical description. Three choristers of Magdalen are noted as having assisted at the first concert:
The Vagabond Society’s members recorded are:
Rev. Compton Reade (chaplain of Magd. and founder of the Society of Vagabonds)
Rev. Lewis Stacey Tuckwell (Chorister, Academical clerk and Chaplain at Magd., 1867-76, BA 1863)
W.A. Barrett (lay clerk of Magd.)
Rev. J.R.G. Taylor
Rev. William Neville (Magd. mat.1868, BA 1873, MA 1877)
Rev. W.O.M. Hughes (Magd. mat.1879, BA 1883, MA 1888)
Rev. J.O.H. Carter (Magd. mat. 1883, BA 1886, MA 1900, chaplain of Magd.)
Benjamin Blyth (M.A., organist and informator choristarum at Magd.)
Rev. E.M. Acock (MA, chaplain of Magd.)
W. Philpott (Known as “Paddy”)
C.W. Corfe (Mus. Doc., organist for Christ Church Cathedral and hon. Member of Vagabonds)
T. Marsh Everett
Rev. J. H. Lambert (Magd. mat.1872, BA, MA 1899)
A.F. Ferguson (New College, mat.1885, Magd. 1887-1890 Academical Clerk, BA 1891)
E.G. Mercer (Magd. 1892-6, Academical Clerk, MA)
B. Johnson (Magd. 1880-3, Academical Clerk, BA 1882)
B.P. Lascelles (Magd. mat.1879, BA 1882, MA 1886)
Sir Walter Parratt (Organist of Magd. 1872-82, Mus.B. 1872, Mus.D. honoris causa 1894, MA by decree 1908, Hon. Fellow of Magd., Professor of Music).
Dr. J. Varley Roberts (Organist of Magd. 1882-1918)
Several others are noted who assisted the Vagabonds, but were not themselves members.
Chapter 2 deals with the Vagabonds’ repertoire, giving the programmes for various concerts, starting with that for the second concert that the group gave. Hall sometimes lists who sang or played a particular item. The music is listed by its type (e.g. Madrigal), title and composer. Members not mentioned in his previous description are listed:
Billing (a chorister)
Barratt (W.A. Barratt, Mus.Doc., Lay Clerk of Magd.)
Macnamara (Rev. H.D. Macnamara, mat.1872, BA 1878, MA 1881)
Nicholls (perhaps Rev. S.E. Nichols, Magd. 1869-73, Academical Clerk)
Chapter 3 consists of a list of Members of the Vagabond Society, this time without the short biographies. Rather, Hall gives the degree and (for most) position he went on to hold in the church. The list is not confined to formal members of the Society, as it also includes “those invited to assist from time to time.” As a consequence, there are some listed here whose names are not included in Chapter 1, including several Minor Canons of Windsor and St Paul’s Cathedral.
Chapter Four concerns the concerts given and the money raised from them, starting with the very first Vagabonds Concert in 1862. The location and (for most) the amount of money raised, is given for each concert, and then a total for the year. The chapter covers the years 1862-1873. Hall notes that between these years nearly sixty concerts were given and £939 was recorded as being raised, though by the time Hall was writing, he did not have records of the income from twenty-five concerts. The chapter closes by quoting some reviews of the Vagabonds’ concerts.
Chapter Five is entitled ‘The most important of the Vagabond Concerts.’ This chapter gives the dates, locations and sums raised for thirteen concerts. In some of the entries Hall also mentions the causes for which the group raised money. These included the Lancashire Relief Fund, St Thomas’ Hospital in London, the Restoration fund of Headington Church and the South African War Fund (for widows and orphans of soldiers and sailors). Hall quotes various complimentary reviews in some entries. He also mentions that H.R.H. Princess Christian (Princess Helena Augusta Victoria, 1846 –1923, daughter of Queen Victoria) came to see the Vagabonds in London in 1888.
Hall provides a conclusion to the work, in which he compares the charitable activities of the Vagabond Society to those of Magdalen’s founder, William of Waynflete.
The following four letters are pasted into the volume:
(1) 22nd July 1909
Letter from Hall’s wife, Annie L. Hall, to Lady Stainer (Eliza, nee Randall, d.1916) pasted opposite the title page. Mrs. Hall writes to Lady Stainer, wife of Sir John Stainer (1840-1901, organist and informator choristarum at Magdalen from 1860, mat. St Edmund Hall 1861, BA 1864, DMus 1865, MA 1866), shortly after the death of her husband. Mrs. Hall says that she is sending the History to Lady Stainer, as per her late husband’s wishes. She notes that this was a revised version, finished just a few weeks prior to the author’s death.
(2) 4th Jan. 1915
Letter from J.D.H. Calder to Lady Stainer, inserted into the volume just before the conclusion. Calder apologises for keeping Lady Stainer’s “Vagabond book” for so long, but explains that he has been trying to get someone to write an account of the second half of the group’s career, when he was the leader. He reports that he has asked Arthur Jackson (Magd. mat.1883, BA 1888, MA 1890), Saint Johnson and Brian Lascelles, but all without success. Reluctantly, he supposes that he will have to take on the task himself. He had hoped to produce something along the lines of Tuckwell’s “Old Magdalen Days.” He gives news of Lascelles.
(3) 8th July 1934
Letter from J.F.R. Stainer to Benecke (P.V.M. Benecke, Magd. mat.1886, BA 1890, MA 1893, Fellow and Tutor), pasted into the History on page 33. Stainer asks whether J.O.H. Carter ever finished his ‘Reminiscences of Magdalen Days’ or whether the whereabouts of the material he collected are known. He asks as he had just found Hall’s manuscript and found it “full of matter.” He thought it might be housed in the College library, and asks whether he should send it to be assessed.
(4) 11th July 1934
Letter from J.F.R. Stainer to Benecke, pasted on to page 34. Stainer sends the Vagabond book to Benecke to submit to the College librarian to see whether or not it should be added to the collection.