12 September 2011

Samuel Baumgarten, bassoonist

I have discovered that my musical pedigree goes back even further than I thought. And it makes me marvel at how the musical gene completely passed me by!

Samuel Christian Frederic (occasionally known as Christopher Frederick) Baumgarten (born c1729, location unknown, possibly Germany, died Jul 1798, London, England) was the father-in-law of Jean Gaspard Weiss, which makes him my great great great great great grandfather. He was a bassoonist and played in many professional concerts in London, was elected a member of the Royal Society of Musicians in 1750, and made a member of the Court of Assistants for the Royal Society of Musicians in 1790. Samuel Baumgarten should not be confused with another musician with the same surname who was working in London at the same time - Karl Friedrich (Charles Frederick) Baumgarten, who was a violinist, organist and composer, and was the leader at the Covent Garden Theatre. There is no evidence that they were related. I searched through over 600 historical newspaper articles with references to "Baumgarten". Many of the concerts listed only "Baumgarten" or "Mr. Baumgarten" so there are many that I am uncertain as to who it was, Samuel or Karl. Unhelpfully, some references actually mix the two of them together to create a conglomerate of a person who never existed as one individual!

Samuel Baumgarten married Mary Joynes on June 6, 1751 at St George's Chapel, Mayfair in London, and the marriage register notes they were from St James Westminster. St George's Chapel, Mayfair, was a chapel where clandestine marriages took place, without licence, banns or parental consent. The marriages were valid and binding, but were frowned upon. Goodness knows why Samuel and Mary were married there rather than at St James Westminster... Assuming that Elizabeth Mary was their first child, born in 1753, I shall infer that it wasn't a shotgun wedding! They had 11 children in total, including Charlotte (c1758 - 21 Feb 1837) who married Richard Huddleston Potter (10 Dec 1755 - Jun 1821), parents of Cipriani Potter, a composer, pianist and educator. Cipriani Potter tutored Matthias von Holst who was the nephew of the wife (Benigna von Holst Weiss) of his maternal first cousin (Charles Nicholas Weiss).

Samuel and Mary's daughter Marie, my great great great great grandmother, is one of their children for whom I cannot find a birth record. I have found information that suggests she was born in Nassau-Usingen, but I don't know what evidence that is based on. Certainly if that were the case she is likely to be the only one of the Baumgartens' children who was not born in London.

Samuel and his future son-in-law Jean Gaspard Weiss played in a number of concerts together in the years preceding the marriage of Marie and Jean Gaspard and it is reasonable to assume that they met through these music circles.

I have only been able to locate vital records (other than baptism records) for three of Samuel and Mary's children, all girls - Marie, Charlotte, and their sister Lucinda Worrall Baumgarten. All the other children seem to have disappeared without trace. There were many boys amongst the eleven children, but either they all died young, or didn't have jobs which caused them to advertise in the newspapers by name - of the historical newspapers I searched there were no notices that related to any children of Samuel and Mary's, apart from Marie's marriage notice.


  1. Hello,

    I am just writing about Johann Christian Bach and his London friends and colleagues and also about Jean Gaspard Weiss. You might know that Jean Gaspard's autobiography is available now at ortus musikverlag in Germany, don't you?

    If you wish to contact me: solino@gmx.net

    Best wishes, Thomas

  2. Hi Thomas,

    Yes, I have a copy of the autobiography - I helped a tiny bit with some research for it! I'll send you an email. Thanks for getting in touch!