Valentine & Jonathan Snow

As mentioned in an earlier blog, Valentine Snow was the father of Sophia Baddeley.  We have found little about Valentine’s early life, but he was reputed to be the son of Moses Snow.  However, in our opinion Moses has been listed as his father just because he was involved with music too and has the same surname, there appears no other proof to substantiate this as yet and whilst he might be a relative, we feel fairly certain that he was not Valentine’s father.

Portrait of a Trumpeter in Livery (called 'Valentine Snow, 1685–1759, Sergeant Trumpeter'); Michael Dahl I (1656/1659–1743) (style of); National Trust, Fenton House
Portrait of a Trumpeter in Livery (called ‘Valentine Snow, 1685–1759, Sergeant Trumpeter’); Michael Dahl I (1656/1659–1743) (style of); National Trust, Fenton House

The London Daily Post and General Advertiser dated the 10th March 1743 carried an advertisement for a benefit concert to be held at New Theatre, Haymarket for Valentine Snow; it was to be ‘a concert of vocal and instrumental musick‘.  These concerts took place on a very regular basis,  with tickets available from Mr Snow’s house in Storey’s Gate.  By 1745 Valentine had moved to Duke Street, Westminster.  A curious entry appeared in the General Advertiser at the end of 1745 regarding a benefit concert which was to take place at the Swan Tavern.  It said that the trumpet was to be played by Valentine Snow and his brother.

This was the first reference we had come across to Valentine having a brother who also played the trumpet.  We assumed from that report that ultimately Valentine was regarded as being the more talented of the two.  It does however appear likely that he was named Jonathan and that Valentine named one of his sons after his brother.  If that theory is correct then Jonathan, who we had possibly wrongly assumed was not as talented as his brother, was in fact, in charge of Majesty’s Band of Musicians from 1749 having taken over from William Harris, so clearly more talented than we had initially given him credit for being.

At the beginning of 1747, His Grace, The Duke of Grafton, Lord Chamberlain, appointed Valentine to be one of his Majesty’s Band of Musicians.  In early 1753 he was appointed Sergeant Trumpeter to his Majesty. This role was regarded as highly lucrative but it was about administration rather than a playing role. All trumpet players had to apply for a license to perform in theatrical productions and were appointed by the Sergeant Trumpeter. Various notice appeared in the press instigated by Valentine regarding fees due and the penalty that could be expected for non payment.

We know that he also performed at Vauxhall Gardens from around 1745 to at least 1753; his daughter Sophia sang there some years later.  Vauxhall Gardens was, at that time, regarded as one of the main centres for public entertainment in London.  Although considered an excellent venue for concerts etc., it was also a place that young people could meet freely without the usual constraints of polite society. However, the gardens also acquired a not so welcome image as a place for prostitutes to ply their trade.  Sophia was baptized in Lambeth in the October of 1744, the only one of Valentine’s children to be baptized outside his home parish of Westminster.  Could his engagement at Vauxhall Gardens be the reason for this?

Vauxhall Gardens by Canaletto (via Wikiart)
Vauxhall Gardens c.1751 by Canaletto (via Wikiart)

As mentioned in Sophia’s blog article Valentine’s son Charles joined the Royal Navy but died around May 1759 (his father Valentine proved his son’s will on the 14 May of that year).  This death might have been the cause of Jonathan cancelling a benefit concert at the end of April 1759 for in a newspaper advertisement he says that it has been ‘stopt by an unforeseen Accident, not having the lease previous Notice of it.’

Jonathan Snow, meanwhile, was following his father’s profession.  Whilst proficient on the trumpet he was most talented as a harpsichordist.  On the 3rd April 1750, a concert was announced ‘for the Benefit of Master Jonathan Snow, a youth of nine years of age‘ at the New Theatre in the Haymarket.  It featured his father playing the trumpet, whilst Jonathan played the harpsichord.  Jonathan kept on performing after this.  On 3rd May 1764, Jonathan married Elizabeth Harrison with his father Valentine present as a witness.

It would certainly appear that despite having a relatively high profile position, Valentine either earned little or spent a lot as Elizabeth Steele, when writing Sophia’s memoirs, mentioned that at one point Valentine had been forced to pawn his trumpet and regalia and then needed them to play at Windsor. He turned to Sophia but she had no money and so it was Elizabeth who loaned him the money to get the items out of pawn.

Sophia Baddeley, Robert Baddeley and Thomas King, as they appeared in 'A Clandestine Marriage' by Johann Zoffany.
Sophia Baddeley, Robert Baddeley and Thomas King, as they appeared in ‘A Clandestine Marriage’ by Johann Zoffany.

There are quite a few documents surviving in which Valentine Snow petitioned for arrears of his salary, the last being dated the 25th October 1770.

On the 22nd December 1770 Garrick, owner of Drury Lane theatre, wrote to the Earl of Hertford about Valentine’s son Jonathan Snow. The letter (reproduced in New Garrick Letters by F.P. Lock) reads as follows:

My Lord

The Bearer Mr Snow imagines that my troubling your Lordship with a Line might be of Service to him. I have so often been impertinent, that I shall only Say, that I am well assur’d of the truth of Mr Snow’s Petition, and that without your Lordship’s favour, I fear he will be left by his Father in a very wretched situation–I must beg Your Lordship’s Pardon for saying so much

& am

My Lord Your Lordship’s most dutiful humble Servant

D: Garrick

David Garrick and his wife. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015
David Garrick and his wife.
Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015

Jonathan Snow’s petition read:

To the Right Hon[oura]ble The Earl of Hertford Lord Chamberlain of his Majesty’s Household The Humble Petition of Jonathan Snow Sheweth

That by the Death of his Father Valentine Snow, the Place of Sergeant Trumpet is now become Vacant[.] Your Lordships Petitioner with the Greatest Submission Craves Leave to inform your Lordship that the Place of Sergeant Trumpet, has gone from Father to Son for above a Century Past. your Lordships Petitioner has Through the Great Misfortunes of his Father, unavoidably become Bound in Several Large sums of Money, which will be the inevitable Ruin of him and his increasing Family, and to add to his Deep Distress, he now has an Aged Mother and a helpless Sister to Provide for.

under this Deplorable Situation Your Lordships Petitioner Most Humbly implores your Lordship to succeed his Father.

and as in Duty Bound, he and his Helpless Family shall Ever Pray
Jonathan Snow

Sophia also tried to help her brother obtain the position but this too proved unsuccessful and a Thomas Harris took Jonathan’s father’s place on the 24th January 1771. Just a few days later Valentine Snow died and was buried in the great vault at St Margaret’s, Westminster, on the 30th December 1770 with his funeral costing £40 and paid for by his daughter Sophia.


From Webb’s collection of Epitaphs, Vol II, page 4:
Thaw every breast, melt every eye with woe,
Here’s dissolution by the hand of death;
To dirt, to water’s turn’d the fairest Snow,
O! the king’s Trumpeter has lost his breath.

After his death Sophia gave her mother 3 guineas a week during her life as she was almost destitute. Sophia’s mother was at taken dangerously ill – Sophia ordered a physician and sat with her almost all the night but she was better the next day at which point Sophia and Elizabeth returned to Brighthelmstone.

Mrs Snow then deteriorated and begged to see Sophia and Elizabeth immediately. On returning they found her very ill but coherent and Dr John Eliot (the former husband of Grace Dalrymple) was sent for as Mrs Snow thought she was dying. Dr Eliot thought she wasn’t that bad but wouldn’t live six months; he was asked to attend her daily. Mrs Snow again improved so Sophia and Elizabeth planned a jaunt to Paris and on their return they found her well. However, around the end of May 1773 Sophia’s mother died (according to a report in the General Evening Post of the 1st June 1773) and was buried on the 13th June in Westminster.

A year later Jonathan Snow appeared in the London Poll books with his occupation recorded as an organist but he never achieved the acclaim his late father or sister Sophia did. After Valentine’s death his wife and daughter Mary were described as ‘helpless’ and in dire straits.  Jonathan was also soon to be declared bankrupt and he died in 1791.
The John Marsh Journal, the life and times of a Gentleman Composer (1752 – 1828), recorded that just prior to his death Jonathan was beset by gout which had seriously affected his fingers and ability to play.  The London Oracle, 18th May 1791 reported Jonathan’s death describing him as having died on the 8th of May, he was described as being ‘charitable and humane’ and financial help was solicited for his daughter and sister, blind and lame, who were left in a situation truly deplorable. He was buried at St James, Westminster on the 11th May 1791.

It would seem that despite all the prestige the family achieved none of them achieved a happy life and died in poverty. Valentine’s fame lives on today with his portrait on display at Fenton House, a National Trust property, at Hampstead Grove, London.

As a foot note we thought it might be helpful to note the abbreviations used in the St Margaret’s Burial Registers Fees, to help others searching the records.
GD Great Duty (adult) ch child
CD Child Duty pl plague
GN Great Nils SB still born
CN Child Nils CSB child still born
DD Double Duty S Soldier
G½D Great ½ Duty (half fees) SC Soldier’s child
C½D Child ½ Duty BB base born
N Nils (no fees)
CCN Child Child Nils (for brothers and sisters buried together) GDSMY Great Duty St Margaret’s Yard
GDDSMY Great Double Duty St Margaret’s Yard
G½DCY Great ½ Duty Chapel Yard (Broadway)MY St Margaret’s Church Yard CY Broadway Chapel Yard
MC Middle Church (St Margaret) NC New Chapel (Broadway)
CV Chancel Vault (St Margaret) BWC Broadway Chapel
GV Great Vault (St Margaret) CC Chapel Church (Broadway)
MtCVt St Margaret’s Chancel Vault CCC Chapel Church Chancel
MtGVt St Margaret’s Great Vault GHouse Gatehouse