Although Harland’s transcript links neither names nor payments to specific instruments, research sheds more light on the identification of performers who were paid. Judging by the differences in payment, it can be assumed that four of the most frequently occurring names were performers, possibly originating from further afield than Manchester. The fees may also reflect reimbursement for travel. 

Steemson and his wife. [London?], Richardson and Whiteman.

According to Harland’s transcript, Steemsonand his wife participated in all but one of the first quarter’s six concerts, and appeared in all three quarters. Like others, they both took a reduction in ‘sums paid’ during the third quarter, presumably as falling subscriptions reflected the intensifying political situation. The only concert where Steemson’s wife is not present is the one where there are no ‘songs’, allowing us to conclude that she was the singer. According to Harland’s transcript, she and her husband Paul Steemsonboth earned £2. 2s(two guineas) per concert. For the concert without his wife, Steemsonreceived £1. 1s(one guinea, people of superior status were usually paid in guineas) and may therefore be considered as a core member of the ensemble, perhaps one of the solo violinists. That his wife’s fee is equal to her husband’s suggests a certain fame and notability for her. A catalogue of women composers working in London at the time identifies a Miss Steemson, perhaps a daughter or relative.

Richardsonand Whiteman received higher sums of £1. 11sand £1. 16s respectively. Richardson is thought to be the flautist known to have been involved in the Manchester concerts later on in the eighteenth century. 5. This would concur with the concert repertory of 1744/45, which strongly features the flute. Whiteman’s specific role may only be conjectured from the Musick. His slightly higher fee, even if partly for travel, suggests solo violin, although not necessarily ‘leader’ since he is not accounted for in either the first or third concert. A stringed instrument, particularly the violin, is likely for Derec,whoalso received a guinea.Dickanson andMarsdenmay have been reimbursed with more modest fees for playing or for other services.6Ticket sale reimbursements are often listed with the recipient’s name and title (such as Mr. Newton, Mr. Budworth and Mr. Grundy), as are activities such as renting out the harpsichord, tuning it or removing it ‘several times’. Conversely, names are omitted for the more humble jobs such as ‘bellman’ or ‘doorkeeper’. The main players are referred to by surname. Other unidentified names, who may also be players, in spite of their manner of address, are Miss Newton 2s(one evening) and Ned Jackson, whose ‘bill for the whole quarter’ was a fairly substantial £5. 15s 6d.          


 The remaining and most prominent name is ‘Wainwright’, that of a renowned musical family in eighteenth-century Manchester. Of them, John Wainwright (1723–1768) is the only member of his generation to be commended in current music reference works such as The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. In the journal Manchester Sounds (Vol. 3, 2002),further details of the Wainwright family are revealed,7although the identity of ‘his brother’ is still unclear. Two identified sons, a singer and double bassist, were born a few years later. 

The second quarter informs us that, ‘Wainwright and his brother’ received a slightly higher fee of 13s. It is likely that John Wainwright, then a young man, was the harpsichordist in these early Manchester concerts. It is not known which instrument his brother played, but the proposition that ‘Wainwright’ is John rather than the brother (who was worth only an extra 2s. 6d.) is supported by the following: the concert on November 27th introduces a ‘Mr. Betts’ for a one-off appearance. This is likely to be Edward Betts, organist of the Collegiate Church, invited by John Wainwright who was for a time his assistant and succeeded him in the post in 1767. In this same concert Wainwright is seen to take a rise in fee, from 6s 6d. to 7s 6d., perhaps indicating a more established position and responsibilities. This concert shows the first inclusion of ‘wine for ye performers, 1s 8d.’. Mr. Betts was paid 10s. 6d. (half a guinea), which seems to be the highest ‘local’ fee. Wainwright took a second increase in payment for the last two concerts of the first quarter, also receiving 10s 6d.

 Naturally, it is not possible to be certain since musicians would often play more than one instrument. Wainwright, the well-known and accomplished keyboard player, may have played another instrument on the evening that Mr. Betts joined the ensemble, or perhaps the harpsichord workload was shared, assuming Mr. Betts was Edward and not a non-keyboardist relative or namesake. A singer is in any case ruled out as the ‘musick’ for this concert is devoid of ‘songs’.

 The size of the ensemble is impossible to ascertain. The record book does not rule out amateur participation and may even imply semi-professional participation. John Alcock (before 1750) reported that at a performance in Stockport ‘all the Instrumental Parts, perform’d by Tradesmen (most of them from Manchester) amongst which were only two Professors of Music’. 8

No slant or judgement is necessarily intended, but that professionals performed with tradesmen is confirmed. Perhaps the number of players in the first quarter of the Manchester’s concerts averaged between six and eight (professionals and the lesser-earning, potentially ‘semi-professionals’), but this was also open to expansion from an unrecorded involvement of amateur musicians. 

 For the purposes of our programme reconstructions, we have decided to perform the many Concerti Grossi with eight players. This is based primarily on the conviction that the performance-practice option to play, for example, Corelli’s concertos either omitting or doubling the ripienoparts was primarily an eighteenth-century marketing ploy; a larger-scale concert, then as well as now, benefits from having all the available parts.

Opera sesta.

XII Great Concertos or Sonatas,

for two Violins and a Violoncello:

or for two Violins more, a Tenor and a Thorough Bass; which may be doubled at Pleasure, being the Sixth and last work of Arcangelo Corelli…

Walsh, London [ca.1730]


5 Jennifer Burchell, Polite or Commercial Concerts? Concert Management and Orchestral Repertoire in Edinburgh, Bath, Oxford, Manchester and Newcastle, 1730-1799 (New York and London: Garland Publishing, 1996), p. 252.

Dickansonand Marsdenwere local men of standing, both reported to have provided accommodation for the Young Pretender.

7 Sally Drage, ‘The Wainwright Family: A Reappraisal — Part 1’, Manchester Sounds Vol. 3 (2002), pp.91-106.

8 Drage, ibid., p. 93.