Birchensha, [Berchenshaw, Berkenshaw, Birkenshaw], John
- Christopher D.S. Field
(b early 17th century; d London, bur. May 14, 1681). English theorist, composer and teacher. He seems to have been a younger son of Sir Ralph Birchensha, who in 1598 was sent to Ireland as Comptroller of the Musters and Cheques. According to Anthony Wood (GB-Ob Wood D 19 , f.19) he resided in Ireland with the Earl of Kildare until the rebellion of 1641 forced him to quit Dublin for London. In A Musicall Banquet (1651) he is listed among teachers of the viol active in London; but it was as a teacher of the rudiments of composition that he made his name. He boasted that by means of his rules ‘not only those, who skillfully can sing or play on some Instrument, may learn to compose but also those, who can neither sing nor play’ (letter to the Royal Society, 26 April 1664...