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date: 02 June 2020

Tallis [Tallys, Talles], Thomaslocked

  • Paul Doe
  • , revised by David Allinson


(bc 1505; d Greenwich, 20 or Nov 23, 1585). English composer.

Although no record of his childhood has been found, Tallis must have been born in the first decade of the 16th century probably in Kent, the county with which he had lifelong professional and family connections. His earliest known documented appearance is in the accounts for 1530–31 of the modest Benedictine priory of Dover, which record that a ‘Thomas Tales’, the ‘joculator organorum’ (organist), had received an annual salary of £2 (see Haines). His name appears among the general household staff; no other musicians are listed and it is likely that the priory’s resources for the performance of polyphony were sparse. Perhaps Tallis was able to draw upon the singers employed by Dover’s nearby parent monastery, Christ Church, Canterbury, which boasted lavish musical provision. Dover Priory was dissolved in 1535 and there is no record of Tallis’s departure; we next encounter him in London, where his name appears on the ...

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