Hudleston Music

J. A. Hudleston: The Early Years

Josiah Andrew Hudleston was born in Bray, Berkshire, England, on 22 February 1799, the fourth son of John Hudleston and Honoria Marshall. John, born in 1749, was an employee of the Honourable East India Company for all of his life. He had lived in India some time before Josiah’s birth, and had been a member of the Madras Council. At the time of Josiah’s birth, he was a member of the Company’s Civil Service, and he was later one of the Company’s directors (1803-1826). He was also a Member of Parliament for Bridgwater (1804-1806). John died in 1835.

Josiah’s mother, Honoria, was born in County Donegal, Ireland. John married her in 1788, and she died in 1807, when Josiah was only 8 years old.

Very often entire families were involved in the East India Company, and the higher officers would frequently send all of their sons to the Far East. The Hudleston family was no exception: Josiah’s brothers John (1789-1823) and William (1793-1855) were in the Company’s Indian Civil Service; his brothers Frederick (1794-1865) and Robert (1801-1877) were in the Company’s China Service.

John Hudleston (1749-1835)

Honoria Hudleston (??-1807)

Like all prospective East India Company employees, Josiah was educated at Haileybury College, Hertfordshire. The college had been founded by the Company directors in 1805, as a response to the founding, by Lord Wellesley, of Fort William College in Calcutta, because they had “decided that the European part of the curriculum was better presented in the English countryside” (Geoffery Moorhouse, India Britannica), that is, before the new employees experienced India directly. Josiah applied for admission to Haileybury in 1815, and was accepted, which is no surprise; the fact that his father was a Company Director nearly guaranteed him a place. He then began the usual study of classical and general literature, natural philosophy, law, history, mathematics, and political economy. Also part of the curriculum was a rudimentary study of Oriental languages, and Hudleston apparently learned Persian. According to a letter of Hudleston’s to Coghill Glendower Ottley, of the Madras Army, he also began his music studies while at Haileybury, taking up the guitar around 1816.

The guitar was not the most obvious instrument for Hudleston to choose. There were few guitarists in England before 1815, and the instrument was used primarily to accompany singers and was not generally considered appropriate for solo performance. Of the handful of guitarists in London previous to 1815, only Philip Verini could have been inspirational enough to have been a model for Hudleston, and although it is possible that Verini was acquainted with the Hudleston family (as we shall see later), a far more significant event occurred in 1815 which could explain Hudleston’s new-found enthusiasm for the guitar: the arrival of Fernando Sor in London, and his first concert there on 20 April. An announcement for the concert in the Morning Post stated that “Mr. Sor, the most celebrated Performer in Europe on the Spanish Guitar, and who is just arrived in England, will, in the course of the evening, execute a Fantasia on that instrument (being his first public appearance in this country).” London was a short journey from Haileybury or from Maidenhead (where Josiah’s parents were then living), and it is certainly possible that Hudleston went to hear Sor, if not on this occasion, on one of many others during 1815 and 1816, and was so impressed that he decided to take up the guitar himself.

Whatever the case may have been, Hudleston would have been happy to have a guitar with him during the voyage to India, and it is possible that he took up the instrument simply to have something to do during his time aboard the ship.

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