see caption
Samuel Linley in his midshipman’s uniform, by Thomas Gainsborough
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Samuel Linley (1760–1778) was an oboist, singer and junior naval officer. A member of the musically talented Linley family fathered by Thomas Linley English tenor, musician and composer whose musically talented children were described as "a Nest of Nightingales" English tenor, musician and composer whose musically talented children were described as "a Nest of Nightingales" , he first performed on stage in 1766.

Probably taught his oboe skills by William Herschel, Samuel participated as a singer in his father’s concerts as a young teenager during 1774 and 1775. Unlike his other siblings he did not wish to follow a professional musical career and opted to pursue a nautical life instead. Thomas GainsboroughPortrait and landscape painter, and a founding member of the Royal Academy of Arts. Portrait and landscape painter, and a founding member of the Royal Academy of Arts. , artist and close family friend, completed a portrait of Samuel dressed in his midshipman’s uniform immediately prior to Samuel leaving for his first voyage aboard HMS Thunderer in 1778.

Along with several other crew members, Samuel contracted a cholera-like disease and the ship returned to Portsmouth; he was in a feverish state when his father collected him at the port to return him back to the family home in London. Despite intensive nursing by a teenage maidservant, the infection was fatal; his death was registered on 6 December 1778.

Life


Samuel Linley was the second son of Thomas Linley English tenor, musician and composer whose musically talented children were described as "a Nest of Nightingales" English tenor, musician and composer whose musically talented children were described as "a Nest of Nightingales" and Mary Johnson, one of the couple’s eight musical siblings. Born when the family were living in Bath, Somerset, during 1760,[1] he was baptised on 23 June that year.[2] His first public performance was dancing the hornpipe for a production of King John in Bristol when he was six years old. He sang in his father’s concerts during 1774 and 1775, and played the oboe, an instrument he was probably taught to play by William Herschel.[1]

In a departure from the musical life undertaken by other members of the family, in 1778 Samuel was eager to pursue a naval career. Encouraged by his father’s friend, Captain Walsingham, he became a midshipman on HMS Thunderer.[3] Thomas GainsboroughPortrait and landscape painter, and a founding member of the Royal Academy of Arts. Portrait and landscape painter, and a founding member of the Royal Academy of Arts. had been a close friend of the Linley family since his arrival in Bath during 1759 and he painted several portraits of them.[4] He captured a likeness of Samuel dressed in his midshipman’s outfit just prior to him joining the vessel for his first sailing. The artist completed the painting in 48 minutes.[5]

Death


Thomas Linley had moved his family from Bath to a house on Norfolk Street in London by 1778. In December the family were at home mourning the sudden loss of their eldest son, also named Thomas, who aged twenty-two years, had died in a boating accident during August. Linley was notified that the Thunderer was returning to Portsmouth as the crew, including Samuel, were infected with a cholera-like disease. He travelled to the port, collected Samuel, who was in a feverish state, and returned with him to Norfolk Street.[6]

Emma Hart, who went on to be Lady Hamilton and became the mistress of Horatio, Lord Nelson, was employed by the Linley family as a maid servant;[7] she nursed Samuel during his illness but was distraught when he died a few days later, immediately leaving the house. The register of his burial is dated 6 December 1778.[8]. Henry Angelo, one of the pallbearers, recalled in his memoirs that “no entreaties could prevail upon her to remain, not even a day.”[9]

Citations



Bibliography


Angelo, H. (1830). Reminiscences of Henry Angelo: With Memoirs of His Late Father and Friends (Vol. 2). Colburn and Bentley.
Black, C. (1911). The Linleys of Bath. Martin Secker.
Bor, M., & Clelland, L. (1962). Still the Lark: A Biography of Elizabeth Linley. Merlin Press.
Chedzoy, A. (1998). Sheridan’s Nightingale. Allison & Busby.
Pocock, T. (2007). Hamilton [née Lyon], Emma, Lady Hamilton (bap. 1765, d. 1815), social celebrity and artist’s model. In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Vol. 1). Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/12063
Waterfield, G. (1988). A Nest of Nightingales. Dulwich Picture Gallery.