CONSIDERABLE confusion has been caused by the very name of this composer, for the simple reason that the prefix 'Sir' was applied to a priest as well as to a knight, but inasmuch as some of the manuscripts containing compositions by Hawte definitely gave his full name as 'Sir William Hawte, miles', there is no question but that the composer is to be equated with a knight and not with a priest. However, strange as it may seem, there has been a new difficulty over the identity of the particular miles, for it appears that there were two individuals of the same name almost contemporaneous; at least, there were two knights of that name who flourished one under Henry VII and the other under Henry VIII. Yet the difficulty is easily solved, inasmuch as experts are agreed that the manuscripts containing Hawte's compositions are almost certainly prior to the year 1500; in fact, the Pepysian Catalogue, MS. 1236, is tentatively dated as from the period of King Edward IV, that is to say, from 1461-82. Neither Burney nor Hawkins furnishes any biographical data for this early Tudor composer, and Mr. Henry Davey gives no help save that he prefers to date the period of Hawte's activity as ' 1480- 1500' ( History of English Music, new edition, 1921, p. 81). As will be seen, Hawte flourished under Henry VI, Edward IV, Richard III, and Henry VII.
Sir William Hawte was son of William Hawte, Esquire, who made his will on May 9, 1462, and who desired that his body was to be buried with his two wives in the church of the Austin Friars, Canterbury, before the statue of St. Catherine. The first mention in official records of William Hawte is on May 19, 1457, when he received a commission to see about the erection of beacons on the sea-coast. In this commission he is styled ' William Hawte the younger'--his father being still alive; and we may therefore assume that he was then over twenty-one years of age, which
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Publication information: Book title: Early Tudor Composers:Biographical Sketches of Thirty-Two Musicians and Composers of the Period 1485-1555. Contributors: W. Henry Hadow - Author, William H. Grattan Flood - Author. Publisher: Oxford university Press, H. Milford. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1925. Page number: 76.