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James P Aykroyd

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Name  James Aykroyd
Role  Composer
Died  1835

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James P. Aykroyd (1810– July 1835 in Nashville, Tennessee) was an early American composer, arranger, and music educator of piano, organ, and voice in New Bern, North Carolina, Raleigh, North Carolina, and Nashville, Tennessee. He also owned a general store — first in New Bern, then in Nashville — selling dry goods, groceries, sheet music, and musical instruments – including pianos. In New Bern, Aykroyd was the organist and choir director at the 1824 dedication of the then newly constructed Christ Episcopal Church.


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Music in North Carolina

In nearly every North Carolina village where there was an academy there was also a music teacher, an art teacher, and sometimes a dancing teacher. In some of these towns, such as New Bern, Raleigh, Greensboro, and Wilmington, there were music teachers independent of academy patronage. Aykroyd's general store was "One door North of the Bank of Newbern."

Aykroyd, as early as August 11, 1821, advertised in the Newbern Sentinel:

The inhabitants of Newbern are respectfully informed that JAMES AYKROYD, Professor of Instrumental and Vocal Music, contemplates establishing himself in Newbern, the ensuing November, as a Teacher of those Sciences, and respectfully solicits a portion of publick patronage. His terms will be moderate.

Piano Fortes and other musical instruments, warranted to be of the best quality, together with every description of Music, can be had by leaving orders with John W. Guion, Esq. N.B. Piano Fortes, &c. tuned and repaired by J.A.

July 28—eow t1 Nov.—175

In 1823, Aykroyd, then of New Bern, "respectfully informed the citizens of Hillsboro and its vicinity that he intended giving lessons in music there during the summer months." His terms were "for the Piano, twelve dollars a quarter, for lessons every other week; and three dollars for vocal music, two lessons every other week."

In 1826, Aykroyd posted an announcement in the Raleigh Register:

In Nashville, until his death in 1835, Aykroyd had a large music store on Union Street, near the Union Bank.

Selected compositions

  • The Siren: A Collection of Sacred Music, edited and arranged by James Aykroyd, published by G.E. Blake, Philadelphia (1822) OCLC 55853682
  • "How Dear to the Heart," sung by Mrs. French, published by G.E. Blake, Philadelphia
  • "Yet Stay Awhile," with variations for the Piano Forte of Harp, published by G.E. Blake, Philadelphia
  • The American and New Orleans Favorite Waltzes for the Piano Forte, published by G.E. Blake, Philadelphia OCLC 22050150 OCLC 726900766 Composed & respectfully dedicated to Miss Caroline Chapman, by J. Aykroyd
  • From the Thomas Alva Edison Collection of American Sheet, Music Library of the University of Michigan

  • The broken vow, or, Theodosius to Constantia: sung by Mrs. French published by G.E. Blake, Philadelphia (1824) OCLC 42779455
  • The Pirate Lover, sung by Mrs. French, published by G.E. Blake, Philadelphia (1824) OCLC 78192158 OCLC 367910292 OCLC 81286374 Poetry by James Gates Percival, music composed and respectfully inscribed to Mrs. J. A. Brown by J. Aykroyd
  • The Tell Tale Eye, sung by Mrs. French, published by G.E. Blake, Philadelphia (1824) OCLC 42779459
  • Sample sheet music that Aykroyd sold

    Aykroyd used an ink stamp to identify himself as a music dealer on the sheet music he sold. It read:

    Sold by JAMES AYKROYD, Teacher of Music, New Bern. Where are sold, Music and Instruments of every description.

    A sample of the sheet music sold and stamp he used is at the Music Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; viz:

  • "The Blue Bell of Scotland," with variations for the piano forte or harp (a new edition) by Jean Tatton Latour (1776–1840), published by George E. Blake, Philadelphia
  • Musical family

    James married Elizabeth Bettner (died 12 March 1869). James and Elizabeth were married on July 12, 1824, in New Bern, Craven County, North Carolina. Elizabeth was a music teacher in both New Bern and Nashville. Elizabeth's will was filed July 10, 1869, in Will Book 21, Page 345, Davidson County, Tennessee.

    James and Elizabeth Aykroyd had four children, all born in New Bern:

    1. Julia Blake Aykroyd, (born 21 July 1825; died 28 July 1825 New Bern)
    2. William James Aykroyd (born 28 July 1827; died 5 November 1832, Nashville) photo of grave marker
    3. Eliza Jones Aykroyd (born 11 December 1828)
    4. Maria Caroline Aykroyd (born 20 June 1831)

    Eliza Jane McKissack and Maria Caroline Cauthorn (born 20 June 1831, New Bern, North Carolina; died 17 September 1894) taught music.

    Maria had married Benjamin F. Cauthorn (born 20 July 1836, Virginia; died 1 June 1902); both were buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery, Nashville, Tennessee (tombstone image for Maria); (tombstone image for Benjamin). Maria was a music teacher in Nashville. Maria's will was filed September 1894 in Will Book 32, Page 438, Davidson County, Tennessee.

    Eliza Jane McKissack was the founding head of music (1890) at what now is the University of North Texas College of Music.


    Aykroyd is listed as an 1823 member of the Dialectic Society.


    Aykroyd died in early July 1935 in Nashville "from the effects of laudanum" and was buried July 5, 1935. The community held a benefit for his children, for which the following announcement was posted in the Nashville Banner and Nashville Whig, October 12, 1835:

    Orphan Children of the Late J. Aykroyd
    MR. MAREK, with the aid of professional gentlemen and amateurs, proposes to give a Concert of Sacred Music, or Oratorio, for the benefit of the orphan children of the late JAMES AYKROYD, under patronage of the gentlemen named below, who have kindly volunteered to act as managers, on Wednesday evening next, the 13th inst, at 7 o'clock, in the EPISCOPAL CHURCH. Tickets to be had at the several Bookstores.


    James P. Aykroyd Wikipedia

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