William Holder

William Holder FRS (1616 – 24 January 1698) was an English clergyman and music theorist of the 17th century. His most notable work was his widely known 1694 publication A Treatise on the Natural Grounds and Principles of Harmony.[1]


He studied at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, where he became a fellow in 1640.[2] He married Susanna Wren, sister of Christopher Wren, in 1643. In 1662 he received a D.D. Oxon., and was a fellow of the Royal Society in 1663. He became a Canon of St. Paul's in 1672, and served as sub-dean of the Chapel Royal from 1674 until 1689 when he resigned. In 1687 he had been preferred to the rectory of Therfield. A few of his musical compositions survive in the British Library in the Harleian MSS 7338 and 7339.[3]

In 1660 at Bletchingdon he taught a deaf mute, Alexander Popham to speak "plainly and distinctly, and with a good and graceful tone". The division of credit for this between Holder and John Wallis became a matter of dispute in the Royal Society.[4][5]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ * Johnson, Jane Troy. The rules for 'Through Bass' and for tuning attributed to Handel, Early Music, February 1989; "...well-circulated and copied about in the first part of the 18th century." footnotes p. 77.
  2. ^ "Holder, William (HLDR633W)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. ^ Poole, H. Edmund. The Printing of William Holder's 'Principles of Harmony', Proceedings of the Royal Music Association, vol. 101, 1974. pp. 31–43, at p. 31.
  4. ^ Jonathan Rée, I See a Voice (1999), pp. 107–8.
  5. ^ Elliott, Jane (26 July 2008). "Find could end 350-year science dispute". BBC News. Retrieved 27 July 2008.
  • Holder, William, A Treatise on the Natural Grounds, and Principles of Harmony, facsimile of the 1694 edition, Broude Brothers, New York, 1967.
  • Stanley, Jerome, "William Holder And His Position in Seventeenth-Century Philosophy and Music Theory, The Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston, N.Y., 2002.


  1. ^ Miami University Amos Music Library