Ambrosio (Ambrose) Lupo

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Ambrosio (Ambrose) Lupo (de Almaliach)

Birthdate: (86)
Birthplace: Milan, Lombardy, Italy
Death: Died in London, England
Immediate Family:

Son of Baptist de Almaliach, di Busto Arsizio and NN wife of Baptist
Husband of Lucia Lupo
Father of Peter Lupo and Joseph Lupo
Brother of Romano Lupo and Alexander Lupo

Managed by: Pam Wilson
Last Updated:

About Ambrosio (Ambrose) Lupo

Ambrose was the founder of the Lupo family in England, and the first known member of the family to adopt the name Lupo, the Italian word for wolf.


Lupo family From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia The Lupo family was a family of court musicians in England in the 16th and 17th centuries. "Lupo", Italian for "Wolf", was often used as a surname by Jews in Gentile society. Per Holman, "It must have appealed to them as a suitably ironic name for a persecuted people who were often likened to wolves in the mythology of the time."[1]

Ambrose, son of Baptist from "Castello maiori" and "Busto in Normandy, in the republic of Malan", arrived from Venice in November 1540. On 26 April 1542 "ambrosin(o) de myllano" witnessed the will of former court musician John Anthony whose name is ultimately recorded in the probate records as "Anthonii Moyses". Two days later, Ambrose's name is recorded as "Ambrosius deolmaleyex" in the probate records, an apparent attempt by an English clerk to render the Jewish name "de Olmaliach" or "de Almaliach" ("Almaliach" being a form of the Sephardic name "Elmaleh").[2] Documents[3] of State Archive in Venice are giving now evidence that Ambrose was appointed as player of violone "sonadore de lironj (or de lirinj)" at the Scuola Grande of San Marco in Venice from 1542 to 1549. The members of the group he belonged were all from the Lombardy region (Brescia and Salò), and they included:

– Antonio de Bortholomeo da violeta da Salò;

– Bartolomeo, father of Antonio, replaced by Cornelio in 1544.

– Cornelio (who died in Istria in 1550) began playing at the Scuola in 1541. He was the son of Jacomo lauter;

– Antonio caleger (fl. 1536–1549) resident of the Contrada S. Maria Formosa, a shoemaker and player at the Scuola from 1536;

– Batista de Caro da Sallò;

– Battista de (Zan) Maria de Sallò, was replaced by Lorenzo samiter (retailer of silk fabric) in 1544.

Ambrose's two sons, Peter and Joseph, were said to have been born in Venice.[4] They joined the musicians guild in London 17 January 1555 and 20 August 1557. Joseph was appointed to the violin consort by warrant dated 16 November 1563; Peter, 20 September 1567. Ambrose, Peter and Joseph all served as court musicians for at least 40 years.[5]

Joseph's son, Thomas, was appointed to the violin consort by a warrant dated 4 May 1591; Peter's son, Thomas, 17 November 1599.[6]

Ambrose was a paid musician at the coronation of Edward VI, the burial of Henry VIII, and the coronation of Elizabeth I.[7] Joseph, Peter, Thomas Sr. and Thomas Jr. were paid musicians at the funeral of Elizabeth I.[8] Thomas Sr., Thomas Jr. and Horatio were paid musicians at the funeral of James I.[9]


  1. Jump up ^ Holman p. 82
  2. Jump up ^ Holman, Peter (1996). Four and Twenty Fiddlers: The Violin at the English Court, 1540–1690. USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 79, 81, 82.
  3. Jump up ^ Viol and Lute Makers of Venice 1490 -1630 by Stefano Pio, Ed. Venice research 2012
  4. Jump up ^ Archive State Venice, Santo Uffizio, b. n.41, fascicolo Oratio Cocco (Cogno) of 27 August 1577
  5. Jump up ^ Holman, pp. 81, 104.
  6. Jump up ^ Holman, pp. 107, 108–109
  7. Jump up ^ Henry Cart de Lafontaine, ed. (1909). The King's Musick: A Transcript of Records Relating to Music and Musicians (1460–1700). London. pp. 6, 8, 13.
  8. Jump up ^ de Lafontaine, p. 44
  9. Jump up ^ de Lafontaine, p. 57


  • Holman, Peter. Four and Twenty Fiddlers: The Violin at the English Court, 1540–1690 (Oxford University Press, USA, 14 March 1996)
  • Pio, Stefano. " Viol and Lute Makers of Venice 1490 -1630" Ed. Venice research 2012. ISBN 978-88-907252-0-3


The Early Lupos in England

(Portions of this article were adapted from Lupo, G. M., "The Lupo Family of Early Virginia" in The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 36, No. 4, October – December, 1992, pgs. 281-288.)

In November of 1540, six viol(1) players, Alexander, Ambrose and Romano of Milan, Albert and Vincenzo of Venice and Juan Maria of Cremona, received payment for their services to the English crown beginning May of that year.(2) These men had obvious Italian connections, and had been brought to England on orders from Henry VIII, who charged his agent Thomas Cromwell with finding European musicians to help improve the standards of English music of the time. Henry's preoccupation with improving British music may have been influenced more by his impending wedding to Anne of Cleves than by any desire to have a long term impact on the English musical establishment, but while his marriage lasted only a few months, the effect he would have on the music England produced would endure for over a century. Ambrose of Milan — later known as Ambrose Lupo — the longest serving of this original group of six string players, held his position at court for nearly fifty-four years, ending with his death around 1594(3).

Though identified as being of Italian origin in early state papers, it appears that Ambrose and his musical colleagues were actually Sephardic Jews of Spanish or Portuguese lineage. Evidence of this comes from a number of sources, most notably the will of another musician from 1542. Ambrose, along with Albert of Venice, Alexander of Milan and John Maria of Cremona, were witnesses to the will of John Anthony, a royal sackbut(4) player. Two days later, when the will was proved, Ambrose, as sole executor, identified John Anthony as "Anthony Moyses", and himself as "Ambrose de Almaliach", both Jewish names(5). The fact that Ambrose used the Jewish versions of his and John Anthony's names gives some insight into Ambrose's character as evidence suggests that John Anthony, as well as Romano de Milan, died while they and the rest of the string players were in prison for being suspected Marranos, that is, Jews who practiced their religion in secret while openly professing Christianity.(6) Two distinct sources provide clues to this incident. In records of the Privy Council from 4 February 1542, three individuals, Phillip Hobbin, gentleman usher, Sir Edward Kerne, and Dr. Peter, who, under command of Henry VIII, had apprehended several individuals suspected of being Jews, presented to the Privy Council records from the apprehension and inventories of the goods of the individuals in custody. The names of the suspects are not given. However, in a letter dated 29 January 1542, Eustace Chapuys, the ambassador of Spanish Emperor Charles V, in a letter to Monseigneur de Granvelle, the Emperor's chief minister, also makes reference to this event and hints at the musical background of the prisoners:

"The King has lately ordered the arrest and imprisonment of the New Christians(7) that came from Portugal. Most likely, however well they may sing, they will not be able to fly away from their cages without leaving feathers behind."(8)

Shortly after these events were recorded the remaining musicians appear to have left England for several months, probably returning to Venice. Roger Prior, in an article on Jewish musicians in Tudor England(9), suggests that this chronology of events may have occurred:

The six viol players arrived in England in May, 1540.

Under suspicion of being "Secret Jews" the musicians were placed under arrest and interrogated — Prior speculates that this could have been done, in part, to help bolster Henry's relations with Spanish authories. While in captivity, Romano of Milan and John Anthony (alias Anthony Moyses) died. Ambrose, et al. witnessed the will of John Anthony.

The musicians were allowed to quietly leave England until the situation blew over. Some months later, Ambrose and his colleagues returned, though Albert of Venice was now replaced by Francis of Venice, possibly the son of Albert.

Recently, a new source has come to light which lends weight to the notion that the Lupos were Jews. In testimony before the Inquisition in Venice, a teen-aged musician named Orazio Cogno recounts his movements while in the employ of Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, in England. Responding to questions about who he had been in contact with in England, he recalls meeting one of the Queen's musicians, identified as "Ambroso da Venezia", as well as an individual called "Master Alexandro"(10). The individuals named were apparently responsible for allowing Orazio to read material the Inquisition deemed heretical, though the content is not specified. As the leading aim of the Inquisition was to ferret out Jews who were pretending to convert to Christianity while maintaining their Jewish practices in private, mention of Ambrose, et al. within this context could be further proof of their religious background. Interestingly, Orazio states that the wife of Ambroso da Venezia still resides in Venice, which suggests Ambrose had continued dealings there after relocating to England.

Ambrose was the founder of the Lupo family in England, and the first known member of the family to adopt the name Lupo, the Italian word for wolf. This appears to have had an ironic intent behind it, since Jews at that time were commonly compared to wolves(11), though it also connotes a connection to the ancient Hebrew tribe of Benjamin (see Gen 49:27). Ambrose had two sons, Peter (b. ca. 1534) and Joseph (b. ca. 1536), who are found among a list of individuals admitted to the musicians guild in Antwerp, Belgium in 1555 and 1557 respectively. Joseph, who turns up in British State papers beginning in 1563(12), was living in Blackfriars, London in 1571, and listed as a Venetian on a return of Strangers dated that year(13). Peter was originally employed by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester beginning around 1567, and became a Queen's musician around 1570(14).

Together with their father, Peter and Joseph contributed to the long and distinguished service the Lupos performed for the British monarchy. Ambrose was among the musicians who played at the funeral of Henry VIII and the coronations of Edward and Elizabeth, while Joseph and Peter were two of four Lupos listed among the six violinists who played at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth in 1603(15).

Late in the reign of Elizabeth, Ambrose and his sons were granted a Coat of Arms. The grant, as abstracted in the publications of the Harleian Society, reads as follows:

Lupus, Ambrose, s. of Baptist, of "Castello maiori" of Busto in Normandy, in the Republic of Malan; augmentation and crest granted ? 45 Eliz. ... by W. Dethrick, Gart. Queen's College Oxford manuscript, folio 96, copy of grant in Latin; Stowe ms. 676 fo. 138b names sons Peter and Joseph.(16)

Peter Holman speculates that "Castello maiori" may represent the Venetian district of Castello in the main part of Venice, and that "Busto in Normandy, in the Republic of Milan" represents the town of Busto Arsizio, which is Northwest of Milan. The reference to "Normandy" may indicate that this region was under French control at the time of Ambrose's birth(17).

The augmentation and crest granted to the Lupos contains four Tudor roses (i.e. white over red), signifying service under Henry, Edward, Mary and Elizabeth and is a testement to their long years of service to the English royal family. This service extended into the Stuart dynasty, in the personages of Joseph's sons Thomas, Sr. and Horatio, and Peter's son Thomas, Jr.

Thomas Sr. served in the courts of Elizabeth I and James I as a musician and in the newly created post of "Composer to the Violins", starting in 1619. He received his first appointment, to replace Francesco de Venice in May, 1591, and was given an appointment for life by a warrant dated May 4, 1592(18). Thomas left behind a considerable body of work, some of which has been recorded(19). Peter Lupo's son Thomas was also a musician and composer(20), and some confusion exists as to which Thomas authored which piece, though Jennings concludes that most of the surviving works were written by Joseph's son(21), attributing differences in style to the evolution of the elder composer's technique rather than two composers.

Peter Lupo married Katherine Wicke(22) in St. Botolph's on October 27, 1575(23) and the christening records of his children appear in this parish. In a letter to a colleague, dated 18 March 1578, Peter, in a mix of Italian, Latin and Spanish, mentions having returned from Hampton Court, a royal residence outside of London, and speaks of his oldest daughter who is infected with the plague. There was a major outbreak of the plague in London in 1578, which is probably what prompted the royal trip to Hampton Court. In a second letter from around the same time, Peter writes to the Earl of Essex inquiring about a piece of music in the earl's possession which Peter has been asked to perform. In 1606, Peter was living at Sandwich, Kent, according to the marriage record of his daughter Mary to Thomas Cawdell in St. Margaret New Fish Street, London(24). He appears to have died around 1608.


Ambrose had two sons, Peter (b. ca. 1534) and Joseph (b. ca. 1536), who are found among a list of individuals admitted to the musicians guild in Antwerp, Belgium in 1555 and 1557 respectively.

Joseph, who turns up in British State papers beginning in 1563, was living in Blackfriars, London in 1571, and listed as a Venetian on a return of Strangers dated that year.

Peter was originally employed by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester beginning around 1567, and became a Queen's musician around 1570.

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Ambrosio (Ambrose) Lupo's Timeline

Milan, Lombardy, Italy
Age 29
Milano, Lombardia, Italia
Age 31
Milan, Lombardy, Italy
February 10, 1591
Age 86
London, England