Nicholas "The Elder" Lanier, Sr.

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Nicholas Lanier

Birthdate: (67)
Birthplace: Rouen, Seine-Maritime, Haute-Normandie
Death: Died in East Greenwich, Kent, England
Place of Burial: Kent, England
Immediate Family:

Son of John Jerome Lanier, Sr.; John Lanier; Jane Joan Lanier and Joane Lanier
Husband of NN Lanier and Lucretia / Lucreece Lanier
Father of John Lanier; Anne Lanier; Jerome Lanier; Alphonso Lanier; Innocent Lanier and 6 others
Brother of John Lanier, Jr.; Barbara Lanier; Mary Lanier; Celia Lanier and Jeanne Lanier

Occupation: Court Musician, Musician of the Flutes, Musician France and England
Managed by: Angus Wood-Salomon
Last Updated:

About Nicholas "The Elder" Lanier, Sr.

Lanier Family Page

BIO: In 1561 the Earl of Hertford was visiting Paris and met there young Nicholas Laniere, who had been in the Court of the late King Henri II; he was recommended as a good flute player and also of the cornet. He was considered to be sober, honest, and born at Rouen. He was engaged to serve as messenger and a replacement for Peter Guillaume, one of the Queen's flute players lately dead. Confirmation of his services under Henri II is to be found in the lists of "chantres et autres Jouers d'instruments" of the French King's Chambers, which include Nicholas Lasnierr for the years 1559 and 1560. He moved to East Greenwich, Kent, England, where he was one of the musicians to the Courts of Queen Elizabeth and King James until his death about 1612. He was a very wealthy man, having extensive holdings in Blackheath and the surrounding country, south of the Thames and about five miles east of the London Bridge. He married Lucrece Bassano, perhaps daughter of one of the Italian musicians in the Royal Orchestra. They had six sons, all of whom were musicians to the Queen and Kings; there were also four daughters and eight or more grandsons who became members of the Royal Orchestra, making three generations serving the Royal family. In 1604, Nicholas Lanier was named "Musician of the Flutes" and after his death his son Andrea succeeded him for life.

WILL: The will of Nicholas Lanier, Gent. was dated January 28, 1611/12, and proved July 1612, Rochester XIX, folia 514. "To Lucreece my wife, all my lands, and goods; to sons John, Alphonse, Innocent, Jerome, Clement, 12 shillings; to Andrea 20 pounds if he doesn not have my place; my four daughters, three of whom are unmarried, I leave to the discretion of my wife

Lucreece, my sole executric."

Nicholas Lanier the Elder


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nicholas Lanier the Elder was a French musician who played the flute and the cornett.

He was born in Rouen, France, and died in England. He served as a court musician to King Henry II of France in France (listed as the royal flutist on the Chantres et autres Jouers d'instruments for 1559-60). During the Protestant persecutions in France, the Lanier family fled as Huguenots to England. It is said that safe passage was arranged by Queen Catherine de' Medici. Nicholas arrived in 1561 and settled in St. Olave Parish, Hart Street, London. After arrival in England he served in the court of Queen Elizabeth I of England, reported first in 1561. The name of Lanier's first wife is unknown (he married her some time before 1565), but following the custom that at court, marriages were arranged or at least approved by the Queen. Nicholas Lanier was paired with Lucretia Bassano, daughter of the Italian musician Anthony Bassano. The couple prospered, acquiring a great deal of property in East Greenwich, Blackheath, and nearby. Their home was reportedly fitted up with a theatre. Nicholas Lanier was appointed Musician of the Flutes in 1604. He served Henry II of France and Elizabeth I and James I of England. Three generations of this remarkable family served British royalty as court musicians, poets and artists; their efforts are well-documented and their efforts were well-rewarded.

As noted, Nicholas Lanier's first wife's name is unknown, however, they did have two, or possibly three children, of whom one was John Lanier, father of the artist-musician Nicholas Lanier, the most famous of the Laniers. With Lucretia Bassano, he had nine children, including the musicians Alphonso, Innocent, Jerome Lanier, Clement Lanier and Andrea, and Ellen Lanier, who married Alphonse Ferrabosco II. After his death, Andrea succeeded him as Musician of the Flutes for life.


The name Lanier is derived from the ancient French tongue, and means a "falcon." The family origins are from the province of Gascony in Southern France, and perhaps Tuscany in Northern Italy.

In 1561 the English Earl of Hertford was visiting in Paris and met a young Nicholas Laniere, born in Roven, France who had been a flute player in the court of the late King Henry II of France. He was recruited to replace a flute player who had died in Queen Elizabeth I's court.

Nicholas and John Laniere (a cousin or brother) settled in the Parish of St. Olave in London. Nicholas was married before 1565 to Lucreece (last name unknown). They had 6 sons, all of whom were musicians of the royal court, and 4 daughters, 2 of whom married musicians. Eight grandsons later became musicians to the royal court. In 1604 Nicholas Laniere, Sr. was named "Musician of the Flutes."


Name: Nicholas Lanier

Sex: M

Birth: ABT 1544 in Rouen, France

Death: 31 JAN 1610


Huguenot in France that was sent for in Eng by the Royal Court to be a musician in the Royal Court.

Queen Catherine de Medici was his patron

Earl of Hereford in 1561 approached him with offer to replace a musicican in the English Court

Came from Court of Henri II of France (listed as the royal flutist)

Queen Elizabeth I arranged his marriage to Lucreece Bassano in Feb 24,1570. Also in Court of king James of Eng

Played flute and cornet

Married Feb 13, 1570/71 in All Hallows Parish, London, Eng

Had six sons that played in the Engish Court and eight or more grandsons that played in the Royal orchestra

Grandfather of Nicholas Lanier the Younger that worked with William Shakespeare and Ben Johnson in plays, song writing and singing. Nicholas the Younger was also an artist.

-------------------------- research by Peggy Ann Couch Newsom

The LANIER family is an interesting family with an interesting history. Several people have researched and written about the Lanier's. Tyler's Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine, Vols, III, VI and VII, VA Magazine of History and Biog. Vol. XV, p. 77, Vols, XV, XXIX, and Louise Ingersoll's book, LANIER. Then of course, Ben R. Brewer has a chapter about the Laniers in his book. Louise Ingersoll's book is a genealogy of the Lanier family who came to Virginia and their French Ancestors of London. She spent twenty years in research. Her main objective was to find the correct English Ancestry of the immigrants who came Virginia.

LANIER derived, probably from the ancient French language meaning "Falcon". It could have originated from the word "lanier" or "lanner", a word used in hawking. It has been found spelled several ways: Lanyier, Lanere, Laner, Lanyear, Lanear, Laniere, and Lanier.

The Laniers are of French descent and originally come from Gascony, the southern most part of France. One famous American Lanier was Sidney Lanier, the poet. The Laniers were Protestants in France, and were involved in the persecution which reached it's peak in 1572 with the massacre of St. Bartholomew. The Lanier family fled to London, and the records of the Huguenot Society of London have them on record. They were in London for three generations before coming to America, so they are Huguenots to London, rather than Huguenots to America.


Our first Lanier generation begins with Nicholas Lanier in the Courts of King Henry II of France, Queen Elizabeth and King James of England. This was a family of musicians and the ancestor of our American Laniers. Nicholas Lanier's proof of service to Henry II is found in the "Chantres et autres Jouers of d'instruments" of the French King's Chambers for the years of 1559-1560. Nicholas served in the Court of Henry II of France and the Court of Queen Elizabeth and King James of England. Nicholas married ca 1565 to Lucreece and they had six sons , all musicians of the Royal Family, and four daughters; and two of them married musicians. Nicholas later had at least eight or more grandsons to become members of the Royal Orchestra. Three generations served the Royal Family. Nicholas Lanier was named Musician of the Flutes in 1604.

The Will Abstract of Nicholas was dated January 28, 1611-12, and proved July 1612, in the Rochester XIX, folio 514. To my wife Lucreece, all my lands and goods; to sons John, Alphonse, Innocent, Jerome, Clement, 12 shillings; to Andrea 20 pounds if he does not have my place; my four daughters, three of whom are unmarried, I leave to the discretion of my wife Lucreece, my sole EX. Lucreece Lanier was buried in east Greenwich, January 4, 1633-4. Her will is recorded in the Rochester Register XXII, folio l05.

Children: Most were musicians and married musicians.

1. John Lanier, born 1565, will dated November 21, 1616, proved December 21, 1616. Married October 17, 1585 Frances, daughter of Mark Anthony Galliardello and Margerie Galliardello. John Lanier was buried in the Chancel of Camberwell Church near his mother-in-law. John had a son, Nicholas Lanier, who became very prominent . His portrait was painted by Vandyke and by Livensz. The portrait of Nicholas Lanier by Vandyck was painted in Genoa, Italy in 1632. Nicholas was sent abroad by the King in 1625 to purchase paintings, statues, and fine art. During the Civil War, many of the King's fine art pieces were sold at auction. Many of the Laniers bought these paintings, of which Nicholas bought his own portrait by Van Dyck. His uncles, Jerome and Clement Lanier (Our line) also bought pieces of the art collection. The Civil War was responsible for the loss of many fortunes, the Laniers included. However, after following the Stewarts into exile, the Laniers were returned to their high position. Children were: Mark Anthony, John, Francis; and daughters, Lucretia, Elizabeth, and Judith.#

2. Alphonse Lanier, died November 1613, and married Amelia. He had a son, Henry Lanier.

3. Innocent Lanier, died early 1625.

4. Jerome Lanier, buried December 1, 1659. Married Phrisdiswith Grafton.

5. Clement Lanier. (Our line)

6. Andrea Lanier, married Joyce Perry.

7. Ellen Lanier, burried August 3, 1638, married Alphonse Ferrabosco.

8. Frances Lanier, married Thomas Foxe, February 4, 1618.

9. Mary Lanier, buried October 13, 1676.

10. Katherine Lanier, died before September 2, 1660, married Daniel Farrand. Nicholas LANIER and Lucretia "Lucreece" BASSANO were married in 1565 in All Hallows Barking, London, England.

This Family's Coat of Arms (see Scrapbook) is of the Crusading origin. The cross of squares is called an "honorable ordinary" and is one of the symbols of nobility. The cross is also a Crusading emblem, each square denoting a year spent upon the Crusades by the ancestor. The bordure is another honorable ordinary and an additional mark of nobility. The falcon is a heraldic pun, called a "cantling" and is a play upon the name. The lion, the symbol of bravery, is taken from the family residence. It is the Lion of Gascony. In the arms, blue is the color of truth, silver of loyalty, and gold of strength and purity.

The name of Lanier is derived from the ancient French tongue and means a “Falcon”. So far as written records show, the family is of French descent, and is from the province of Gascony in southern France; however, older records show a Tuscany family in northern Italy of the same name, and several genealogists claim that the family moved from Tuscany to Gascony after the Crusades.

The records of the Huguenot Society of London show a John Lanye living in County Surry in 1547; a record of 1 July 1544 gives a John Lanye, laborer, born Normandy, age 50 years, in England 30 years, married an English woman, six children; and a Nicholas Laneares in London in 1550, a denizen. John Lanyer, a musician, arrived in London in 1561 with his wife Joan, and two children; and Nicholas Lanier arrived from Paris in 1561. Both were musicians to the Queen.

The Laniers were Protestants who left France to escape the early persecutions. Protestantism began in 1555, and the height of the persecutions was reached in the massacre of St. Bartholomew on the eve of August 24, 1572. It was in 1560 that the conspiracy began. One party hoped to enrich themselves by the estates of the heretics who were executed, or banished. The other party hoped to gain the favor of the masses by punishing the Protestants. The estates of those who fled were sold, their children who remained behind were exposed to the greatest sufferings. France lost thousands of useful and rich inhabitants whose industry, wealth, and skills found a welcome reception in foreign countries. To prevent the emigration of the Protestants, the frontiers were guarded with the utmost vigilance; yet more than 500,000 fled to England, Holland, Switzerland, and Germany. The Laniers were Huguenots to London, and are well recorded in the books of the Huguenot Society of London, but could not be called Huguenots to America, having been naturalized Englishmen for three generations. However, their descendants are eligible to join the Huguenot Society. There were two Laniers who fled France at the same time, in 1561, both settling in the Parish of St. Olave in London. They are John and Nicholas. It is possible they were brothers or cousins. Nicholas is the Lanier we are directly related to.


•Note: Information provided by: Mildred Inez Holmes Lanier Wayne D. Lanier at: Carol Middleton Louise Ingersoll: from the book "Lanier" •Birth: 1544 in Rouen, France •Death: 31 Jan 1610/11 in County Kent, England •Occupation: Musician France and England •Note: He was in the Court of King Henry II of France (listed as the royal flutist), and also the Court of Queen Elizabeth, and King James of England. He was the founder of the Lanier family of musicians, and the ancestor of the American Laniers. He played the flute and the cornet. During the Protestant persecutions, he was a Huguenot to England with safe passage arranged for him by his patroness, the widowed Queen Catherine de Medici. Nicholas arrived at the new court of Elizabeth I in 1561.

•Residence: Parish of St. Olave, Hart Street (near the Tower of London) 25 Oct 1561 London, England •Note: In 1559, King Henri met a painful end as the result of a wound inflicted by a Scottish opponent during a tournament. Nicholas was approached by emissaries of the Earl of Hertford, who in June or July, 1561 was visiting Paris. He was looking to find a new flautist to replace a member of the English royal Musick who had recently died, and recruited Nicholas to fill this place. Nicholas was officially appointed, and found lodgings with a fellow French musician, Guillaume de Vache. •Event: Misc •Note: He had six sons, all of whom were musicians to the Queen and Kings; and four daughters, two of whom married musicians; and later eight or more grandsons became members of the Royal Orchestra, making three generations serving the royal family. In 1604 Nicholas Lanier, Sr. was named "Musician of the Flutes", and after his death his son, Andrea succeeded him "for life". •Event: Misc 1630 •Note: A ship arrested en route for Spain loaded with "prohibited goods" was the "Lanier" of Rouen.

Marriage 2 Lucretia "Lucreece" BASSANO b: 26 Sep 1553 in London, England c: 24 Sep 1556 in Mark Lane, London, England •Married: 13 Feb 1570/71 in All Hallows Barking Parish, London, England

•Note: Arranged marriage by the Queen.

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Nicholas "The Elder" Lanier, Sr.'s Timeline

Rouen, Seine-Maritime, Haute-Normandie
July 14, 1565
Age 21
St Olaves, Hart, London, England
Age 21
London, England
Age 27
Greenwich, Kent, England, UK
Age 28
East Greenwich, England, UK
Age 29
East Greenwich, Kent
October 13, 1576
Age 32
East Greenwich, Kent, England
Age 33
Greenwich, Kent, England, UK
Age 38
East Greenwich, Kent, England