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Early life and career

Purcell was probably born in St Ann's Lane, Old Pye Street, Westminster. Henry Purcell Senior was a gentleman of the Chapel Royal, and sang at the coronation of King Charles II of England. His brother Thomas Purcell (d. 1682) was also a musician and Henry Junior may possibly have been his son (see below) rather than Henry Senior's. Henry the elder had three sons, Edward, Henry, and Daniel. Daniel Purcell (d. 1717), the youngest of the brothers, was also a prolific composer who wrote the music for much of the final act of The Indian Queen after Henry Purcell's death.

After his father's (?) death in 1664, Purcell was placed under the guardianship of his uncle (?), who showed him great affection and kindness. Thomas was himself a gentleman of His Majesty's chapel, and arranged for Henry to be admitted as a chorister. Henry studied first under Captain Henry Cooke (d. 1672), master of the children, and afterwards under Pelham Humfrey (d. 1674), Cooke's successor. Henry was a chorister in the Chapel Royal until his voice broke in 1673, at which time he became assistant to John Hingeston, the musical instrument keeper for the King.

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