Shield, William (c. 1748/9–1829)

Master of the King’s Music 1817–1829. Shield was born near Gateshead and made a name as a violinist in Newcastle, before moving to London, where he became principal violinist at Covent Garden in 1773 and later ‘house composer’ for the theatre. Shield made use of Northumbrian folk tunes, and wrote light operas and music for string quartets and trios. He was also a friend of Joseph Haydn (1732–1809; DNB). Southey had met Shield socially in 1808 and regarded his musical talents with respect, in contrast to his contempt for Shield’s predecessor, Sir William Parsons. This made him more willing to co-operate with Shield over the New Year’s Odes they were required to write and set to music, as Poet Laureate and Master of the King’s Music.