William G. Hammond

Organist, Choirmaster, Composer

by Angelica Fraine

William Hammond was born on August 9, 1874, in Melville, NY, on Long Island, to George Hammond and Mary Shipman.


While a large portion of his life was spent in New York, due to his father’s deep familial roots in Rhode Island, Hammond spent significant amounts of time in the city of Newport. In 1890, at the age of just 16, Hammond was named organist of Trinity Church in the city

Newport Directory, 1890

By 1892, he’d moved to St. John’s Church on Poplar Street.

Newport Mercury, December 17, 1892

In 1894, Hammond accepted a position at St. Thomas Church in Brooklyn, New York where he would serve as both choirmaster and organist.

Newport Mercury, October 20, 1894

In making the move back to New York, Hammond began working on composing his own sacred music, which would be performed during church services and parish-hosted concerts, in high demand after building a large following for himself across both New York and Rhode Island.

Published 1905
Published 1911

In the spring of 1903, Hammond was named organist and director of music for Old First Reformed Church in Park Slope, Brooklyn, a position he would uphold until 1912. Here he would also organize the Hammond Choral Society, which regularly performed for the community.

Times Union, April 30, 1904
Brooklyn Life, December 12, 1915

Hammond would continue to play and compose for over another 30 years before a car accident in New York City would tragically end his life.

He died on December 23, 1945, at the age of 71.

New York Times, December 23, 1945

We thank our researcher Angelica Fraine for her work researching the life of William G. Hammond and for writing this post.


Angelica Fraine is a graduate student at Quinnipiac University, pursuing a career in investigative journalism. Her passion lies in both written storytelling and education.

Historic Music of Newport is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit

Help support our mission to preserve Newport’s rich musical heritage today!

P.O. Box 539
Newport, RI 02840


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