Ann Ford, Arrested for Playing Guitar

Female Guitarist

250 years ago, when the guitar was a relatively rare instrument in Britain, one very musically gifted young woman played several fretted stringed instruments, including the English Guitar and the Spanish Guitar.

Ann Ford was an only child from a rich family, and had been given the best education that money could buy, including musical tutoring in many instruments.  At an early age she showed an aptitude and flare for music, throughout her youth gave concerts for friends and family.  Her father it seems was not so proud of her growing ambition to perform for the general public though.  It was one thing to play in the drawing room, quite another in public.

But Ann was determined, and started to organise concerts.  In the run up to her first public performance, her father used his influence with the Old Bailey Magistrates to have her arrested.  She was not to be deterred and continued her plans.  Her father tried to disrupt her concerts by sending in thugs, but on she went, eventually escaping his control and becoming a well-known musician of her time, counting royalty amongst her audience.

Ann Ford Thickness by Thomas Gainsborough

Gainsborough’s painting of her shows her holding her English Guitar, which as you can see is a lute like instrument in the 18thCentury, but she also played the Spanish gut strung guitar, the lute, viola de gamba, harp and was something of a leading light on the “glass harmonica” or Musical Glasses (wine glasses).

References: The Glass Armonica, William Zeitler, 2009, /Two Nerdy History Girls, Loretta Chase & Isabella Bradford, 2010,


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