Born: 1847, Up­per Free­hold Town­ship, New Jersey.

Died: Feb­ru­ary 15, 1916, Washington, DC.

Buried: Orig­in­al­ly in Co­lum­bi­an Har­mo­ny Ce­me­tery, Wash­ing­ton, DC. The ce­me­te­ry lat­er closed, and 37,000 graves were moved to Na­tion­al Har­mo­ny Me­mo­ri­al Park, Land­ov­er, Ma­ry­land, in 1960.



John was the son of Hen­ry P. and Han­nah Lay­ton. He mar­ried twice, to Ma­ry, and to Ju­lia W. Ma­son (1893). His son, John Jr., be­came a suc­cess­ful song writ­er un­der the name Tur­ner Lay­ton.

During the Am­eri­can ci­vil war, he served in the U.S. Na­vy (en­list­ed Au­gust 25, 1864, Jer­sey Ci­ty, New Jer­sey). He worked as a Lands­man on the tug­boats Lark­spur and O. M. Pet­tit in the South At­lan­tic Block­ing Squad­ron.

He re­ceived his mu­sic­al train­ing at the Car­diff and Coll­ins In­sti­tute; Round Lake Con­ser­va­to­ry, Mar­tha’s Vine­yard, Mas­sa­chu­setts; North­west­ern Uni­ver­si­ty, Ev­ans­ton, Il­li­nois; the New Eng­land Con­ser­va­to­ry; and un­der a Dr. Kim­ball and Er­nest Lent of Wash­ing­ton, DC. In 1906, he re­ceived a Doc­tor of Mu­sic de­gree from Wil­ber­force Uni­ver­si­ty, Wil­ber­force, Ohio.

He served on the Wash­ing­ton, DC, po­lice force for a few years, then be­gan teach­ing mu­sic in the pub­lic schools. He be­came the first male mu­sic di­rect­or in the Wash­ing­ton col­ored schools, a po­si­tion he held un­til his death.

He al­so sang and di­rect­ed the choir at the Me­tro­po­li­tan Me­tho­dist Epis­co­pal Church for 43 years, and con­duct­ed the Sam­uel Col­er­idge-Tay­lor Cho­ral So­ci­ety.

Layton was one of the driv­ing forc­es be­hind the hym­nal of the Af­ri­can Me­tho­dist Epis­co­pal Church is­sued in the late 19th Cen­tu­ry. Most of the work com­pil­ing that hym­nal was done at Lay­ton’s home in Wash­ing­ton, DC, with the help of his wife and Bi­shop James Em­bry.



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