An American Family History

Charles Lewis Thomas

Charles Lewis Thomas Piano
Wellington County Museum

The first European settlements in Ontario were after the American Revolution when 5,000 loyalists left the new United States.

Charles Lewis Thomas was born in Thornbury, Glouscestershire, England, on May 4, 1828. His parents were John Morgan Thomas and Mary Lewis. He was baptised on June 1, 1828 at Thornbury. He went to school in Toronto and received "an ordinary English education."

Charles L. Thomas, in partnership with a Mr. Drew, established the Western Pianoforte Manufactory of Canada, active ca 1856-ca 1893 in Hamilton, Ontario and known at times as C. L. Thomas & Co. In 1870 Western Pianoforte was producing some 70 pianos a year. A C. L. Thomas square piano may be seen at the Wellington County Museum, Elora, Ontario. (Florence Hayes, Encyclopedia of Music in Canada)

He married Mary Ann Bagwell in 1855. She was born about 1833 and was the daughter of  John Bull Bagwell and Mary Ann Rooke. They lived in Hamilton, Wentworth, Ontario, Canada.

Eva Celia Thomas Bond was born in 1856. Lizze Thomas Godall was born in 1858. Carrie E. Thomas Ortton, was born in 1862 in Hamilton. Carrie married Arthur Thomas Ortton. Annie Thomas, was born in 1864.

The family belonged to Methodist Zion Tabernacle Church in Hamilton and Charles was active in civic affairs. At the time of the 1871 census they were living in Hamilton City, St. George Ward.

Charles an alderman for the City of Hamilton, a member of the Odd Fellow Manchester Unity, a member of the Masonic Fraternity, he belonged to the Hamilton Lodge of Perfection, and the Hamilton sovereign Chapter of Rose Croix.  

Charles died on October 4, 1891 in Hamilton of Bright's Disease. Mary Ann died on November 16,  1917.

Children of John Morgan Thomas
and Mary Lewis
  • Charles Lewis Thomas
  • Thomas Lewis Thomas
  • Elizabeth Sheppard Thomas Musson
  • Susannah Matilda Thomas
  • Eliza Mary Thomas Treahy
  • Jane Eliza (Jennie) Thomas Belford
  • Francis John Thomas
  • Mary Sophia Thomas
  • Celia Ann Thomas Brodie
  • Mary Sophia Thomas
  • John Joseph Thomas
  • Edward George Thomas
  • The city of York was incorporated as Toronto on March 6, 1834. The city grew and developed significantly during the the 19th century. The Irish famine brought a large number of Irish immigrants to the city and they became the largest ethnic group.

    Toronto 1856
    Toronto 1856




    Learn more about pianos.

    The Province of Upper Canada was established in 1791 to accommodate Loyalist refugees from the United States. It included all of Southern Ontario and part of Northern Ontario.

    Thomas, Charles Lewis - Hamilton, was born in Thornbury, Glouscestershire, England, on the 4th of May, 1828. He is a son of John Morgan and Mary (Lewis) Thomas, there being thirteen children, Charles Lewis being the oldest. Of these five were sons and eight daughters, and three of the sons are still living and all engaged in the music business, viz J. J. Thomas, who is connected with subject in the piano trade, and  E.G. Thomas, organ manufacturer of Woodstock, Ontario. Four of the daughters are still living. 

    John Morgan Thomas emigrated to Canada, from Bristol, England in 1832, settling in Montréal. He was afterwards one of the pioneer piano manufacturers of Canada, and to him is due the honour of being the inventor of the full metallic frame, now so universally used by all the piano manufacturers, he having taken out the patent, now in Charles Lewis Thomas's possession, forty-five years ago. Mr. Thomas removed to Toronto in 1839, and carried on piano manufacturing there until his death in 1875.

    Charles Lewis Thomas was educated in Toronto, receiving an ordinary English education. He is a man of much public spirit, and has been an alderman for the City of Hamilton for the last two years. He is a member of the Odd Fellow, Manchester Unity, joining the same in Toronto in 1848, and filling all the offices in succession, up to the past grand. He has also been a member of the Masonic Fraternity for the past twenty-two years, and belongs to the Hamilton Lodge of Perfection, and Hamilton sovereign Chapter of Rose Croix. In politics he is a conservative. 

    With respect to his religious convictions, his parents, we may state, belonged to the Church of England, but the subject of this memoir joined the Methodist church thirty years ago, and for the last fifteen years held the position of treasurer and recording steward for Zion Tabernacle, Hamilton

    He, in 1855, married Mary Ann, daughter of J. B. Bagwall of Mimico, near Toronto, and in the same year removed to Hamilton and commenced piano manufacturing at the same stand that he occupies at the present time.  The piano business was an occupation according to Mr. Thomas' heart, for since his infancy he had been connected with it. [For a sketch of his brother, see page 261 of this volume] Referring in a lengthy article to the Thomas establishment at Hamilton, a local paper said  "The Thomas piano, from the outset was destined as a piano to be not merely of fine glossy exterior or made for cheap use, but an instrument in which the purchaser might invest and feel satisfied that with fair treatment, it would last a family for a lifetime, and always be prized as a valuable possession. From the first day of public exhibitions these instruments have been subjected to the test of impartial comparisons with pianos of all other makers, and it seems to have been the policy of the house to invite criticism and impartial comment from all sources, so that their in instruments might be improved and perfected by this method, and the retention of as nearly as possible the same staff of workmen."

    Page 786-787, A Cyclopedia of Canadian Biography, Rose Publishing Company, 1886, George Maclean Rose

    A freemason (mason) is a member of an international fraternal and charitable organization pledged to mutual assistance and brotherly love.
    Nephritis is an inflammation of the kidneys. It can be caused by an infection, but is most commonly caused by autoimmune disorders that affect major organs. It was called Bright's Disease.

    She [Mary Ann (Nancy) Rooke was actually born on Nov. 11, 1809, in Quebec Province, in Canada. She passed away on May 18, 1887, in Hamilton, Wentworth County, Ontario, Canada. She was married to John Bull Bagwell on Oct. 26, 1831, in Chinguacousy Twp., Peel County, Ontario, Canada. Mary Ann "Nancy" Rooke was the daughter of my great, great, great, grandmother Mary Ann (Tace? or Tate?) and her first husband, a British soldier, Colonel George Rooke (both born in England). He died prior to or in the year of 1812, presumably in Canada. Perhaps in the War of 1812. At any rate Mary Ann "ROOKE" was then married to my great, great, great grandfather "Squire" George McDonald a Highland Scot about 1812.

    from Kelly Greer April 13, 2011

    Colonial Maryland
    Colonial New England
    Colonial Virginia & West Virginia
    Quakers & Mennonites
    New Jersey Baptists
    German Lutherans
    Watauga Settlement
    Pennsylvania Pioneers
    Midwest Pioneers
    Jewish Immigrants

    ©Roberta Tuller 2020
    An American Family History is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program,
    an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
    As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.