An American Family History

John Morgan 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.

John Morgan Thomas was born January 1, 1806 in Thornbury, Gloucestershire, England. The middle name Morgan is not found on any of the records in England. He was the son of Francis Thomas and Jane Orchard.

20 November 1801, Francis Thomas of this parish, Bachelor and Jane Orchard of the same, married by Banns.

Thornbury Parish Registers, Baptisms (P330 IN 1/5)
10 June 1810, Whit Sunday, John Thomas, born 1 Jan 1806, and Charles Thomas, born 1 May 1808, sons of Francis Thomas, carpenter, and Jane his wife.

Francis Thomas was probably born August 18, 1771 at Henbury and was the son of Thomas and Mary Thomas. Francis Thomas of Sibland was buried at Olbury-on-Severn (which is next to Thornbury) on April 20, 1820. He was 50.

Jane Orchard was baptized in 1781 and was the daughter of Charles and Mary Orchard according to the Old Sodbury Parish registers.

When John was twenty one years old, he married Mary Lewis on December 27 1827. Their children and life together are described in detail in the section on John and Mary Thomas.

He began building organs in Montréal in 1832 and established a partnership in Toronto with Alexander Smith in 1839. In 1840 the partners obtained a patent for a metallic frame around the tuning pegs of a piano, designed to take pressure off the case. In 1844 the headquarters were located on King Street West, and it was here that Thomas built the first organs to be placed in St Michael's Cathedral and Holy Trinity Church. By 1856 the company was known as John Thomas & Son. In fact, Thomas had five sons active in the trade. (Florence Hayes, Encyclopedia of Music in Canada)

The Holy Trinity Church organ was replace by the Lye Company in 1883. The case and the four stops of the small organ made by John Thomas were retained, moved from the north transept to the chancel, and incorporated in a large new three-manual tracker instrument of 28 stops.

He died on March 2, 1875 in Toronto of erysipelas, which is a skin infection or congestion of the lungs. He was buried March 4 at St. James Cathedral Cemetery in downtown Toronto in Section R, Lot 8, Centre Grave. The Reverend W. S. Darling officiated.


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


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    ©Roberta Tuller 2020
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