Archiver > ORGAN-BUILDERS > 2003-01 > 1042002644

From: "Nelson Denton" <>
Subject: [ORGAN-BUILDERS] Walter SPENCER et al.
Date: Wed, 8 Jan 2003 00:11:01 -0500
References: <> <> <> <008901c2b6c8$8834eec0$2e279618@tracy>

As some of you know I've been actively seeking the life and times of pipe
organbuilder Walter SPENCER.

After much work I've got much of his family tree. If anyone can shed any
more light on these people feel free to post.

Here is a brief history of the family so far. (I've got much more but I type
slow :-) )

Walter was born in Portsmouth England in 1841 the son of a
shipbuilder/lumber merchant - obviously of some wealth.
He had 8 brothers and 3 sisters.

Walter and the 4 oldest surviving brothers moved to Owen Sound Ontario about
1847 with their mother and two youngest brothers joining them in 1854 (The
family's voyage from England was a nightmare and is recorded in great detail
by Percival). They set up a quite large empire in this boom town as they
owned a sawmill, furniture factory and held many of the town's official
public offices.

Walter and his brother David started a furniture shop around 1860 and were
soon delving into the occupation of reed organ repairs. A few blocks away
was the reed organ building shop of James SLOWN aka (James SLOAN) the son of
an Irish noble. I've not been able to find any link between the Spencers and
Sloan so far so I don't know if the boys apprenticed with him or vice versa
or not.

Walter's brother Rev Canon Percival Lawson SPENCER joined the Anglican
ministry and moved to Hamilton Ontario in the late 1860's.
Percival became a noted authourity on the history of Canada and was a
founder of the local historical society. Walter left David and joined
Percival in Hamilton Ontario about 1871 and set up a pipe organ bulding
shop there.
Walter's organ company thrived (by 1910 their factory on Bay street North
was 10,000 sq ft in size) until 1910 when his son Charles (a salesman for
the company) was for some unknown reason commited to the local insane asylum
where he died a few months later.

Walter's eldest son Albert "Edwin" SPENCER moved to the U.S. in the late
1800's where he proved to be quite successful at building organs for many
years and he worked for many of the big firms there. His later life was
plagued by hard times and unsuccessful organ jobs.

They were all also a major inpiration for my Grandfather's introducion to
the "World of Organbuilding" as my grandfather sang in in Percival's church
choir while Walter was the organist!

Even worse my great grandfather was a boat/aircraft builder and his wife was
a church organist. Grandad's fate was sealed :-))

The organbuilding firm of Walter Spencer was passed to my Grandfather in
1910 as my grandfather was then a senior member of the firm. It became The
Hamilton Church Organ Works and later R. A. Denton and Son when my father
joined the firm in the 1930's

I also have reason to suspect that Walter Spencer may have bought up James
THORTON's Reed Organ and Melodeon company sometime in the mid 1890's as
Walter's firm moved into Thorton's empty factory at about the same time as
Thorton's company vanishes. -I'd love to figure out if there were any
connection's here.

Walter's life was obviously influenced by many very well known piano and
organ makers of his day. The HEINTZMAN brothers, R.S. WILLIAMS, James
George ENNIS, Joseph HERALD, John KNOTT, "The THOMAS clan", Charles
DONSEN, HAGAR & VOGHT, John BAGWELL, George TODD and many many others all
worked and lived in the same 3 block area of one another in Hamilton during
his life.

Nelson Denton
Hamilton Ontario Canada

This is not 100% accurate. There are many offspring not listed so far.

1. William SPENCER (b.1780 d.1794)
sp: Sarah COOT/COOK (b.1780)
+-2. George Lawson (Learson) SPENCER (b.1800)
sp: Mary Ann HUTCHINS (m.1822 d.1872)
|-3. George SPENCER (a.1823)
| |-4. Arthur L. J. SPENCER (b.1860)
| |-4. Thomas J. SPENCER (b.1867)
| |-4. Maria Helen SPENCER (b.1856)
| |-4. Catherine E SPENCER (b.1862)
| |-4. Agatha SPENCER (b.1864)
| |-4. Thoresa Gertrude SPENCER (b.1869)
| sp: Charlotte SPENCER (b.1829)
|-3. William John SPENCER (a.1824 d.1824)
|-3. Mary Ann SPENCER (a.1825 d.1826)
|-3. Mary Ann SPENCER (a.1827)
| sp: Captain David Baird BROWN
|-3. William John SPENCER (a.1829)
| sp: Jane HOLLAN (b.1836)
| |-4. Fredrick William SPENCER (b.1857)
| |-4. Egbert D SPENCER (b.1859)
| |-4. Enele J SPENCER (b.1863)
| |-4. Stephan H SPENCER (b.1861)
| |-4. Dilher E SPENCER (b.1866)
| |-4. Elizebeth SPENCER (b.1867)
| |-4. Kanne SPENCER (b.1869)
| |-4. Ada SPENCER (b.1872)
| +-4. Helleni L SPENCER (b.1876)
|-3. Alfred SPENCER (a.1830)
|-3. Edwin Henry SPENCER (a.1832)
| sp: Annie PEACOCK
|-3. Amelia Elizabeth SPENCER (a.1833)
| sp: John D. ROBERSTSON
|-3. David SPENCER (b.1837 d.1927)
| sp: Elizabeth MANLEY (b.1845 m.1866)
| |-4. Mary SPENCER (b.1867)
| |-4. Bessie SPENCER (b.1869)
| +-4. Agnes Hawley SPENCER
|-3. Alfred James SPENCER (b.1835)
| sp: Susan CRAWFORD
|-3. Walter SPENCER (b.1841-1919)
| sp: Amelia Ann MITCHELL (b.1845-1920)
| |-4. Amy M SPENCER (b.1868)
| |-4. Albert "Edwin" SPENCER (b.1871)
| |-4. Charles W. SPENCER (b.1875-1910)
| |-4 Percival SPENCER (1887-1938)
|-3. Frederick Arthur SPENCER (b.1843)
+-3. Percival Lawson SPENCER (b.1845)
sp: Sarah Elizabeth Emma SELBY
|-4. Mabel SPENCER (b.1880)
|-4. Ernest SPENCER (b.1876)
+-4. Ethel SPENCER (b.1878)

This thread: