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John Watson Warman 1842-1910

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Could any contributors to this forum assist with information about Mr Warman? He is best known as author of a rather sprwaling book about the organ which, perhaps fortunately, only saw the publication of a small section. I am interested in substantiating the claim made on the title page that he was at one time organist of Quebec's Anglican cathedral. With such dates as can be established about his life, I presume he held the post in Quebec around 1880-1890.

Any information about his musical activities, as opposed to his literary work .would be much appreciated.

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I think he might have written more than one book about the organ, including a short monograph on the hydraulus. However this does not answer Denis's question related to his musical life. I seem to recall from somewhere that he worked for one or more organ builders in Britain at some stage(s) in his career. Not much to go on I'm afraid.



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There's only one Warman listed on DBOB - this does rather look like him though:-


WARMAN John Watson [DBOB-ref=3451]
Born: 1842
Established: undefined
Floruit: 1867-1869
Located: Faringdon
Trade: patentee

References for the information above

Patent(s) [1869]
Musical Times 1867 /06, No.292
Handbook of the Organ, A: Matthews, J. (1897), p.174
Organ, The: Its Compass, Tablature, and Short and Incomplete Octaves: Warman, J.W. (1884) - author
Organ, The: Writings and Other Utterances on Its Structure, History, Procural, Capabilities, etc.: Warman, J.W. (1901-4) - author

Patents obtained by this firm

Cross references for this firm

Longhurst, James - ?apprenticed to ('a Canterbury ob')

Pilcher, William - ?or apprenticed to ('a Canterbury ob')

Ever Blessing


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You may well already have this information, but the references for his BMD certificates, should you wish to order certificates are:



Registration date: Jul-Sep 1842

Registration District: Canterbury

Volume: 5

Page: 61



Registration date: Jul-Sep 1868

Registration district: Eastry

Vol: 2a

Page: 1173

His wife was a Fanny Ann Gravener from Deal, Kent. There is no evidence in the census returns that they lived togther: in the 1871 census return, Fanny Ann Warman, musician’s wife, was living with her mother back in Deal. A Fanny Ann Warman died, aged 83, in the Eastry registration district in March 1925.



Registration date: Apr-Jun 1910

Age at death: 67

Registration District: Croydon

Volume: 2a

Page: 187


Census Returns

The census return of 30/31 March 1851 shows him living at 38 St Peter’s Street, Canterbury, with his parents William (a schoolmaster) and Charity Warman (née Watson; they had married at Deal on 1 July 1833) and his siblings Ada (b.c.1834), Mary A. (b.c.1840) and William (b.c.1848).


In the return of 7/8 April 1861 he was unmarried and living at New Rents, Ashford, Kent, where he was an assistant to 66-year-old John Matson, a professor of music. (The name Matson in the return seems clear, but I wonder whether further investigation might reveal it to be a clerk’s transcription error for Watson.) Warman's occupation is also listed as professor of music, which at this time simply meant a music teacher.


On 2/3 April 1871 he was a boarder at 16 Osborn Villas, Hove. His occupation is described as organist and his status as married, although no wife is listed with him on the census return (see above). Another boarder here was a Samuel Warman, married, aged 53.


On 3/4 April 1881 he was living with his mother at 17 Whitstable Road, Canterbury. Again, his wife is not listed here. His profession is given as professor of music and then two words which I cannot completely make out, though the second appears to read ‘organists’. His mother, incidentally, was apparently living of ‘income from dividends’.


On 5/6 April 1891 he was living at 11 Elliott Road, Croydon. I cannot read his occupation, but it ends ‘organ builder’. The preceding words may be a firm's name; it looks a bit like A C G Relp. [Edit: The initials are probably ACO: he is listed as Warman John Watson ACO, 11 Elliott Road, Thornton Heath, in Kelly's Directory of Kent, Surrey and Sussex 1891.] The only other occupant is a boarder, a single woman called Emma E. M. Hockley.


On the night of 31 March / 1 April 1901 he was still living at 11 Elliott Road, Croydon, with his boarder Emma Hockley. He gave his occupation as ‘Literary author & Retired & organ Builder Professor of Music’.

At least this establishes that he was in Canterbury, not Canada, in April 1881.

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The BIOS website contains, on the Publication page, a partial index to the BIOS Reporter. Abandoning the alphabetical links search, which still do not work on my IE browser, and scrolling back from the last page to the W's it gives a reference to the reporter October 2002. My copy on Page 19 has a couple of paragraphs and describes Warman as a 'faintly intriguing' figure who 'after being organist of Quebec Cathedral he worked for Hill 'for some months'' [Matthews, John, Handbook of the Organ (London 1897), 174. But this still does not answer the exam question!


[Edit] I have now had a chance to look up my copy of Matthews.

Warman, John Watson, b. Aug. 12, 1842, Canterbury, of French descent; articled to an organ builder there, after various organ appointments he was elected organist of Quebec Cathedral; returned to England, worked for some months in Messrs. Hill's organ factory in order to obtain practical information for a work on organ building; chiefly known as a writer.


[Edit] Ancestory.co.uk has lists of ship passengers to and from Canada. A quick search did not seem to thow up anything immediately relevant but maybe someone else will have more luck!



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