John Avery (organ builder)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

John Avery (c. 1755 - 1807) was one of the main organ builders in England during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.[1]


The organ builder John Avery was mainly based in London. He had a reputation as a colourful character, occasionally falling foul of the law, being declared bankrupt in 1775[2] and again in 1801,[3] and having a reputation as a ‘shocking drunken character’.[4] Despite this he was responsible for some important organs, including those in King’s College, Cambridge and Winchester Cathedral.

He appeared at the Old Bailey as a witness in two trials in 1797:

  • on 12 July 1797 in the trial of Henry Gray, who was accused of stealing a handkerchief from John Avery's pocket.[5]
  • on 20 September 1797 in the trial of Joseph Robson, who was accused of stealing John Avery's tools.[6]

One of his apprentices, Alexander Buckingham went on to work with Thomas Elliot before becoming an independent organ builder.

He died in Giltspur Street Compter.


Not much work by Avery survives, but there is an organ at Ponsonby Baptist Church, New Zealand, and one in the Finchcocks collection at Goudhurst, Kent.

A list of new organs built by Avery includes:


  1. ^ The Making of the Victorian Organ. Nicholas Thistlethwaite. 1999
  2. ^ Hampshire Chronicle - Monday 27 November 1775
  3. ^ Morning Chronicle - Monday 14 December 1801
  4. ^ The History of the English Organ. Stephen Bicknell, Cambridge University Press. 1999
  5. ^ Old Bailey Proceedings Online (, version 7.0, 26 March 2013), July 1797, trial of HENRY GRAY (t17970712-70).
  6. ^ Old Bailey Proceedings Online (, version 7.0, 26 March 2013), September 1797, trial of JOSEPH ROBSON (t17970920-67).