Thomas Greatorex

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

Thomas Greatorex (5 October 1758 – 18 July 1831) was an English composer, astronomer and mathematician. As well as being organist of Westminster Abbey, he was a Fellow of the Royal Society.


Born in Wingfield near Chesterfield, Derbyshire, Greatorex as a youngster studied with Benjamin Cooke, organist of Westminster Abbey, and was a protégé of the Earl of Sandwich. For four years he was organist of Carlisle Cathedral and from there went to live and work in Italy, where he became a friend of Charles Edward Stuart, or "Bonnie Prince Charlie." When the Young Pretender died in 1788, he left some of his music books to Greatorex, who returned to London the same year. He was soon in much demand as a music teacher and succeeded Joah Bates as conductor of the Concerts of Ancient Music. He also directed music festivals at Birmingham, York and Derby. In 1819, he succeeded George Ebenezer Williams as organist of Westminster Abbey.

His works as a composer include the anthem This is the Day the Lord Hath Made.


His father, Anthony Greatorex, became organist at St Martin's Church, Leicester (now Leicester Cathedral) in 1765. Thomas's sister Martha succeeded her father in that position from 1772 to 1800.[1]

Thomas Greatorex married and had five sons. One of these, Henry Wellington Greatorex, became a church organist in Hartford, Connecticut, United States, and composed many hymns.


There is a story that King George IV, when Prince Regent, once said to Thomas Greatorex, "My father is Rex, but you are a Greater Rex".


  1. ^ Kroeger, Karl (Summer 2008). "Leicester's Lady Organists, 1770–1800" (PDF). CHOMBEC News. Bristol: Centre for the History of Music in Britain, the Empire and the Commonwealth (5): 9–10.


Cultural offices
Preceded by
George Ebenezer Williams
Organist and Master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey
Succeeded by
James Turle