Thomas à Becket

Thomas a'Becket (March 17, 1808 - January 6, 1890) was an actor and musician credited with writing the music and the words, in 1843, to "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean". Born in Chatham, England, A'Becket came to the United States in 1837 and spent much of his life in Philadelphia. At one time, he served as the stage manager of the actor Edwin Booth and for many years was the director of the Walnut Street Theatre, in Philadelphia, where he also had a long acting career. During his early years in America, he gave music lessons and sang in operas.

He died in Philadelphia from heart failure and was buried in the Fernwood Cemetery, west of the city.. His diaries are in deposit at the New York Public Library. (Only one photograph of him is known to exist, and it is in Widener Library, of Harvard University.) His son, Thomas a'Becket, Jr. (1843-1918), was also a musician and, in his youth, worked with John Philip Sousa.

Despite the great renown of "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean," A'Becket never received any fame from having composed it. This is quite probably because of the confusion over the anthem's authorship.

Birth and Death Data: Born 1808

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1894 - 1940

Roles Represented in DAHR: arranger

Recordings

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Berliner 28 7-in. 1/16/1896 Red, white and blue Band (unidentified; Berliner Gramophone Co.) Band arranger  
Berliner 165 7-in. Before 1895 Red, white and blue Male vocalist (unidentified; Berliner Gramophone Co.) Male vocal solo arranger  
Berliner 1853 7-in. June 1898 Red, white and blue John Terrell Male vocal solo arranger  
Berliner 3190 7-in. Mar. 1898-Mar. 1899 Red white and blue Virginia Powell Goodwin ; William L. Thornton Female-male vocal duet, with vocal chorus arranger  
Berliner 0792 7-in. 12/8/1899 Columbia, the gem of the ocean Florence Hayward Female vocal solo arranger  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]826 7-in. 5/21/1901 The red, white and blue J. W. Myers Male vocal solo, with piano arranger  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]826 10-in. 4/29/1902 The red, white and blue J. W. Myers Male vocal solo, with piano arranger  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]3388 10-in. 5/21/1901 The red, white and blue J. W. Myers Male vocal solo, with piano arranger  
Victor B-1831 10-in. 10/26/1904 American patriotic airs Arthur Pryor's Band Band arranger  
Victor B-20474 10-in. 8/1/1917 Columbia, the gem of the ocean Ferdinand Himmelreich Piano solo arranger  
Victor BVE-38076 10-in. 6/13/1927 Battle hymn of the Republic Mark Andrews Pipe organ solo arranger  
Victor BVE-49434 10-in. 6/21/1929 Battle hymn of the Republic Ralph Crane Male vocal solo, with orchestra arranger  
Victor BS-048771 10-in. 4/11/1940 America Emile Coté ; Victor Mixed Chorus Mixed vocal chorus, with organ arranger  
Columbia 47395 10-in. 2/28/1917 Red, white and blue Adkins Morton Male vocal solo, with orchestra arranger  
Brunswick 10593-10596 10-in. 5/9/1923 Red, white and blue Brunswick Mixed Chorus Mixed vocal chorus, with orchestra arranger  
Edison 3391 10-in. Oct. 1914 The red, white and blue Walter Van Brunt Male vocal solo and vocal ensemble, with orchestra arranger  
Edison 6243 10-in. 6/21/1918 Columbia, the gem of the ocean Thomas Chalmers Male vocal solo and mixed vocal ensemble, with orchestra arranger  

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Becket, Thomas à," accessed October 27, 2020, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/116650.

Becket, Thomas à. (2020). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/116650.

"Becket, Thomas à." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2020. Web. 27 October 2020.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/116650

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