Thomas Shaw was probably born in Bath in the early 1750s. His father was a double bass player in Bath for many years, and he was active as a violinist there from about 1770 to 1776 or 1777, when he went to London. His career seems to have been shaped by his rivalry with Thomas Linley junior. Indeed, he was a leading member of the breakaway group of musicians led by William Herschel that in 1772 began to challenge the hold Thomas Linley senior exercised over concert life in Bath and Bristol. On 23 January 1773 ‘Prattler’, writing in Felix Farley’s Bristol Journal, compared the two violinists in detail. He thought Shaw ‘the most perfect Master of the Fingerboard’, while Linley had ‘a graceful Manner of bowing’, and ‘a Polish of Tone and Manner which renders him the most pleasing Musician’. Shaw eventually was eventually reconciled to Thomas Linley senior, for he became leader of the Drury Lane band in 1786 and worked there for more than a decade. Not much is known about his later life, though Fanny Kemble came across him in the 1820s teaching music in Paris.
from notes by Peter Holman ©