Abraham Thomas Bell was born in Bloxwich, Staffordshire on the 18th May 1879. Son of Abraham Bell and Sarah Ann (nee Marrah). In 1884 the family emigrated to the United States of America settling in Pittsburgh then Philadelphia. Tom worked as a Vaudeville performer and a Trapeze artist in travelling circuses.
In 1896 the family moved back to the UK, where Tom developed a successful music hall career. He claimed to have performed in every theatre in Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales. His music hall act was as a comedian and song and dance man.
Tom teamed up with Kitty Grant, Kitty called herself Drum for the stage effect of “Drum and Ball”, Tom later added Major and the name changed to Drum and Major, he still performed under the name of Tom Major.
In 1903 he along with Kitty went on tour of South America taking in Argentina where he did some work as a ranch hand and later working in a casino in Buenos Aires, Next up was Uruguay where they would be caught up in a civil war. Abraham was forced to join a local militia.
On their return to the UK they would both become founder members of The Variety Artistes’ Federation at the Vaudeville Club in London. After the death of Kitty’s husband they married in 1910. With the outbreak of war a heart condition prevented Tom from enlisting for active service.
Kitty died in June 1928 following a stage accident when she was hit with a steel beam. Tom gave up his performing career in 1930 due to the decline in Music Hall Theatre’s, cinema was more popular. Tom married Gwendolyn Coates on 4th May 1929, She had helped nurse Kitty in her final weeks.
With his stage career now over Tom set up his business Majors Garden ornaments manufacturing garden gnomes and other Garden ornaments. The ornament business was a real success giving his new family a middle class up bringing.
Tom went onto have 4 children with Gwen the more famous of them all is former UK Prime Minister John Major.
Tom Major-Ball died on the 27th March 1962. It is claimed by John Major that every Music Hall Artiste’ performed at the bedside of their fellow artiste’
It has been suggested by Bowie expert Nicholas peg that David Bowie got the idea of character Major Tom after seeing an old circus poster featuring his fellow Brixton resident Tom Major.
Abraham Thomas Ball (Tom Major Ball) was a Master Mason of Lodge Dramatic No.571
Initiated 13th March 1902
Passed 10th April 1902
Raised 13th October 1905
Mark Ceremonial 13th October 1905
There is also a book about him written by John Major.