John Langshaw was Organist at Lancaster Priory from 7th April 1772 until he died on 3rd March 1798. He was descended from a 17th century family from Upholland, Wigan but he lived in London in his early years, and was there when his son was born in 1763. In 1770 he was appointed Organist at Wigan Parish Church from where he came to Lancaster. The 1890 edition of the famous Grove’s ‘Dictionary of Music and Musicians’ has a profile of him. The web site of the Lancaster Priory describing a very similar organ is the source of some of the text here.
The special significance of this barrel organ and its music is that Langshaw's personal attention to the arrangements and pinning is given great praise by many sources. This praise is not common and a barrel organ is usually treated poorly musical circles as if they were a mere novelty or oddity. Langshaw was singled out by Handel and complimented by contemporary music critics. I have not found such praise towards any builder in the 300 years of popular barrel organs manufactured before Langshaw.
The gold pipes on the front of the organ are just for decoration - the real ones are inside. In an article with photo in the MBSI journal, Vol. 4, no 3, p. 216, Ralph Heintz notes," It is interesting to note that barrel organs made by William Hubert Van Kamp have very similar upper and lower limits to the dummy pipe front."
Under the lid are four ranks of organ pipes. The Director of the Lancaster Judge's House Museum, Stephen Sartin has contributed to their web page on the organ and says "the outer wooden case is in a style of the Lancaster firm of Gillows, and it was probably made by them, though at this stage it can't be proved conclusively." He has been able to show links between Langshaw and Gillows, including the purchase by Langshaw, for £2, of 4 gallons of best Jamaica rum (about 56 litres) which arrived in Lancaster along with mahogany from the West Indies. The museum was fortunate to return their organ to the city of its origin with the help of a Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund assistance award through the Lancashire Museum Service of £1,875 in 2002/3. The organ is shown on the Lancaster Priory web site.
Like other barrel organ makers of the time, Langshaw could have obtained the machine parts from several sources, his principal contribution being assembling the whole and pinning the barrels. In this case, each of the barrels has been covered with a tough paper tune sheet and a printed label in the same paper showing JOHN LANGSHAW, ORGAN MAKER, LANCASTER (see photograph - below) before the pins were fixed into the barrel.
The man who helped the composer George Frederick Handel in his later years, John Christopher Smith, was a friend and colleague of John Langshaw. There is at least one piece definitely by Handel on this barrel organ. Smith would have known exactly how Handel would have wanted the piece performed, and Langshaw was a skilled musician and mechanic. In other words, this barrel organ may give a close indication of how Handel wanted a particular piece performed.
Like the Lancaster organ, this would have had to be built while Langshaw was in Lancaster between 1772 and his death in 1798, probably building on his fine reputation of having pinned the barrels for a large residence organ for the Earl of Bute about 1764. This gives a guess for around 1785, especially since the false pipe style was like van Kamp whose work ended when Langshaw began.
This organ was in England until about 1958 when it was purchased by Ralph Heintz, MBSI officer and noted collector of mechanical musical devices of California. Prior to leaving England, it was restored by expert Arthur Ord-Hume for the dealer. Mr. Ord-Hume saw the instrument a few times over the next half century, and noted that it could benefit from some further attention. After the passing of Heintz and his wife, the remainder of his collection went on auction. The organ was purchased by Karl Petersen of Illinois who delights in being able to reunite special antiquities with the makers' families. So it was with this organ in early 2008 when it went back to a descendant in England after this page was seen by a descendant of Langshaw researching the family in England. Perhaps more unlikely, but similarly delightful, Ord-Hume has once again brought the instrument back into proper condition, fifty years after his first work on it. The present owner, above Perth in the highlands of Scotland, is pleased to have the occasional interested visitor by to enjoy the instrument first-hand.
The case is mahogany, boxwood, brass and ebony. Height is 119.5cm/47 inches; width: 55.2 cm/21.75 inches; depth: 40 cm/15.75 inches. Three barrels are pinned with 10 tunes each. Four ranks of 15 pipes are provided with individual slider stops. These specifications are identical with the organ in Lancaster, the only apparent difference is that the largest rank of pipes is in metal while at Lancaster it is in wood. The picture shows the lid slightly open, but it is just hanging on the latch and closes flat normally. All the panels slide off for service and changing the barrels owhich reside in the base cabinet.
The four ranks of pipes start out with a Stopped Diapason, then a Principal an octave above. Next is the 12th or Quint, an octave and a fifth above the SD, and finally another rank two octaves above the lowest.
Since the stops are drawn manually, you can imagine that they are all likely to be left on for anything other than very soft dinner music.
The actual list is only a bit clearer than the photo, since the glass was rather fogged against the paper. It reads as follows with the notes on dates found elsewhere are in brackets:
The tune list might be thought to give a closer indication of the date of construction, since it was most common to have thematic barrels with hymn or psalm tunes, one of festive marches and patriotic tunes, and one of popular tunes. Clearly the dates of the popular tunes would be most valuable in dating that barrel. One would have to assume that the popular tune barrel would have been pinned when the organ was built, but it is quite possible to create and supply fresh barrels for more and different tunes. It was not uncommon to re-pin the barrels with fresh tunes. There is nothing to indicate, however, that these are not the three and only original barrels supplied with the organ.
1. Dorchester 35th Psalm
2. Evening Hymn [Tallis?]
3. Psalm 15
4. Bedford 23 & 146 Psalm [8,6,8,6 1720 Wm Wheall? Bradford by Handel?]
5. The 100 Psalm [8,8,8,8 Louis Bourgeois "Praise God from whom all blessings flow..."]
6. Cornish 76 Psalm [Corinth?]
7. Hanover 104 Psalm [1708 Croft]
8. Bristol 108 Psalm
9. T. David's
10. Dr Heighington's 18th Psalm [of Gt. Yarmouth, mid 1700s]
1. Soldier's Joy [old]
2. Marconi [?]
3. Margate Assembly [in print 1786]
4. La Belle Catherine [in print 1785]
5. Prince of Wales's Delight [before 1788]
6. The Royal Quick Step [before 1793]
7. Anna [George Ogle]
8. Blaize et Babet [before 1788]
9. The Caledonian Reel 
10. The Confederation [The Confederacy or Miss Stewart's Reel 1736]
1. God Save the King
2. Shepherd I have lost my love [air, Haydn?]
3. Rule Britania [Rule, Britania! Arne, 1745]
4. German Hymn
5. Clarinet March
6. Duke of Brunswick's March [John Bull? not the 1806 new tune Graf von Braunschweig]
7. Easter Hymn
8. Britons Strike Home 
9. Advent Hymn
10. Fisher's Minuet [John Christian Fischer, oboist and composer 1733-1800, from 1780 chamber musician to Queen Charlotte. This tune popular about 1770 and Mozart composed 12 variations for keyboard (K. 179). Charles Edward Horn's Memoirs...]
Barrel Organ... by Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume gives more on Langshaw: "in 1762, John Stuart, third Earl of Bute, purchased the estate at Luton Park and commissioned Robert Adam to redesign the small existing mansion into a larger and more suitable edifice within which he might pursue his many interests, not the least of which was the housing of his library of 30,000 volumes.
"Adam produced his design for the new house in 1766 and work began the following year. Desiring the erection of a mechanical organ, he contacted Pinchbeck, builder of the Theatre of the Muses clockwork organ, and there is a likelihood that Pinchbeck was responsible for some of the design and possibly the clockwork for the instrument. the construction of the organ was superintended by Handel's amanuensis, John Christopher Smith. John Snetzler, the organ builder, was called in to collaborate and he probably took responsibility for the pipework and the manual keyboard action, for the instrument was to be a barrel and finger organ. John Langshaw, organist and mechanic, pinned the barrels with music arranged by Smith and succeeded so admirably that we are told 'with so much delicacy and taste, as to convey a warm idea of the impression which the hand gives on the instrument.' Another writer enthused, 'The barrels were set . . . in so masterly a manner, that the effect was equal to that produced by the most finished player.'
"Langshaw played an important part in the success of this organ and his work was to exert no mean influence over subsequent musical arrangers. As a precursor of John Flight, Junior, whose skill in barrel-pinning is discussed further on, his work was no less vital or exacting than that of Snetzler or Pinchbeck. Fetis, in his Biographie Universelle des Musiciens, describes Langshaw (and perpetuates another of those little inaccuracies for which his work is noted by turning 'Bute' into 'Bath') thus:
" 'LANGSHAW: Organist and mechanician of great merit, born in England about 1718. Became known by some mechanical cylinders which he adapted to a superb organ belonging to the Earl of Bath. This lord having asked Handel for some pieces for the instrument the great musician wrote them and charged Langshaw with the duty of transferring them to enormous cylinders which revolved according to varying systems of motion, and of which the combination produced majestic effects. Langshaw was employed by the earl for more than a dozen years in perfecting his instrument. In 1772 he obtained the position of organist at Lancaster. He occupied it for more than twenty-five years and died in that town in 1798.' "
Some references to Langshaw are to be found in The Life and Work of John Snetzler by Alan Barnes and Martin Renshaw.
Langshaw descendant Tim Austin continues to research the family and has discovered a third Langshaw barrel organ in the south of England with perhaps 5 barrels. This may be the subject of further study and hope to clarify detail variations on the three organs and their times.
The tuning of the organ in 2007 is indicated in a Microsoft Excel file