Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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John Cadbury

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John Cadbury (1801-1889) of Cadbury Brothers

Born on 12 August 1801, at 92 Bull Street, Birmingham, into a family of four generations of Quakers, the fifth child and third son in the family of five sons and five daughters of Richard Tapper Cadbury (1768–1860), draper, and his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of John Head of Ipswich.

He was educated from 1810 to 1815 at Joseph Crosfield's Quaker school at Hartshill.

As a Quaker in the early 19th century, he was not allowed to enter a university so could not pursue a profession such as medicine or law. Being pacifist, a military career was also out of the question. So, like many other Quakers of the time, he turned his energies toward business and began an apprenticeship as a tea dealer in Leeds in 1818.

1824 Returning to Birmingham, Cadbury opened a small one-man grocery shop at 93 Bull Street.

In 1831, he switched his business and rented a small factory (an old malthouse) in Crooked Lane to begin the manufacture of drinking chocolate and cocoa.

Cadbury was influenced in his choice of trade by his temperance beliefs – he felt alcohol was a major cause of poverty and other social ills, and saw cocoa and chocolate as alternatives.

As a social reformer, he also led a campaign to ban the use of boy chimney sweeps and campaigned against animal cruelty, forming the Animals Friend Society, a forerunner of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

1847 Meanwhile, Cadbury’s manufacturing enterprise prospered, his brother Benjamin Cadbury joined the business and they rented a larger factory in Bridge Street.

Two years later, in 1849, the Cadbury brothers pulled out of the retail business, leaving it in the hands of their nephew, Richard Cadbury Barrow (Barrow's remained a leading Birmingham store until the 1960s).

1826 Cadbury married twice. He and his first wife, Priscilla Ann Dymond (1799–1828), were married in 1826, but she died two years later.

In 1832 he married his second wife, Candia Barrow (1805–1855). They had seven children: John (1834–1866), Richard (1835–1899), Maria (1838–1908), George (1839–1922), Joseph (1841–1841), Edward (1843–1866), and Henry (1845–1875).

Benjamin and John Cadbury dissolved their partnership in 1860 and John retired in 1861, leaving his sons, Richard and George to continue to build the business.

In 1879 they relocated it near a small village called Bournbrook, which they developed and named Bournville, now a major suburb of Birmingham.

For the remainder of his life, John Cadbury engaged in civic and social work in Birmingham.

1889 He died on 11 May 1889 at his home, 10 Harborne Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham

The family rapidly developed the Cadbury's factory, and it continued as a key site of Cadbury Schweppes. The district around the factory has been 'dry' for over 100 years, with no alcohol being sold in pubs, bars or shops.

Residents have fought to maintain this, winning a court battle in March 2007 with Britain's biggest supermarket chain Tesco, to prevent it selling alcohol in its local outlet.

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