Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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William Gibbons (1732-1807)

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One of the sons of John Gibbons (1703–1778) and his wife Grace

1778 After his father's death, responsibilities for the business he had built up in iron and coal were divided between his 3 sons - William ran the family's merchant house at Bristol, buying pig iron for the midland forges and overseeing the export of metalwares to the American market. Another of John's sons, Benjamin, was entrusted with management of the iron business around Kingswinford. The eldest son, Thomas, took charge of the merchant house at Wolverhampton which was subsequently developed as a bank.

1778 William married Phyllis Watkins (1760–1791).

William achieved eminence as a citizen of Bristol, becoming mayor of the city in 1800–01.

He also became an industrial lobbyist of national reputation - he was a spokesman for the iron trade during the debates on Britain's commercial future in the wake of the American independence, giving voice to the ironmasters' anxieties concerning proposals for free trade with Ireland in 1785. He also objected to the commercial treaty with France.

He twice led campaigns to avert the taxation of pig iron during the Napoleonic wars, in 1797–8 and in 1806, on each occasion with success.

1807 William died at Bristol. After this the single partnership which had governed the extended Gibbons family's affairs in the late eighteenth century was split up. The Bristol house was signed over to his only son, William (1782–1848), who was married to Anne Every (1784–1855).

See Also

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Sources of Information

  • Biography of the Gibbons family, ODNB