Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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John Webb Singer

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John Webb Singer (1819-1904) of J. W. Singer and Sons

1819 Born the son of Joseph Singer, a Builder.

1843 Married(1) in Frome to Arabella Kerwood. JWS is a Watchmaker.

1852 Married(2) in Beckington to Sarah Boswell. JWS is a Goldsmith

1871 Living at the George Hotel, Frome: John Webb Singer (age 51 born Frome), Silversmith and Metal Worker employing 8 men and 4 apprentices. With his wife Sarah and their four children.[1]

1901 Listed as a Metal Worker - Employer.[2]

1904 Obituary.[3]

The death occurred shortly before midnight on Friday, at his residence, Knoll House, Frome, of John Webb Singer, the founder Messrs. Singer and Sons. Limited, the well-known firm of art-metal workers.

The deceased gentleman was born in 1819 and few weeks ago celebrated his eighty-fifth birthday. He was a remarkable instance of a self-made man. His business career commenced with his apprenticeship to a local jeweller. On the completion of his indentures he went to London, where he remained some time, and then returned to Frome and set up there as a watchmaker and jeweller on his own account. He became a connoisseur of antique jewellery, and as such secured both fame and profit. It was this branch of his business which induced him for many years to pay an annual visit to the Continent.

The real origin of the art-metal works which at the present time find employment for nearly 200 of the best-paid hands Frome, was an order received him from a clergyman to make a pair brass candlesticks. Afterwards the making of church ornaments became an important part of his business.

Though the latter was always his first consideration, he found time to serve the town in several public capacities. For many years he was a member of the old Local Board and Urban District Council. He was also for a short period a member of the Board of Guardians. He was one of the trustees of the Frome Charities. It was mainly due to his unceasing efforts that to-day Frome is possessed of up-to-date art school. Quite recently he presented the school with his portrait in oils, as a memento of his long connection with it. He was one of the earliest members of the Frome Volunteer Corps, in which he always took a keen interest.

Like most busy men, he had his hobbies, chief of which were the collecting of old wine-glasses and book-plates. These he continued to collect as long as health and strength permitted. His collection of wine-glasses is supposed to be the finest in existence. He used also to be an enthusiastic grower of all manner of cacti. He was a Conservative and Churchman.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1871 Census
  2. 1901 Census
  3. Warminster & Westbury journal, and Wilts County Advertiser - Saturday 14 May 1904