Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Benjamin Gibbons (1735-1832)

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Ironmaster and ironmonger

1735 Born, one of the sons of John Gibbons (1703–1778) and his wife Grace

After the death of his father, Benjamin was entrusted with the management of the iron business around Kingswinford, which in the 1780s comprised forges at Hyde and Lye and warehouses at Stourport, Lower Gornal, and Hyde. His brothers Thomas and William took responsibility for other parts of the business.

The brothers took full advantage of the boom in the iron industry which followed the end of the American War of Independence. They extended their interests rapidly, taking in kinsmen as junior partners and mortgaging land to supply investment funds when circulating capital could not be spared from the ironware business.

1787 Benjamin built a blast furnace at Bilston, taking his cousins William and Benjamin Bickley as partners

1788 he joined his two brothers in leasing a furnace at the Level, as well as a forge and slitting mill at Cradley. In this way the Gibbons family emerged as major figures in the iron industry of their native region, operating seven blast furnaces with associated forge capacity by 1812.

1814 Benjamin Gibbons made over the Level furnaces and other industrial plant to his nephews (John, Benjamin, and Thomas) in return for an annuity, a capital sum of £24,000, and the Corbyns Hall estate which the family had purchased in 1779. The separating off of Benjamin Gibbons's interests was providential, for it was to allow the family to recover from the bankruptcy which overwhelmed it in the post-war slump.

1816 The three brothers were recorded bankrupt as bankers, bringing the iron business down with them. Something was saved from the wreck when Benjamin Gibbons, in the guise of a preferential creditor, compelled the assignees to transfer the Level works and collieries to him.

1832 Died

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Biography of the Gibbons family, ODNB