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David Chadwick

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David Chadwick (1821-1895)

of Chadwick and Frost


1896 Obituary [1]

DAVID CHADWICK, born at Macclesfield on the 23rd of December, 1821, was the youngest of a family of nine. Very early in life he was taken to Manchester, where, after a short period of schooling, he was placed in a warehouse at the age of eleven. Anxious to do all in his power to remedy the defects arising from his early removal from school, he regularly attended evening classes. In those days warehouse hours were longer than now, and this employment of his very limited spare time showed great determination and strength of will.

Throughout life he retained a strong interest in Working Men’s Colleges and Mechanics’ Institutes; he became a Director of the Manchester Athenaeum at the age of twenty-one, and in 1858 took an active part in establishing the Salford Working Men’s College.

Diligence in daily work and in nightly study soon met their reward. David Chadwick rapidly improved his position as a mercantile clerk; and in 1843 he was elected Treasurer to the Corporation of Salford, being then only twenty-two years of age. This office expanded greatly during his tenure, both in importance and emolument; and he retained it till 1860, when he determined to establish himself as a Consulting Accountant.

In 1844 he married Louisa, youngest daughter of Mr. William Bow of Broughton, and commenced residence in Salford.

In 1854 Mr. Chadwick, in conjunction with the Borough Surveyor of Salford, took out a patent for a stench-trap grid which the latter had invented. About the same time Mr. Herbert Frost invented a water-meter, and Mr. Chadwick, manifesting great interest in it and in the subject generally, wrote and submitted to the Institution a Paper “On Water-Meters,” for which a Council Premium was awarded him.

Six years later he formed with the inventor a small Company to work Frost’s Patents of 1855 and 1857, which met with considerable success. A Paper “On the Rate of Wages in Manchester and Salford, and the Manufacturing Districts of Lancashire, 1839-59,” read before the Statistical Society, secured for him the friendship of the late William Newmarch, F.R.S. He was elected a Fellow and for a few years sat on the Council of that Society. About the same time he became a Member of the Society of Arts. Without pretensions to be a scientific man, he was in the habit, until recent years, of frequently attending the meetings of technical societies.

In 1861 when the British Association met in Manchester he acted as Secretary of the Statistical Science Section, to which he contributed two Papers.

Meanwhile his business had glided into a practical application of the Companies Act of 1862. With the aid of wealthy merchants of Manchester and the neighbouring towns, large industrial concerns were acquired and re-organised in rapid succession. The first of these was the wagon and railway-carriage works founded and owned by Mr. John Ashbury at Openshaw, near Manchester, which became The Ashbury Railway-Carriage and Iron Company, Limited, in 1863.

It was followed in 1864 by still larger conversions of like character, when the important undertakings now known as John Brown and Co., Charles Cammell and Co., The Staveley Coal and Iron Company, The Sheepbridge Coal and Iron Company, The Park Gate Iron Company, Bolckow, Vaughan and Co., Palmers Shipbuilding Company, and others, took corporate form.

Trusted implicitly by many of the most successful men in Manchester and the district, Mr. Chadwick became the agent through whom they made investments in some of the earliest limited liability companies. So thorough was he in his investigations, and so careful to secure the best independent advice, that he gained and retained the confidence of the investing classes to an extent which was a remarkable tribute to his integrity and business capacity. This period of prosperity was certain to reveal the true spirit of the man. Absorbed in business to such an extent, without hobbies or private tastes, with no bent towards relaxation of any kind, except billiards - the innate autocracy of his nature, his aversion to criticism, advice, or opposition, or even to listen to caution, became the dominant characteristic of his conduct.

Many men, however absorbed in work or study, seem to yearn for an external source of excitement, and Mr. Chadwick was no exception. Operating on no Stock Exchange, frequenting no race-course, putting money on no sporting event, gambling on no game of chance, he found excitement in litigiousness.

In thirty-two years, between 1860 and 1892, he had no less than ten partners, from seven of whom he separated with lawsuits. In addition to these and to a heavy litigation, forced on himself and partners in 1876, by a combination of disappointed shareholders, and lasting till 1885, when judgment was unanimously given in his favour both by the Court of Appeal and by the House of Lords, he was for many years never without a pending lawsuit, either as plaintiff or defendant.

In 1865 Mr. Chadwick removed his residence from Salford to London, where he took offices first at 27 Great George Street, and subsequently in the City of London. About the time of this change, he conceived a desire to enter Parliament for Macclesfield. The first attempt was unsuccessful, but at the election of 1868 he won a seat. For twelve years he represented that borough, and although during that period he made motions for the amendment of the Companies Act of 1862, and for the more equitable adjustment of the Income Tax, he was not successful in carrying them beyond a preliminary stage.

In 1880 he was unseated on an election petition. Four years previously he suddenly announced his intention to build, and equip with 10,000 volumes, a free library for Macclesfield, and this act of characteristic generosity was duly carried out. Local gratitude led to the presentation of his full-length portrait, provided by subscription, and placed, with a suitable legend, in the Macclesfield Town Hall.

Mr. Chadwick was consulted as to the erection of the Holloway College for Women at Egham, and eventually the estate was conveyed in trust to him and others. On the nomination of the founder he also became, and remained during life, a governor of that college. He was elected President of the Manchester Statistical Society, and held the office for two years, 1865-67. He was afterwards first President of the Manchester Institute of Accountants; and on its absorption by the newly Incorporated Institute of Chartered Accountants in London in 1880, he was nominated as a member of council, a seat which was only vacated with his decease. In addition to the Papers already referred to, he was the Author of several essays on Parliamentary representation, poor rates and principles of rating, profit sharing, and joint stock companies. He visited the United States and Canada five times, and he also travelled extensively in parts of Europe, and made one visit to Egypt and Palestine.

In 1878 Mr. Chadwick married, as his second wife, Ursula, eldest daughter of Mr. Thomas Sopwith, F.R.S. After passing his seventieth year, the indications of diminished vitality were clear, accompanied as they were by impaired sight and increasing deafness. His last illness was mercifully brief. Returning home from a visit to the sea-coast, he was stricken with paralysis, which rendered him speechless. After three days’ illness he died at his residence, the Poplars, Herne Hill, early on the morning of the 19th of September, 1895, in the 74th year of his age.

Mr. Chadwick was elected an Associate on the 23rd of May, 1854.


1895 Obituary [2]

DAVID CHADWICK died at the age of seventy-four, at his residence, The Poplars, Herne Hill, on September 19, 1895, from the effects of a paralytic stroke. Mr. Chadwick was a civil engineer, and he took an interest in mechanical subjects; but he was better known as a statistician and a financier. As a young man he held the office of boroughs treasurer to the Corporation of Salford. At the instigation of friends engaged in commercial pursuits in Manchester he set up in business as an auditor and accountant just before the passing of the Limited Liability Act. Quite prepared for this new departure in commercial enterprise, he became a financial agent with a large clientele of personal friends, including many of the most successful men in Manchester. Most of the undertakings with which he was associated were more than ordinarily successful.

Mr. Chadwick had offices in London as well as Manchester. He had travelled on the Continent and in America in relation to commercial enterprises in which his friends were interested. The business connected with the Bessemer royalties was done in his offices, and many matters of a like nature were entrusted to his management. He was for some years a member of the Council of the Royal Statistical Society, and of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, and often attended the Economical sections of the British Association and the Social Science Association. He was a recognised authority on financial and statistical questions. He was formerly member of Parliament for Macclesfield, but was unseated in 1880 through the illegal practices of an agent.

He was an Associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and was elected a member of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1889.


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