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British Industrial History

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Forman Family

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Forman family, ironmasters.

Thomas Forman (1692–1768) was a landowner at Waltham on the Wolds, Leics. He married Jane Houton; three of their sons were Anthony Forman (1725–1802), Henry Forman (c.1741-) and Richard Forman I (c.1733-1794).

Richard Forman I was a clerk in the Board of Ordnance, at the Tower of London, during the American War of Indepence and saw its effect on the iron industry. He married twice - his first wife was Mary Baines; his second wife was Elizabeth Crewe. His six children were baptized in the church within the Tower's precincts. His sons and grandson also became employees of the Board of Ordnance. Through his work Richard Forman I became associated with the Homfray family, who had been involved in casting cannon.

1784 Forman advanced more than £10,000 to the Homfrays to assist in funding the Penydarren Ironworks and became a partner in the concern.

By 1796 the Penydarren partnership included members of the Homfray family, Henry Forman of Woolwich (first secretary of the royal laboratories under Colonel Congreve), and Richard Forman I's son William.

Richard Forman II (c.1763-1830) was employed at the Tower of London before moving to the naval branch of the office.

1786 Richard Forman II married Martha Skey of Harpenden. Their son, Richard Forman III (1795–1880), worked at his father's office at Chatham and later became chief storekeeper at Gibraltar.

Richard Forman I's fourth son, William Forman (c.1767-1829), also combined interests in the ordnance trade and the Welsh iron industry.

1789 William married Mary Seaton, the daughter of a Doncaster landowner - his marriage provided some of the capital he later used to expand his business interests.

After the Homfray family withdrew, William Forman became co-owner of the Penydarren Ironworks with William Thompson of London.

1799 William Thompson formed a new merchant house with Samuel Homfray and William Forman

During the 1820s William Forman considerably expanded his iron-making interests

1829 On William's death he held a three-eighths share in the Penydarren ironworks along with shares in the Aberdare, Tredegar, Bute, and Rhymni ironworks.

William's sons, Thomas Seaton Forman (1791–1850), Richard Forman IV (d. 1882), and William Henry Forman (1794–1869) continued the family's business interests during the great expansion of the Welsh iron trade.

1840-60 the Forman ironworks produced much wrought-iron rail during the period of the railway boom.

1841-7 Thomas Seaton Forman sat as MP for Bridgwater.

William Henry Forman survived his brothers; he withdrew from Penydarren ironworks in 1859 and sold the mineral property to the Dowlais Ironworks.

1860s the Forman family continued to operate their iron merchant's business in London and to hold a major share in the Tredegar ironworks.

1869 After William Henry Forman's death, the family's involvement in the south Wales iron trade ended.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Biography of the Formans, ODNB [1]