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British Industrial History

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James Edward Ransome

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James Edward Ransome (1839–1905) was associated with Ransomes, Sims and Jefferies

Born on 13 July 1839 in Norwich Road, Ipswich the son of Robert Ransome and his wife, Sarah Coleby

1841 Living with his parents Northgate street, Ipswich

In 1856, aged seventeen, he entered upon his apprenticeship at the firm's Orwell works

1863 Ransome married Alice, daughter of Samuel Gross of Woodbridge. The couple had four sons and three daughters.

In 1868 he became one of the managing directors

1876 Ransome oversaw the construction of a new lawnmower works. The culmination of his efforts was the successful introduction of the motor mower in 1902.

Also responsible for several patents for improvements to ploughs, harrows, and lawnmowers.

1886 On the death of his brother Robert Charles Ransome he became joint chairman, with J. R. Jefferies. By this time, the company's workforce had grown to more than 2000.

1900 He was sole chairman when Jefferies died.

1905 James Edward Ransome died from cancer on 30 January 1905 at 4 Upper Wimpole Street, London. He was survived by his wife.


1905 Obituary [1]

JAMES EDWARD RANSOME was born at Ipswich on 13th July 1839.

In 1856 he entered, as an apprentice, the Orwell Works at Ipswich, belonging to the firm then known as Ransomes and Sims. These Works were founded by his grandfather, Robert Ransome, the inventor of the chilled plough-share, in 1789.

In 1860, on the completion of his apprenticeship, he became identified with the management of the plough and implement department of the business, and during the next twenty years or so be represented the firm at the many competitions in the ploughing field which then took place between the leading plough manufacturers.

It was largely due to his efforts and ability that his firm succeeded in securing four out of the six first prizes offered at the Royal Agricultural Society of England's Show at Newcastle in 1864, and a prize in each of the seven divisions for ploughs at the Leicester Show in 1868.

By 1882 the firm, with his assistance, had succeeded in winning no fewer than 435 prizes for single and double ploughs.

He became a partner in 1868, and one of the managing directors when the business was converted into a company, under the title of Ransomes, Sims and Jefferies, on 1st January 1884.

On the death of his brother, Robert Charles Ransome, in 1886, he held the chairmanship of the company conjointly in alternate years with his contemporary, John Robert Jefferies, until the death of the latter in 1900, when he became chairman, and held this office till his death.

The practical part of his career was entirely identified with the agricultural engineering, as distinct from the general engineering side of the business carried on by his company.

Among his contributions to the literature of the subject was a Paper on "Ploughs and Ploughing," read before the Royal Agricultural College at Cirencester in 1865, in which he dealt exhaustively with the history of ploughs, and with the scientific construction of the modern implement.

Another Paper on "Double Furrow Ploughs," read before the Framlingham Farmers' Club in 1872, dealt with the economy secured by the use of these ploughs as compared with single-furrow ploughs.

Among the many improvements he introduced which have become admitted successes, and which have been, or will be, generally used on the expiry of the patent rights, may be mentioned the bowl wheel, for turning double-furrow ploughs; the divided or sectional plough-share, to effect economy in wearing parts; the taper tine, applied to cultivators and horse hoes, securing the rigidity of a fixed tine with the flexibility of a spring tine; and the divided cutter barrel in lawn mowers, by which the blades, being partly in a right-hand spiral and partly in a left-hand spiral, deliver the cut-grass centrally into the grass-box.

He designed and organised the new plough and implement factory recently erected by his company, and made large extensions in their lawn mower factory. The trade carried on in this latter factory he managed entirely, and the business in motor lawn mowers now successfully established by his company is Rue to his initiative and energy. H

e was an active Member of the Council of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, the Council of the Smithfield Club, and the Council of the Bath and West of England Agricultural Society, besides being a member of many other agricultural societies in various parts of the country. He was a Justice of the Peace for the borough of Ipswich.

His death took place in London on the 30th January 1905, in his sixty-sixth year.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1886.


1905 Obituary [2]



1905 Obituary [3]



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1905 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries
  2. The Engineer 1905/02/03
  3. Engineering 1905 Jan-Jun: Index: General Index