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British Industrial History

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John Bowes (1811-1885)

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John Bowes (1811-1885) coal industrialist and art collector

1811 born at 13 South Street, Chelsea, London, on 19 June, the illegitimate son of John Bowes, tenth earl of Strathmore (1769–1820), and Mary (1787–1860), the daughter of George and Ann Milner of Stainton, co. Durham. The earl married Mary on his deathbed with the aim of legitimizing their son by Scot's law. Bowes's claim to the title was rejected in 1821, but he succeeded to the estates of Streatlam near Barnard Castle and of Gibside near Newcastle.

Educated at private schools in Ealing and Lincolnshire, and then at Eton College.

1828 went to Trinity College, Cambridge, where his tutor was William Hutt (1801–1882)

1831 Bowes's mother, Mary, married Hutt.

1832 Bowes and Hutt entered parliament.

1839 Bowes, his mother, Hutt, and Nicholas Wood created the Marley Hill Coal Company to exploit the coals on the Gibside estate. Bowes had used some of his gambling wins to support the temporarily ailing coal company.

1844 Charles Mark Palmer joined the business

1847 the company was renamed John Bowes Esq. and Partners. It soon became one of the greatest companies in British coal history and the source of Bowes's wealth.

1847 Bowes moved to Paris

1885 He died on 9 October at Streatlam Castle. With his financial affairs in some disarray, his gross personal estate was insufficient to meet the very generous bequests of his will. The museum he established was officially opened in 1892 and remained a major collection of French art at the end of the twentieth century.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Biography, ODNB