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British Industrial History

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Joseph Fry

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Joseph Fry (1728-1787) of J. S. Fry and Sons, chocolate manufacturer and typefounder,

1728 born into a devout Quaker family, the eldest son of John Fry (d. 1775), a shopkeeper of Sutton Benger, Wiltshire.

1753 After apprenticeship, he set up as an apothecary in Bristol

1755 married Anna Portsmouth(1719/20–1803), in Basingstoke.

By 1759 he was making and selling chocolate

1761 in partnership with John Vaughan, he purchased the chocolate business of Walter Churchman, together with the patent of the water-powered machine that had given the firm an advantage in the local markets. He expanded the business, and in due course a Boulton and Watt steam engine was installed.

By 1764 Fry, Vaughan and Co. had agents in 53 towns, with a chocolate warehouse in London.

1764 Fry went into typefounding and printing, becoming a partner in the Bristol Letter Foundry with the printer William Pine, who printed the Bristol Gazette and had a large business in Wine Street. The manager of the typefoundry of Fry and Pine was Isaac Moore, formerly a metalworker in Birmingham. Their first specimen was issued in 1766 under the name Isaac Moore & Co.

1768 Fry subscribed £1500 to establish the Bristol china works of Richard Champion.

He was a partner, with Alderman William Fripp, in Fry, Fripp and Co., soap-boilers in Bristol, and also had chemical works at Battersea, London, in which he was assisted by one of his sons.

The foundry moved to London.

1774 Fry also extended his printing business to London.

1777 Moore left the partnership to establish a business of his own; the style of the firm became J. Fry & Co.

1777 the chocolate works was moved from Newgate Street to Union Street, Bristol.

1782 Fry took his sons Henry Fry (b. 1756) and Edmund Fry (1757-1835) into partnership.

1787 Fry died after a few days' illness on 29 March, aged fifty-nine, having retired from business a short time before, and was buried in the burial-ground of the Society of Friends at the Friars, Bristol.

His youngest son, Joseph Storrs Fry (1769–1835), later joined the chocolate and cocoa business, Fry, Vaughan & Co. Afyer Joseph's death, this was carried on by his widow under the style Anna Fry & Son; she was also associated for a short time with her sons in the typefoundry. The typefoundry was continued by Edmund.

1803 Anna died at Charterhouse Square, London, on 22 October 1803, aged eighty-three.

Joseph Storrs Fry (1769–1835) continued the chocolate business after his mother's death with his three sons, Joseph, Francis Fry (1803–1886), and Richard, as J. S. Fry and Sons.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  • Biography of Joseph Fry, ODNB