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British Industrial History

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Joseph Robinson (1818-1883)

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Joseph Robinson (1818-1883) of the Coalbrookdale Co, Ebbw Vale Co and others

ca.1850 Birth of son John Henry Robinson of Berkhampstead.

1851 Visitors at Coalbrookdale: Joseph Robinson (age 33 born Madeley), Ironmaster residing at Great Berkhampstead. With his wife Hannah Robinson (age 29 born Madeley) and their son John Henry Robinson (age 2 born Great Berkhampstead). In the house of his FIL Thomas Graham, an Accountant, and his wife Hannah.[1]

1861 Living at High Street, Berkhampstead: Joseph Robinson (age 42 born Coalbrookdale), Iron Master (Widower). With his five children; Georgiana Robinson (age 6 born Berkhampstead); Ada Mary Robinson (age 4 born Berkhampstead); Gertrude Robinson (age 3 born Berkhampstead); Daniel F. Robinson (age 2 born Berkhampstead); and Theodore R. Robinson (age 6 months born Berkhampstead). Also his MIL Hannah Graham and numerous servants.[2]

1881 Living at 14 Southwell Gardens, Kensington: Joseph Robinson (age 61 born Shropshire), Iron Master (Widower). With five children.[3]

1884 Obituary [4]

JOSEPH ROBINSON was born at Coalbrookdale, Shropshire, in the year 1818.

At the age of fourteen he became an apprentice to the Coalbrookdale Iron Co., under Messrs. Abraham and Alfred Darby, this afterwards leading to a connection between them which merged into a fast friendship for life.

Before he was sixteen years old (though he looked much older), Messrs. Darby resolved to close the accounts of a certain district which they had been in the habit of supplying, but which had become unprofitable, and young Robinson was sent round for this purpose. Instead of closing the accounts, he, however, in three days, had sent back to the works orders to four times the extent ever taken in that district before, much to the astonishment and pleasure of his employers.

After acting for some time as agent of the Coalbrookdale Co. in the West of England and South Wales, during which time he nearly lost his life in the extremely severe winter of 1837-8, he suggested that a house should be opened in Liverpool, which was agreed to; some very handsome buildings were erected, and he was appointed Manager.

In 1844 Messrs. Darby bought the Ebbw Vale Ironworks, and offered Mr. Robinson a partnership and management of the London office, which he accepted, his brother Thomas filling his place at Liverpool. In this position at Lawrence Pounteney Hill he rapidly rose in the estimation of the iron world, the business increased, and other works were added, till they became the largest iron concern in existence.

In 1850 Mr. Robinson was invited to take an active share in the arrangements for the Great Exhibition of 1851 ; through Richard Cobden he was introduced to Prince Albert, and worked energetically on the Committee.

In 1852 he went to Paris to give information and evidence to the Emperor Napoleon relative to the commercial treaties between England and France, and as to the bearing of French protective duties on English iron. In recognition of his services he was offered the Legion of Honour.

The Ebbw Vale Co. was in 1863 turned into a limited liability company, Mr. Robinson keeping the London agency, in partnership with Mr. William Carter, till 1880, when he gave up his share of the agency to join the board of directors. He retained this position till his death, which took place on the 2nd of July, 1883, from an affection of the heart. Thus he was for over fifty years in the iron-trade, being frequently on the Continent, and once having visited Canada and the United States in connection with the many railway and other commercial enterprises in which he was interested.

In private life he was esteemed and beloved by all who knew him, always ready to help and assist with his purse and his time numerous friends and acquaintances. He was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 6th of February, 1866.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1851 Census
  2. 1861 Census
  3. 1881 Census
  4. 1884 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries