Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Paul Foley (c.1645-1699)

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Ironmaster, one of the younger sons of Thomas Foley (1616-1677), and brother of Philip Foley (1648-1716)

Educated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, from 1662, and possibly at the Inner Temple in London, from September of that year.

After his marriage c.1668/70, he bought the estate of Stoke Edith in Herefordshire. He was a dissenter, and employed an ejected minister as tutor for his children. Like his elder brother Thomas Foley (c.1641-1701), he was a governor of the Society of Mines Royal from 1666 to 1678 and the Society of Mineral and Battery Works from 1666 to 1687.

1669 The many interlocking partnerships and semi-dependent enterprises of the ironworks had been divided into three: Paul purchased King's works in the Forest of Dean in 1674, and probably demolished them; but the Forest of Dean remained the main base of his power and responsibilities within the ironworks partnership. The Forest of Dean works were mainly furnaces producing high-quality iron from local ores. Eventually Paul held 7 blast furnaces including Redbrook furnace and two forges at Lydbrook, Gloucestershire. He also had a half-interest in St. Weonard's furnace, and the Pontrilas, Peterchurch, and Llansillo forges in Herefordshire.

Paul and Phillip became the principal managers of the family works, bringing the partnerships to their widest extension in 1692.

1674 There was a rift between Paul and Philip. Philip was both Paul's chief customer and his main competitor. Paul had expanded his output of pig iron in the Forest works and needed to expand his market in the midlands, but he also raised the price of the best quality Forest iron. Their father had to intervene in what threatened to become a bitter quarrel between the brothers. An agreement was drawn up which gave Philip one third of the Forest works but gave Paul access to the midland market for iron. It was an uncomfortable, strained partnership and Paul was never satisfied that he was receiving his brother's support nor a fair return from his mills.

1685 There were constant alterations in the arrangements and although Paul received a steady profit from the Forest works he was now anxious to persuade Philip and other ironmasters to buy him out. This may have been a negotiating ploy, for Paul continued to operate the Forest works in close association with Philip.

For many years, he was M.P. for Hereford

Shortly before his death, he completely rebuilt the house at Stoke Edith. He was a dissenter, and employed an ejected minister as tutor for his children.

1695 elected Speaker of the House of Commons

His son said the disbandment of much of the army in 1699 was Foley’s greatest achievement, reflecting a parliamentary career spent mainly in opposition, spent encouraging governments to adopt minimalist policies. His character exemplified that of the godly and prudent landowner-industrialist

1699 died of gangrene on 11 Nov.

His son Thomas succeeded to an estate of £4,000 p.a. as well as to the Hereford seat.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  • History of Parliament