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British Industrial History

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Richard Fothergill (1822-1903)

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Richard Fothergill (1822-1903)

1851 Living at Victoria House, Bedwellty: Thos. Brown (age 47 born Merthyr), Magistrate, Ironmaster. With his wife Fanny Brown (age 47 born Chepstow) and their three daughters; Margaret Brown (age 9 born Aberystruth); Elizabeth Brown (age 8 born Aberystruth); and M. E. Brown (age 5 born Aberystruth). Also a visitor Richard Fothergill (age 28 born Caerleon), Ironmaster. Also TB's niece Mary Fothergill (age 17). Nine servants plus one visitor's servant.[1]

c.1855 Richard Fothergill, eldest son of Richard Fothergill (1789-1851), succeeded his uncle, Rowland Fothergill as manager of the Aberdare Ironworks. He had acquired extensive knowledge of all the processes involved in the manufacture of iron and in the production of coal. Later he became proprietor of the works.

1862 Fothergill, owner of the Aberdare Ironworks, acquired the whole of the Plymouth Ironworks on the death of Anthony Hill; he converted them from the cold blast system to the hot blast so that these works were serious competition for the great concerns at Dowlais and Cyfarthfa.

1868 Elected member of Parliament for Merthyr Tydvil[2].

With H. H. Vivian, he promoted the case for Welsh coal with the Admiralty[3].

1875 As a result of the introduction of the Bessemer process, and owing to coal strikes, Fothergill's companies (i.e. Aberdare and Plymouth) failed, as did many others[4].


1903 Obituary [5]

RICHARD FOTHERGILL died at Tenby, South Wales, on June 24, 1903, at the age of eighty-one. He was one of the Fothergill family of ironmasters so well known in commercial circles during the last century. The family came to South Wales in 1819, when the then celebrated Abernant Works, Aberdare; were purchased by Fothergill & Co., who traded as the Aberdare Iron Company. The head of the firm was Mr. Rowland Fothergill, a man of remarkable enterprise, and Mr. Richard Fothergill was his nephew. On the uncle's practical retirement from the firm, and his settling down at Hensol Castle, Mr. Richard Fothergill became the recognised head of the works, which he carried on with conspicuous success. He aspired to obtain possession of the ironworks of Mr. Anthony Hill, the last of the famous Plymouth Iron Company.

Mr. Hill's death in 1862 cleared the way to the ambitious ironmaster, suggesting greater and more successful rivalry to the Crawshays and Guests by his becoming as potent in the Merthyr Valley as in that of Aberdare. In connection with others, notably Mr. Hankey, a London banker, the Plymouth Ironworks and Collieries passed into his hands.

In 1868 he was elected Member of Parliament for Merthyr Tydfil. A disastrous commercial crisis a few years afterwards ended a brilliant career, and he was compelled to retire from Parliament; and with his retirement practically ended the history of Plymouth and Abernant Works. He was an original member of the Iron and Steel Institute, and was elected a Member of Council in 1870, and Vice-President in 1875.

He was the proposer of the vote of thanks for the first Presidential Address to the Institute.


1903 Obituary [6]



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1851 Census
  2. The Times (London, England), Tuesday, Dec 08, 1868
  3. The Engineer 1900/01/12
  4. The Times, Jun 01, 1875
  5. 1903 Iron and Steel Institute: Obituaries
  6. Engineering 1903 Jul-Dec: Index: General Index