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British Industrial History

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Richard Stedman Cunliff

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Richard Stedman Cunliff (1804-1879) of Randolph, Elder and Co

1879 Obituary [1]

LITTLE did we expect when, a few weeks ago, we had occasion to pen a biographical notice of Mr. Charles Randolph, the eminent Glasgow engineer, that we should so soon be called upon to perform a similar duty in regard to his near relative and partner in business for the long period of thirty-four years, namely, Mr. Richard Stedman Cunliff, who, up till his death, was the only surviving member of the world-famous firm of Randolph, Elder, and Co.

Though not bred an engineer, that gentleman played a most important part in the three successive firms of Randolph and Co. (1834-39), Randolph, Elliott and Co. (1839-52), and Randolph, Elder, and Co. (1852-68), which was that of managing the commercial department of the business in which they were engaged, and which eventually became one of tbo most gigantic of its kind, either at home or abroad, involving an immense capital, works and plant of great extent and value, and for a long time a staff and army of workmen numbering between 5000 and 6000 persons. To have been the chief agent in providing the ways and means to keep the commercial interests of that great business going successfully and yet to have found time to go through a large share of public work, indicates the possession of an amount of ability in administration which is not at all common but which was certainly true of the gentleman of whom we speak.

Born in the year 1804, in the city of Leipsic, where his father was established as a British merchant, Mr. Cunliff belonged to an old and. well-known Lancashire family, and by his mothers s1de he was connected with the county of Kinross, in Scotland, his maternal grandfather being Dr. Stedman, Sheriff of Kinross.

He received most of his education in Glasgow, and after spending several years in a largo mercantile establishment, he started in business on his own account as a yarn merchant in the year 1820.......[more]

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