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Robert Charles Ransome

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Robert Charles Ransome (1830-1886) agricultural engineer; chairman of Ransomes, Sims and Jefferies

Born on 1 June 1830, at Carr Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, the eldest son of Robert Ransome and his wife Sarah

Educated at the Friends' schools in Hitchin and York

1846 At the age of sixteen he entered the family firm as an apprentice.

In 1854 Ransome married Sarah Jane, daughter of Richard W. Baker of Cottesmore, and they had a daughter. His wife died two years later

1856 He was made a partner in the family business of Ransomes and Sims

During the 1860s he took over the general management of the firm as the health of his uncle James Allen Ransome deteriorated.

In 1864 he married Elizabeth, daughter of James Gibb of London and Calcutta. They had three daughters and two sons.

In 1884 he became the first chairman of Ransomes, Sims and Jefferies

1886 He died, from aneurysm and asphyxia, at Belstead Road, Ipswich, on 5 March 1886, and was buried at Ipswich cemetery on 11 March. He was survived by his second wife.


1886 Obituary [1]



1886 Obituary [2]

ROBERT CHARLES RANSOME, chairman of Messrs. Ransomes Sims and Jefferies, Orwell Works, Ipswich, was born in Ipswich on 1st June 1830, being the grandson of Mr. Robert Ransome, by whom the business had been founded in 1789.

He was educated at the Friends' schools at Hitchin and York.

At the age of sixteen he entered the works, and after passing through the shops was entrusted before the age of twenty-one with the entire responsibility of executing in Durham and Derbyshire important contracts for railway chairs, which were made on the spot.

When twenty-seven years of age he joined his father, Mr. Robert Ransome, and Mr. Allen Ransome, and Mr. Sims, as a partner in the firm. He early devoted himself to the development of the business commercially, and especially abroad; he travelled extensively through Europe, and visited Egypt, and in later years the Australian colonies and New Zealand, and on two occasions the United States.

In connection with the late Mr. John Fowler, of Leeds, he took an important part in the manufacture and introduction of the steam plough. To the introduction of the portable steam-engine and steam thrashing-machine ho gave much attention, his firm having been one of the earliest producers of portable engines; whilst the first steam thrashing-machine and the first agricultural locomotive were exhibited by them at the Royal Agricultural Society's shows at Liverpool in 1841 and Bristol in 1842 respectively.

Ever since 1785, when a method of tempering cast-iron plough-shares had been introduced by Robert Ransome, of Norwich, followed in 1803 by his celebrated chilled plough-share, the improvement of the plough has much occupied the attention of the firm, by whom it has been brought to a high state of perfection. They have also been large producers of agricultural machinery and implements, as well as of an extensive variety of general engineering work. Sir. Ransome was for many years associated in business with the late Mr. John Head, and his brother, Mr. James Edward Ransome, and Mr. John Robert Jefferies. He devoted much attention to the education question, feeling the necessity of more highly cultivated intelligence in our artisans, for enabling England to keep her place in the world.

He was chairman of the Ipswich school board for twelve years, from its commencement in 1871; and a governor of the Albert Memorial College, Framlingham. He was elected mayor of Ipswich when thirty-seven years of age; and was a member of the council of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, and a magistrate for Suffolk as well as for Ipswich, and an alderman of the borough.

His death occurred. on Friday, 5th March 1886, at the age of fifty-five, from aneurism of the heart, from which he had suffered for many months.

He became a Member of the Institution in 1869.


1886 Obituary [3]

Mr. ROBERT CHARLES RANSOME, who died on the 5th March 1886, was the senior partner of the firm of Ransome, Head, & Jeffries, Limited, of Ipswich. The son of the late Mr. Robert Ransoms of that town, and grandson of Mr. Robert Ransome of Yarmouth, the deceased was born on the 1st of June 1830, and had thus attained his 56th Year.

At the age of sixteen he entered the works of his father in the Old Foundry Road, Ipswich, where he went through the shops, and acquired a complete practical knowledge of the business of agricultural engineering.

In his twenty-fifth year he was made a partner in the firm, for which he travelled a great deal in foreign countries, including Egypt and the United States.

Never a strong man, Mr. Ransome's health, about 1879, afforded cause for much uneasiness, and in November of that year he undertook a voyage to the Antipodes with a view to its restoration. In this aim he was so far successful that he was able to resume business on his return; and, indeed, he was in the thick of active life until December of 1885, when he attended the Smithfield Show. He soon afterwards, however, was permanently laid aside, and for more than two months previous to his death he was absolutely confined to the house.

Mr. Ransome was Mayor of Ipswich in 1867, and from 1871 to 1883 he was Chairman of the School Board in that town. been a member of the Institute since 1871.


1886 Obituary[4]

"MR. ROBERT CHARLES RANSOME.

We much regret to record the death on Friday last, the 5th inst., of Mr. Robert Charles Ransome, the senior partner in the well-known firm of Ransomes, Head, and Jefferies, Limited, of Ipswich. Mr. R. C. Ransome, who was born on June 1, 1830, was the son of the late Mr. Robert Ransome, of Ipswich, and grandson of Mr. Robert Ransome, of Yarmouth, to whom the Ipswich firm owes its origin early in the present century. The works of the firm formerly occupied a site in the Old Foundry-road, Ipswich, and it was there that at the age of sixteen the subject of the present notice commenced serving his time as apprentice in the various shops. Like his father and grandfather before him he devoted himself energetically to the devolopment of the business, and at the age of about twenty-four he became a partner and took especially under his charge the foreign relations of the firm, travelling all over the Continent and to Egypt, and in 1869 paying a visit to the United States. Possessed of great business talents and having a good practical knowledge of agricultural requirements, Mr. Ransome’s foreign visits had an important influence, not only on the interests of his own firm, but also on the general development of the export trade in agricultural implements from this country —a trade which the quality of the implements turned out in the early days at the Orwell Works did so much to originate.

Notwithstanding the heavy business demands upon his energies, Mr. Ransome found time to devote much attention to public duties connected with his native town. In 1867 he was chosen mayor of the town, from 1871 to 1883 (when ill-health compelled him to resign the post) he was chairman to the School Board, in 1873 he became president of the Ipswich Liberal Association, and in 1877 he was elected alderman, an office which he retained until the time of his death. He was also on the Commission of the Peace for the county of Suffolk, a magistrate for the borough of Ipswich, and a member of the Committee of Management of the Ipswich Docks, while he was also for many years on the Council of the Smithfield Club (where he was succeeded by his brother and partner Mr. James E. Ransome), and on the Council of the Royal Agricultural Society of England. About two years ago, as most of our readers are aware, the firm of which Mr. Ransome was the senior partner was converted into a limited liability company—Ransomes, Head, and Jefferies, Limited—in which Mr. R. C. Ransome."still retained the leading position, with his partners, Mr. J. E. Ransome and Mr. J. R. Jefferies, as directors.

In 1879, in consequence of serious ill-health, Mr. Ransome was advised to pay a visit to Australia, and in November of that year he started for the antipodes vid the Suez Canal, returning the following autumn vid New Zealand and America. In our southern colonies as elsewhere abroad Mr. Ransome made for himself numerous warm friends, and the news of his death will be heard with wide-spread regret.

Mr. Ransome was twice married, first in 1854 to Miss Baker, daughter of Mr. R. W. Baker, of Cottesmore, Rutland, by whom he had one daughter, and, second, in 1864, to Miss Gibb, daughter of Mr. James Gibb, of London and Calcutta, by whom he leaves two sons and three daughters. For more than eighteen months past Mr. Ransome had been suffering from an aneurism, and it was to this his death was due. He was present at the Smithfield Show in December last, and those of his friends who met him there could have had little idea that his health was a subject for anxiety. On his return to Ipswich, however, he became wo.*se, and for more than two months past he was confined to his house, while eventually on yesterday week acute symptoms set in which resulted in his death on the following day. A man of earnest convictions, strong sympathies, excellent abilities, and thoroughly straightforward character, Mr. Robert Charles Ransome was a worthy representative of a firm which is so prominently connected with the history of agricultural engineering, and his decease creates a void which will not be easily filled."


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1886/03/12
  2. 1886 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries
  3. 1886 Iron and Steel Institute: Obituaries
  4. Engineering 1886/03/12