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British Industrial History

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Thomas Williams (1737-1802)

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Thomas Williams (1737-1802), copper magnate.

1737 Born son of Owen Williams of Anglesey and Jane Lloyd

He became a solicitor

1763 Married Catherine Lloyd; they had 2 sons and 3 daughters

1768 A mass of easily worked copper was discovered on Sir Nicholas Bayly's land on Parys Mountain, which was leased by Charles Roe and Co of Macclesfield.

1769 Retained by the local families of Lewis and Hughes to fight a legal action against Sir Nicholas Bayly about part of the newly discovered Parys Mountain copper resource.

1778 At the conclusion of the litigation, Williams had emerged as the active partner in the Parys Mine Co.

Early 1780s, with help from experts from Birmingham, perfected the production of copper bolts for use in sheathing ships.

Pascoe Grenfell acted as agent for the copper magnate Thomas Williams on a sales trip to France.

Pascoe Grenfell became a shareholder in Williams' business

1782/3 Williams broke the grip of the Associated Smelters cartel by developing copper smelting works at Ravenhead, Lancs, and at Middle Bank works in Swansea, as well as a manufacturing plant at Holywell in Flint.

1785 Thomas Williams became the active partner of Lord Uxbridge in the Mona Mine Co, the second major Anglesey mine; this had its own smelting operation, the Stanley Co and Middle Bank Works in Swansea, and a manufacturing organization parallel to that of the Parys Company, Greenfield Copper and Brass Co. Thus he controlled all of the Anglesey copper supply.

1785 The Cornish Metal Co reached agreement with Williams to avoid competing with each other.

By the late 1780s Pascoe Grenfell was running Williams' new London office.

1787 On the failure of the Cornish Metal Co, Williams took over the administration of the company which gave him control of much of the smelting of copper.

1788 Thomas purchased the Temple Mills copper works near Marlow, where he took up residence.

1790 Elected MP for Great Marlow

1792 After 5 years, during which Williams had control of the British copper trade, his power waned as his Cornish and Anglesey supplies declined

1794 Pascoe Grenfell went into partnership with Thomas' son, Owen Williams, to buy Cornish ores, primarily to supply the Williams' Middle and Upper Bank smelting works in Swansea.

In business terms Williams' power was greater than any of the other industrialists of the period

Between 1799 and 1802 Thomas Williams' business underwent reorganization.

1802 Thomas Williams died. Pascoe Grenfell and Owen Williams took over the Swansea works. Pascoe Grenfell also succeeded Williams as MP for Great Marlow.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  • Biography of the Grenfell Family, ODNB [1]
  • Biography of Thomas Williams [2]
  • Biography of Thomas Williams, ODNB [3]