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British Industrial History

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William Inman

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William Inman (1825–1881), shipowner, of Inman Line

1825 born at Leicester the fourth son of Charles Inman (d. 1858), a partner in the firm of Pickford and Co., and Jane (d. 1865), daughter of Thomas Clay of Liverpool.

Educated at Leicester grammar school, Liverpool Collegiate Institute, and Liverpool Royal Institution

Served successively as a clerk to Cairns & Co., Cater & Co., and Richardson Brothers, all Liverpool merchants. He was hired by John Grubb Richardson to operate his linen shipping business.

From 1846 Inman managed the Richardson ships trading between Liverpool and Philadelphia. He gained an intimate knowledge of the transatlantic emigrant trade.

1849 became a partner in the firm.

1849 he married Anne Brewis Stobart. They had nine sons and three daughters.

1850 Inman took notice of the voyages of the City of Glasgow, an iron screw steamship recently built at Glasgow by Tod and Macgregor. He persuaded his partners to buy the vessel and set up the Liverpool and Philadelphia Steam Ship Company.

1850 Inman persuaded the Richardsons to form the Liverpool and Philadelphia Steamship Company and buy the SS City of Glasgow. She proved profitable because her iron hull required less repair and her screw propulsion system left more room for passengers and freight. The ship's moderate speed also considerably reduced coal consumption.

1855 John Richardson sold his interest in the firm to Inman after Inman had chartered ships to the French during the Crimean War. The Inman line emerged after the war as one of the major steamship firms on the Atlantic.

By the 1860s Inman's success had attracted other steamship lines into the emigrant trade and competition was strong.

The 1870s brought further competition, especially from the White Star Line, and Inman was forced to spend large sums on new ships.

1875 In the hope of raising more capital, a new public company, the Inman Steamship Company, was set up in 1875, but conditions were still difficult at the time of Inman's death.

1881 He died at his home, Upton Manor, Upton, near Birkenhead.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  • Biography of William Inman, ODNB