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British Industrial History

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William Unwin Sims

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William Unwin Sims (1797-1839)

1797 December 6th. Born at Stepney (the parish of St. George in the East), the son of William and Mary Sims

1826 Listed as a Director of the Promoter Life Assurance and Annuity Co.[1]. And listed again in 1838.[2]

1837 October 26th. Another director, G. H. Gibbs, had been offered the post and declined.

1837-39 Chairman of the Great Western Railway

Sims initially supported Brunel in the merits of the use of broad gauge, but later urged the company to replace Brunel as its resident engineer.

1839 Died by suicide age 43. Had lived in the house of Mr. Gussier of 12 Maddox street for past eleven years. Unmarried and considered very wealthy. Chairman of GWR, Director of the bank of England, partner in an Iron company in Wales and principle partner of Sims, Williams and Neville, extensive steel works, and other interests. The Inquest felt that the fact his sister had become insane, and the pressures from his post with the GWR contributed to his death.[3]


The GWR Comes to London - Why Paddington? by David Hodgkins [4]

William Unwin Sims, was on the original London Committee and was closely involved in the negotiations with the LBR. ‘another shadowy figure today’ according to MacDermot, but he was a partner in Jacob Sims and Co., India merchants, a director of the Bank of England, chairman of the Glenarvon Iron Co, and a director of insurance companies. He committed suicide on 15 November 1839: ‘destroyed himself in a fit of temporary insanity’ according to the coroner’s jury. Financially sound according to E. W. Mills, his fellow director and banker, he had told his solicitor he had too many irons in the fire and was depressed following his sister’s mental illness. (The Times, 18 Nov. 1839).


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Salisbury and Winchester Journal - Saturday 22 July 1826
  2. Birmingham Journal - Saturday 14 July 1838
  3. Bucks Herald - Saturday 23 November 1839
  4. Railway and Canal Historical Society