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British Industrial History

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Matthew Curtis

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Matthew Curtis (1807–1887) of Parr, Curtis and Madeley was an industrialist and civic leader in Manchester. He was Mayor of Manchester three times.

1807 Born in Manchester

Curtis was initially apprenticed to the firm of Joseph Chessborough Dyer, subsequently becoming foreman, and then succeeding in 1836 to the ownership of Dyer's business, which became Curtis, Parr and Walton.

By trade, Curtis was a wire-card manufacturer and a machine-maker. He was a partner in two businesses: Curtis, Parr & Walton, wire-card makers, and Parr, Curtis & Madely, machine-makers. These firms were involved in the manufacture of equipment for spinning cotton, the former in the production of Dyer's Frame and the latter producing Smith & Orr's Self-Acting Mule. By the middle of the nineteenth century, Curtis's firms were the largest manufacturers of cotton-spinning machinery in Britain.

1850 Became a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.[1]

1861 Living at Olddale House, Sale (age 53 born Manchester), Machinist and Enployer of Machinists. With his wife Amelia (age 50 born Leyhton, Cheshire) and their children John (age 25 born Chorlton upon Medlock), a Machinist; Richard (age 21 born Chorlton upon Medlock), a Machinist; and Amelia (age 20 born Chorlton upon Medlock). Three servants. [2]

1865 Matthew Curtis, Phoenix Foundry, Chapel Street, Manchester.[3]

In December 1875, during his second term as Mayor of Manchester, Curtis put in place the copper ball on the summit of the Albert Square tower of the new Manchester Town Hall, which was nearing its completion in 1877.

Curtis was a council member of the Manchester Anti-Corn Law Association and a founding director of the Manchester Athenaeum.

He resided at Thornfield in Heaton Mersey, south of the city, and died on 9/11 June 1887 during his third term as Mayor. He was married firstly to Amelia Curtis (d. between 1871 and 1881), with whom there were five or more children, including sons John (1836–1878) and Richard. He subsequently married Charlotte Curtis (1824–1918). Curtis's great-granddaughter Lettice Curtis was a noted aviator.

The lych gate (1927) of St John's Church, Heaton Mersey carries an inscription, much faded, dedicated to Curtis and other, later members of the Curtis family

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