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Thursday, 6 August 2009

Winsor's backers - the leading lights - Grant and Hargreaves

James Ludovic Grant

Grant was the most important figure in the National Heat and Light Company. He headed the Committee of Backers and went on to become the first Governor of the Gas Light and Coke Company, as it became in due course. He was a member of a Scottish noble family with close connections to the Murrays, Dukes of Athol. His father was Francis Grant, a career soldier and MP and his mother was a Lady of the Bedchamber to various daughters of George III.

Grant himself was a career sailor, who joined the navy as a seaman at the age of 13, became midshipman and accompanied the future William IV on HMS Prince George. He became a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy but resigned his commission following an incident when he continued a voyage to the West Indies on HMS Flora after the captain had died. In 1788 he moved to the East India Company and in 1794 married Anne Bazett who he had met on the Island of St.Helena where her father was superintendent. He was Captain of the East Indiaman, Brunswick, - eventually captured by the French off Pointe de Galle in Sri Lanka in July 1805 and wrecked.

It was after this shipwreck that he seems to have decided to invest in the new gas lighting being put forward by Winsor and quickly became the leading spirit in the organisation. He also worked on the installation of a gas making plant at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton.

He resigned as Governor in December 1813 – Everard said that his position had become 'untenable' following disputes and a challenges from a rival group of shareholders. It should be noted however that Grant's wife, Anne, died only three weeks later and he may have had personal reasons for leaving – and was probably under considerable stress.

Grant lived at Windmill Hill – the house, now rebuilt as Farnborough Hill, later became the home of Empress Eugenie and is now a School Amelia Murray said that this home had to be auctioned and sold because of losses in the gas company. He took up an appointment with the East India Company in Madras and lived there until 1827. He died at sea on board Moira on his way to St.Helena in 1827.

Although Grant came from a well connected family - and was wealthy by most people’s standards - he was not rich in the same way that some of the bankers and aristocrats investing in the gas company. His father had died relatively badly off - hence his mother’s job as, in effect, a servant of the Royal Family.
These notes are compiled from Dorothy A.Mostyn, The Story of a House. Farnborough Hill,

James Hargreaves
The first Deputy Governor, probably the second most enthusiastic member of the group, has proved much difficult to research. Information about him given about by Everard in his history of the company is not referenced and what Everard said has never been proved, despite a great deal of research. It is possible that Hargreaves came from the Lancashire/Welsh borders and that he had some connections with the fabric industries of that area.

Hargreaves was the new Gas Company's first Deputy Governor. Everard described him as a 'A doctor with an interest in mechanical matters from Ruthin in North Wales' - but quotes no source for this information which was checked both by Stanley Harris and 'FW' – who could not find Hargreaves in any medical register. Everard may only have been quoting Winsor’s comment on Hargreaves in 'Notice Historique' – and Winsor's statements are often suspect.

Hargreaves does not seem to have lived in Ruthin although his family leased a house there, 'Woodlands'. An Augustus Hargreaves was also involved in the Chartered Company but failed to take his seat at the Court and there are some indications that he was James’ brother.

James Hargreaves soon left the Gas Light and Coke Company and London. Before 1815 he was in Liverpool where he was responsible for founding a gas company and later another in Macclesfield where he recruited George Holsworthy Palmer from London onto the staff.

No researcher has ever identified the source of the information about the doctor of Ruthin -although there have been several attempts. The late David Loverseed followed up many of these leads - but was sadly unable to complete his research. He was unable to identify a medical James Hargreaves - except for a ‘surgeon and man midwife’ of Manchester in 1795. David Loverseed told me in private correspondence that he had found three generations of James Hargreaves here - and by elimination thought that the middle generation was the relevant man. His brother was Augustus. Augustus was made trustee to James in 1825 and he speculated that this was through James’ bankruptcy. Both James and Augustus were described as ‘Merchants of Manchester’. James made a will in 1847 leaving money to a son James, and daughters Wilhemena Armstrong, Lavia Ellingthorpe and Isabella Hodgson. James’ address in 1847 was Park Gate in Chester. His son, James, was a printer and engraver of Manchester. David Loverseed also identified an Augustus Hargreaves in Manchester in 1830 as a fustian manufacturer.
Brian Sturt has also drawn my attention to addresses given in the 1812 Charter of Incorporation. This gives Hargreaves addresses as Woodland Cottage, in the County of Denbigh and also ‘Size Lane in the City of London’. Augustus, who is also listed, gives his addresses as Manchester and Size Lane and describes himself as a ‘Gentleman’. – while James is given as ‘Esquire’. Size Lane, in the business district of the City of London, is likely to have been an office rather than a residence – perhaps even an accommodation address since no company including ‘Hargreaves’ is listed for Size Lane in directories at this date.

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