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British Industrial History

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James Hornsby

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James Hornsby (1836-1910) of Richard Hornsby and Sons

Born 1836 the son of Richard Hornsby

1841 Living with his parents and siblings in High Street, Grantham [1]

1871 Living at Barrowby in the hose of his unmarried cousin Phillip Hornsby (age 37 born Spittlegate), a Horse Dealer. James (age 35 born Spittlegate), Engineer is with wife Elizabeth A. (age 29 born Oasby) and children Mary Ann E. (age 9), James D. (age 7) plus some servants. [2]

Their children were:

  • Mary Ann E. 1862
  • James D. 1864

1910 Obituary [3]

JAMES HORNSBY was born at Grantham on 7th February 1836, being the second son of Mr. Richard Hornsby, who in 1815 founded the Spittlegate Ironworks, Grantham.

At the age of fourteen he entered his father's works, in which his elder brother already occupied an important position, and subsequently he was taken into partnership.

His father died in 1864, and on the death of his elder brother in 1877 he became senior partner in the firm, and, together with his younger brother, Mr. William Hornsby, continued the management until 1879, when the business was converted into a company, with Mr. James Hornsby as chairman.

This position he held until 1900, when he was succeeded by Mr. Simpson Gee. The works at that time afforded employment to over 1,500 men, and covered an area of nearly seventeen acres.

Mr. Hornsby's business capacity was as notable as his mechanical and inventive genius, and his numerous inventions in labour-saving machinery in connection with agriculture included improvements in drills, corn-dressing machines, portable engines, threshing machines, mowers, reapers, binders, and stationary oil-engines.

Great success invariably attended the firm in show-yard competitions and exhibitions, so that the business rapidly increased. He was a very successful breeder and exhibitor of horses, and at the time of his death was the oldest member of the Smithfield Club, of which he was elected President in 1907, in succession to the Prince of Wales (now King George V). He was also on the Council of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, and a member of the council of various local societies. He took a large share at various periods in local and public work, and was a Justice of the Peace for Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, and Northamptonshire, being the senior magistrate on the Grantham Bench.

His death took place after a short illness at his residence at Laxton, near Grantham, on the 6th March 1910, at the age of seventy-four.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1880.



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