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British Industrial History

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John Ellis

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John Ellis (1789-1862) of Leicester was a railway manager.

Born 1789 the son of Joseph Ellis, a Yeoman farmer

His father died when he was 21 years and he was left to care for his brothers and sister

He farmed at Beaumont Leys near Leicester.

Through he friendship with James Cropper he became known to George Stephenson

Involved in the passage through Chat Moss for the Liverpool and Manchester Railway

Joint backer of the Leicester and Swannington Railway and one of the first directors of the company

In 1845 he eavesdropped on a conversation between two directors of the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway discussing the Great Western Railway's possible acquisition of the line. He took it upon himself to make an offer on behalf of the Midland. The Midland agreed to lease the line (along with the Bristol and Gloucester) and pay off its debts. The Midland thus had control of the lines (though not at that time a through route at Birmingham or Gloucester) from Yorkshire to the South West.

1846 Became Deputy-Chairman of the Midland Railway

1847 Became MP for Leicester

1849 Succeeded George Hudson as the Chairman of the Midland Railway

1858 Resigns from the Midland Railway board

Ellis was at the 1840 World's Anti-slavery convention in London and he was included in the painting which is now in the National Portrait Gallery in London.


John Ellis was a Quaker and a noted liberal reformer. He became a Leicester town councillor in 1836 and a Member of Parliament for Leicester between 1848 and 1852.

Had son Edward Ellis born 1815

See Also

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Sources of Information

  • [1] Wikipedia
  • The Midland Railway: Its Rise and progress by Frederick S. Williams. Published 1875.