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John Marston (1836-1918)

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John Marston (1836-1918).

John Marston (1836-1918) was the founder of John Marston Ltd, Villiers and the Sunbeam Motor Car Co company of Wolverhampton.

1836 May 6th. Born in Ludlow the son of Richard Marston, Chemist, of a minor landowning family, and his wife Mary White

1851 At age 15, went to Wolverhampton to be apprenticed to Edward Perry at the Jeddo Works of Wolverhampton as a japanner (metal lacquerer).

1859 At age 23, he bought two existing tinplate manufacturers and set up on his own as John Marston Ltd, making any and every sort of domestic article. Another source says: When his apprenticeship ended he purchased the Daniel Smith Lester (died 1858) japanning business at Bilston.[1]

c1866 Married Ellen the daughter of Charles Edge, an Architect of Birmingham [2]

His business did so well that when Edward Perry died in 1869, Marston took over his Paul Street Works, an iron and tin smithing and japanning business, and incorporated it using his own name - John Marston and Co Ltd.

1871 Living at 12 Waterloo Road, Wolverhampton: John Marston (age 54 born Ludlow), Japan manufacturer employing 33 men, 6 boys, 35 women, 12 girls. With his wife Ellen Marston (age 28 born Edgbaston) and their three children; Charles Marston (age 3 born Wolverhampton); John Harold Marston (age 2 born Wolverhampton); and Katharine Maud Marston (age 8 Months born Wolverhampton). Three servants.[3]

At some point Marston is thought to have acquired the business but not the premises of Frederick Walton and Co, japanners

1881 Living at The Oakes, Wolverhampton: John Marston (age 44 born Ludlow), Japan Manufacturer employing 84 men, 19 boys and 41 women. With his wife Ellen (age 38 born Edgbaston) and their children Charles (age 13 born Wolverhampton), John H. (age 12 born Wolverhampton), Katherine M. (age 10 born Wolverhampton), Rowland (age 9 born Wolverhampton), Ida Marg. (age 7 born Wolverhampton), Fredr. M. (age 5 born Wolverhampton) and Norman (age 1 born Wolverhampton). Also his cousin Lucy E. Marston (age 25 born Ludlow). Also two visitors and five servants. [4]

Marston disapproved of motorcycles, which he thought were dangerous. This did not stop him making thousands of them. But he never rode one, and nor did he ever drive a car. Nearly all his life he was a dedicated cyclist, most often using a tricycle. He was a successful businessman, and an apparent harsh employer. Workers who made a mistake at his factory were bluntly told "Get your jacket" and with that Marston threw workers out.

In 1889 and 1890 he is elected mayor of Wolverhampton. [5]

1892 Cycle manufacturer of Paul Street[6]

1901 John Marston Cycle manufacturer, living in Wolverhampton with Ellen Marston 58, Katherine M Marston 30, Roland Marston 29, Norman Marston 14, Ellen A Marston 14[7]

1902 He decided to concentrate on bicycles, etc and sold off the japanning and metalware side of the business to Orme Evans, who were large producers of domestic enamel wares.

1903 January. He set up the Sunbeam Motor Car Co [8]

1909 Given the Freedom of the City of Wolverhampton. Has been a town councillor for 24 years, an Alderman for 18 and the mayor twice. [9]

1911 Living at The Gables, Tettenhall, Wolverhampton: John Marston (age 74 born Ludlow), Cycle and Motor manufacturer - Employer. With his wife Ellen Marston (age 68 born Eglinton) and their two daughters Katharine Maud Marston (age 40 born Wolverhampton) and Ellen Marston (age 24 born Wolverhampton). Five servants.[10]

1918 March 8th. Death is mentioned in the John Marston AGM. [11]

He attended St. Jude's church with metronomic regularity. He lived most of his adult life in The Oaks, Merridale Road, Wolverhampton.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. [1] John Marston by Bev Parker
  2. The Times, Thursday, May 23, 1946
  3. 1871 Census
  4. 1881 Census
  5. The Times
  6. 1892 Wolverhampton Red Book
  7. 1901 census
  8. The Times, Monday, Jan 23, 1911
  9. The Times, Wednesday, Sep 22, 1909
  10. 1911 Census
  11. The Times, Saturday, Dec 21, 1918
  • Biography of John Marston, ODNB