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British Industrial History

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John Parson

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John Parson (1816-1874)


1875 Obituary [1]

MR. JOHN PARSON, the son of Captain Parson, R.N., a member of a family of long standing in the West of England, was born on the 18th of February, 1816, at Launceston.

He was articled to the late Mr. John Chappell Tozer, a solicitor in extensive practice at Teignmouth. Having completed his pupilage, he migrated to London, and joined the then firm of Messrs. Burchell and Kilgour, of Parliament Street. Messrs. Burchell, Kilgour and Parson were extensively concerned for railway companies, and Mr. Parson was thrown much into the society of civil engineers, by whom his intelligence and aptitude for business were highly appreciated.

Amongst the undertakings of the firm, and of the conduct of whose affairs Mr. Parson had exclusive charge, was the Oxford, Worcester, and Wolverhampton railway. The company was labouring under great difficulties, the works were incomplete and at a standstill, and the promoters were without funds.

For several years Mr. Parson’s energies and services were mainly devoted to the business of that company; and having at length succeeded in completing the railway from Oxford to Worcester and placed the undertaking in a more satisfactory position, Mr. Parson retired from practice as a solicitor to join the Board of the company, in which he had acquired a considerable pecuniary interest. He shortly afterwards became its chairman, and continued in office until the amalgamation with the Great Western Railway Company relieved him from the cares which had so long and anxiously occupied his attention.

Mr. Parson’s services were soon enlisted on behalf of the Metropolitan railway. He became one of its earliest directors, and, on the death of Mr. William Arthur Wilkinson (sometime M.P. for Lambeth), he was selected to fill the office of chairman, the duties of which he discharged with singular ability, and managed, under conditions of great financial difficulty, to raise, from time to time, the large amounts of capital necessary to complete that costly but useful public undertaking.

On his separation from the firm in London, Mr. Parson purchased the beautiful house and grounds of Bitton, at Teignmouth, where he became chairman of the Local Board of Health, devoting himself to the improvement of the town and the general interests of its inhabitants, by whom he was universally respected.

He was a member of the Teignmouth Harbour Commission, and chairman to the Committee of Management of the Teignmouth and Shaldon bridge.

He was elected an Associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers on the 21st of May, 1867, and he died at Teignmouth on the 6th of December, 1874.


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