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British Industrial History

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Joseph Sankey

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Joseph Sankey (1827-1886) founder of Joseph Sankey and Sons

1827 Joseph Sankey was born son of William and Elizabeth Sankey[1].

1836 Joseph was orphaned by the death of his father.

c.1840 Apprenticed to John Duncalfe, tray blank maker of Hall Street, Bilston, where he was taught design and mechanical drawing. The workshop made tea tray blanks. These blanks were then sold on to other factories where a finish, such as lacquer or enamel, and any decoration, was applied.

1841 Living at Hall Street, Bilston: John Duncalfe (age c66), Blank Mkr. With Mary Sankey (age c25); Harriet Sankey (age c15); and Joseph Sankey, (age c13).[2]

Later employed by the Birch brothers who made tinplate trays that were then japanned. After the failure of this business, two of the senior workmen, Charles Hartill, and Samuel Jackson, set up their own firm in Middlefield Lane, and employed Joseph Sankey.

1851 Living at Temple Street, Bilston in the house of his brother-in-law John Birket, a Mine Sinker, and his sister Martha and brother Richard: Joseph Sankey (age 23 born Bilston), Stock Taker at Iron Works.[3]

Married Emma Mansfield

1854 Charles Hartill died, when the firm owed £800 to John Bates, a sheet iron merchant. Bates secured possession of the plant and tools of the firm as security for the debt. He recognised Sankey's skills and determination and persuaded Jackson to take him into partnership in 1854. This partnership - Jackson and Sankey - concentrated on production of blank trays stamped from tinplate and then sold to japanners.

1861 The partnership was dissolved and Sankey took over sole control (see Joseph Sankey and Sons) but Jackson continued to work for the firm as a foreman in the blank tray shop.

1861 Living at 32 Dudley Street, Bilston: Joseph Sankey (age 34 born Bilston), Master Blank(?) Maker employing 8 men and 7 boys. Iron Master employing 6 men and 2 boys. With his wife Emma Sankey (age 32 born Bilston) and their five children; Mary J. Sankey (age 9 born Bilston); Emma Jane Sankey (age 7 born Bilston); John W. Sankey (age 5 born Bilston); Hannah B. Sankey (age 3 born Bilston); and Ann E. Sankey (age 1 born Bilston). One servant.[4]

1862/3 Sankey went into partnership with Richard Chambers and John Page to buy a rolling mill and ironworks at Stonefield in order to gain closer control over supplies of tinplate and sheet iron - the Bilston Iron Co.

1867 Sankey acquired land in Albert Street, Bilston. Large workshops were built at the Albert Street Works and steam-powered drop stamps were installed, enabling the firm to produce heavier gauges of metal to make frying pans and kettles. Workers were recruited from Birmingham and Wolverhampton to manufacture these products.

1871 His eldest son, John William Sankey, started work for the firm

1871 Joseph Sankey, iron master 43, lived in Wolverhampton, with Emma Sankey 42, Mary A Sankey 19, Emma J Sankey 17, John W Sankey 15, Ann B Sankey 13, Ann E Sankey 11, Clara Sankey 9, Joseph H Sankey 7, Frederic E Sankey 5, George H Sankey 3, Florence Sankey 2, Harry T Sankey 7 months[5]

1878 Sankey took John William into partnership and he took on more active part in the management.

1884 Sankey's son, George, joined the firm

1886 On his death, his sons took over the control of the business. The old-established business of the late Mr. J. P. Whitehead, blank tray manufacturer, of Bow Street, was bought by Messrs. Sankey, and ceased to exist as a separate concern.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. BMD
  2. 1841 Census
  3. 1851 Census
  4. 1861 Census
  5. 1871 census
  • Joseph Sankey and Son - Wolverhampton Archives [1]