Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,382 pages of information and 233,851 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Montague Burton

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Sir Montague Maurice Burton (15 August 1885, Lithuania - 21 September 1952, Leeds) founded Burton, one of Great Britain's largest chains of clothes shops.

Born a Lithuanian Jew (Moshe Osinsky) in Kovno province, he came alone to England in 1900 aged 15.

In 1901, he was staying in Cheetham, Manchester. He started as a peddler, then set up as a general outfitter in Chesterfield in 1903 selling readymade suits bought from a wholesaler.

Following his marriage to Sophie Marks in 1909 the name of the company was changed from M. Burton to Burton and Burton.

They had one daughter (1910) then a son (1914). On the birth of twin boys (Raymond Burton) in (1917) he gave his name as Montague Maurice Burton. However, he had not changed his name legally, which caused problems during the First World War.

By 1913 he had five men's tailor shops with headquarters in Sheffield and manufacturing in Leeds.

He had four hundred shops, and factories and mills, by 1929, when the company went public. His firm made a quarter of the British military uniforms during World War II and a third of demobilisation clothing.

He was knighted in 1931 for "services to industrial relations" and was a Justice of the Peace for many years. He died while speaking after a dinner in Leeds. The funeral was at the Chapeltown Synagogue.

He endowed chairs in industrial relations in the University of Leeds and Cardiff in 1929 and Cambridge in 1930. He also endowed chairs of international relations in Jerusalem (1929), at Oxford University (1930), the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) (1936) and The University of Edinburgh (1948).

He is commemorated in the Montague Burton Residences, which are student flats at the University of Leeds.

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