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Robert Ransome (1795-1864)

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Robert Ransome (1795–1864), agricultural engineer,

1795 Born the son of Robert Ransome

1818 He became a partner in the family business which was renamed Ransome and Sons

Married Sarah Coleby (1794–1863)

1830 Had a son Robert Charles Ransome (1830–1886)

1839 Had a son James Edward Ransome (1839–1905)

1841 Robert Ransome of Ipswich, became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.[1]

1841 Living at Norwich Road, Ipswich (age 45), Ironfounder. With wife Sarah (age 45) and children Sarah Jane (age 7) and James Edward (age 1). [2]

1851 Living at Northgate street, Ipswich (age 56 born Ipswich), Ironfounder. (Other members of the firm of Ransomes and Co will return the number of men employed). With wife Sarah (age 56) and children Sarah Jane (age 16) and James E. (age 11). Also visitor and four servants. [3]

1864 Died


1866 Obituary [4]

Robert Ransome was born on the 27th of February, 1795. He was the second son of Robert Ransome who, in the year 1789, commenced, in Ipswich, an iron foundry, to which there became attached the manufactory of agricultural machinery, which has since attained a well-deserved and world-wide reputation.

The younger Ransome was apprenticed to his father and his elder brother, in the year 1809, and after due education in the various handicrafts and processes carried on in the then humble factory, in which he had the assistance of Mr. (afterwards Sir) William Cubitt, at that time engaged at the works, he was admitted into partnership in the year 1818.

During his apprenticeship, Mr. Ransome had sedulously employed his leisure in reading and self-improvement, and the habits thus acquired never forsook him; for, to the close of his life, he was always occupied; and the leisure which many love to spend in thought was by him employed in action-more frequently for the good of others than for his own gratification.

Soon after joining his father’s firm, the duties of traveller devolved upon him. In those days the task of the pioneer of improved agricultural machinery was no easy one; but by great perseverance and tact, Mr. Ransome succeeded in creating a large circle of friends, and in extending the business of the firm to a magnitude at that time quite unprecedented.

After twenty years spent for the most part in this way, and partly also in the commercial management of the business, the firm having been joined by the late Charles May (M.Inst.C.E.), engaged largely in railway work, more particularly in the manufacture of the patent chairs invented by James Ransome, and the patent compressed wood fastenings invented by Mr. May.

The commercial management at home then devolved entirely upon Mr. Ransome, and although the purely mechanical part of the business was ably performed by his partners and assistants, so that he had but little occasion to appear in public in connection with the undertakings of the firm, much of their success was due to his elasticity of spirit, - which always rose with difficulty or trial, - to his sterling conscientious integrity, and to his broad, liberal, and practical views.

The value of these qualifications was nowhere more clearly manifested than in the internal economy of the works, in which, in 1849, after the decease of his elder brother, Mr. Ransome became the senior partner.

The workmen, &c., then numbering more than a thousand, were gradually united by the force of his example, influencing them through their respective officers, in a spirit of friendly co-operation for one common object, the success of the firm: the disputes and differences of opinion which must arise at times in so large a body of men, were healed and harmonised, all willingly relying on the conscientiousness of their chief, and submitting cheerfully to his decision; for though strict indeed in his notions of right and wrong, they well knew him to be tender and gentle towards the failings of others, and ready to spare no personal labour for the comfort and happiness of all around him.

Thus passed on many successful years, until Mr. Ransome, having virtually retired from the active conduct of the business, found himself at liberty to devote more time to the promotion of those public philanthropic movements in which he had always so much delighted.

The prospect of a ripe old age seemed well assured; outward prosperity, excellent health, and a well-disciplined Christian mind, all were united to make the evening of life long and tranquil. But having undertaken, in the month of October, 1864, a trip on the Rhine with a valued friend, he entered so heartily into the enjoyment of the scenery that he could not be persuaded to leave the deck of the steamer on one piercingly cold day, and on arriving at St. Goar in the evening, he was struck with paralysis, from which he never rallied, and under which he finally sunk on the 6th of November, 1864, at the age of sixty-nine.

His decease caused profound sorrow in Ipswich, and when his remains were borne to the grave, followed by the workmen of the Orwell Works, and by a large concourse of the inhabitants, there were few among the assembly who did not feel that they had lost a valued personal friend.

Mr. Ransome became an Associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1841, and always felt great interest in the welfare and prosperity of the profession, entering with lively appreciation into the records of the great works undertaken by its members.

He was a man of great and intense activity through life, and of extreme unselfishness; he was full of ardent sympathy with the difficulties and troubles that beset every one who strives to work out his own course in life; he was of unbending integrity, and many things looked on as conventionally correct he viewed as the reverse. No bond nor writing was more sacred to him than his simple word; nothing more dear to him than truthfulness. No time was too long, no trouble too great for him to take with any one whom he thought he could influence to a higher or a purer life. He laboured both by precept and example to do good in his generation, and he obtained his reward in the esteem and affection of all who knew him.


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