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British Industrial History

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William D'Arcy

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William Knox D'Arcy, of Anglo-Persian Oil Co

1849 born on 11 October in Newton Abbot, Devon, son of William Francis D'Arcy, solicitor, and his wife, Elizabeth Baker Bradford.

Educated at Westminster School

1866 emigrated with his parents to Australia, where they settled in Rockhampton on the Queensland coast.

1870 His father died in Rockhampton

1872 Qualified as a solicitor

1872 Married Elena, daughter of Samuel Bradford Birkbeck, a mining engineer, of Glenmore, Queensland; they had two sons and three daughters.

1882 formed a syndicate to exploit a vein of gold that had been discovered close to Rockhampton. D'Arcy became a very rich man.

1886 Disposed of his legal practice

1889 he returned to England.

1899 D'Arcy married his second wife, Ernestine Eliza Nutting, a divorcee.

1900 he was approached about funding oil exploration in Persia, where oil seepages had long been known about.

1901 his representative obtained a concession valid for sixty years to search for and sell "natural gas, petroleum, asphalt and ozokerite" throughout all of Persia except in the five northern provinces adjoining Russia.

1901 He engaged George Bernard Reynolds as field engineer for the Darcy Exploration Syndicate.

1902 Drilling operations began towards the end of 1902 in Chiah Surkh, a likely oil-bearing area near the border with Iraq but were unsuccessful.

1905 Needing extra funds, he made a deal with the Burmah Oil Co, to whom D'Arcy ultimately surrendered his interest in the whole venture, in return for 170,000 Burmah shares and the reimbursement of all his expenses.

Drilling operations were moved to the south of the country.

1908 Oil was finally struck in Masjid-i-Suleiman on 26 May , just as D'Arcy and Burmah were on the point of giving up.

The discovery of oil in significant quantities ensured D'Arcy's successful formation of the Anglo-Persian Oil Co on 14 April 1909, and marked the birth of the oil industry of the Middle East. Although D'Arcy sat on the board of the new company he was not disposed to play any further significant role.

1917 D'Arcy died on 1 May 1917 at his home, Stanmore Hall, Middlesex.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Biography of William D'Arcy, ODNB