RefNoSSC3
TitlePersonal Papers of the Read and Wilson Families (of Read and Lucas; Read and Company and; Sheffield Smelting Company Limited), Sheffield
AdminHistoryThe Sheffield Smelting Company Limited can trace its origin back to 1760 with the foundation of the Read and Lucas partnership. John Read (1744-1803) and his uncle, Samuel Lucas (d.1772), rented premises at Green Lane, Sheffield, to recover precious metals from the wastes of goldsmiths and silversmiths by refining and smelting. The company moved, in 1788, to new premises at Royds Mills, Brightside Bierlow, Sheffield.

By 1803 both co-founders had died and the business passed to Samuel Lucas's son, Samuel (1763-1834), and John Read's two sons, Joseph (1774-1837) and John (1777-1862). The trio worked together until 1824 when the Read and Lucas partnership was dissolved and the Read brothers continued to trade under the name Read and Co. Joseph Read assumed control of the business and John acted as a sleeping partner.

In the 1830s Joseph found himself in great financial difficulties largely because of his involvement with the failed Smiths Ironworks, Chesterfield, Derbyshire. Joseph had married Elizabeth Smith, the daughter of Ebenezer Smith of the Smiths Ironworks. By 1834 Joseph's health was failing and the Read family turned for help to William Wilson (1800-1866), a cotton spinner from Nottingham who had married Joseph's daughter Elizabeth (1803-1851). William was reluctant to take on the business so when Joseph died in 1837 John Read undertook the responsibility of saving the company from bankruptcy.

John Read managed Read and Co. for nine years, but in 1846 the threat of bankruptcy loomed again and this time William Wilson agreed to buy the business. The company traded under the name of the Sheffield Smelting Company. The business gradually prospered and in 1860 William's youngest son, John Wycliffe Wilson (1837-1921), joined the company; the same year John Read's son, Edmund (1815-1873), retired.

William Wilson retired in 1862 leaving his two sons, John Wycliffe Wilson and Henry Joseph Wilson (1833-1914), to manage the business. The firm prospered and John and Henry started to involve themselves in local and national political and philanthropic work: Henry became MP for Holmfirth in 1885 and John the Lord Mayor of Sheffield in 1902.

The company continued as a family run business employing John's sons, Cecil Henry Wilson (1862-1945) and Oliver Charles Wilson (1867-1946), and Henry's son Talbot Edward Baines Wilson. In 1890 the company became a joint stock company and changed its name to the Sheffield Smelting Company Limited. The business continues to trade at Royds Mills as Thessco Limited as part of the Solpro Group.
DescriptionJohn Read The Elder, 1744 - 1803 (SSC3/1)
Joseph Read, 1774 - 1837 (SSC3/2)
John Read The Younger, 1777 - 1862 (SSC3/3)
Elizabeth Read, 1778 - 1865 (SSC3/4)
Hannah Smith, 1778 - 1872 (SSC3/5)
William Wilson, 1800 - 1866 (SSC3/6)
Mary-Ann Rawson, 1801 - 1887 (SSC3/7)
Elizabeth Wilson, 1803 - 1851 (SSC3/8)
Catherine Read, d. 1866 (SSC3/9)
Edmund Read, 1815- 1873, and his wife (SSC3/10)
Henry Joseph Wilson, 1833 - 1914 (SSC3/11)
John Wycliffe Wilson, 1837 - 1921 (SSC3/12)
Cecil Wilson, 1862 - 1945 (SSC3/13)
Talbot Wilson, 1865 - 1950 (SSC3/14)
Ronald Eliot Wilson, 1894 - (SSC3/15)

These include wills and executors' papers.
Date1772 - 1962
Extent228 items
AccessStatusRestricted
LevelCollection
RelatedMaterialSee also: records of Read and Lucas (1771-1824) and Read and Company (1824-1846), (later Sheffield Smelting Company Limited) (SSC1) and records of the Sheffield Smelting Company Limited (Sheffield Archives: SSC2).

Ronald Eliot Wilson, Two hundred precious metal years: a history of the Sheffield Smelting Company Limited, 1760-1960, 1960 (Sheffield Local Studies Library: 338.47)

Sheffield Smelting Company - two volumes titled 'Principals Time Records' recording the hours worked by senior company figures and private and business engagements,1910 - 1930 (Sheffield Archives: X455)

Political papers of Henry Joseph Wilson (Sheffield Archives: MD 2459-2627 and MD5889 - 6027).

Papers of Mary Ann Rawson, 1813 - 1955 (Sheffield Archives: MD5690, MD6035 - MD6059, MD2019 - MD2025).
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