of Sheffield’s foremost citizens is dead! At the mature age of
eighty-three, has passed away from our midst, Mr. Thomas Jessop,
a name familiar as a household word; a name that will long be
held in fragrant remembrance amongst us.
It would have been well, people are apt to think, could we have had
spared to us for years to come so noble an example of an
upright, honourable, kind-hearted, generous citizen; but, as he
often remarked at recent gatherings at which he was present, “I
cannot expect at my time of life to be with you on many more
He had long felt the infirmities of age creeping upon him; but
he remained as bright, and cheery, and as full of spirits as
ever. Indeed, it was characteristic of him to look on the sunny
side of life; not alone when ripe experience, and wealth, and
honours had come to him, but when his position had to be won.
His cheerfulness and buoyancy of spirit remained undisturbed
almost to the last, though he had been confined to his house for
many weeks, and had more than once looked death in the face. His
illness commenced with an attack of asthma, an old enemy of his,
which his vigorous constitution had enabled him previously to
resist. But this attack was more serious than any before, and
his condition became critical from the fact that there were
evident signs of failing strength.
For the last six weeks he had scarcely or ever been able to
occupy his bed for two nights in succession, the difficulty of
breathing making it necessary that he should occupy a sitting
position. But in spite of this he rarely or ever lost his
spirits, or was other than he has always been to his relatives
and friends. Mr. Jessop died yesterday afternoon at his
residence, Endcliffe Grange. During his illness he has been
attended by Mr. W. Favell.
Mr. Jessop will be remembered as one of Sheffield’s most
energetic, enterprising, successful manufacturers; as one who
took the deepest practical interest in all that concerned the
welfare of her people; as one who gave most nobly and generously
to all movements that commended themselves to him as deserving
of support; but not less will he be remembered for his kindness
of heart and for his altogether unostentatious and unassuming
demeanour. In this respect he was, indeed, a model man.
He abhorred display and laudatory references to himself more
than can be described. Again and again was he appealed to by
enterprising journalists for the “story of his life,” but always
To one such request he replied, “No, sir,
that’s not in my line. Come and see my pictures; that will be
much better than listening to anything I can tell you about
myself.” On another occasion, when appealed to on the same
point, he answered, “There’s now’t about myself worth telling.”
Then, with a merry twinkle in his eye, he continued, “Did I ever
tell you about that workman of mine and his milk bill?” “No!”
“Well he was an unsteady chap, and one week he had no wages at
all to draw. When the milkman called on the Monday morning for
his money, the wife said she had not got any.
The fact was Mr.
Jessop could pay his men their wages on Saturday!” the venerable
old gentleman shook with laughter at the idea of being in such
an impecunious state. Mr. Jessop outlived most of his
contemporaries. It will be noticed in the following sketch of
his career how many of those with whom he was associated in
early and middle and even later life have passed away. And now,
full of years and full of honours, he himself has gone over to
the great majority.
Mr. Jessop was born on the last day of January, 1804, and was
one of a numerous family. His father, Mr. William Jessop, who
was a practical steel melter, married one of two sisters,
daughters of Mr. Taylor, a steel manufacturer in the town; and
Mr. Joseph Gillott, the eminent pen maker, married the other
Mr. William Jessop had four sons - Montague, Thomas, Sydney, and
Henry, and several daughters.
The father, during the earlier
part of his married life, was a member of a firm of steel
manufacturers who carried on business in a small way, and his
sons Montague and Sydney, when old enough, were taught his trade
and worked under him in the steel furnace.
apprenticed to an edge took maker in youth who, in after years,
was known as “Old Billy Jenkinson,” acting as his striker, and
Henry went into the office of Mr. Samuel Bailey, then a merchant
in the town.
About the year 1830, father and sons commenced business on their
own account in Furnival Street, under the style of William
Jessop and Sons; and then and there were laid the foundations of
a firm who success in making steel has scarcely been excelled.
The father, Montague, and Sydney attended to the practical part
of the business, and Thomas and Henry devoted their attention to
the commercial department.
They started with the determination to make only steel of the
best quality, believing that in the end their interests would be
best served by such a course. Things prospered with them, and
being men of enterprise, they determined to endeavor to
establish themselves abroad as well as at home.