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Osborn family of Sheffield

The family was originally connected to Carver Street WM and owned a Sheffield steel firm. Samuel Osborn I, who married Elizabeth Clark in 1820, was a partner in the town’s firm of Clark & Osborn, makers of such items as pocket knives, razors and combs.

His son, Samuel Osborn II (1826-1891) was born in the town at Banner Cross. Leaving school at 15, he joined the drapery business of T.B. & W. Cockrayne but after 7 years entered the tool making business of Thomas Ellin & Son, and subsequently was a traveller for Henry Russell & Co, also tool manufacturers. In 1851 he began his own business as a file manufacturer at the Clyde Works, Broad Lane, Sheffield, and six years later expansion led to the firm moving to Brookhill Works, with a tilt and forge. Concerns over his workers’ health led to his developing in 1864 an amalgam to replace lead in the file manufacturing process and subsequently to a file-cutting machine. His brothers-in-law William and John Edward Fawcett became partners in 1867 and 1871 respectively. The Clyde Steel & Iron Works on the Wicker was opened in 1872

In 1870 Osborn met Robert Forester Mushet (1811-1891), then living in Cheltenham, who at his Forest of Dean steel works had developed a new type of steel alloy far superior to crucible steel, Osborn acquiring the sole rights to manufacture it. With the Franco-Prussian War business boomed, but the bubble burst in 1874 and the firm went into liquidation. With new partners, recovery took place and within a decade all creditors were paid, the Rutland Works were acquired in 1885 and the business expanded into overseas markets. The firm continued into the 1960s when with rationalisation it became part of Osborn Hadfield Steel Manufacturers.

Samuel Osborn II was elected as a Liberal councillor for the St. George’s Ward 1869-1872 and for the Brightside Ward 1884-1891. He was Lord Mayor and alderman in 1890 and Master Cutler in 1873 and died on 7 July 1891. His younger brother, Marmaduke C. Osborn (1827-1891; e.m. 1849) was a WM minister.

Two of Samuel Osborn II's sons entered the family business. Sir Samuel Osborn, JP (1864-1952), the first Captain of the Boys’ Brigade at St. John’s WM, Crookesmoor,and Lord Mayor of Sheffield in 1912, and William Fawcett Osborn, JP (1861-1936), first Captain of the Boy’s Brigade at Wesley, Ranmoor and Master Cutler in 1906 . In turn William’s son S(amuel) Eric Osborn (1891-19 July 1951) was Master Cutler in 1945.

Sources

  • T. Alec Seed, Pioneers for a Century, 1852-1952: A history of the growth and achievement of Samuel Osborn & Co., Limited, Clyde steel Works, Sheffield (nd)

Entry written by: DCD
Category: Person

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