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SIR JOSIAH MASON (1795-1881)

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Originally appearing in Volume V17, Page 840 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SIR JOSIAH MASON (1795-1881), English pen-manufacturer, was born in Kidderminster on the 23rd of February 1795, the son of a carpet-weaver. He began life as a street hawker of cakes, fruits and vegetables. After trying his hand in his native town at shoemaking, baking, carpentering, blacksmithing, house-painting and carpet-weaving, he moved in 1814 to Birmingham. Here he found employment in the gilt-toy trade. In 1824 he set up on his own account as a manufacturer of split-rings by machinery, to which he subsequently added the making of steel pens. Owing to the circumstance of his pens being supplied through James Perry, the London stationer whose name they bore, he was less well known than Joseph Gillott and other makers, although he was really the largest producer in England. In 1874 the business was converted into a limited liability company. Besides his steel-pen trade Mason carried on for many years the business of electro-plating, copper-smelting, and india-rubber ring making, in conjunction with George R. Elkington. Mason was almost entirely self-educated, having taught himself to write when a shoemaker's apprentice, and in later life he felt his deficiencies keenly. It was this which led him in 186o to establish his great orphanage at Erdington, near Birmingham. Upon it he expended about £300,000, and for this munificent endowment he was knighted in 1872. He had previously given a dispensary to his native town and an almshouse to Erdington. In 188o Mason College, since incorporated in the university of Birmingham, was opened, the total value of the endowment being about 250,000. Mason died on the 16th of June 1881. See J. T. Bunce, Josiah Mason (1882).
End of Article: SIR JOSIAH MASON (1795-1881)
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Additional information and Comments

My Father John Clifford Evans was born May 19th 1900. There are doubts about the middle name Clifford. I know he was dragged around the Worcestershire Country side nypossibly his fathe who used to work on different farms topping nd tailing Swedes and turnips etc and my Dad had to work wuth whoever with them. His mothe may have had one or to different partners. Main pointis he then was put into the Orphanage in { Josiah Mason } at some time because he remembered how he had to scrub the floors with other youngsters. He must have left by the time he was 17 as he went into the RFC in 1918 which became the RAF. I would dearly love to trace the perod he was at the Orphanage if thats possible. I’m now 84 and my brother is 86. Our father was a great man. Je educated himself, was an avid reader and taught us so much about life. We both served in the RAF in ww2 , myself in Bomber Command and my brother in the Far East in Ceylon. During the terrible recession of th late 1920’s and early thirties our mother lost her sight, BUT for all their suffering and hardships they taught us about loyalty and truth. Our father was the first unemployed man to broadcast on the BBC in 1933 and his speech is in a book called `Time to Spare `. I want our grandchildren to know as much as we can tell them to show how you can overcome awful obstacles in life if you try hard enough If you can’t help. perhaps you could direct me to a website where I can delve deeper. Desmond Evans http://www.mybook4you.co.uk
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