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George Kynoch (1834-1891)

G

george donovan

Guest
kynochs

In the 1901 census, Gertrude Kynoch , the daughter of George Kynoch, is living at 82, Long Street Aston as a 'Boarder', her married name being Smith. Her occupation is listed as a 'Circus Artist'. Can anyone expand on this or tell me in what direction I should go to learn more. Thanks
 

ChrisM

Super Moderator
Staff member
In the 1901 census, Gertrude Kynoch , the daughter of George Kynoch, is living at 82, Long Street Aston as a 'Boarder', her married name being Smith. Her occupation is listed as a 'Circus Artist'.
That sounds quite astonishing. I assume there is no doubt that this is the right Gertrude, namely the daughter of the marriage who married when George was in South Africa? And not a love child in the locality of whom there were rumoured to be one or two?

Chris
 
G

george donovan

Guest
Kynoch

Hello Again; I didnt give that a thought for the evidence I have didnt warrant that consideration-----
Gertrude Helen Kynoch married William Charles Dudley Smith at W. Brom. Dec. Q 1889.

In 1891 shes listed as the wife of the above aged 27 in Hamstead Mill. Handsworth There are no children listed

And then as I quoted in 1901 aged 37. Although she appears to be on her own as a boarder.

I think this could be her husband---
1901--William C Smith-- Boarder--Employer-- B-Birmingham

From the romoured love child, were there any fingers pointed. George
 

loisand

master brummie
Just going of thread a tad, I see you have William Dudly Smith listed at Hamstead Mill in 1891, could you possibly tell me his age, occupation and where born. A big thankyou x :)
 
G

george donovan

Guest
Kynoch

Dudley Smith---

1891 Census---William Charles Dudley Smith--Head--24--Farmer--B--Handsworth.

1901 Census--William C Smith--Boarder--32--?Bru??worker?--Employer--B--Birmingham
RG 13/2816 f 100 p 37

Hope this helps George ;)
 

ChrisM

Super Moderator
Staff member
George...

The 1962 history stated of his sad end thousands of miles away: "Most poignant of all, he never achieved the long-promised reunion with his family, even to attend the marriage of his only child Gertrude". This is a little ambiguous but it tends to suggest that the wedding took place while he was still alive, namely in 1891 or before.

Also, why would Gertrude get married in West Bromwich? Assuming her home was still Hamstead Hall, wouldn't she have married in that locality?

And third, doesn't her apparent status - boarder, circus artist - seem very surprising considering the wealth of the family, at least in earlier times?

On the other hand it's surprising if there was another Gertrude Kynoch about, of roughly the same age and not far distant geographically.

On the question of love children, far be it from me to encourage rumours which damage the reputation of an undeniably great man. All I can say on this is that, first, it does seem to be an established fact, often gained from reading between the lines rather than from explicit comment, that George was, or had at one stage been, "a bit of a lad". And second, I remember listening to a conversation of some 50 years ago between two Witton blokes. They were chuckling over the fact that at one time, many years previously, there had been one or two ladies on the Kynoch payroll who were there for having rendered services other than those of cartridge manufacture - and had the progeny to prove it for whom they collected their regular allowances. Stories no doubt handed down from father to son. But then, IF that were true and IF a daughter had appeared, is it likely that she would have born the name of George's legitimate daughter, or George's surname?

Have you looked for any other marriage of a Gertrude Kynoch?

Sorry to complicate it since, after all, you may well be right.

Chris
 
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ChrisM

Super Moderator
Staff member
Sorry, George, on rereading your earlier post, rather than relying on memory, I see that some of my comments are rubbish.

You state clearly that the marriage of Gertrude did in fact take place before 1891. And that the husband was obviously in the area of Hamstead Hall.

But there are still one or two things which seem surprising and don’t wholly tie up. What on earth went wrong between 1891 and 1901, if it is indeed she?

Chris
 
W

Wendy

Guest
Chris, If its any help I have just sent for a marriage certificate registration district West Bromwich. I sent off to Sandwell, they replied they didn't have it and kindly forwarded the information I sent to Birmingham Registry Office. My certificate arrived the marriage in 1921 was at St James's Church, Handsworth. At that time it came under West Bromwich. Our local offices are just brilliant by the way!
 

Di.Poppitt

master brummie
I was born in Hamstead, and christened at Hamstead church, my birth certificate is West Bromwich.:)

The only thing I can add about Gertrude Helen from the 1901 census, is that she is boarding with a Smith family, the husband is not at home n census day, he could have been a brother of William, who I can't find in the 1901 census. In the employment column Gertrude is shown as Own Account, so she is not employed by anyone, which surely she would have been if she were working in a circus - or did she choose which circus she would travel with?

It is such an intriguing story isn't it? A boy from Scotland arrives in Birmingham, leaves his mark as one of our great industrialists, and whose daughter became a Circus Artist. Gosh :)
 

ChrisM

Super Moderator
Staff member
Thanks, Moma P and Di. Now I know that Handsworth and West Bromwich are one and the same place!


A little off-thread but if anyone is interested in one particular period of Kynoch's history, please note the following:
Brian Ferry will be giving a talk about Women’s Work at Witton in World War One at Handsworth Historical Society on Wednesday 14 November at 7.30pm.​
The venue is the New Church Centre, Winleigh Road (off Church Lane), Handsworth. Admission is £1 (members), £1.50 (visitors) and includes coffee + biscuit.
I understand that all visitors are welcome.

Chris
 
G

george donovan

Guest
Kynochs


Good Day this AM

Need of Help----Cant find George Kynoch on the 1851 Census. I know of some of the possibilties as to why, but I would like a second opinion/search if thats possible. He would have been aged 19 years at the time and not married. Am ruling out that he may have been abroad at the time. Thanks
 
G

george donovan

Guest
Kynochs



Does the name PALEY--associated with the Kynochs works ring a bell with anyone??? Interested to learn more. Thanks
 
L

Last Chance

Guest
Only just come across this. I have a photo of the Kynochs factory, prob. c.1914. can't locate it at present, but I will post it when it surfaces.
 

sylvia

proper brummie kid
Re: Kynoch's-Hamstead Hall

Hamstead Hall was demolished in the 1930's. The only bit left of the grounds is now part of the golf course. My gt.grandfather Charles Kirkham was a tenant at Hamstead Hall from c.1881 to c.1886 when he opened the grounds as an entertainment park featuring a fairground and hired circus entertainers. He also exhibited the carcass of a whale which had been washed up, pictures of Hamstead Hall were available on the digital handsworth web site. George Kynoch was at the hall from c.1886 to c.1901. The purchase and upkeep of Hamstead Hall, the election of 1886 and losses from a gun factory made him to go to South Africa where he died in 1901.
Hope this helps fill in some gaps.
 

ChrisM

Super Moderator
Staff member
Thanks for that fascinating information, Sylvia.

There is one area where I would differ, though. My information is that George Kynoch died rather earlier, in 1891. In 1888 he had been forced out of the Company which he founded and not long afterwards went off to South Africa where he died in some poverty only a year or two later. His marriage seems to have broken down and perhaps the family continued to live in the same house, even up until 1901.

It looks as though he must have taken over the Hall from your great-grandfather. In his final period in the Company he alienated other directors in various ways, not least his outside interests which included chairmanship of Aston Villa and being elected M.P. for Aston; and, no doubt, a desire to run the Company which he had founded in a way which he chose (which was bringing it to its knees). As a result he was eased out. I have yet to see an explanation as to why he appeared to have little money in South Africa. Perhaps it had all gone on the house.

A remarkable man, as, by the sound of it, was your great grandfather too.

Chris
 
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ChrisM

Super Moderator
Staff member
George Kynoch (b 1834 Peterhead - d 1891 South Africa) created and developed the business bearing his own name at Witton. This became a huge manufacturer of ammunition and other products and still exists today as IMI plc., although based elsewhere and with a completely different product range. George left the Company under a cloud in the 1880s and died in self-imposed exile in South Africa. His wife and children remained in Birmingham for an unknown period.

Amongst the Company ventures in the 1890s was a completely new explosives factory in Essex, named Kynochtown. I am in contact with someone who is involved in some work to commemorate this long defunct factory and site. She is anxious to make contact with ANY descendant of George.

I know it's a long shot, but does any member have any information which could help in this quest? Does any of the genealogical research carried out by members give any clue as to what happened to this family (whose head was for a long period one of the most prominent industrialists in the city)? Would any of the databases accessible to members lead us anywhere?

Thanks for any help.

Chris
 

Alberta

Super Moderator
Staff member
Chris, this is a bit of a fruitless search as George Kynoch had one daughter.She remained in England when her father went to South Africa.
She married William Chas. Dudley Smith in 1889 and they had no children.
 

ChrisM

Super Moderator
Staff member
Many thanks for that, Alberta. It certainly appears to put the kybosh on any thought of tracing a direct descendant. (It seems that the final tragedy of George's decline was that ill health and geography made a reunion with his family impossible and even precluded his presence at his daughter, Gertrude's, 1889 wedding. He died in February 1891, in exile and comparative poverty).

George was a towering figure in Birmingham industrial history, building up a huge company and travelling to all parts of the world. He was known at the Russian, Turkish and Rumanian courts and was on nodding terms with the Czar, the Sultan of Turkey and officials of high rank in China, Japan, Australia and various American and European states. His aura must have been one of power, wealth, energy and success. And it is possible that he, like countless successful men throughout the years, was red-blooded and irresistibly attractive to the fairer sex.

Far be it for me to attempt to sully the character and memory of such an incredible man. But in the light of the dead-end concerning descendants I should report hearing stories about him when I first joined the successor to his Company in the late 1950s. These stories were already at least second-hand by then and were told with a bit of a nod and a wink, and perhaps the trace of a snigger. They involved the weekly line-up of employees to receive their pay. Notable were a number of ladies who never appeared in any role within the factory other than the collection of a weekly wage. The inference was obvious. And I suppose that if you take that inference to its logical conclusion, it means that there could in fact be descendants still in Birmingham, possibly wholly unaware of their ancestry.

But we'll never know the truth of all that.

Chris
 
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Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
George Kynoch (1834-1891): Part 1, George Kynoch comes to Witton (1834-1865)

There are many mentions of George Kynoch in association with the Witton munition works, Kynoch's and the IMI, and a few about the man himself. In my opinion he should not be glorified, and should take his place amongst the infamous men associated with Birmingham. I have split the story into a few parts as I believe there are several inaccuracies that have appeared in books written about the history of Kynoch's relating to the period of George Kynoch's life. Some books of course written by people with an interest in the firm after his death, who may pass over a few skeletons.

There is a quick history of Kynoch's on the Staffordshire Home Guard site, and often quoted is a book called "Under Five Flags," but this I believe to be written by IMI for IMI.

George Kynoch was born in 1834 in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, and was the son of a tailor. It is said that he came from humble origins, but his parents had enough finance to provide a reasonable education when other young boys were down the pits. Kynoch obtained work in an Insurance office in Glasgow before moving to a bank in Worcester. He then moved to a larger bank in Birmingham.

In 1856 he went to work for Messrs Pursall and Phillips the percussion cap manufacturer at Whiittall Street in central Birmingham. It is unclear what roll he undertook, but strangely it was in that year that Pursall acquired the company from a Mr Armstrong.

In 1859 the factory at Whittall Street was destroyed and 19 of the 70 present, mostly women and girls, were killed. The was an extensive coverage in the Press of the explosion and rescue attempts. The two Messrs Phillips were present in the building and escaped unhurt, also Mr Pursall who took part in the rescue attempts. There is no mention of George Kynoch, however there is a reference to extra staff being taken on to provide the Turkish Government with 18 million caps!

The ODNB says..."by September 1861 Pursall had acquired the lease of 4 acres of land at Witton in the parish of Handsworth, 3 miles north-west of Birmingham. The area was thinly populated and was close to the River Tame and the Grand Junction Railway, so ideally suited for this rapidly developing industry. In 1862 work was conducted in two wooden sheds, the staff consisting of twelve girls supervised by Kynoch; after a short while the lease was conveyed to him. On 3 February 1863 he married Helen, the daughter of Samuel Birley, a well-to-do jeweller at Edgbaston, from whom he later separated. Aided perhaps by capital from his father-in-law as well as his own ability, Kynoch's business prospered and by 1864 Kynoch & Co. had obtained contracts for the supply of ammunition to the war department and the Turkish government."

Was Kynoch's role in the Company mainly financial? Here are a few more facts that raise more questions about the timing and events stated above.

In 1862 there was another explosion at a cap works in Graham Street, again involving mercury. There were calls for the manufacturing of these explosives be moved from populated areas, and in the discussion Messrs Pursall and Co were mentioned as being in Hampton Street. In fact George Kynoch answered a query for the Royal Commission on the question of employment of children in the percussion cap industry, he was termed a partner in Messrs Pursall Co. Did the Phillips move out when he moved in?

We see that George Kynoch was married in February 1863, and some of the capital may have led to the announcement in December 1863 that the partnership between William Pursall and George Kynoch, in the firm W Pursall and Co, 45 Hampton Street, would be dissolved. The business would be carried on by George Kynoch.

It was after the Graham Street explosion in June of 1862 that a decision was made by the Government that workshops, where there was a danger of explosion, should be moved 3 or 4 miles. In April 1865 a government report said that the four Birmingham Percussion cap manufacturers had moved to Greet and Witton. Along with cartridge manufacturers they employed 123 adults, 54 young persons, and 18 children, a total of 196. Of these 180 were females.

There are a few things from this early period that reoccur time and again in connection with George Kynoch. Firstly the employment of women and young girls. Up to 1891 there was no great call on men to fight for their country, Kynoch employed women and children because they were cheap. From the report of the Whittall Street explosion the Press reports the reaction of those nearby..."understanding at once that what had often been predicted had now really occurred."

Similar words will again be used, but I don't suppose George Kynoch paid much notice.
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
George Kynoch (1834-1891): Part 2, (1865-1877)

I cannot find George Kynoch in the 1861 census, but a progression can be seen after this date. In February 1863, on his marriage to Helen, he was put as living in Francis Road, Edgbaston. In 1871 he is down as Cinder Hill Lane with wife Helen, daughter Gertrude, a governess and 3 servants. In 1881 down he is living in Bloomfield House, Wellhead Lane, Handsworth, with wife Helen, and sometime around 1884 he resided in Hamstead Hall. (Probably rented as it was up To Let in July 1884)

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biographies goes on to say....

"The cartridge made of coiled brass strip and developed by Colonel Boxer, superintendent in the royal laboratory, was giving trouble and the war department wished to replace it. Kynoch, in partnership with his manager, William Whitehill, filed a patent on 1 April 1868 for improvements in cartridge construction, namely, to make the case of solid drawn brass. The Lion Works, as it became known, at Witton by now comprised large workshops and well-spaced loading sheds;

Kynoch's love of speculation led him into cash flow problems and in 1870 he sold his rights to the Witton land for £8000, only to buy them back two years later with 19 acres of freehold land adjoining for £9000. The firm's rapid expansion in such a hazardous trade was not accompanied by the close attention to safe procedures that it deserved and there were four serious accidents in two years, the last in November 1870. The manufacture of ammunition, including copper percussion caps for cartridges, continued and by the late 1870s orders for up to 150 million were being handled. In 1877 Kynoch leased a metal-rolling mill in Water Street and so could control the quality of his cartridge brass."

In December 1867 there were the "Fenian arrests" in London, two prisoners Burke and Casey were charged with treason-felony and the Press commented "Important evidence from Birmingham.."

George Kynoch gave evidence saying he was a percussion cap and ammunition maker, and general firearms dealer of 45, Little Hampton Street. He knew the prisoner Burke, but not by name. He had met Burke who led him to believe he represented a mercantile firm. In the first lot he supplied 250,000 percussion caps and 40 of Lemaitre and Gerard 10-shooter revolvers at around £385....Kynoch had said that he obtained the revolvers from different manufacturers and were examined at his office....in all he may have sold Burke 657 revolvers from 1865 to 1866, at a cost of £1,972 of which all but £18 had been paid, invariably, in cash. There were also rifles and implements....cross examination of Kynoch was deferred.

In May 1868 Burke came up for trial at the Old Bailey and was sentenced to 15 years penal servitude.

In July 1869 George Kynoch arrived back from Russia with contracts, but he runs into financial difficulties which resulted in a file for liquidation; assets are put at around £40,000 and liabilities around £60,000. He received assistance from John Abraham, who entered into partnership, but later the partnership was disolved and Kynoch was back in charge.

To say that the expansion of the firm was not accompanied by the close attention to safe procedures that it deserved seems to be something of an understatement. The four serious accidents in two years, the last in November 1870, are well-documented, but there were numerous other accidents before and after. Looking at the main accidents shows that the work force was mainly women and young girls, a few of whom did not tell their parents they worked there. There were cases of women getting paid two weeks in arrears in order to prevent them leaving.

The Birmingham Post of 10 December 1870 reports that between 12 and 1.00pm on the previous day several thunderous roars were heard one after another. Residents in the vicinity of Witton knew too well the meaning of those reverberating peals...They recollected the dismal record of bloody sacrifices to the Moloch who had fixed his seat of worship amongst them, they pressaged one more melancholy chapter to the already sickening list.."Another explosion at the Catridge Factory." (This refers to the explosion at Ludlow's and it is thought that Kynoch had interests also in that factory, but out of the kindness of his heart he allowed his staff an extension of their dinner time to go to the funeral.)

(In April 1873 George Kynoch was summoned for illegal storage of ammunition without license. And January 1883 for 8 cases of breaching Explosive Act 1875, but penalties were minimal.)

On the 12 December the Post quotes the Pall Mall Gazette...

IS IT CULPABLE HOMICIDE...Even Mr Bruce (Home Secretary) will hardly be able to resist the cogency of the argument which is supplied by the 17 deaths which are reported to have already occurred as a result of this disaster, and will at last recognise the need for Government inspection of these factories. The presence of a stove in the middle of a shed where gunpowder work is carried out indicates that the arrangements were culpably defective. Indeed, the materials for what is the fashion to call an "accident" on a large scale seem to have been provided...a more favourable combination for a disaster could not well be contrived...and we may add, for Mr Bruce's information that the want of proper arrangements for the safety of the workforce is in many of the private cartridge factories of the kingdom, if not in the majority, simply scandalous.
 
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