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Joseph Gillott



As some of us will be visiting the Pen Room(museum) tommorrow I thought I would write a small condensed piece on one of our famous pen makers
Joseph Jillott was born in Sheffield in 1799 and came to Birmingham in 1822 when the slump in the steel industry followed the Napolionic Wars. This was a time of great unemployment. The early skills jillott aquired put him in good stead in the small metalware trades in Birmingham. He met and married Maria Mitchell sister of the Mitchell brothers John and William who were already manufacturing steel pens. Because of this union Joseph was drawn into the pen industry. At around 1827 Joseph began to experiment making pens in a garret in Bread Street (now Cornwall Street). Later he moved to Church Street and then took larger premises in Newhall Street. By 1853 Joseph moved his manufacturing to Graham Street where he developed the Victoria Works one of the largest factories in Birmingham. At this time they employed 600-7OO people in spacious, lofty and airy workrooms,but for moral conciderations females were separated from males or under supevision. Joseph bought the Rotten Park Estate in Edgbaston in 1851 which he later developed. "They said of Joseph Gillott that he was the wickedest of men alive-because he made people steel pens and said they did write"

Joseph Gillott died on January 5th 1872 and is buried at Key Hill cemetery.


master brummie
I have suddenly realised...

I tracked down a Bill Head that my family had in 1875...... from Birmingham Central Library.... I have only just realised that the bill was made out to Mr. Joseph Gillott.... I wonder if this could be the son of Joseph Gillott who inherited his fathers company in 1872? It has Mr. Joseph Gillott... Solihull A/C written on it. and is dated February 1st 1875.

Steve C

Hi Georgie

Yes it was most likeley Gillott Junior who by about 1874 was living in Knowle near Solihull; There is more info under 'Gillott Graham Street' or search Berry Hall Knowle



master brummie
Thank you Steve C, It was weird when I received this coy Bill as my family name is Gillatt.... and I didn't know anything about the surname Gillott until my friend's husband mentioned pen nibs... (he's an illustrator). We were always teased at school because of Gillette razor blades:rolleyes:.

brummie nick

master brummie
Heres the Gillott family on the 1851 census

Joseph GILLOTT Head M 51 M Steel Pen Mfr Sheffield-YKS
Maria GILLOTT Wife M 50 F --- Sheffield-YKS
James GILLOTT Son U 28 M No Business Birmm-WAR
Mary GILLOTT Daur U 26 F --- Birmm-WAR
Joseph GILLOTT Son U 24 M Steel Pen Mfr Birmm-WAR
Maria GILLOTT Daur U 23 F --- Birmm-WAR
Henry GILLOTT Son U 21 M Steel Pen Mfr Birmm-WAR
Cathe. Ada GILLOTT Daur U 17 F --- Birmm-WAR
Alfred GILLOTT Son U 16 M Scholar Birmm-WAR
Montague GILLOTT Son - 11 M Scholar Birmm-WAR
Sophia HILL Serv U 21 F --- Birmm-WAR
Emma OAKES Serv U 21 F --- Birmm-WAR
Elizth. REAVES Serv U 20 F --- Berkswell-WAR
Address: Westbourne Road, ---
Census Place: Edgbaston Kings Norton, Warwickshire
PRO Reference: HO/107/2049 Folio: 272 Page: 16 FHL Film: 0087459


Just a couple of things to add.

It's not surprising he called his factory the 'Victoria Works' since he was clearly well in with Royalty

" It is only necessary to state that it is seldom Royalty comes to birmingham without paying a visit to the works of Gillott and Sons"

" Gillott's steel pens are admitted to be the best that are made, and the name and trade mark of Joseph Gillott are known the whole world over"

Source: contemporary quotes from Birmingham Faces & Places 1891

Another area in which Birmingham once led the world.

Finally a picture of the Victoria Works in Graham Street



master brummie
The move to Birmingham for Gillott came as Birmingham was already had an established steel working industry. Sheffield was noted for the making of quality steel, swords and cutlery, His move came after the depression that affected business generally across the country affected the cutlery trade. Many were reduced to being paupers, and some found temporary employment cutting the Sheffield & Tinsley Canal 1815-1819, Gillott is reported to have worked in the steel buckle trade in Birmingham, before making steel pen nibs. He married into the Mitchell family who were the first to set up the trade in Birmingham.