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John Brogden

John Brogden - Industrialist
Born 2 February 1798
Clitheroe, Lancashire, UK
Died 9 December 1869
Sale, Cheshire, UK
Nationality British
Occupation Railway Contractor, Iron and Coal Master

John Brogden (2 February 1798 – 9 December 1869) was an English railway contractor, iron and coal miner and iron smelter. From an early age he was a Methodist and in later life he contributed generously in time and money to Methodist and other good causes.


Early life

He was born on 2 February 1798 on his father’s farm at Worston, near Clitheroe in Lancashire. He was educated at Clitheroe Grammar School.[1]

As a young man he left home for the rapidly expanding town of Manchester. Whereas other young men at that time chose to work in the burgeoning cotton industry, Brogden was an outdoor man, fond of riding and hunting so he preferred to work in haulage and transport. For further details of his work see John Brogden and Sons.

Family life

In 1822 he married a Miss McWilliams, only daughter of Alexander McWilliams of Hazelhurst near Ashton-under-Lyne. She had been educated at the Moravian School in Dukinfield.[2] Their children were:

John, born Manchester 1823, married Ellen Garstang 20 March 1849 at Manchester Cathedral, died suddenly on 6 November 1855 at his home, Lightburn House, Ulverston, age 32.[3] Lightburn House was later pulled down and replaced by the Coronation Hall.[4]

Alexander, born Manchester 3 November 1825, married Ann Garstang 6 September 1848 at Manchester Cathedral.[3], died 26 November 1892 in Croydon.[5]

Henry, born Manchester 1827, married Sarah Ann Marshall on 11 September 1862 in Stockport, died at Hale Lodge, Hale, Altrincham, Cheshire in 1913.[3]

James, born Manchester 7 April 1832, spent most of his adult life in Mid-Glamorgan, first at Tondu and later at Porthcawl, where he died in January 1907.[3]

George William Hargreaves Brogden, was born in 1842 and died in London in 1892.[3]

All the above sons except George joined him in his business on reaching the age of 21.

Sarah Hannah, born in 1834, married Samuel Budgett on 5 June 1888, son and joint heir of the Bristol grocer Samuel Budgett,[6], died in 1905.

Mary Jane, referred to as Jenny, married William Billing in Manchester Cathedral on 18 December 1867 and at one time they lived at Dunham Grange, Bowdon, Cheshire.[3]

Death and afterwards

John Brogden (sen.) died at his home, Raglan House, Raglan Road, Sale (then in Cheshire) on 9 December 1869.[3][7]

In his will he had set up a trust for Mrs Billing of £7,250 and previously a marriage settlement of £10,000. The trustees were: Alexander, James and Henry Brogden and Samuel Budgett. For five years from his death the trustees were empowered to use the trust money in the business but after that they had to provide good assets that were independent of it. They failed to do this and in 1887, after the failure of the business and its partners, Mrs Billing sued the trustees for breach of trust in the action "Billing vs Brogden".[8] She won the case and Samuel Budgett, as the only solvent trustee, had to supply the whole sum and the costs. This may have been a factor in his subsequent bankruptcy.


  1. ^ According to Smiles p223. Also a John Brogden of Worston was baptised at Downham (the local parish church for Worston) on 25 February 1798 and many earlier Brogdens were baptised, married and buried there. However some authorities say he was born in Furness. The reason for this is that Casson, page 66, misquoting Smiles, changes the place from Worston to “Marton, in North Lancashire”. Then Marshall (1958) accepts this and mentions that Marton is “near Dalton-in-Furness”. Then Higgins (1978) in his turn accepts Marshall, leaves out Marton and just puts “Furness”. It is quite clear from Smiles’ text that Brogden was born at a farm called Worston, moved a short distance to another called Hookcliff and from there attended Clitheroe Grammar School “the nearest and best that was accessible”. The place names Worston and Hookcliff can still be found near Clitheroe. The Furness theory can be rejected.
  2. ^ Smiles (1870)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Higgins (1978)
  4. ^ Gilpin (1988)
  5. ^ The Times (1892)
  6. ^ Richardson, p. 231
  7. ^ Wednesbury Herald
  8. ^ The Times (1887 and 1888) and the Wednesbury Herald (1887)


Casson, Robert (1889), A Few Furness Worthies, pp. 66–68  

Gilpin, L.R. (February 1988), "John Brogden of Manchester", Cumbrian Railways 3 (15)   Online

Higgins, L.S. (Summer 1978), "The Brogden Pioneers of the early industrial development in Mid-Glamorgan", National Library of Wales Journal XX (3): 240–252   Online

Marshall, J.D. (1958 reprinted 1981), Furness and the Industrial Revolution, Michael Moon, Beckermet, Cumbria, ISBN 0904131262  

Richardson, Joseph (1870), Furness Past and Present, 1  

Smiles, R (1870), "Memoir about John Brogden (Senior)", Richardson (1870): 223  

The Times (August 10 1887), "Law Reports – High Court – Chancery Division: Billing v Brogden", The Times  

The Times (February 27 1888), "Law Reports – High Court – Chancery Division: Billing v Brogden", The Times  

The Times (May 9 1888), "Law Reports – Court of Appeal: Billing v Brogden", The Times  

The Times (29 November 1892), "Obituary: Alexander Brogden", The Times: 10  

Wednesbury Herald (13 August 1887), "The late Liberal Member for Wednesbury – Important Action", Wednesbury Herald  



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