Abraham Darby III

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Abraham Darby III (24 April 1750 – 1789) was an English ironmaster and Quaker. He was the third Abraham Darby in three generations of an English Quaker family that played a role in the Industrial Revolution.[1]

He was born in Coalbrookdale, Shropshire, the eldest son of Abraham Darby II (1711–1763) and his second wife, Abiah (née Maude) Darby and educated at a school in Worcester.[1]

Having inherited at 13 his father's shares in the family iron-making businesses, in 1768 he took over the management of the Coalbrookdale ironworks in the Severn Valley. He took various measures to improve the conditions of his work force. In times of food shortage he bought up farms to grow food for his workers, he built housing for them, and he offered higher wages than were paid in other local industry (such as mining or pottery). He built the largest cast iron structure of his era: the first iron bridge ever built. It crossed over the Severn near Coalbrookdale. The bridge caused the village of Ironbridge, Shropshire, to grow up around it, with the area being subsequently named Ironbridge Gorge.

He died aged 39[2] in Madeley, Shropshire, and was buried in the Quaker burial ground in Coalbrookdale. He had married Rebecca Smith of Doncaster in 1776. They had seven children, four of whom survived to adulthood. His sons Francis (1783–1850) and Richard (1788–1860) were both involved with the Coalbrookdale Company.

A secondary school in Telford, UK, is named after Abraham Darby III. The school's name is Abraham Darby Academy.

The two key themes of Darby's life – iron and the Quakers – and the character himself are present in a fantasy novel, The Iron Bridge, by David Morse.[3][4]

In 1985 a rose cultivar bred by David C.H. Austin was named after Abraham Darby.

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References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Skempton, A. W. (2002). A Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers in Great Britain and Ireland: 1500–1830. Thomas Telford. p. 170. ISBN 978-0-7277-2939-2. 
  2. ^ Trinder, Barrie (1991) [1974]. The Darbys of Coalbrookdale. Phillimore & Co. / Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust. p. 41. ISBN 0-85033-791-7. 
  3. ^ The Iron Bridge. david-morse.com
  4. ^ New Quaker Novel Blends History and Ironbridge Gorge. An interview with David Morse, author of The Iron Bridge by Chuck Fager. Journal of the Fellowship of Quakers in the Arts, Issue 10, Summer 1998.

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