British Motor Syndicate

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The British Motor Syndicate (BMS) was an automobile company formed in November 1895[1] by entrepreneur and fraudster Harry Lawson. His aim was to establish a monopoly on petrol-driven cars by acquiring as many patents related to such vehicles as he could,[2] from the original German Daimler company and other sources.[3] The company did not intend to produce motor cars, but rather to exploit its patents by charging substantial royalties to automobile manufacturers for the right to manufacture them.[4]

Lawson's plan had a dampening effect on the fledgling British automobile industry. Herbert Austin, for instance, abandoned the development of his first Wolseley because of its too close similarity to a vehicle the patent for which was owned by the BMS.[5] But the company ultimately failed, most obviously because of a 1901 court decision that gutted its business model, by which time rapid improvements in technology had made the company's patents obsolete in any case.[4]

Directors on flotation November 1896:

Brokers: Ernest T Hooley, Chapman & Rowe
Consulting Engineer: Frederick R. Simms[6]



  1. ^ Beasley (1997), p. 137
  2. ^ Lewchuk (1987), p. 122
  3. ^ Richardson & O'Gallagher (1978)
  4. ^ a b Peck (2002), p. 134
  5. ^ Peck (2002), pp. 134–135
  6. ^ a b Miscellaneous Companies. The Times, Monday, Nov 30, 1896; pg. 17; Issue 35061


  • Beasley, David (1997), Who Really Invented the Automobile, David Beasley, ISBN 978-0-915317-08-0 
  • Peck, James Foreman (2002), "The Balance of Technological Transfers 1870–1914", in Dintenfass, Michael; Dormois, Jean-Pierre, The British Industrial Decline, Routledge, pp. 114–138, ISBN 978-0-203-44905-9 
  • Lewchuk, Wayne (1987), American technology and the British vehicle industry, CUP Archive, ISBN 978-0-521-30269-2 
  • Richardson, Kenneth; O'Gallagher, C. N. (1978), The British Motor Industry, 1896–1939, Archon Books, ISBN 978-0-208-01697-3