Matthew Curtis

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For the Australian gymnast, see Mathew Curtis.

Matthew Curtis (1807–1887) was an industrialist and civic leader in Manchester. He was Mayor of Manchester three times.

Born in Manchester in 1807,[1] Curtis was initially apprenticed to the firm of Joseph Chessborough Dyer,[2] subsequently becoming foreman, and then succeeding in 1836 to the ownership of Dyer's business, which became Curtis, Parr & Walton.[3] By trade, Curtis was a wire-card manufacturer and a machine-maker. He was a partner in two businesses: Curtis, Parr & Walton, wire-card makers, and Parr, Curtis & Madely, machine-makers. These firms were involved in the manufacture of equipment for spinning cotton, the former in the production of Dyer's Frame and the latter producing Smith & Orr's Self-Acting Mule. By the middle of the nineteenth century, Curtis's firms were the largest manufacturers of cotton-spinning machinery in Britain.[4]

The lych gate of St John's Church, Heaton Mersey, showing what little can still be made out of the memorial inscription to Matthew Curtis

In December 1875, during his second term as Mayor of Manchester, Curtis put in place the copper ball on the summit of the Albert Square tower of the new Manchester Town Hall, which was nearing its completion in 1877.[5] Curtis was a council member of the Manchester Anti-Corn Law Association[6] and a founding director of the Manchester Athenaeum.[7] He resided at Thornfield in Heaton Mersey, south of the city, and died on 9 June 1887[8] or 11 June 1887,[9] during his third term as Mayor. He was married firstly to Amelia Curtis (d. between 1871 and 1881), with whom there were five or more children,[10] including sons John (1836–1878)[11] and Richard. He subsequently married Charlotte Curtis (1824–1918). Curtis's great-granddaughter Lettice Curtis was a noted aviator.[12]

The lych gate (1927) of St John's Church, Heaton Mersey carries an inscription, much faded, dedicated to Curtis and other, later members of the Curtis family.[13]


  1. ^ Paul A. Pickering and Alex Tyrrell The People's Bread: a history of the Anti Corn Law League (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2000) ISBN 0-7185-0218-3, 978-0-7185-0218-8. p. 275
  2. ^ Lance Day & Ian McNeil Biographical dictionary of the history of technology (Taylor & Francis, 1996) ISBN 0-415-06042-7, 978-0-415-06042-4. p. 227
  3. ^ Parliamentary Papers, 17 March 1841. p 110–124. Pub. HMSO
  4. ^ Albert Edward Musson & Eric Robinson Science and technology in the Industrial Revolution (Manchester University Press, 1969) ISBN 0-7190-0370-9, 978-0-7190-0370-7. p. 62, fn. 6
  5. ^ William E.A. Axon, The annals of Manchester: a chronological record from the earliest times to the end of 1885 (J. Heywood, 1886) p. 355
  6. ^ Pickering & Tyrrell, p. 275
  7. ^ Thomas Swindells Manchester Streets and Manchester Men (Cornish, 1906–1908) p. 33
  8. ^ The London Gazette, September 23, 1887
  9. ^ The Manchester Guardian, 21 June 1887
  10. ^ Pickering & Tyrrell, p. 275
  11. ^ Arthur Charles Fox-Davies, Armorial families : a directory of gentlemen of coat-armour, Volume 1. (Edinburgh: T.C. & E.C. Jack, 1905)
  12. ^ Lettice Curtis, Lettice Curtis - her autobiography, Red Kite, Walton on Thames, 2004, ISBN 0-9546201-1-9
  13. ^ C. Hartwell, Lancashire: Manchester and the South East, Pevsner Architectural Guides: Buildings of England. (Yale University Press, 2004) ISBN 978-0-300-10583-4. p. 230
Political offices
Preceded by
Ivie Mackie
Mayor of Manchester
(1st Term)

Succeeded by
Thomas Goadsby
Preceded by
John King
Mayor of Manchester
(2nd Term)

Succeeded by
Abel Heywood
Preceded by
Philip Goldschmidt
Mayor of Manchester
(3rd Term)

Succeeded by
Sir John James Harwood