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John Benjamin Stone [st.4.5]

John Benjamin Stone was the second child of Benjamin Stone & Rebecca Matthews born February 9th, 1838 at Aston, Birmingham & christened March 13th, 1838 at St Phillips, Birmingham.

In 1841 John was living at home at Lupin St, Duddeston, Aston, Birmingham with his parents, 2 sisters & brother.

John was still living at home at Lupin St in 1851. He was educated at King Edward’s School, New St, Birmingham.

In 1861 John was still living with his parents at 89 Lupin St. & was now described as a master glass manufacturer, working in his father’s glass factory. Sisters Rebecca & Clara were still at home.

In 1864 John was initiated into the Lodge of Light, Birmingham  according to the Freemason Register.  He remained a member until 1866.  Later, in 1877, he became a member of the Alma Mater Lodge of Birmingham.

Thanks to Colin Bolton, the following information on John’s involvement in the paper making industry was brought to our attention. In 1862 John, along with Thomas Bird Smith and Frederick Knight, set up the paper making company in Birmingham, called Messrs. Smith, Stone and Knight (SSK) Ltd. It became one of the largest producers of brown and bag papers in the country. Thomas Smith was the only one of the three with experience in the paper making industry, but all three were astute businessmen.  The SSK company is the last remaining paper mill in the West Midlands and celebrated its 150th anniversary in June 2012. As well as business partners, the three men were related through marriage. John was to marry Jane Parker (see below) and Thomas Smith married Jane’s sister Ann Parker. Frederick Knight married Clara Louisa Stone (John’s sister).

John married Jane Parker on June 5th, 1867, the marriage being registered at Christ Church, Lothersdale, Yorks. Jane was born November 1st, 1848 at Lothersdale, West Yorkshire, the daughter of Christiana Mattock & Peter Parker, a farmer.

In 1871 John & Jane were living at Aston Village, Aston Manor & John was now a glass manufacturer, Jane was a paper maker. They had 3 children by this time – Ethel Mary (2), Barron Wilfred (1) & Dora C aged 8 months. There was a visitor at the time of the census – Sarah J Scribbins (24) & they had 3 servants. John commissioned glass maker John Northwood to carve the Elgin Vase which Northwood completed in 1873 ( This was given to the City of Birmingham as a gift. John served as a town councillor for Birmingham from 1869-1878. He was the founder, & later President, of the Birmingham Conservative Association.

Illustration from Connecting Histories project, Birmingham -

By 1881 John had become a County Magistrate for Warwickshire & was a flint & glass manufacturer. It was also noted in the census that he had 6 acres of land. He & Jane were living at the Grange, Grange Lane, Erdington, Aston with their children Ethel, Baron, Dora, Norman B (9), Oscar H (8) & Roland P (4). They had a governess Sarah Brierley (25), a domestic cook, a parlour maid & a house maid. John was obviously becoming prosperous & indeed succeeded his father as director of the glass firm as well as having a wide range of other commercial interests. He became the first mayor of Sutton Coldfield, holding the office from 1886-1890 & was associated with many philanthropic foundations.

At the time of the 1891 census John was visiting Japan. Jane was found at Grange Lane, Erdington with children Barron & Oscar, both paper manufacturers, Dora & Roland. Daughter Ethel, now Ethel Holden was also there at the time of the census. They had 2 servants – a cook & a housemaid.

John was a founder member of the Primrose League (an organisation for promoting Conservative principles) which resulted in the recommendation by the Marquis of Salisbury for him to be knighted in 1892. Sir John was elected Member of Parliament for East Birmingham in 1895 & held the seat until his retirement in 1910. His income enabled him to travel extensively at home & abroad & he became a popular lecturer & author of travel books. For this he collected photographs, but became dissatisfied with the quality of commercial prints. He therefore took up photography himself & employed 2 men full time to develop & print his plates at his home at the Grange. John was one of the first photographers to switch from wet to dry plates. In 1895 John founded the National Photographic Record Association, preserving the history & architecture of the country in print. John apparently produced 26,000 photographs & the (John) Benjamin Stone collection is housed in the Birmingham Central Library. The National Portrait Gallery also holds many of his photographs of people & places around Westminster. The pinnacle of his photographic career was the appointment as official photographer at the Coronation of King George V.

Sir John Benjamin Stone 1900

Photograph held by Birmingham City Council -

John & Jane continued to live at the Grange & in the 1901 census John was simply described as a Member of Parliament. At home were Barron, still a paper manufacturer, & Norman, secretary to member of Parliament. They also had a cook & a parlour maid. Daughter Dora had married Daniel McKenzie in 1899 who was to become an eminent throat & ear surgeon.

Sir John & Lady Jane were still at the Grange (which had 16 rooms!) in 1911 & John was described as a ‘gentleman’.  Their son Barron was still at home & still a paper manufacturer & unmarried.  They had a sick nurse & 3 domestic servants.  It was noted on the census that Sir John & Lady Jane had had 7 children, only 6 of whom were alive at the time of the census.

Daughter Ethel & husband Robert Holden, a leather manufacturer, were living at The Villa, Lichfield Rd, Rushall, Walsall in 1911.  They had 4 of their 6 surviving children living at home. Robert became a J.P. for Rushall, Staffs.

Daughter Dora & husband Daniel McKenzie were living at 43 Whitehall Park, London in 1911 with a son & daughter.

Son Oscar had married Jessie Louise Yates in 1898 and in 1911 they were living at Hollyfield Rd, Sutton Coldfield, Aston & Oscar was the manager of a paper mill.  Their 10 year old son Gerald was boarding at school in Hinckley, Leicestershire.

Son Norman Benjamin & his wife Helen were living at Ivanhoe, Hanwell, Brentford, Middlesex with 4 young sons in 1911. Norman’s occupation was given as ‘toilet preparation’ & he was an employer.  Norman had married Ellen Constance Taylor in July-September 1903 at Brentford.

Son Roland had married Dora Holme in1906 & they were living at 31 Denning Rd, Hampstead, London in 1911.  Roland was the manager of a book publishing company.

Sir John died at his home, the Grange, on July 2nd, 1914 & wife Jane died just 4 days later on July 6th. According to an obituary in the New York Times of July 7th, 1914 Jane ‘was seriously ill when Benjamin succumbed’. They were buried together in a double funeral at Sutton Coldfield on July 7th, 1914. Probate of John’s estate was granted in Birmingham on September 28th, 1914 to sons Barron Wilfred & Oscar Harold, both paper manufacturers.  John’s effects were £68,051.17s.5d.

Son Barron, who became a Captain in the 1st South Staffordshire Volunteers, married Christine Campbell Law in 1920 at South Stoneham, Hampshire.

The children of John Benjamin Stone & Jane Parker were:

st.4.5.1 Ethel Mary Stone born June 14th,1868 at Lothersdale, Aston Village, Birmingham & christened July 6th, 1868 at St Matthew, Duddeston, Birmingham; died May 2nd, 1948 at Malling Place, West Malling, Kent
st.4.5.2 Barron Wilfrid Stone born September 10th, 1869 at Lothersdale, Aston Village, Birmingham & christened October 21st,1869 at St Matthew, Duddeston; died August 19th, 1936 at The Cottage, Bath Rd, Taplow
st.4.5.3 Dora Christine Stone born August 8th, 1870 at Lothersdale, Aston Village,  & christened September 11th, 1870 at St Matthew, Duddeston, Birmingham; died May 4th, 1954 at 12 Learmonth Terrace, Edinburgh, Scotland
st.4.5.4 Norman Benjamin Stone born October 13th, 1871 at Lothersdale, Aston Village, Birmingham & christened January 27th, 1872 at St Matthew, Duddeston; died April-June 1956 at Worthing, Sussex
st.4.5.5 Oscar Harold Stone born December 7th, 1872 at Lothersdale, Aston Village, Birmingham & christened January 3rd, 1873 at St Matthew, Duddeston; died August 17th, 1944 at Westmead, Aquaduct Lane, Alvechurch, Worcs
st.4.5.6 Roland Parker Stone born June 18th, 1876 at Lothersdale, Aston Village, Birmingham & christened December 9th, 1876 at St Matthew, Duddeston; died May 1st, 1924 at Bwlch Gwyn, Isaf St, Harmon, Radnorshire, Wales


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