Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Thomason, Edward

THOMASON, Sir EDWARD (1769–1849), manufacturer and inventor, son of a buckle manufacturer of Birmingham, was born in that place in 1769. At the age of sixteen he was apprenticed to Matthew Boulton [q. v.] of Soho, the engineer. In 1793, his father having retired from business, Edward commenced a manufactory of gilt and plated buttons, which was gradually extended to medals, tokens, works in bronze, and silver and gold plate. In 1796 he submitted to the admiralty the model of a fireship propelled by steam and steered automatically, with which he proposed to assail the French shipping in their own harbours. It met with considerable approbation, but was not adopted. On 25 Oct. 1796 and on 22 Dec. 1798 he took out patents (Nos. 2142 and 2282) for a carriage-step folding up automatically on the door of the vehicle being closed. At various times he patented improvements in gun-locks and corkscrews, and in the manufacture of hearth-brushes, umbrellas, whips, medals, tokens, and coins. He also produced many works of great artistic merit, among others a full-sized copy of the Warwick vase in metallic bronze. In 1830 he completed a series of sixty large medals on bible subjects from pictures by the old masters. He presented these medals to all the sovereigns in Europe, and in return received many marks of honour and magnificent gifts. He held on behalf of eight foreign governments the office of vice-consul for Birmingham, and was honoured with eight foreign orders of knighthood, including the Red Eagle of Prussia. In 1832 he was knighted by William IV. In 1844 he retired from business, and settled at Ludlow, whence he removed to Bath and afterwards to Warwick. He died at Warwick on 29 May 1849, and was buried in the family vault in St. Philip's, Birmingham. By his wife, Phillis Bown, daughter of Samuel Glover of Abercarne, he had one son, Henry Botfield, who died on 12 July 1843.

Sir Edward published an autobiography entitled ‘Memoirs during Half a Century’ (London, 1845, 8vo), consisting chiefly of an elaborate account of the various honours he had received. His portrait is prefixed, engraved by C. Freeman.

[Thomason's Memoirs; Colvile's Warwickshire Worthies, p. 743; Gent. Mag. 1849, ii. 430.]

E. I. C.