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Great grandpa visists the West Indies

Posted by on December 5, 2013

In 1889 my great-grandfather, Alfred John Liversedge, moved from Watson, Laidlaw and Co to their associate company Mirrless, Watson and Co and at the same time the company took over Yaryan Co (with the exclusion of that company’s business in USA, Canada and Cuba) and became a limited liability company, Mirrlees, Watson & Yaryan Co Ltd.  Now the company was specialising in sugar and evaporating machinery; a long way from the textile industry where his career began.

Mirrlees Watson and Co advertisement circa 1900

Mirrlees Watson and Co advertisement circa 1900

AJL’s notes under the heading West Indies are particularly tantalising; we start with the Yaryan Evaporator and its inventor Homer Taylor Yaryan(1842-1928).  He was a prolific inventor from Toledo, Ohio, who in 1884 patented a machine for removing the saccharine matter from sugar-cane.  However in Toledo he is primarily remembered for his system of heating buildings with steam.

Then we have a reference to “fortifying wine” British Guiana, Quintin Hogg and “swizzles”, followed by “the hand-powered cream separator”, “the old-time colonial mansion”, my dinner and Barbados.

This Quintin Hogg (1845-1903) was an English philanthropist, remembered primarily as a benefactor of the Royal Polytechnic institution at Regent Street, London was also a merchant.  As a senior partner in a firm of tea merchants, he modernised sugar production in Demerara.  Hogg himself visited the sugar plantations and in her 1904 biography of him Ethel M Hogg records visits to Demerara, Barbados and British Guiana.  She mentions his enthusiasm for new processes including the Rillieux process which was the basis for the development of the Yaryan evaporator and records him as introducing these in British Guiana (now Guyana).

I know my great-grandfather visited all these countries, his photograph

albums provide the evidence and I wonder if this is the “old-time colonial

The old-time colonial mansion

The old-time colonial mansion

mansion referred to.

As his career in sugar manufacture developed he became a member of L’Association. des Chimistres de Sucriere et de Distillerie de France et des Colonies which is itself a curiosity.  A number of the places he visited had French colonial roots and again the photo albums show he spent time in France but I wonder were there no comparable British institutions to join?  I do have some papers of his in French so I must assume that he was fluent in the language.  How did he acquire that fluency, I don’t imagine it was part of his early education but here it is another example of the range of Victorian accomplishment.  Today an engineer with fluency in a second language would be much prized.

Barbara

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