Smith & Grace
The name of Smith & Grace has been well-known locally for over 145 years, but who was the mysterious Mr Grace? He has in fact been remembered without being truly known.
Theodore was born in 1839 in Bristol, Gloucestershire.
His parents, Josiah and Mary Grace, lived at 15 Queen Square, in the St Nicholas district of Bristol and had 7 children:
- Hester Maria (born c1828);
- Abraham (born c1833);
- Mary (born c1834);
- John (born c1836);
- Alexander (born c1837);
- Theodore (born c1839);
- Amelia (born c1844).
Josiah was a successful Corn & Flour Merchant and his son, John, became a soda water manufacturer. However, Theodore trained as a draughtsman and in 1871 he was working in London and living in Finsbury Square.
By 1881 Theodore had returned to Gloucestershire and he was living at 4 Tamworth Place, Barton Regis and was described as an accountant in the census of that year. During the next decade he had moved to 20 Clyde Road, Barton Regis and began working as an Insurance Agent.
Theodore died in the summer of 1896 aged 57 years and was mourned particularly by the Bristol and Clifton Chess Club. The club secretary described him as an old and esteemed member. His Will described his net estate as worth £2949 6s 2d. (£200,000+ today)
Theodore never married and did not purchase a house to live in. From the time he left the family home until he died, he was a lodger or boarder in the homes of a string of different families. There is also no evidence that he was related to the cricketer W G Grace.
Neneside Ironworks, Thrapston
Theodore’s connection with the Neneside Ironworks in Thrapston began in 1866-7 when he became a partner with Nathaniel Smith following the retirement of Robert Smith in 1866. It is likely that it was a financial arrangement and was recognised by the change of name of the business to Smith & Grace (Engineers, Iron and Brass Founders and Agricultural Implement Makers).
It is not known how these two men met but it may not be a coincidence that at the Plymouth agricultural show in 1865, Theodore Grace exhibited a double action haymaking machine which he had invented. As a fellow inventor of agricultural equipment Nathaniel Smith may well have had contact with him and may possibly have been interested in manufacturing rights.
Unfortunately it does not appear to have been a successful partnership and it was dissolved by mutual consent in November 1868. It was agreed that all debts owing to or owing from the firm should be received and discharged by Nathaniel Smith.
However the name “Grace” lives on.
Reference: 1841 – 1891 Censuses, BMD records, Western Daily Press, Northampton Mercury.