Thomas Wilson (shipping magnate)

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Thomas Wilson (1792–1869) was a 19th-century shipping magnate from Kingston upon Hull, England. In 1822, Wilson jointly founded Thomas Wilson Sons & Co., commonly known as the Wilson Line, a shipping company.


Wilson Line

Thomas Wilson founded Beckington, Wilson and Company in 1822 as a joint venture with his partner John Beckinton and two others. He did not come to the business with a background in shipping but through the use of ships for shipping of ore he quickly saw the potential opportunity and became a noted specialist shipowner. By 1825 he owned his first steam ship and saw the company become a prominent figure in promoting the Port of Hull to the third largest port in United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland during the emergence and rise of steam shipping in Britain.

In 1841, Thomas Wilson took full control of the company, after the other partners left, and so he brought his eldest son David into the business as his partner, making the name Thomas Wilson & Son Ltd. In 1850 his other sons Charles and Arthur joined and became active partners, the name changing to Thomas Wilson & Sons Co Ltd, though usually known as the Wilson Line of Hull.

Thomas died in 1869 and the company was taken over by Charles and Arthur, with David as silent partner. A few years later when they were beginning to question their own sons ability to continue running the firm, Charles and Arthur brought in a non-family member to become the new Managing Director, Oswald Sanderson. Parts of the company merged with the North Eastern Railway forming Wilson's & North Eastern Railway Shipping Co. Ltd; the majority was acquired in 1916 by Sir John Ellerman and renamed Ellerman's Wilson Line.


Thomas was the son of David Wilson (1745–1810) and Elizabeth ( née Gray; born c.1750). He married Susannah West (1796–1879), the daughter of John West and Grace Harrop, at Drypool, Yorkshire, on 1 September 1814. They had 13 children:

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