Sir Francis Ronalds and his Family

Jane Montgomrey née Ronalds

A plaque marking the location of Montgomrey's Wharf in Brentford. Part of the site was later the home of the Gas Accumulator Company, which manufactured gas lighting equipment

Plaque commemorating the purchase of the Cottage Hospital building in 1901. It is now on display at the Brentford Health Centre

Foundation stone for the former Boatmen's Institute in Brentford Butts, laid by Archie Montgomrey in 1904

Sir Francis Ronalds' oldest sister Jane (1786-1826) lived her married life in Brentford, West London, just up the road from the Ronalds nursery.

Her husband James Montgomrey Snr (1782-1841) ran a large timberyard on the Brentford High Street, between what is now Dock Road and Pump Alley, that stretched south past the Grand Union Canal. For many years the area was known as Montgomrey's Wharf. In its prime, it was the largest sawmill in Middlesex and supplied timber products to the surrounding counties. Through their son James Jnr (1811-1883), grandson Archibald Sim (1843-1922) - called Archie - and great-grandson Carey (1870-1919), the firm continued into the 20th century. Sir Francis would have assisted in some of the technological innovations introduced there.

A high priority for the family was to enhance the town of their business success and they helped fund, build and run numerous facilities in Brentford for education, health, worship and community amenity. These included the Cottage Hospital, Boatmen's Institute, fire station, town hall, public library, Mechanics' Institution, St Paul's church, and both Church of England and non-sectarian schools. They also assisted in the establishment of Brentford Dock.

James (Snr and Jnr) and Archie in addition acted as executors for many members of the Ronalds family. Together they were trustees for 75 years of the complex US and Canadian estates inherited by Dr Henry Ronalds' wife and passing finally to Dr Henry's granddaughter Lucy.


Further Information

The Montgomrey Family of Brentford: Timber Merchants and Benefactors (2018)
- published in London's Industrial Archaeology

Sir Francis Ronalds: Father of the Electric Telegraph (2016)
- published by Imperial College Press

The Ronalds Family in Brentford and Ontario (2016)
- published by the Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society

Obituaries for James Montgomrey Snr and Carey Montgomrey West

A fountain was erected in honour of James Jnr by his friends. Located at the centre of St Paul’s Recreation Ground in Brentford, it has been restored recently by the Heritage of London Trust

The Brentford High Street Project has uploaded interesting data on the Montgomrey family, including a detailed description of their sawmill in 1910.

James Snr's forebears are introduced in The Hatbox Letters