Nat Gould

His life and books

John Gilbert 1724-1795

John Gilbert
Born: 1724 Cotton Hall
Died: 1795 Worsley, Lancashire
Thomas Gilbert 1688-1742
Elizabeth Philips 1691-1729
George Gilbert 1713-1713
Thomas Gilbert 1715-1716
Nathaniel Gilbert 1715-1716
Elizabeth Gilbert 1717-1776
John Gilbert 1718-1722
Thomas Gilbert 1720-1798
Ellen Gilbert 1722-1792
Richard Gilbert 1725-1741
Mary Gilbert born 1726
Ann Gilbert 1727-1770
Lydia Bill 1723-1797
Lydia Gilbert born 1744
Thomas Gilbert 1748-1793
Robert Gilbert 1751-1820
John Gilbert 1757-1812

John Gilbert was born in 1724, the son of Thomas Gilbert 1688-1742 of Cotton Hall near Cheadle in Staffordshire and his first wife wife nee Elizabeth Philips 1691-1729. He was baptised at Alton in Staffordshire on 4 June 1724.

He married Lydia Bill 1723-1797 of Farley in Staffordshire in 1743.

They had the following children:

Lydia Gilbert. She was born in 1744.

Thomas Gilbert 1748-1793. He was born in 1748. He married Alice Shaw, and became a merchant in Liverpool. He died in 1793 at Runcorn in Cheshire.

Robert Gilbert. He was born in 1751 and died in 1820.
John Gilbert. He was born in 1757 and died in 1812.

While his brother Thomas was undergoing his legal training in London, John Gilbert ran the family estate at Cotton Hall and their mining interests, and was educated in estate management.

John Gilbert 1724-1795 and his brother Thomas Gilbert 1720-1798 were land agents to the Marquess of Stafford and the Duke of Bridgewater. They were also important canal pioneers, working on many projects with the Duke of Bridgewater and James Brindley. Their waterways include the Duke of Bridgewater's Canal and the Trent and Mersey Canal.

The Gilbert brothers also brought about very many other industrial enterprises in eighteenth-century Staffordshire, Shropshire, Lancashire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Cumberland and elsewhere. For example, they brought industry to the Churnet Valley, developed the Cauldon Low quarries and the graphite mines of Borrowdale, and had interests in the Ecton copper mines.

Another of the many enterprises of John Gilbert, and later his son John Gilbert 1757-1812, was the construction of the Rochdale Canal, an important cross-Pennine link. In this development he was assisted by his nephew Edmund Gould 1782-1833 of Pilsbury Grange, the son of his brother-in-law Richard Gould 1711-1762.

Like his brother Thomas Gilbert 1720-1798, John Gilbert was a self-effacing man who warrants far greater recognition for his immense contribution to English industrial development (1).

In 1782 John Gilbert purchased part of the Clough Hall estate in Kidsgrove in Staffordshire, where Edmund Gould was employed as his local agent (2). This he intended not only as a residence for his family but also to develop the extensive coalfield there. This gradually led to conflict with Sir John Edensor Heathcote who owned an estate at nearby Apethorpe, which continued after his death with his son John Gilbert 1757-1812 (3).

He made his Will in 1794. As can be seen from a summary of its provisions these are largely self-explanatory (4).

Nathaniel Gould 1756-1820 of Manchester was appointed an executor. He married his granddaughter Lydia Gilbert 1768-1798. Their daughter Lydia Gould also married a member of the Gould family, the Reverend Joseph Gould 1797-1866 the son of Nathaniel's brother Thomas Gould 1752-1829. The Gould and Gilbert families were thus intertwined by marriage through three generations, and Gilbert became used as a forename in the Gould family of Pilsbury Grange. The death of John Gilbert (and that of his brother Thomas Gilbert in 1798) however brought to an end the active Gould connection with the Gilbert family.

John Gilbert 1724-1795 died on 3 August 1795 at Worsley near Manchester.


(1) Peter Lead Agents of Revolution : John and Thomas Gilbert - Entrepreneurs (1989) pages 53-55.
(2) Ibid page 146.
(3) Ibid pages 130-133.
(4) See Ibid page 139 for a brief account of some of the provisions of the Will. Although the author considers it curious that no provision was made for grandchildren Lydia and John, the reasons for not so doing are set out in the Will. Furthermore the legacy to son Robert Gilbert also included the share of the mining interests in County Durham (presumably lead); and the legacy of his father’s interest in the Stanton property was only a quarter of a half share. The total of the minor legacies left to John Gilbert’s “associates and servants” amounts to more than the £270 stated in the book. The Stanton property was at Stanton-in-the-Peak near Bakewell in Derbyshire.