Local Historic People: Matthew Boulton

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Local Historic People: Matthew Boulton

Portrait of Matthew Boulton by Lemuel Francis Abbott

Name of the person: Matthew Boulton

Job: Manufacturer and Entrepreneur

Biography: Few people have had an impact upon the world in quite the same way as Matthew Boulton. For many decades Boulton maintained a successful partnership with James Watt and revolutionised the industrial world.

Born: Born in Birmingham on the 3rd of September 1718.

Died: Died in Birmingham 17th August 1809. Aged 80.

Married: Boulton’s first marriage was to Mary Robinson but after her death in 1759 he married Anne Robinson.

Short fun fact: Boulton, for a number of years in the 18th century, leased Sarehole Mill for scientific studies. This site later inspire J.R.R. Tolkien.

Education: Boulton studied at an academy in Deritend, Birmingham but left school at age 15!

Key Facts

Key Fact 1: Early life

Born in 1728, Matthew Boulton was a partner in the family business by aged 21. He married Mary Robinson, a distant cousin in 1749, in 1760 Boulton married Mary’s sister following Mary’s death in 1759. Boulton and his new wife Anne lived in Soho House until their deaths.

MB - View of Soho.jpg

Key Fact 2: Soho House and Manufactory

In 1762 Boulton built Soho Manufactory and began to redevelop a small cottage into Soho House. The manufactory created “toys”, small items of metal ware, helping Birmingham become the toy-shop of the world. Boulton entered a business partnership with James Watt in 1775 and the two took their steam engines worldwide.

MB - Lunar Room.jpg

Key Fact 3: Later life

As well as a successful toy business and his lucrative partnership with Watt, Boulton revolutionised coin manufacturing with accurate machining techniques. He was a key member of the Lunar Society, a group of prominent scientist and thinkers who met at Soho House. Boulton died in 1809 having suffered from kidney stones for many years.

British Victories Coin

Activities to try out

For the little ones

Coin rubbing - Taking loose change around the house, using it to rub onto paper and look at the designs and pictures.

Kids

Factory catalogue, using inspiration from the collection design something for Matthew Boulton to make in the factory. This could be a household item, something unusual. See the image gallery at the bottom of this page.

Young adults

Make a storyboard of his life. You can map it out in a timeline, and mark his ‘successes’.

For example, you can mark when he got married, when he bought Soho, when his wife died, when he met James Watt, as ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ of his life. 

Find out more information about Matthew Boulton on the History West Midlands website and Lunar Society website.

Share your storyboard on twitter at @BMTLearning