Borthwick Catalogue

Rowntree family of York

Identity area

Type of entity

Family

Authorized form of name

Rowntree family of York

Parallel form(s) of name

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

Identifiers for corporate bodies

Description area

Dates of existence

fl 1822-

History

The Rowntree family’s association with York began in 1822 when Joseph Rowntree (1801-1859) moved to the city from Scarborough to establish a grocery shop at 28 Pavement. In 1832 he married Sarah Stephenson (1807-1888) and the couple had five children together. Both the Rowntree and Stephenson family were members of the Religious Society of Friends, also known as Quakers, and the Rowntrees went on to become one of the most prominent Quaker families in York.

It was Joseph and Sarah’s younger son, Henry Isaac (1838-1883), who in 1862 purchased the cocoa business of the Tuke family, founding what would eventually become the Rowntree confectionery company and brand. Joined by his brother Joseph (1836-1925) in 1869, the business was incorporated as Rowntree & Co in 1897 and moved to the Cocoa Works, a purpose built factory on Haxby Road, where it remains to this day.

The company became the second biggest employer in York under the leadership of Joseph Rowntree and his son Benjamin Seebohm Rowntree (1871-1954), and successive generations of the Rowntree family worked there as managers and company directors. The company’s more famous products include the Kit Kat and Aero chocolate bars.

The Rowntree family were heavily involved in the civic, political and social life of York, not merely as a major employer but also as Members of Parliament, city councillors, committee members, newspaper proprietors and philanthropists. Motivated in part by their religious faith, they were politically liberal and interested in questions of economic, educational and social reform. The factory at Haxby Road became well known for its innovative schemes to improve the welfare of the workforce, including paid leave, pensions, on site healthcare, a profit sharing scheme and model housing.

The family also invested in educational and leisure facilities for the city, including the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, Rowntree Park, York city library, and local schools for children and adults. A significant source of funding came from the four Joseph Rowntree Trusts established by Joseph Rowntree in 1904 to continue his social and charitable work.

His son Benjamin Seebohm in turn conducted pioneering research into poverty in York at the turn of the twentieth century, publishing his conclusions in ‘Poverty: a Study of Town Life’ in 1901. He later advised David Lloyd George and William Beveridge on areas of public policy relating to unemployment and living conditions.

The Rowntree company was sold to Swiss company Nestlé in 1988. Today, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust are still based in York and continue the family’s support for social reform.

Places

Legal status

Functions, occupations and activities

Mandates/sources of authority

Internal structures/genealogy

General context

Relationships area

Related entity

Rowntree, Richard, 1921-1997, Director of Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust (1921-1997)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship

family

Dates of the relationship

Description of relationship

Related entity

Rowntree, Joseph, 1801-1859, grocer (1801-1859)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship

family

Dates of the relationship

Description of relationship

Related entity

Rowntree, Joseph, 1836-1925, manufacturer and philanthropist (1836-1925)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship

family

Dates of the relationship

Description of relationship

Related entity

Rowntree, Emma Antoinette, 1846-1924 (1846-1924)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship

family

Dates of the relationship

Description of relationship

Related entity

Rowntree, Benjamin Seebohm, 1871-1954, sociologist and manufacturer (1871-1954)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship

family

Dates of the relationship

Description of relationship

Related entity

Rowntree, Lawrence Edmund, 1895-1917, 2nd Lieutanant Royal Field Artillery (1895-1917)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship

family

Dates of the relationship

Description of relationship

Related entity

Morrell, John Bowes, 1873-1963 (1873-1963)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship

associative

Dates of the relationship

Description of relationship

Related entity

Tuke family (1660-)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship

associative

Dates of the relationship

Description of relationship

Related entity

The Rowntree Society (2001-)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship

associative

Dates of the relationship

Description of relationship

Related entity

H. I. Rowntree & Co, cocoa and chocolate manufacturers (1862-1897)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship

associative

Dates of the relationship

Description of relationship

Control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

GB 193

Rules and/or conventions used

ISAAR(CPF): International Standard Archival Authority Record for Corporate Bodies, Persons and Families, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2003); Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names, National Council on Archives (1997).

Status

Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Created 15.10.15.

Language(s)

Script(s)

Sources

The Rowntree Society (http://www.rowntreesociety.org.uk/)

Robert Fitzgerald, ‘Rowntree, Joseph (1836–1925)’, in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004)

Robert Fitzgerald, 'Rowntree and the Marketing Revolution, 1862-1969 (Cambridge, 2007)

Brian Harrison, ‘Rowntree, (Benjamin) Seebohm (1871–1954)’, in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004)

Maintenance notes