James Fletcher Snr
Chairman of Kearsley Local Board: 1868-69, 1877-81 (Conservative)
Born: Kearsley 9 January 1833
Died: Vale House, Kearsley 9 November1887
Educated: Wesleyan School, Kearsley Moor; Miss Whittaker's, Ringley; Rev W Woodman's school, Kearsley; Mr Gurney's School at Southport
Paper manufacturer. Senior Partner, Robert Fletcher and Sons.
Father of James Fletcher Jnr, Chairman of Kearsley Urban District Council: 1895-99.
Son of Robert Fletcher, founder of the papermakers.
Robert Fletcher worked for Ralph Crompton and Nephews, paper manufacturers, Kearsley, eventually managing the business. In managing the papermaking he sought to stop the custom of allowing drink to the men, a double supply of which was given on Sundays. This made him unpopular for a time but he kept the men in constant employment with constant wages. Even during the cotton famine of 1860-61 there was full employment at the works. When Roger Crompton, the last surviving family member died, Robert Fletcher succeeded him, taking his son James, then aged 26, into partnership and gave the firm the new title of Robert Fletcher and Son. Later, his younger son John joined the firm. On the death of Robert the two sons ran the firm. James ran the mill at Stoneclough and John managed the Manchester office. They ran the business very successfully and the major credit must go to James as the senior partner responsible for the manufacturing side. Under him the international reputation of the firm was maintained and enhanced.
James Fletcher's first public office was Nuisance Inspector of Kearsley which he held until the formation of the Highway Board, of which he was Chairman from 1861 to 1865. He also held the office of Guardian.
At a meeting at the Grapes Inn, Kearsley on August 30 1865 he was one of those present who strongly opposed the swallowing up of Kearsley by Farnworth. As a result Kearsley continued its separate existence and the Kearsley Urban Sanitary Authority was created. He joined this Local Board, which had fairly limited powers, in 1866.
He was Chairman of the fund to help the widows and orphans of the Unity Brook Colliery disaster.
He had at first been a Liberal, but after the American Civil War (where his sympathies had been with the Confederacy) he became a Conservative. "By Conservatism", he said, "I do not mean the conservation of abuses but the preservation of what is good."
He was interested in birds and animals and owned dogs of a superior class and varied breeds. He liked to show them and at the Great International Show at Paris he exhibited 14 dogs, winning eight gold medals, four silver and one bronze.
He married his cousin, Charlotte Lake of Manchester and had four children. The two eldest, John
Robert Fletcher and James Fletcher, were partners in the business.
He was a member of Kearsley New Jerusalem Church (Swedenborgian.)
His daughter, Mary Fletcher, married a Richard Fletcher and their only son, Herman Fletcher, was killed in action in France on 13 November 1916 while serving as a 2nd Lieutenant in 7th Bn, The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment during the First World War.
His brother, John Fletcher, was robbed and murderedin Manchester on 26 February 1889.