The Blacklead King


The story of
WILLIAM GEORGE NIXEY



Introduction

My interest in William George Nixey (seen above) dates back many years, to the time when my father told me about the Black Lead company that was part of our family. Unfortunately, he didn’t seem to know exactly where in our family tree he fitted in. Some time later, Sue Baker, one of my cousins in Bath, sent us copies of two advertising posters, one of Nixey’s Black Lead, the other of Nixey’s Blue, which we framed and proudly hung on our wall.

In 1993, as a completely blind person, my ability to use a computer was made possible by the assistance of text-to-speech software. In time, as the availability of genealogical records on the Internet became more readily available, I keenly began searching my ancestry. I was absolutely delighted to find out that William George Nixey was much more closely related to me than I’d ever imagined. He was actually the brother of my great great grandfather, Joseph, their father being John Nixey, who was a wheelwright at Slough in Buckinghamshire and Winkfield in Berkshire.

Several years ago, I began collecting pieces of information regarding not only my direct Nixey line, but also more specifically with regards my newly found great great great uncle, William George Nixey. However, it was never compiled into chronological order, and written in such a way that may have made it of interest to others researching his life, family and business. In fact, after a short while, it was all forgotten about. That was until another cousin from Bath, John Branston, contacted me regarding a conversation he’d had about William George Nixey with Allan James, the verger of St Lawrence’s church in Slough. It was then that my interest in putting together as much information as possible regarding William George Nixey, his family and business was well and truly rekindled.

I have also added a seperate section on this website, detailing the life and family of my great great grandfather, Joseph, the brother of William George, called My Nixey Family – From Buckinghamshire to Somerset . . . and Beyond.

I could never have imagined what a wide and varied story I would encounter along the way. With events including a number of fires, court cases, numerous awards, thefts, and even a suicide – to name just a few, one thing is for sure, whatever your interest, there’s something here for everyone, including Freemasonry, the military, politics, religion and Royalty! Oh, and if you thought the full extent of the company’s products were Nixey’s Black Lead and Nixey’s Blue, then think again! Below is a list of twenty-one products that have been found so far:

  • Black Lead
  • Blue
  • “Bobby” Blue
  • Boot Cream
  • Boot Polish
  • “Cervus” Bag Blue
  • “Cervus” Knife Polish
  • Cycle Lubricant
  • Egg-Shell Enamel “Berlin Black”
  • Emery Cloth
  • Fine Black Varnish
  • Fly-Catchers
  • Garden Labels
  • “Invicta” Knife Polish
  • Knife Polish
  • “Nixelene” Stove Paste
  • Refined Black Lead
  • Revolving Money Till
  • “Silver Moonlight” Stove Polish
  • Soho Square Blue
  • Washing Crystal

The majority of work carried out on this project was done during 2015, which I felt was very fitting as it was the 250th anniversary of the Nixey family’s appearance at Slough, Buckinghamshire. What better time could there be to commemorate the family, life and business of William George Nixey, and, of course, his son of the same name?


Table of Contents




Items that can often be found on the eBay website are Doulton Ware salt glazed stone bottles produced by Doulton & Co. at Lambeth, which are stamped with the wording “W G Nixey 12 Soho Square London”. These cream coloured stoneware bottles are often incorrectly listed as having once contained beer, black lead, or ink. Beer and ink were never sold by the company, and black lead was never sold in bottles. It appears that there were only two products sold in these bottles, Egg-Shell Enamel “Berlin Black”, which by the turn of the twentieth century was being sold in all five sizes, and Fine Black Varnish, which was only sold in two sizes.

Doulton & Co. was first and foremost a manufacturer of industrial ceramics, including water filters, drainage pipes and sanitary fittings. In the early 1860s, however, the company began the manufacture of domestic and ornamental salt glazed stoneware that became known as “Doulton Ware.” Their decorative stoneware produced in association with the School of Art at Lambeth had enormous success at International Exhibitions in the 1860’s and 1870’s, culminating in acclaim at the Philadelphia Exhibition in 1886 and also at Chicago in 1893. Public interest and production peaked in the late 1890’s when about 370 artists were employed at Lambeth making the salt-glazed ornamental stoneware.

It’s interesting to note that advertisements for Nixey’s Egg-shell Enamel “Berlin Black” also increased in the late 1890’s, as no doubt did the sale of this product. Of course, this would inevitably have increased the number of bottles that Doulton & Co. would have been required to produce.



Arthur Ernest Nixey (1927-2015)

On Monday 28th September 2015, my father passed away at the age of eighty-eight.
As he shared my enjoyment in learning about our family history and in many ways fuelled it,
I would like to dedicate this website and its content to his memory.




Please note: Inevitably, where newspaper articles have been quoted, names, ages and places are sometimes inaccurate, but the content of the articles used are undoubtedly in connection with specific members of this family. Also, where amounts of money have been included, the online Currency Converter of the National Archives website has been used to give an equivalent value as of 2005.

I would like to take this opportunity to pass on my deepest and sincerest thanks to Judy Lester of Kerrywood Research, London, who gave so much of her personal time in transcribing numerous newspaper articles, wills and parish records, to Nivard Ovington for his most valuable assistance with military queries and in editing and enhancing some of the images, and to John Branston who has been of great help and encouragement to me throughout the duration of this project. I am eternally grateful to all three of them.

If you have any corrections or suggestions regarding any part of this website, or if you have something you would like to contribute to any of the chapters, please feel free to eMail me. I would also very much appreciate it if you could find just a few moments to leave a message in my Visitors’ Book. Thank’s very much!

Jonathan Nixey – 28th November 2015


References

Histories of UK Potters and Pottery Manufacturers – Doulton History 1854-2005

Credits

The portrait of William George Nixey appeared in the book “Two centuries of Soho, its institutions, firms, and amusements” by John Henry Cardwell, published 1898 by Truslove and Hanson, London; the image was edited and enhanced by Nivard Ovington.

The photo of the five sizes of stoneware bottles produced by Doulton & Co of Lambeth for W G Nixey of 12 Soho Square appears by kind permission of Andrew Nixey.


This website was last updated on Thursday 25th May 2017

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