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Welcome! This website was created on 25 Jan 2019 and last updated on 03 Jul 2024.

There are 317 names in this family tree.The webmaster of this site is Richard Ollerton. Please click here if you have any comments or feedback.
About The Insoles of Insole Court

Insole Court is an interesting Victorian pile set in picturesque grounds in Llandaff on the outskirts of Cardiff, Wales. Large-scale restoration work is currently in progress. Originally known as Ely Court, it was built in 1856 by coal owner and shipper James Harvey Insole (1821-1901) on the proceeds of the South Wales coal mining business founded by his father George Insole (1790-1851).

Insole Court - south front 2008
The south front of Insole Court (2008)

George Insole has long been recognised as a pioneer of the Welsh coal mining industry, especially in terms of the national and international steam coal export trade. George's ancestors were farmers in Herefordshire and Worcestershire, England, but the wider family had significant business interests in leather and ironmongery. George became a carpenter and cabinet-maker in Worcester in the early to mid-1820s. He moved to Cardiff in about 1828-9 with his wife Mary (née Finch, 1791-1866) and their surviving children Helen (1820-1895), James Harvey (1821-1901) and Emma (1823-1906) where they had two more children, Julia Ann (1830-1904) and George Frederick (1836-1837). Modern research has shown that George and family arrived in Cardiff in either 1828 or 1829 and George entered into partnership with Cardiff trader Richard Biddle (1799-1896) in about October 1829 as a timber, coal and brick merchant. George benefited from Biddle's existing coal supplier and customer base. In particular, it was Biddle who in February 1829 had sourced and taken delivery of the earliest known shipment sent down the Glamorganshire Canal of the famous "smokeless" steam coal from the Waun Wyllt colliery of Robert and Lucy Thomas, considered to be the "commencement of the Welsh steam coal trade". George's promotion of this coal to the London markets, from late 1830, formed the basis not only of his own early success but to some extent that of the South Wales coal industry. (Biddle's role in this success has only recently been recognised.) After the partners were bankrupted in 1831, George received a large inheritance and became a coal owner in his own right. In 1842 he entered into partnership with his son James to form George Insole & Son, a company that would see four generations of the Insoles and last until 1940. However, success was accompanied by tragedy. In 1856 an underground explosion at an Insole mine in the Rhondda Valley resulted in the deaths of 144 men and boys (thirty-four under the age of sixteen and fifteen under the age of twelve). It was described as the "most fearful and destructive explosion, resulting in a sacrifice of human life unparalleled in the history of coal mining in Britain at that time." This family tree provides information on the Insoles of Insole Court and their wider family. Click on the View>Tree link at the top of this section to begin exploring the family tree. For further information see: * Hereford cider, Worcester leather, Birmingham iron, Rhondda coal: Foundations of a Welsh coal mining dynasty. Richard L. Ollerton, Morgannwg (Journal of Glamorgan History), 56:62-83, 2012 * Recalling some old Cardiff families. Richard L. Ollerton, Morgannwg (Journal of Glamorgan History), 63:134-147, 2019 * Insole Court, Llandaff. The story of a Victorian mansion. Matthew Williams, 1998 (2nd edition in preparation) and the links below.
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