Hancock Family Collection

James, Frank

The Hancocks represent a prominent family spanning art and science throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Thomas Hancock (1786-1865) is seen as the founder of the British rubber industry, discovering the means by which to make rubber a useable material using his patented masticator. The masticator worked rubber scraps into a shredded mass of rubber which could then be formed into blocks or rolled into sheets. Thomas also invented the process of vulcanizing rubber and his work led him to enter into a partnership with Thomas Macintosh in which he helped develop and produce mackintoshes. The Hancock company ran until the 1930s, led by Thomas’s nephew and assistant, James Lyne Hancock, and then a great nephew John Hancock Nunn. Thomas' brothers were also remarkable in their range of pursuits. John Hancock (1788-1835) started his own rubber business specialising in medical use and hoses. William Hancock (1789-1848) was a master cabinetmaker and also developed the Hancock company’s production of perfect binding for books. Walter Hancock (1799-1852) designed, built and ran the first commercial steam-powered road carrages in London. Charles Hancock (1800-1877) was an artist known for his paintings of animals who was also instrumental in the application of gutta percha for coating telegraph cables.

The collection includes business and personal papers; a number of printed materials and research notes on the Hancocks conducted by Frank James, a descendant of John Hancock who co-authored The Hancocks of Marlborough: Rubber, Art, and the Industrial Revolution: A Family of Inventive Genius (OUP, 2010).

There are a number of items held by the SMG Library which related to this collection:

- 'The Hancocks of Marlborough: rubber, art and the industrial revolution: a family of inventive genius' by John Loadman and Frank James (OUP; 2010), which was based on many of the notes made by Frank James and which can be found in HANC/5

- 'Noble obsession: Charles Goodyear, Thomas Hancock, and the race to unlock the greatest industrial secret of the nineteenth century' by Charles Slack (Hyperion; 2002)

- 'Personal narrative of the origin and progress of the caoutchouc or india-rubber manufacture in England' by Thomas Hancock (Longman, Brown, Green, Longsmans & Roberts; 1857), a first edition of which addressed by Thomas Hancock to James Lyne Hancock can be seen in the file HANC/4/1


14 boxes, 2 items
Open Access
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