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#268285 03/01/12 04:28 AM
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Could you please point me in the direction of information about Mr. Anson.
I can find plenty of mentions about Deeley but very little about Anson.
Mr. Anson as a gunmaker developed many of his own ideas and those of Deeley, but information about him is sparce.

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There is little available information about William Anson. I have traced his movements from Westley Richards to his own business, his death and the business of his son Edwin. Like many working gunmakers, the records leave little to find. Deeley was a company director and is widely quoted and his career is traceable.

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Thank you Dig.
That is exactly what I mean.

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There is a bit of insight in the new Westley Richards book, but nothing extensive nor astounding. Mostly about exactly who (Anson) developed the A&D boxlock.

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I have always been intrigued about how little we know about Anson, considering the enormity of his invention, remember most articles will tell you about the fertile mind and industriousness of John Deeley, but it was the handskills of Bill Anson that turned Deeley's ideas into metal and made them work. Imagine the many hours of frustration and midnight oil and gas that must have been burned making the prototypes and working models of the Anson & Deeley boxlock.
If Anson was such a minor player in this work, why was it not called the Deeley & Anson boxlock?
I think we owe Mr. Anson a debt of gratitude that only a greater exposure to the man and his work can fulfill. Any articles will be gratefully received.Salopian.

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The Westley book discloses that shop foreman, Anson, didn't have the funds to patent his genius. Deeley could arrange that. Thus, beside collaboration, Deeley got top billing. Despite the fact that Anson was the top mind.

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William Anson was christened on the 2nd of August 1830 at Saint Peter or Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton. By the time of is marriage to Caroline Taylor in 1858 he had followed his father Edwin into the locksmithing trade. When his son Edwin George Anson was born in 1863 William is listed as a Gun Sight Maker. William Anson was “established” in 1869 according to his son’s trade label.

In 1875 William Anson (then foreman of the Westley Richards Gun-Action department) and John Deeley patented their eponymous boxlock design. William Anson was almost certainly the inventor of the famed boxlock while John Deeley who was Westley Richards managing director at the time was management’s representative. Typically what would happen if a workman developed some marketable mechanical improvement while in firms employ was that the firm simply appropriated the design. For example in 1869 “Westley Richards” patented a falling block rifle in which the tumbler formed part of the striker. As H. J. Blanch has pointed out in A Century of Guns, “This arrangement adapted to a double gun, with the novel feature of connecting the tumblers by means of the forward extension of them, with levers operated by the forepart, re-cocking the locks, was patented by Anson and Deeley and introduced by Westley Richards in 1875.”

It is not difficult to imagine the mechanically proficient Anson (Deeley’s background lay elsewhere) arguing that his 1869 rifle should have provided him with some remuneration. And it may have been that when Westley Richards’s managing director saw the full potential for the 1875 boxlock design he agreed. This would account for the name change from “Westley Richards” in 1869 to “Anson & Deeley” in 1875 on the two patents; the former clearly having inspired the latter.

Admittedly there is some speculation here but the subsequent bitterness of William Anson’s descendents who felt that the inventor had been inadequately compensated is telling. “There is no doubt that by Edwin’s death in 1936 there was a very bad feeling towards John Deeley and the implication is that both William and his son Edwin did not receive the correct monetary recompense for their inventions” wrote one in 2002 adding “…it does seem a little strange that on her death in 1939, Edwin’s widow was reduced to living in a small flat above a shop an left only ₤125 in her will.”

Between December 1872 and May 1888 William Anson registered 10 British gun patents under his own name or with a partner. It is unlikely we will ever know how many patents he contributed to in the name of his employers. He died on the 28th of May, 1889 at 6 Church Road, Moseley of “cirrhosis of the liver, teterus (sic) and general anascara.”


Douglas Tate
Editor at Large
SHOOTING SPORTSMAN
The Magazine of Wingshooting & Fine Guns

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I have been told that Anson was hired by H&R in the 1880's to come to America to set up shop so they could build SxS's. And that he stayed here. Is any of that true ? Paul

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Boothroyd has William Anson's son Edwin in America making guns but doesn't say when or where

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William Anson's son, Claude Alonso Anson, born in 1875, worked for Harrington & Richardson of Worcester, Massachusetts.

Anson & Deeley licensed their eponymous boxlock in the USA to Harrington and Richardson “because of a large demand for double barreled buckshot rifles.” (Sic) H&R was the sole licensee in the USA for the A & D between 1880 and 1885.

Douglas Tate
Editor at Large
SHOOTING SPORTSMAN
The Magazine of Wingshooting & Fine Guns.

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