Whelpley (family)

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Whelpley (family)

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Thomas Whelpley (1806-1895), the descendant of a Loyalist family and his wife, Frances Maria Belyea (1806-1880) had ten children: Wilmot Jr., Daniel Harvey (1833-1904) , Edward, Elias (1849-1892), William A. (1829- 1889), George, Georgie A, Catherine (married Price), Matilda (married Joseph Richards) and James Albert.

James Albert Whelpley (1839-1893) married Jemima Jan McLeod (b. 1843), daughter of William McLeod of Central Greenwich, New Brunswick, in 1868. They had a son Frederic William (1872-1911) who married Agnes Winchester on 5 June 1894.

James A. Whelpley was an inventor, primarily of skates, including roller and ice skates (Acme and Long Reach). The Acme skate had a relatively short blade, which allowed the user to be extremely mobile, while the Long Reach speed skate with its 17 inch blade allowed the user to travel long distances in a relatively short period of time. The Long Reach skate was well suited for the long expanses of the St. John and Kennebecasis rivers.

The Whelpley family manufactured skates and other items such as a three-wheeled gig and a butter churn. They began manufacturing as early as 1859 in a factory at Round Hill near Greenwich, a settlement at the Long Reach on the St. John River . in Kings County, New Brunswick. James Albert Whelpley was the driving force behind the business and held patents for skates and other inventions in the U.S., England, France, Germany and Hungary. James Whelpley eventually settled in Keene, New Hampshire where he was involved with the Keene Manufacturing Company, but also remained active in the family business in New Brunswick.

The Round Hill factory closed for a time in the 1870s, reopened and continued production until 1886 when it closed again. By the 1890s, the Whelpleys had reopened it yet again. Although James Whelpley died in 1893, the factory remained in production and, in 1899, the business was reorganized as J.A. Whelpley Co. Ltd. with Frederic Whelpley and Daniel Whelpley listed as skate manufacturers and Frederic as president. In 1904 the Whelpley Skate and Manufacturing Company was registered but by 1909, the Whelpleys had ceased operation and the firm was in severe financial difficulty. The business was auctioned off to A. Ernest Everett for $5.00 plus the cost of the mortgage. In 1926, the business returned to family hands when James' nephew Daniel Robert Whelpley purchased it for $1.00 from Everett. The letters patent incorporating the Whelpley Skate and Manufacturing Company were surrendered in 1955.

Sources: Brian Flood, Saint John A Sporting Tradition 1785-1985; Index to registers of letters patent and supplementary letters patent Issued, 1885-1976 , PANB RG17.

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