John Shillito


John Shillito JP FRGS, of Upper Brear, Northowram, was the son of George Shillito.

Born in Halifax [19th January 1832].

His early education was obtained at Halifax Mechanics' Institute.

He started work at the age of 10 apprenticed to card wire drawing.

He was building a wall around the estate at Shibden Hall [1840] / a wire drawer [1861, 1871, 1881, 1891] / employed by Mr Gaukroger at Craven Edge Mills / with the Halifax Industrial Society [1865-1871] / Company Director of the Co-operative Wholesale Society  [1883-1915] / Chairman of the Co-operative Wholesale Society [1895-1915] / a member of the Halifax School Board [for 6 years] / a Unitarian connected with the Northgate End Chapel [for over 40  years] / vice-president of the Halifax Sunday Lecture Society / a member of the Halifax Scientific Society / a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society

He presided over the Co-operative Congress held at Doncaster [1903].

He travelled widely in his job.

He was being keenly interested in geographical research, and became a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He entertained Captain Scott at Balloon Street, Manchester, shortly before the explorer's tragic journey to the South Pole.

On 3rd November 1856, he married (1) Frances Sykes [1830-1875] at Halifax Parish Church.


  1. James [1857-1943] who was a wire drawer [1915]
  2. William
  3. Mary Jane [1863-1864] who died aged 16 months
  4. John Henry [1865-1947]
  5. George Sykes
  6. Annie [1871-1965] who married Herbert Harwood

Frances died 22nd January 1875 (aged 43).

In 1878, he married (2) Nancy Sharpe [1841-1878] in Halifax.

Nancy was born 23rd September 1841

She died 30th July 1878.

On 24th March 1879, he married (3) Charlotte Jagger [1832-1901] at Kentish Town Congregational Church, London.

In 1879/1880, they divorced on grounds of his wife's adultery with her brother-in-law James Hirst.

In 1882, he married (4) Sarah Jane Atkinson [1837-1911] in Halifax.

The family lived at

In December 1910, the CWS presented him with a portrait of himself, painted by Walter Emsley. The portrait now hangs in the CWS boardroom at the headquarters of the Society in Manchester.

His wives Frances & Nancy & daughter Mary Jane were buried at Halifax Parish Church

Sarah Jane died 16th March 1911.

John died at 4 Park View [12th February 1915].

His funeral service was conducted at Northgate End Chapel, Halifax.

He, Sarah Jane & other members of the family were buried at All Saints' Church, Dudwell Probate records show that he left effects valued at £6,073 10/7d.

Probate was granted to his sons James & William

See The Story of the C.W.S [1863-1913]

© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 15:13 / 15th May 2021 / 6213

Page Ref: MMS3201

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