JAMES, Daniel [1801 - 1876]

In 1834 Daniel James, together with his father-in-law and brother-in-law, founded an import-export business in New York that would become the mining conglomerate Phelps Dodge Corporation. Phelps Dodge existed for 173 years, being bought by Freeport-MacMoran Inc. in 2007 for $25.9 billion.

James was born in Truxton, New York on 17th April 1801. He went into business as a wholesale grocer and in 1829 married Elizabeth Woodbridge Phelps. Her father, Anson Green Phelps, ran a business exporting cotton to England and importing metal for the rapidly expanding industrialisation of the USA. In 1831 Daniel James moved to Liverpool with his family to run the English side of the business and made it his home, remaining in the city for over forty years until his death in 1876. When Anson Phelps died in 1853 James and his brother-in-law, William Dodge bought their father-in-law’s share of the English business. Although struggling in its early years the business was phenomenally successful importing cotton for the Lancashire mills and exporting tinplate to the USA. Their domination of the tinplate export business was almost total and in the forty years during which Daniel James led the business they exported an incredible 300 million dollars worth to the USA, accumulating considerable personal wealth in the process.

During the American Civil War the blockade put in place by the Union navy prevented cotton being exported from the Confederacy, resulting in great hardship for the Lancashire cotton workers. Relief funds were set up in the northern US states and businesses and individuals raised some $300,000. Daniel James was elected chairman of the Liverpool committee established to receive and distribute the aid received from the fund.

His early years in Liverpool were not without trial and tribulation. Apart from the impact of recession in the late 1830’s, his wife died in 1847 and his eldest son was killed in a carriage accident whilst visiting his grandfather in America. In 1849 he married Sophia Hitchcock and had three sons with her, Frank Linsly, John Arthur and William Dodge, all of whom were born and grew up in Liverpool. Sophia died in 1870 and in 1871 James married his children’s former governess, Ruth Lancaster Dickson.

Daniel James died in Liverpool on 27th November 1876 and was buried alongside his first two wives in the Liverpool Necropolis (the site is now Grant Gardens near Everton Road). When the Necropolis was closed in the 1890’s his son, William Dodge, arranged for the headstone to be removed the church of St Andrew near his house at West Dean, Sussex, where they remain to this day.

Daniel James appears on the 1841 census as Living in Woolton. In 1851 he and his family were living at 3 Huskisson Street L8, moving by 1861 to Oakwood House, Elmswood Road L17 (now demolished). In 1866 he took British Citizenship in order to buy his final home, Beaconsfield House, in Beaconsfield Road L25

3 Huskisson Street L8

Daniel James' home c.1851.

'Beaconsfield', Beaconsfield Road L25

The home Daniel James purchased in 1866.

Daniel James' gravestone, removed from the Liverpool Necropolis, now in St Andrew's church  West Dean, Sussex.


The Wikipedia entry for Daniel James is extensive and gives a good account of his family and business life.