Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: April 25, 2020
Webpage updated: April 25, 2020



WILLIAM BURNELL (c1786-1876)

William Burnell was the first child born to Mr William Burnell and his wife Agnes, at Plymouth Dock (Devonport).  It is believed he was born in 1786.

In 1797 his father set up in business as a wholesale grocer in Plymouth under the title of Messrs Burnell and Company.  In due course he was joined by both his sons, William and John.  It appears that following the death in 1834 of their father, Mr William Burnell senior, the brothers went separate ways.

Mr William Burnell married Miss Ann Hodge at Stoke Damerel Parish Church on January 1st 1810.

He was elected a Freeman of the Borough of Plymouth in 1834, probably to fill the vacancy created by the death of his father.  He was chosen to become Mayor of Plymouth for 1848-49.

It was while Mayor of Plymouth that, in early 1849, Mr Burnell was reported to have 'had the town posted with large placards, requesting pedestrians to keep to the right, and for persons meeting their friends not to stand across the pavement in conversation'.

During his life he was a partner of Messrs Bryant, Burnell and Company, and chairman of its successors, the British and Irish Sugar Company, which ran the sugar refinery in Mill Lane.  He was also a director of the South Devon Shipping Company and the Plymouth and Stonehouse Gas Light and Coke Company and a partner in Messrs William Bryant and Company, soap manufacturers; The Plymouth and Dartmoor Gunpowder Company; and The Plymouth Patent Alkali Company.

Mr William Burnell died at his home, Gilwell House, Regent Street, Plymouth, on Friday August 18th 1876.  If he had lived another month he would have completed his 89th year.  A staunch Liberal and a member of the Baptist community, he had always taken a prominent part in the commercial and public affairs of the Town.

In his Will he left Gilwell House and two properties in Lipson Terrace to his widow.  They had previously lived at number 4 Lipson Terrace.  One of the properties was occupied by Mr William Bryant and the other by Mr George Richardson.

Mrs Ann Burnell died on Saturday November 22nd 1879 at 10 Osborne Place, Plymouth.  There were no children.