Frederick John Horniman: Tea Trader, Museum Founder, and Art Collector

Frederick John Horniman (8 October 1835 – 5 March 1906) was an English tea trader who established Horniman’s Tea, which was said to be the biggest tea company in the world by 1891. Born in Bridgwater, Somerset, into a Quaker family, Horniman was the son of John Horniman, who pioneered mechanical packaging for tea.

Museum Founder

Horniman is best known for founding the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill, south London. The museum was established to showcase his extensive collection of art and natural history specimens. In 1901, he donated the 15-acre estate, the museum, and his collections to the London County Council for the people of London to use.

Political Career

Horniman was also involved in politics. He was a member of the London County Council and served as the Liberal Member of Parliament for Penryn and Falmouth in Cornwall from 1895 until his death in 1906.

Family Life and Legacy

In 1859, Horniman married Rebekah Emslie, and they had three children. Their son, Emslie John Horniman, was a Liberal MP for Chelsea (1906–10) and continued to develop the museum. Their daughter, Annie Horniman, was a theater founder and played a significant role in the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.

After Rebekah’s death in 1895, Horniman remarried in 1897 to Minnie Louisa Bennett, and they had two daughters.

Horniman’s legacy lives on through his museum, which continues to attract visitors to this day. Additionally, his family’s contributions to the arts and politics have left a lasting impact on British society.

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