The close business and family relationships between the Gibbses and Brights over the years
“Next year, 2018, marks the 200th anniversary of the closely entwined business and family relationships between the Gibbs’s and Brights over the years.
Richard Bright of Ham Green, Somerset and George Gibbs Snr. of Redland, Glos., had been friends for some years and were well established West Indian Merchants when they decided, in 1818, to bring Richard Bright’s son Robert Bright of Abbots Leigh into the firm of George Gibbs & Son, made up of George Gibbs Snr. (elder brother of Antony) and George Gibbs his son of Belmont, Somerset, changing the name to Gibbs, Son & Bright (after a first attempt at Gibbs Gibbs & Bright). For a few months George Gibbs Snr. was senior partner until his death later that year. In 1839 the firm became Gibbs Bright & Co., a partnership that was to continue with spectacular success in one form or another until acquired by the Hong Kong Shanghai Bank in 1980. It was by 1963 the largest trading partnership in the Southern Hemisphere with interests in mining, shipping, pastoral activities (including the ownership of several million acres of sheep and cattle stations in Queensland and the Northern Territory), insurance, building materials, timber and merchant banking.
The young Robert Bright, aged 23, and George Gibbs, 39, based in Bristol, took over the West Indian trading business of their fathers’ and quickly developed branches in Liverpool and Gloucester. With the Act for the Abolition of Slavery in 1834 and its final demise in 1838, decisions were made in Bristol by the Bright family to expand into Australia with the formation of Bright Brothers & Co. established in 1853 by Robert’s sons, Charles Edward, aged 24, and Reginald Bright, 20. Within ten years they expanded from the Melbourne branch to Brisbane and Dunedin in New Zealand and within twenty years were established in Sydney. In 1881, control of the Australian business was taken over by Antony Gibbs & Son but the Australian company was always styled Gibbs Bright & Co. as the equity was principally owned by the two families until the 1980 acquisition by HSBC. During these years there were many visits by Gibbs family members to Australia, some younger members spending months working in the Melbourne office. Likewise, members of the Bright family worked at Bishopsgate, the association between the two families being deeply entrenched and respected. Extraordinarily, in the decade leading up to the 1980 HSBC acquisition there was still a Bright (George Alfred David) and a Gibbs (David Charles Leslie) on the board of Gibbs Bright & Co.
Inevitably such a close association between two families resulted in marriages which brought delight to their parents.
Robert and Caroline (née Tyndall) Bright’s daughter Isabel Marianne married the Rev. John Lomax Gibbs in 1860. Their daughter Isabel Alice Gibbs married Professor Dudley Julius Medley in 1890 and their son married his third cousin Emmeline, the daughter of Alice Clara Franck Newbolt née Bright in 1916. Furthermore, James Franck Bright’s daughter Emily Gertrude married John Arthur Gibbs in 1902. There were many other interconnecting marriages involving the Tyndalls and the McCauslands amongst others.
Today, although the business links no longer exist, there are Gibbs Bright descendants all over the world and the friendships continue with great enjoyment.”
|Richard Bright; George Abraham Gibbs, of Pytte