SIMMONS, James (1741-1807), of Canterbury, Kent.
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Family and Education
b. 22 Jan. 1741, s. of William Simmons alias Simmonds, barber, of Canterbury. educ. King’s sch. Canterbury until 1755. unm.
Distributor of stamps, Kent 1765; mayor, Canterbury 1772, alderman 1774-d.; capt. Canterbury vols. 1794.
Simmons was in all probability the son of the William Simmonds who became a freeman of Canterbury in 1722 on his apprenticeship to a barber and perukemaker. He himself was apprenticed (1757-64) to a London stationer, Thomas Greenhill, and went into business on his own account. Under Rockingham’s administration he was appointed distributor of stamps for Kent. He became a freeman of Canterbury by birth in 1767 and a year later launched the successful Kentish Gazette. He also prospered as head of the firm of Simmons, Kirkby and Jones, printers and booksellers, and as a partner in the Canterbury bank of Gipps, Simmons and Gipps. He became a public benefactor of Canterbury by paving improvements and the provision of a public park, but above all by his lease of the Abbot’s and King’s mills in 1791, providing cheap bread. When he stood for election in 1806 he was unopposed. His sympathies were Whig, but he had little time to show them in the House, as his terminal illness obliged him to give up attendance. He died 22 Jan. 1807. His dream of a canal to link Canterbury with the sea remained unrealized.
C. H. Timperley, Encyclop. Literary and Typographical Anecdote, 826-7; Mems. King’s School, Canterbury, 77; Gent. Mag. (1807), i. 177.