Joseph Rankin Stebbing, born 1809, was the son of George Stebbing, an optician and nautical instrument maker of Portsmouth. Joseph followed his father into this trade, moving to Southampton to open his own shop on the High Street in c.1831. He expanded his business in the following years, opening a ships chandlers store on Canute Road in 1851 (image 2). He was first elected to the town council in 1838 and was mayor in 1867. He was a director of a number of local companies and took a keen interest in the commercial development of the town, particularly in the building of the docks and the establishment of Southampton as a mail packet port. He was the prime mover in the formation of the Chamber of Commerce in 1851. He died in 1874; a memorial to him was placed in Hill Lane cemetery by the Chamber of Commerce.

1. Joseph Rankin Stebbing

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Portrait by unknown artist, c.1850

2. Stebbing’s Shop, Canute Road

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Engraving by Philip Brannon, c.1851.

Further reading:
‘George Stebbing (1775-1847) and Joseph Rankin Stebbing (1809-1874): Two Lives Examined’, by James Dale, in Southampton Local History Forum Journal, no. 14, Winter 2008, p 29-40. (HS/h)


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