The Chance family
The Chances were originally yeoman farmers in Worcestershire, working their own land near Bromsgrove. The early Chances were in trade as mercers, cordwainers and saddlers. Later generations traded in iron and exported metal-ware to the colonies in the New World.
It was when the fourth William Chance (b 1749) and his friend Edward Homer married two sisters of the Lucas family that the future business direction of the Chance family was confirmed, as their brother-in-law John Robert Lucas had bought a glass works at Nailsea in Somerset and he invited William and Edward to become partners and invest in the business. The brother of the fifth William Chance was my great-great-great-grandfather Robert Lucas Chance who in turn took over the business from his father.
It appears that Robert Lucas Chance was in his time the real driving force of the company and he expanded the business by buying out the British Crown Glass company at Spon Lane, Smethwick, which became the Chance Brother’s glassworks. The youngest son of Robert Lucas was John Homer Chance and his only daughter was Katharine Chance my great-grandmother. The Chance family business became very prosperous during the industrial revolution in the Victorian era; they provided the glass for the Houses of Parliament and for the Crystal Palace of the 1851 Great Exhibition. John Chance’s cousin Sir James Timmins Chance led the business in the manufacturing of lighthouse lenses (for which he was made a baronet). My great-grandfather John Homer Chance rose to become chairman of the company, dying in 1900. He was a major benefactor of the West Bromwich Hospital and in 1905 a memorial fountain was erected to his memory in West Smethwick Park.
The company name continued to exist until the 1970s although it had been taken over by Pilkington after the war.
For more information about the Chance family visit the website www.tobychance.com
Some of the information referenced in this page was gathered from www.revolutionaryplayers.org.uk