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Terry's Chocolate Dynasty


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Easter is a time for family but also a time to indulge guilt free with your favourite chocolate.  ‘Terry’s Chocolate Orange’ is a popular choice at Easter for many, and is a well-known brand within the UK and around the world.  The original chocolate orange was created in 1931 by Joseph Terry and Sons Ltd.  The founder of Terry’s was Joseph Terry born 11th November 1793 in Pocklington, Yorkshire, to butcher Thomas Terry and his wife Elizabeth Dales.  Joseph originally moved to York as an apprentice apothecary before setting up his own chemist shop in Walmgate. 


Joseph Terry listed as a Chemist in 1822 York and Ainsty Directory

He married Harriet Atkinson in 1823, and was introduced to her brother-in-law Robert Berry.  Robert Berry had a small confectionary business ‘Bayldon and Berry’ established since 1767 selling various products including fruit cakes, biscuits, and sugar sweets.   Joseph decided to give up his chemist shop and joined Berry at St Helen’s Square, creating a new partnership of ‘Berry & Terry’. 

Shortly after forming the partnership, Robert Berry died and his son George assumed his role in the company.  However, George decided to end the partnership in 1828, leaving Joseph to carry the business alone.  He made good use of the railway and sent products to towns across the North of England, the Midlands and London.  By the time of his death in 1850, Terry’s was York’s second largest employer with 127 workers. 


Joseph's widow Harriet in the 1851 census with two of her sons and staff

Between 1825 and 1836 Joseph and Harriet had five sons and two daughters.  Three of these sons, Joseph, Robert and John entered the confectionary business.  It was Joseph that really expanded the business and who took the lead role after their father’s death. He began working for the company in 1851 and after a short period of being run by executors, the three brothers took control of the business in 1854.


Son’s Joseph and Robert in the 1868 York Poll Book

In 1864, Joseph built a new steam powered factory at Clementhorpe in York, next to the River Ouse.  In the same way that his father had used the railway to further the business, Joseph saw the benefits of having easy access to the Humber estuary and North Sea.  Sugar, cocoa and other ingredients, as well as coal for the steam-powered machinery, were brought in twice a week on steam boats.  His brothers, Robert and John died in 1871 and 1874, and although both had children, none of their descendents decided to enter into the company.  Joseph had married Frances Goddard in 1854 and they had three sons before her death in 1866.  He then married Margaret Thorpe in 1871 and had a further three daughters and one son.  Joseph became one of York’s most high profile figures, standing as Lord Mayor four times and received a knighthood in 1887, which is shown on TheGenealogist in ‘Knights of England 1127-1904’, available to all Gold and Diamond Premium subscribers.


Knights of England 1127-1904

Although many of the company’s products were chocolate based, Terry’s only became established as a chocolate maker in 1886 when Joseph built a new factory specifically for their chocolate products.  The company applied for its first trademark in 1876, ‘Joseph Terry’s and Sons’.  By 1895 it had 300 employees and was incorporated as Joseph Terry & Sons Ltd.    Joseph’s extensive involvement in local societies and associations, as well as committees and local politics, proved to be too much of a strain on his health, and he died of heart failure in 1898.


1899-1900 UK Telephone Directory

His eldest son Thomas and his youngest son Francis both entered into the family business.  Thomas was born in 1855 and was considerably older than his half brother Francis born in 1878.  Thomas became a partner in the business in 1880, and built up the company’s exports to Australia and New Zealand.  His son Noel also joined the company and when Thomas passed away in 1910, it was Francis and Noel that led the business through the Twentieth Century. 

The pair introduced the famous ‘All Gold’ chocolate collection in 1930 and also created a Chocolate Apple in 1926.  The Chocolate Apple sold well and so a Chocolate Orange version was created in 1931.  The Chocolate Orange proved to be the more popular of the two, and the Chocolate Apple was discontinued in 1954.  

Terry’s was taken over by United Biscuits in 1973, and later by Kraft who sadly closed the York factory, transferring productions to locations across Europe.  

Click here to view the Terry family tree on TreeView, the free online family tree builder.


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