REED, Henry Gooding, manufacturer, was born at Taunton, Mass., July 23, 1810, son of John and Rebecca (Gooding) Reed. He is descended in the seventh generation from William Reade, who was a passenger in the ship L'Assurance de Lo, from Gravesend, England, to the new country in 1685, and settled in Weymouth, Mass. His family, whose name is spelled variously Reade, Rede, Reid, Read and Reed, traces its lineage to the time of William the Conqueror. Henry G. Reed received his education in the public schools and the Bristol Academy in Taunton, assisting his father, who was a dry-goods merchant, during vacations. In the endeavor to choose a congenial employment, his unusual mechanical ability led him to try boat-building, cabinet-making and organ-building, and when eighteen years of age he entered the shop of Babbitt & Crossman, britanniaworkers, as apprentice. With that firm and their successors, Crossman, West & Leonard, and the Taunton Britannia Manufacturing Co. (incorporated in 1830) he continued, being soon promoted to the office of superintendent. In 1835, when the company was obliged to suspend operations, the managing agent contracted with Mr. Reed and Charles E. Barton, another apprentice of Babbitt & Crossman, and an expert workman in the employ of the Taunton Britannia Manufacturing Co., to continue the business. In 1837 Messrs. Reed and Barton entered into partnership with Gustavus Leonard, who had been previously engaged in iron manufacturing at East Taunton, and the new firm purchased the factory, stock and good-will of the Taunton Manufacturing Co., continuing the business under the style of Leonard, Reed & Barton; Mr. Leonard attending to financial affairs and his partners to the manufacturing. On Mr. Leonard's death, in 1844, Henry H. Fish, of Fall River, purchased the interest of his heirs, becoming a special partner in the firm, under the style of Reed & Barton, which still continues. In 1865 Mr. Fish assumed active relations with the business, which continued until his death in 1882. Also, in 1859, George Brabrook, a former employee, was admitted to partnership. On Mr. Barton's death, in 1867, the interest of his heirs was purchased by the remaining partners, and the business continued under the same firm name. In 1888 it was incorporated with the same title, having grown from small beginnings to a business of large proportions and world-wide reputation; one of the very few firms in the United States which had survived the financial crises of over fifty years. For some years the staple of Reed & Barton's manufacture was britannia metal, made by the formula used by Isaac Babbitt (of Babbitt & Crossman), who was also the inventor of the so-called Babbitt metal, used for the bearings of machinery to diminish friction. The manufacture of britannia ware, with some modifications of the original formula, has always been an important department of their work; but when a demand arose for silver-plated ware of American make, Reed & Barton determined to enter the field. The Sheffield rolled or fire-plate, made by welding two thin films of silver upon a sheet of copper, the invention of Thomas Bolsover and another Sheffield mechanic, had been superseded by electroplate. The new process was adopted by Reed & Barton, who used at first the britannia metal as a base. In 1857 they adopted the metallic alloy known by the various names of albata, argentine, nickel-silver and german-silver, as a more satisfactory base for plating, and it has since been largely employed by them in their standard goods, though not to the exclusion of britanuia. In 1889 the manufacture of sterling silver was added to the other branches, and became an important part of the business. Mr. Reed is still (1899) actively engaged as president of the company, which his sterling character and intelligent and conservative business methods have given a foremost rank in the mercantile world. He has been thrice married: first, in 1842, to Clarissa White, of Mansfield; second, in 1851, to Frances L. Williams, of Rehoboth; and third, in 1858, to Delight R. Carpenter, of Rehoboth. Of his four children, two daughters and a son still survive.
Source: The National Cyclopædia of American Biography - 1900