Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bischoff, James

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BISCHOFF, JAMES (1776–1845), author of works on the wool trade, was of a German family which settled in Leeds in 1718. He was born at Leeds about 1776,and was brought up there. His early mercantile pursuits were connected with the wool and woollen trades, and he took a lively interest in all measures likely to affect, them. Being convinced that the restrictive laws relating to wool were bad, he used his utmost endeavours to bring about a change. He published some letters on the subject in 1816 in the ‘Leeds Mercury’ and the ‘Farmers Journal.' In 1819 he was appointed one of the deputies from the manufacturing districts to promote a repeal of the Wool Act, and wrote a pamphlet entitled ‘Reasons for the Immediate Repeal of the Tax on Foreign Wool' (1819, 8vo, pp. 47). In the following year he published 'Observations on the Report of the Earl of Sheffield to the Meeting at Lewes Wool Fair, July 20, 1820.' In 1825 Huskisson, then president of the board of trade, invited the counsel of Bischoff with regard to some proposed alterations in commercial policy, particularly a reduction of the duty on foreign manufactured goods. Bischoff gave his opinion strongly in the direction of freedom of trade, and the reasons he advanced had great weight with the minister in the proposal which he subsequently made in parliament. He was examined in 1828 before the privy council on the subject of the wool trade, and in the same year published ‘The Wool Question considered: being an Examination of the Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords appointed to take into consideration the State of the British Wool Trade, and an Answer to Earl Stanhope's Letter to the Owners and Occupiers of Sheep Farms’ (8vo, pp. 112). In 1832 he issued a ‘Sketch of the History of Van Dieman’s Land,' 8vo, and in 1836 an essay on ‘Marine Insurances, their Importance, their Rise, Progress, and Decline, and their Claim to Freedom from Taxation,’ 8vo, pp. 34. Bischoff's most important work has the following title: 'A comprehensive History of the Woollen and Worsted Manufactures, and the Natural and Commercial History of Sheep, from the Earliest Records to the Present Period’ (Leeds, 1842, 2 vols. 8vo). His last publication was a pamphlet on ‘Foreign Tariffs; their Injurious Effects on British Manufactures, especially the Woollen Manufacture; with proposed remedies. Being chiefly a series of Articles inserted in the "Leeds Mercury” from October 1842 to February 1843’ (1843 8vo pp. 69).

Bischoff, who married in 1802 Peggy, daughter of Mr. David Stansfeld of Leeds, carried on business as a merchant and insurance broker for many years in London, and died at his residence, Highbury Terrace, on 8 Feb. 1845 in his seventieth year.

Mount Bischoff, in the north-west corner of Tasmania, is said to derive its name from James Bischoff.

[Gent. Mag., April 1845, p. 443; Preface to Bischoff’s Hist. of the Woollen and Worsted Manufactures; Stansfeld pedigree in Foster’s Yorkshire Pedigrees]

C. W. S.