Abraham Follett Osler


Abraham married in 1832 .He went on to have eight children.

He retired in 1876, also his brother Thomas died in that year.

Thomas married twice and had four children .

These  brothers  were Birmingham based manufacturers and philanthropists.

Their father Thomas  had set up a glass business with a colleague in 1807 in Hockley .The business was called Osler and Co.

The business was merged in 1924 with a Faraday partner , an older brother of the inventor Michael Faraday .

Thomas (senior) retired in 1831 passing on the business to Abraham  and later ,Thomas Clarkson Osler.

Abraham Follett Osler (1808 - 1903) ,FRS 1855 was a generous and often anonymous benefactor , and a well known  business man  in Birmingham and much is known of Abraham .His younger brother Thomas Clarkson (1811- 1876) died approximately  thirty years earlier and does not  share the same  renown.

Both were generous men and politically Liberal.

Thomas Clarkson Osler worked alongside his brother Abraham in glass manufacturing,  which their sons Henry Follett Osler and Alfred Clarkson Osler continued.

After the brothers took over the glass business in 1831 it was reorganised. Having been a small glass trinket manufacturers and makers of glass doll’s  eyes,they became makers of luxury items.

They were famed for the making of complex glass chandeliers, some being coloured.The most famous work of   glass art was a very large  glass fountain, displayed at the 1851 Crystal Palace Great Exhibition in London. The fountain attracted much international interest, and it was visited by HRH the Prince Albert, always a man to look at novel design .

Their work went overseas particularly the Indian luxury market and the Osler brothers were leaders in British foreign sales. The company started to decline after the Wall Street Crash in 1929.The introduction of plastics further caused a

reduction in the company’s prominence. It was bombed in the 1940s and eventually closed down in the 1965.

The brothers’ generosity and civic influence  extended to the building of Birmingham’s dominant clocktower ,and  Abraham made a donation to the attached Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. The clock and bells, nicknamed ‘Big Brum‘, are located at the council house and BMAG building.It is recognised as the town’s main time piece.

Thomas made a donation dependent upon the art gallery being open on Sundays and free of charge.This demonstrates his empathy for working people.

Abraham had a well informed knowledge of meteorology and astronomy, and he built an astronomical clock in Canon Street, which was later transferred to The Birmingham and Midland Institute.He was made a FRS in 1855.

An illustrious woman was Catherine Osler, who married Alfred Clarkson Osler, son of Thomas Clarkson .

She was a prominent suffragist and political agitator in Birmingham. Clearly a kindly and socially responsible person ,a prison visitor and supporter of women's rights.One of several portraits is hanging in the Art Gallery.

This family was well connected and influential.

Rosemary S