A Family Business
Most of us in the shooting world are familiar with the name Gallyon, either through having seen one of their guns, or a reference to it in the literature. We may now be better informed following the publication of Richard Gallyon’s book “Gallyons – Gunmakers of East Anglia”.
The book is very much a family history. Richard explores possible early origins of the family and name, amongst them Gallion Hone, born in Antwerp in 1492 and coming to the UK to become one of the King’s Glaziers. In definitive terms William Gallyon founded the Gallyon business in 1784 and ran it until 1838. This is the first generation. We are then led in remarkable detail along the years until the current and sixth generation. Through the history of the Gallyons we also follow the history of the trade and developments in firearms. From the first generation and matchlocks, wheel locks, and flintlocks, we go on to the introduction of the centre fire breech loader during the third generation – William John Gallyon who was in business from 1850 to 1878. We then see a variety of breech loading shotguns and rifles produced and described in detail as appropriate.
The book is lavishly illustrated throughout. Clearly some of the photographs reflect their age, but we see every aspect of both the family and the business recorded. Many family members are there and reflect a social history of their times. Guns, cases, magazines, the workshops and sales areas, clothing, advertising, local shows and shoots are well represented. Additionally there are photographs of many original documents included – ledger pages, invoices, letters, press cuttings and so on. Shooting activities and instruction are dealt with, and the personalities involved. Try guns, cartridges, and cartridge loading are all there. So we follow the business through its heyday, reflecting the society and shooting of those days, to the closure and sale of the properties in 1992 at a time when pressures on the trade made life increasingly difficult.
Richard wraps up the book with a chapter on the Worshipful Company of Gunmakers, of which he was Master in 1982 and 1997. Richard continued to run his business from home and in the last brief chapter he looks at the future of the business and shooting in general.
From start to finish Gallyons made in excess of 26,000 guns – the serial numbers are in Appendix 4. The other Appendices deal with 1 The Family Genealogy, 2 Theodore Gallyon’s 1949 talk to the Rotary and 3 The 1930 Catalogue.
There is no doubt that reading this book will not only produce nostalgia for many of us but will grace our bookshelves as part of our British Gunmakers library!
Derek Stimpson, Honorary Archivist, April 2018
Gallyons – Gunmakers of East Anglia ISBN 978-1-84689-257-8
can be purchased direct from Richard Gallyon for £50 + postage. Please call 01953 850215.