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Portrait of James Dunbar Heath.
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James Dunbar Heath

Born: 1853 and died 1936
Son of: Rev Dunbar Isidore Heath (1816-1888) and Emily Mary Heath (nee Harrison, 18??-1897)
Brother of:
1. Rev Douglas Leopold Heath (1849-1926) who married Mary Heath (nee Penkivil, 1848-1918).
James married: in 1900 Florence Heath (nee Hall).
James and Florence had issue:
1. Margaret Bride Johnson nee Heath   (1903-1969) who married James Johnson (1903-1962).

James Dunbar Heath: An Overview

We know about James from the following sources:

1. Entry in the book "Records of the Heath Family Vol 1" by George Heath, 1913. 
2. Entry in the book "Records of the Heath Family Vol 2" by George Heath, 1920.

Records of the Heath Family Vol 1, page   reads as follows:

James Dunbar, younger son of Rev. D.L.Heath and his wife Emily, was born at Brading Vicarage, December 23rd, 1853. In his youth, he was educated at home under tutors, and this continued after the removal of the family to Esher in 1861. When about 17, he developed at taste for mechanics, and had some notion of becoming a mechanical engineer, studying at King's College, London, for a short time with this intention. His father having about that time become wealthy through fortunate investments in the Atlantic Telegraph and other speculations, and also, as an enthusiast for croquet, being one of the founders of the All England Croquet Club at Wimbledon, J.D.H. devoted most of his time at the period to this game; winning the Championship Cup in 1873 and 1874, besides many other prizes, and was acknowledged as one of the best players; his book "The Complete Croquet Player" being the standard work of the day on the game.

Owing to his father's losses a few years later, it became necessary for him to adopt a business career, and in 1877 he entered the office of an old pupil of his grandfather, Mr.Chas.Colley, an East India merchant, where he remained for twelve years. During that period he devoted much study to the subject of the Indian Exchanges, and prepared a new series of table, but was obliged to abandon the proposed publication of the work. Towards the end of his service, as Mr.Coley was in failing health. It was practically arranged that J.D.H. should act for him in carrying on the business, and ultimately became a partner; but before this scheme took effect, he resigned his position, having in 1887, with Mr.Colley's consent,  been made a Director of Perkins Bacon & Co., lately formed into a limited company. In 1888, on the retirement of J.P.Bacon as manager , J.D.H. was appointed to be his successor, leaving Colley & Co, in November and entering on his new duties Jan. 1st, 1889. Since this date, his history has been practically bound up with that of Perkins Bacon & co., Ltd., in which his whole capital was invested. He subsequently became Chairman and Managing Director of this business.

In 1902 he was elected one of the Executive Committee of the London Master Printers Association, a position he still holds, and is recognised in the trade as one of the best authorities on the production of postage stamps, bank notes, etc. he has read several papers before various Philatelic Societies, by who his co-operation is much sought after, and is the author of various articles on technical subjects. In 1912 he was offered the appointment of Government Bank Note Printer to the Commonwealth of Australia, a position which he declined for personal reasons.

After the death of his mother in 1897, he left Esher , and resided for some time in Priory Rod, West Hampstead; and whilst there, in February, 1900, he married Florence Emma Adeliza, Eldest daughter of Dr.E.A.Hall, of Surbiton; subsequently removing to Richmond, St.Johns woodk and Mill Hill. They have one daughter, Margaret Bride, born March 11th, 1903


Records of the Heath Family Vol 2, page 4 reads as follows:


"What I did during the Great War"

The day before the declaration of War, I went for a much-needed holiday to a small fishing village in Cornwall, three miles from the nearest Bank. The circumstances following were somewhat tragic. Having but 30/- in my pocket, I went to my Bank to cash a cheque. I may mention that it was a place where newspapers were scarce. On arriving at the Bank, to my surprise and dismay it was shut, but a friendly tradesman in the town told me that, by order of Lloyd George, all Banks were closed for some days, and that no payments were to be made to anyone. Fortunately for me, a few days later I was able to obtain the emergency Treasury Notes which the Bankers, associated with Lloyd George, had recommended to be printed as a circulating medium in the place of gold.

My first idea was to return to town at once; but having paid in advance for a small furnished house, I thought that I might as well wait before taking this step. For the idea then current was, that all trade would be practically stopped. I soon learnt, however, that in our business at least, this forecast was erroneous. South Africa cabled to Perkins Bacon & Co. Ltd., for War Notes, and even the little island of Guernsey sought to meet the emergency by the issue of 5/- and 10/- notes. As the truth began to dawn upon the community that gold was disappearing, and that it might be many years before the "yellow boys" would be seen again, they prepared to provide the usual substitute, paper money.

As those concerned are aware, our business had for some time been in troubled waters, and the question for me to decide was, whether I should remain in charge of it, or take up some special war work, as, owing to my age and health, I was not eligible for active service. After due consideration, I decided that it was my duty not to pose as a hero of the War, but to stick to my business, and carry it on for the good of the Empire, for I saw that nothing was more necessary for the due conduct of the War than the provision of what is rightly called the "sinews of War," namely, money, in whatever from the circulating medium might take, and in the absence of gold, which was required by the Government for War purposes, the country must depend on paper, which it was the business of Perkins Bacon & co. Ltd., to provide.

After my return to town, things went along fairly smoothly for some time, but before long, the demands of the Services increased. Conscription arrived, and many of our men were called on to enlist. It then became a race between the requirements of the War Office and the Governments and Banks. At that time I myself, with other bank-note printers and manufacturers, urged some of our customers to arrange with the Treasury for the exemption of sufficient men to obtain the proper supply of paper money, cheques, and other necessary bank documents. But the Banks, foolishly, as I thought, refused to do this, on the ground that it would be interfering with trade. Subsequently they saw the error of their ways, but it was then too late. Tribunals had got to work, and about every six months or so they took away a few more men. Things had got to such a stage that a meeting of bank-note and cheque printers was held in London, and an interview arranged with Mr. Lionel Rothschild, who was advising the City of London Tribunal , with a view to guarantee all adequate number of workmen for the different establishments. This was conceded, but the result was disappointing, and things were not much improved. At last, the position of Perkins Bacon & Co. Ltd., was such that I had to tell Sir Henry Buckingham, who was then advising the City Tribunal, that if any more men were taken away, we should have to close the works. This had the desired effect, for after that we were allowed to keep the small handful of workers we then had without further calls on them.

But the men left to us did not neglect their duty to their Country. The Secretary and many of the Staff became Special Constables, others Volunteers, and the night drills often interfered with the men's work next day, especially after Air Raids. With our few fit men and the help of some aged printers of 70 years or so, we endeavoured to carry on, but the inrush of orders for paper money which shortly afterwards came upon us, showed me that, unless we contrived to supply our customers' wants, we should have to "shut up shop." I therefore determined to adopt a quicker process for the production of bank-notes than the hand-printing hitherto employed, which, though the work produced was certainly not of such high class as before, yet enable us to execute orders far more rapidly than would otherwise have been the case, and thus to keep pace with the demand. The Banks were agreeable to this, and they left it to us to manufacture the notes in any way we thought fit. By this means we were enable to carry on and to immensely increase the supply of paper money so urgently required by the Empire.

During this time we had various problems to settle, and many troublesome periods. In the "Permit" period, as I may term it, licences had to be obtained for almost everything we required, such as paper, steel  plates, inks, even for the tin to line the cases in which the bank-notes were shipped, and the wood of which the cases were made. The glycerine used in postage stamp gum had to be obtained by subterfuge. Some episodes were both tragic and amusing, as when a case of stationery had to be opened at the docks, and a small rubber stamp pad, worth a few shillings, and containing a little aniline (not to be exported), taken out, to be despatched subsequently by parcel post with a pompous looking permit, issued by His Majesty's Privy Council. Another time a box of gum for the Government Stamp factory at Mysore was stopped at the docks at one o'clock, because His Majesty at 12 o'clock had issued a proclamation prohibiting the export of gum. Perhaps the climax was reached when the Customs Authorities fought with the Ministry of Munitions on the question of whether a visiting card was printed matter or a paper manufacture. But later on, priority certificates were obtainable, as the authorities had come to the conclusion that bank documents were things of the utmost importance, and we thereafter obtained priority over others for our paper, steel plates, and the various materials required, and I must say that, although delays were tedious, we always eventually obtained the materials necessary for our work.

The "Rise of Prices" period came on after that, the workers demanding increased wages, as, owing to the rise in cost of living, they were unable to maintain themselves properly, and the Master Printers perforce were obliged to agree to this, as the claim was just. Thereafter, every six or seven months, further demands were made with a similar result, and even now further advances are being asked for. Materials such as paper showed enormous increases, sometimes as much as four or five times the pre-war price. Our difficulty then was to raise our prices to our customers quick enough to overtake this continuous increase in the cost of things, being, I suppose, rather afraid of hurting their feelings. But later on, we overcame our scruples, and have since obtained profitable prices. I must say that in hardly any instance did our banking customers object to the rises, all they said was, "Let us have the notes, whatever the cost." Only in one or two cases was the pious hope expressed that our prices would come down when costs were lower.

In shipping bank-notes abroad the difficulties were very annoying, as a steamship fixed to sail on a certain date would be commandeered by the Government, and the cargo taken out. To remain perhaps a month before another steamer was available. In some cases, as, for instance, notes for the Rajah of Sarawak, no steamer at all could be found, and they were despatched in small parcels by post. In fact, in many cases, such as Guernsey and places in India, this was found the best way of sending the notes off, as, if the permit of the Postal Censor was obtained, there was no difficulty in getting parcels despatched. After the Armistice, although permits and licences were no longer required, condition on the whole became worse, instead of better, while our customers seemed to think that all our difficulties had suddenly vanished. Nevertheless, an improvement soon took place, and with the gradual return of our men, none of whom had been seriously wounded, and a fall in the prices of many necessary materials, it became possible to obtain such things as machinery and repairs generally, which enabled us not only to carry on, but also to improve our output, which is now larger in quantity than for very many years past; and, from all appearances, the demand for paper money arising from the conditions brought about by the War is likely to be not only maintained, but considerably increased.

I have thought it might be interesting to put on record the amount of paper money that we have printed for the Empire since the beginning of the War, and I find that, from August 1st, 1914, to September 30th, 1919, we have received orders for paper money, exclusively for the Empire, to the value of £21,000,000 sterling, the number of notes being over eight millions, and I think I may therefore say that Perkins Bacon & Co. Ltd., have in this way done their bit of the war work, and to this extent deserve well of their country.

But the difficulties of the Management in "carrying on" were immense, and I have often done duty as office or errand boy, with, I hope, tolerable success. Air raid also interfered with business, though after the first daylight raid, when many buildings near us were wrecked by bombs, our girls bravely kept to their work during raids, having been duly instructed in a "march to the basement" drill. After night raids, however, we had to condone late arrivals in the mornings. But we had our disappointments, as when a piece of shell that had cut a hole right through the parapet and lodged on the roof, had to be given to the police, instead of being placed in our War Museum. On the whole, it may be said that Perkins Bacon & Co. Ltd., carried on its work of national importance patriotically, but quietly, during the War, and though no medals or other rewards are granted for such work, I feel that all our staff are deserving of their country's praise for sticking to their old jobs, while many others were earning larger sums for comparatively easy munition or similar work, and I am glad to be able to record my opinion of their patriotism.

The home-workers did not have the best of it in some things; our men who came back from the front, looking fat and well, declared that their shop-mates who had stayed at home, looked half-starved.

As regards myself personally, I have not had an easy time, and often necessary domestic duties have almost crowded out the claims on any time and energy made by the business. To those with a sense of humour, the idea of a Chairman and Managing Director of a hundred years' old firm interviewing High Commissioners and Bank Managers during the day, and blacking boots and cleaning knives at night, may seem distinctly amusing. But clean boots are reckoned necessary, or at least advisable, for those holding the position above mentioned, and we all had to do our "bits," however trivial.

We did what we could at home also. My wife, with a prophetic impulse, had joined the St.John's Ambulance Association some time before the War, and her fist act, after the declaration, was to prepare her nurse's outfit. There being no V.A.D. Hospital in Mill Hill, she took up duties first at Willesden Green, and afterwards at the Hampstead Garden Suburb Hospital, and was offered the post of Commandant at the former, but owing to the distance from home and the long hours required, was obliged to decline it.

Later on in the War, the inevitable of course happened. The total disappearance of all domestic help came about, for at the time even the ordinary "char" was not to be found in Mill Hill, and this was one of the reasons why my daughter had to leave her boarding school at Aberystwyth sooner than had been intended. My wife bravely attempted to continue hospital work at a place involving train and tram journeys, and at the same time "run the house" and battle with the almost intolerably difficult rationing troubles, resulting in compulsory rest and change for three months. This was in 1918, and as the Armistice was proclaimed shortly after her return in improved health, it was not necessary to resume her hospital duties.

During the year my daughter thought to help the National food stringency by keeping fowls and ducks, and I spent many hours in fitting up fowl houses, as these were only to be had at exorbitant prices. The number of eggs obtained certainly repaid us for our trouble, and were very welcome to others who needed them; but the results to our lawn and garden were simply disastrous. During my wife's absence, I had arranged to stay with one of the oldest employees of Perkins Bacon & Co. Ltd., residing in Stoke Newington. But I suppose the combination of trying circumstances was too much for me, for, while escaping an absolute breakdown, I was so weak, that for a few days I could hardly walk and my lunch was brought to me in the office. Under Dr.Hall's skilful advice, and after six weeks with my wife in Devonshire, I avoided any more serious consequences, and was able to return to work in improved health, though I am afraid that the effects of the attack will be to some extent permanent. It has not been my lot to serve my Country at the Front, nor to assist in the organisation of some of the War Government manufacture or supply departments, most of which, it seems, were sadly deficient in business capacity, work which I should much have liked to have don, and in which I think I should have obtained some success. No medals, or decorations, or public thanks have come my way. But in sticking to my business, one that provides something for the Country, without which, no war, no trade, nor even the ordinary daily life of the people, can be carried on - money or its paper substitute, supplied by very few firms in Great Britain, I feel that I have done my duty to the British Empire, and that shall be my more than sufficient reward

If at the same time, through fortunate circumstances, I have been enabled to lift our old business from the weak condition in which, by no fault of its own, it had been for some years past, into a strong and prosperous position with past liabilities wiped off, and every prospect of good profits for some time to come, thus providing adequately for those, both owners and employed, who are dependent on the success of the firm for their livelihood

I hope no one ill grudge me the enjoyment, after many years of up-hill work, of such a gratifying result, of "What I did during the Great War"

Nov 11th , 1919.  J.D.Heath 

I feel sure that all of us who know what the family owes to Perkins Bacon & Co. Ltd., will rejoice in the returning prosperity of this old established business. Let us wish all success and many good dividends for its much tried Chairman and shareholders. G.H.


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