Sir Frederick Henry Royce, 1st Baronet of Seaton (27 March 1863 – 22 April 1933) was an English engineer and car designer, who with Charles Stewart Rolls founded the Rolls-Royce company. Frederick Henry Royce was born in Alwalton, Huntingdonshire, near Peterborough, in 1863, the son of James and Mary Royce (maiden name King) and was the youngest of their five children. His family ran a flour mill which they leased from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners but the business failed and the family moved to London. His father died in 1872 and Royce had to go out to work selling newspapers and delivering telegrams, having had only one year of formal schooling.
In 1878 he started an apprenticeship with the Great Northern Railway company at its works in Peterborough thanks to the financial help of an aunt. After three years the money ran out and, after a short time with a tool-making company in Leeds, he returned to London and joined the Electric Light and Power Company. He moved to their Liverpool office in 1882 working on street and theatre lighting.
In 1884 with £20 of savings he entered a partnership with Ernest Claremont, a friend who contributed £50, and they started a business making domestic electric fittings in a workshop in Cooke Street, Hulme, Manchester, called F H Royce and Company. In 1894 they started making dynamos and electric cranes and F.H. Royce & Company was registered as a limited liability company. The company was re-registered in 1899 as Royce Ltd with a public share flotation and a further factory opened in Trafford Park, Manchester.
Following a decline in trade after the Second Boer War, and the arrival of increasing competition in cranes and dynamos from Germany and the United States, Royce began considering the motor car as a potential new product for the company. With his fascination for all things mechanical he became increasingly focused on motor cars and bought first, in 1901, a small De Dion and in 1902 or 1903 a 1901 model two cylinder Decauville. This did not meet his high standards and so he first improved it and then decided to manufacture a car of his own which he did in a corner of the workshop in 1904.
Two more cars were made. Of the three, which were called Royce and had two cylinder engines, one was given to Ernest Claremont and the other sold to one of the other directors, Henry Edmunds. Edmunds was a friend of Charles Rolls who had a car showroom in London selling imported models and showed him his car and arranged the historic meeting between Rolls and Royce at the Midland Hotel, Manchester, on 4 May 1904. In spite of his preference for three or four cylinder cars, Rolls was impressed with the two-cylinder Royce 10 and in a subsequent agreement of 23 December 1904 agreed to take all the cars Royce could make. These would be of two, three, four and six cylinders and would be badged as Rolls-Royce.
The first Rolls-Royce car, the Rolls-Royce 10 hp, was unveiled at the Paris Salon in December 1904. In 1906 Rolls and Royce formalised their partnership by creating Rolls-Royce Limited, with Royce appointed chief engineer and works director on a salary of £1,250 per annum plus 4% of the profits in excess of £10,000. Royce thus provided the technical expertise to complement Rolls’ financial backing and business acumen. By 1907 the company was winning awards for the engineering reliability of its cars.
Royce & Company remained in business as a separate company making cranes until 1932 when it was bought by Herbert Morris of Loughborough. The last Royce-designed crane was built in 1964. Royce, who lived by the motto “Whatever is rightly done, however humble, is noble”, had already been awarded the OBE after the First World War, and was created a baronet, of Seaton in the County of Rutland, on 26 June 1930 for his services to British Aviation.
Rolls-Royce Limited is a renowned English car-manufacturing company and later, aero-engine manufacturing company founded by Charles Stewart Rolls and Sir Frederick Henry Royce on 15 March 1906 as the result of a partnership formed in 1904. In 1971, Rolls-Royce was crippled by the costs of developing the advanced RB211 jet engine, resulting in the nationalisation of the company as Rolls-Royce (1971) Limited. In 1973, the car division was separated from the parent company as Rolls-Royce Motors. Rolls-Royce (1971) Limited continued as a nationalised company until it was privatised in 1987 as Rolls-Royce PLC.
In 1884, Henry Royce started an electrical and mechanical business. He made his first car, a two-cylinder Royce 10, in his Manchester factory in 1904, and was introduced to Charles Rolls at the Midland Hotel in Manchester on 4 May of that year. Rolls was proprietor of an early motor car dealership, C.S.Rolls & Co. in Fulham.