Search records

Captain William Henry Kitto

Title: Captain

Epithet: Captain of Foxdale Mines, MHK, JP (1855-1930)

Record type: Biographies

Biography: From ‘New Manx Worthies’ (2006):

William Henry Kitto would have learned much of his knowledge of mining from his father, William Kitto JP. The latter had been involved in mining in his native land of Cornwall and was an astute mineralogist. In 1858. William (senior) took his young family, which then consisted of two daughters and his son, William Henry, to North Wales. He was appointed to the captaincy of the Foxdale Mines by the mining consultants John Taylor & Sons in 1870.

William Henry was eventually one of ten siblings. When his father was transferred by John Taylor & Sons to manage the Cape Copper Mines in Namaqualand, South Africa in 1890, his mother and the other members of the family went with him. But William Henry remained in Foxdale, following his father as captain of the mines there.

He was responsible for running the only School of Mines in the world at that time, and the people of Foxdale became quite used to seeing students from such far-flung countries as Japan walking along its roads; this at a time when even Europeans were a rarity in the Island.

William Kitto was much praised for the courageous part he played in the rescue and recovery of victims of the Snaefell Mine disaster in 1897, when 20 miners died from carbon monoxide poisoning. As Captain of Foxdale Mines he arrived with an additional rescue party. Unfortunately, his retirement was in part as a result of ill health he suffered from the gas he inhaled at that time. Possibly in an effort to recuperate, he went on a sea voyage around the world in 1908, sailing for part of the trip in the ill-fated Lusitania.

He was made a Justice of the Peace in 1901, and represented the sheading of Glenfaba in the House of Keys from 1902 to 1909. He was a director of the Isle of Man Steam Packet and at the time of his death at Burnside, Union Mills, where he had retired in 1909, was the company’s deputy chairman. He was also a director of the Isle of Man Railway Company and of the Glen Helen Hotel & Estate Company.

According to his obituary in the newspapers of the time, ‘he was held in high esteem and affection by all associated with him in that great undertaking [the mines]. His upright, kindly, unassuming disposition won him the respect of all who knew him … He retained a warm regard for Foxdale and its people. He knew most of them by sight and was never more pleased then when enquiring of his old mining colleagues’.

Biography written by John Kitto (grandson).

(With thanks to Culture Vannin as publishers of the book: Kelly, Dollin (general editor), ‘New Manx Worthies’, Manx Heritage Foundation/Culture Vannin, 2006, pp.267-8.)

Culture Vannin


Nationality: English

Gender: Male

Date of birth: 20 September 1855

Date of death: 23 March 1930

Name Variant: Kitto, William H., Captain


Optional, not displayed

Manx National Heritage (MNH) will always put you in control of the information we send you. Read our privacy policy