Guide to the Papers of H. Husbands & Sons (as filmed by the AJCP)



National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2018

Collection Summary

H. Husbands & Sons of Bristol
Records of H. Husbands & Sons (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
1880 - 1885
Collection Number
12 items
Language of Materials
Australian Joint Copying Project
The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) online portal was created with the assistance of the Australian Public Service Modernisation Fund, 2017-2020. The National Library of Australia gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the other foundation AJCP partners, the State Library of New South Wales and The National Archives of the UK, and all other organisations which supported the work of the AJCP, the world's most extensive collaborative copying project, operating from 1948 to 1997.


Scope and Contents

Papers (1880-1885) of opticians and instrument makers H. Husbands & Sons, referring to purchases of Metford theodolites, and papers and affidavits concerning arbitration between Charles Fredrick Husbands and Henry Husbands in Melbourne.

Correspondents are W.J. Conder and W. Metford.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for Access.

Conditions Governing Use

Many of the records digitised as part of the AJCP are still in copyright. Readers wishing to publish or reproduce documents should seek permission, in the first instance, from the owner of the original material.

Preferred Citation

Acknowledgement of use of this material should refer to the location of the original material and to the Australian Joint Copying Project.

Items from this collection should include references to the location of the original material and to the AJCP nla.obj number, which serves as the online identifier for the digital copy.

Example: M Series: Journal of Capt. James Cook, 18 February 1770, British Library Add. MS 27885 (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Material selectively filmed as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1991 (AJCP Reel: M2522). Original microfilm digitised as part of the AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

Existence and Location of Originals

Bristol Archives. Formerly Bristol Industrial Museum, Prince's Wharf, Bristol BS1 5TR, England. For more information see H. Husbands & Sons at Bristol Museums (

Existence and Location of Copies

The original AJCP microfilm of the records filmed from this collection is available at the National Library of Australia [] as well as other institutions holding AJCP microfilm.

Finding-aid Notes

This finding aid is a revised online version of the original finding aid prepared by the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP), published by the National Library of Australia in 2018. The original AJCP finding aids were unpublished typescripts or photocopies available from libraries that held copies of the original microfilm.

Dates used in this finding aid refer to the date range of the records selected for filming rather than to the date range of the Series or Files.


Conder, W.J.; Husbands, Charles F.; Husbands, H. & Sons; Husbands, Henry; Melbourne, Victoria; Metford, W.; Opticians


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry 242, p. 90.

Biographical / Historical

Henry Husbands (1824?-1900) was born in Bristol. His parents died when he was young and he was apprenticed to an optician. He was later senior journeyman for Thomas King (1819-1884), a Bristol manufacturer of engineering and mathematical instruments. In 1858 King moved to Canada and the business was taken over by Husbands and William Clarke (d. 1873). Their partnership was dissolved in 1870, possibly on account of Clarke's health. The business then operated as Henry Husbands until 1893 when it became H. Husbands & Sons. After Husbands' death, three of his sons, Henry, James and Alfred, continued the business until it closed in 1910. Apart from spectacles and other types of glasses, H. Husbands & Sons manufactured a wide range of instruments: microscopes, telescopes, theodolites, photographic lenses, cameras, engineers' and architects' scales and rules, barometers, thermometers and other meteorological instruments. Husbands and Clarke exhibited some of their instruments at the London International Exhibition in 1862 and Husbands was represented at several subsequent exhibitions in Britain and France. In 1881 he visited Melbourne for the International Exhibition and his improved version of the Metford theodolite won a gold medal.In 1875 two of Husbands' sons, William Samuel (1865-1937?) and Charles Frederick, migrated to Victoria. William owned an instrument making business in Queen Street in Melbourne, which he purchased from John Grimoldi, who was instrument maker to the Melbourne Observatory. Charles had a shop in Bourke Street. Their father visited Melbourne again in 1883-84 to deal with a dispute over the ownership of the Bourke Street shop. It appears that William Husbands ultimately became the owner.

Item Descriptions

Series. H Husbands & Sons of Bristol Papers, 1880 - 1885

12 items

Subseries. Australian Metfords and tripods correspondence (36p.), January 1881 - November 1885

3 items
WJ Conder, Superintendent of Trigonometrical Surveys (Sydney) to Surveyor-General, report on measurement of base of verification. (printed), 20 January 1881 (File)
Correspondence with Surveyor-General, Sydney, re purchase of Metford Theodolites, 17 February 1881 - 4 May 1883 (File)

The material includes two reports from Joseph Brooks (dated 1881 and 1883), as well as the specification for 32in. Metford Theodolites.

Correspondence with Agent-General for NSW re purchase of 12 traversing stands for theodolites, 14 July 1885 - November 1885 (File)

Includes specifications.

Subseries. Husbands Arbitration (37p), 1884

1 item
Papers and affidavits concerning arbitration between Charles Frederick Husbands and Henry Husbands in Melbourne, 1884 (File)

Includes affidavits of Michael Philip Fox, Philip David Phillips, Henry Husbands, Charles F Husbands, Andrew Lyell.

Subseries. Original Metford Correspondence, 1883

6 items

Filmed selectively.

The Metford Theodolite and level combined. Melbourne International Exhibition of 1800 (2p.) (File)
Notebook: Theodolite adjustments (22p.) (File)
Notebook: Final adjustments of theodolite, W. Metford (16p.) (File)
W Metford (Bristol) to [Husbands?], January 1883 - July 1883 (File)

Refers to pocketbook issued by Surveyor-General Office at Sydney; notes on theodolite. (29p.)

(Pages of letters may be displaced, incomplete).

Husbands to [Surveyor-General, Sydney?] that forwarded 4 Metford theodolites to agent in Sydney, J.B. Wilkinson (2p.) (Draft), n.d. (File)
Husbands to [Wilkinson] that despatched theodolites to Surveyor-General. (Draft, 2p.), n.d. (File)

Subseries. Miscellaneous Husbands Correspondence

2 items

Filmed selectively.

Plan of details of Husbands' Traversing stand for theodolite (File)

Stamped received by Agent-General NSW September 1885.

Plan of Double microscope (File)

Microscope adopted in measuring base of verification in trigonometrical survey of NSW.