The first of the Leiston Garretts, Richard (1755-1839) founded the works in 1778. He saw the importance of agricultural machinery and began to manufacture chaff cutters in addition to scythes and sickles.
His son, Richard, (1779-1837) took over the business at the age of 26. He saw the potential of the newly-invented horse-powered threshing machine and under his leadership the Works grew to employ 60 men.
Amongst Richard II’s children were two powerful brothers, Richard and Newson. They and their families became highly influential forces in Leiston and Aldeburgh. Richard built up the Leiston engineering business to achieve national and international recognition; Newson expanded a malting business at Snape and built up much of Aldeburgh. Newson’s descendants, particularly his daughters, Elizabeth and Millicent, reached national significance.
Elizabeth Garrett wrote in 1864 ‘ My strength lies in the extra amount of daring which I have as a family endowment. All the Garretts have it.’