Onesimus Dorey

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Onesimus Dorey (1857-1931), Merchant, Shipowner.


Birth and Education

Onesimus Dorey was born in Cassot Road, St. Sampson’s (Vale Parish) on 1 July 1857, to Judith Nant (née Renouf), wife of Josiah Dorey, St Sampson’s Weighbridge Master and shipowner. He was their fifth son.
He was educated at the Guernsey Commercial and Grammar School.

Marriage and Family

He married Ann Elizabeth Poat in around 1882 and started a family at ‘Linden Villa’ (or ‘The Lindens’), Belgrave Road (Rue des Bas Courtils) on the Banques. He had four sons and one daughter.
Onesimus Dorey was a member of St. Sampson’s Lodge No. 2598, and in June 1897 was inducted as its Director of Ceremonies. He was also a local preacher of the Methodist Church and also contributed his talents as a vocalist to the choir at St. Sampson’s Methodist Church.


Although Onesimus’s father Josiah had been a shipowner (under his own name and as Dorey & Co.) and his oldest son Richard Josiah Dorey (R. J. Dorey Ltd.) had taken over Josiah’s ships ‘Star of the West’ and ‘Ocean Monarch’ upon his death in 1887, it was Onesimus that was to make a lasting name for the Guernsey Doreys in the shipping business.
In 1876 Onesimus Dorey had already started his career in shipping, as agent for the ‘Commerce’, of which he was the ‘Managing owner’.
After his father’s death in 1887, Onesimus founded the “Plymouth, Channel Islands and Brittany Steamship Company”, whose first steamer was the ‘Commerce’, which was followed by the ‘Channel Queen’. Other ships included ‘Aquila’ and ‘Plymouth’. These ships ran between Plymouth and two Brittany ports, via Guernsey and Jersey.
This company suffered several tragic losses. In 1897 the barque ‘Rose of Devon’ was lost off Cornwall, with the loss of 6 lives, after only a few weeks in the company. Worse was to come in 1898, when the ‘Channel Queen’ was wrecked in fog on the Roque Noir off the north-west coast of Guernsey with the loss of 21 lives.
Following this disaster, the Anglo-French Steamship Company Ltd. was set up in 1898, with Onesimus Dorey as Managing Director. Dorey began to use chartered ships until the Guernsey Commercial Bank helped the company purchase the ‘Devonia’.
Disaster struck again in December 1900 when the ‘Rossgull’ was wrecked off Jersey with the loss of 9 lives.
In 1907, Dorey set up “Onesimus Dorey & Sons”, registered at North Quay, St. Peter Port. By this time he had three sons, though it was only his oldest, Cecil, who was to succeed him in the business. The Anglo-French Steamship Company Ltd. was then wound up in 1908.
Onesimus Dorey & Sons’ ships were put at the service of the Allies for the war effort during World War I, but in 1921 the company, having suffered during the post-war depression, had to end all services. Dorey managed to stay in business, however, and again found success in shipping granite to England and anthracite coal to the Channel Islands from Swansea and the north-east English coast.
In 1920, he set up two more companies: “Dorey Shipping Company Ltd.” and “Sea Transportation Company Ltd.” (the latter being liquidated in 1935).


Onesimus Dorey died of gout on 10 March 1931.

The company post-Onesimus

After his death, the company was run by his first son, Cecil Dorey, and then (from 1963) by Cecil’s son Peter Lord Dorey, who purchased a two-thirds share for Onesimus Dorey & Sons in Condor Limited, which is still in business today.
The old company was in 1972 restyled as Onesimus Dorey (Holdings) Ltd. to control Condor Ltd., and again restyled in 1977 as Onesimus Dorey (Shipowners) Ltd.

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