Edward Wathen Fyffe (1853-1935)

Edward Wathen Fyffe (1853-1935)Edward Wathen Fyffe was born on December 31, 1853 at Woodchester, Gloucestershire, England the second son of Ebenezer Wathen Fyffe, a tea merchant and Martha Wathen Dunn. His elder brother, Ebenezer Thomas Fyffe becam a Naval Chaplain but Edward went into the family Tea business of E.W. Fyffe, Son and Co. In 1884 Edward married Ida Stanton Brown.

Ida caught tuberculosis and Edward took her to the Canary Islands for her convalescence. It was here that Edward Fyffe discovered bananas and decided that England was ripe for the exotic fruit. In 1888 E.W. Fyffe, Son and Co. changed from Tea merchants to Banana Importers when Edward began began commercial imports of bananas.

Ten years later, Fyffe merged with another London-based green grocer supplier, Hudson Brothers, forming Fyffe Hudson & Co. Limited.  Fyffe Hudson continued to build up imports of bananas from the current and former British colonial islands. At the turn of the century, the company took a step to solve one of the largest difficulties in transporting bananas, preventing them from ripening during the voyage itself.

A breakthrough in the banana industry came when it was discovered that maintaining bananas below a certain temperature inhibited the ripening process. At the turn of the century, Fyffe Hudson commissioned a ship outfitted with a cooling system developed by J & E Hall, and the company’s first refrigerated vessel, the Port Morant, completed its maiden voyage between Avonmouth, England, and Kingston, Jamaica, in 1901.

That same year, Fyffe Hudson, which had been operating from its eastern England location, merged with the Liverpool-based Elder Dempster and Company, adding that company’s western England port. The merger, which created the company Elders and Fyffes Limited, thus secured operations in England’s two major ports serving shipping between the United Kingdom and its island colonies. The company went public, continuing to add to its fleet of ships and becoming a major importer in the English market. In 1913 Fyffes was acquired by United Brands of the USA.

Edward Wathen Fyffe and Ida Stanton Brown had no sons, just two daughters. Martha Ellen Fyffe (1885) and Gertrude Ida Fyffe(1886). He died in 1935 in his native Gloucestershire.

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9 Comments

  1. Brian Tompkins said,

    July 31, 2007 at 5:20 am

    Edward Wathen Fyffe was my 8th cousin, twice removed

  2. Jet Payne said,

    September 12, 2007 at 7:09 pm

    Edward Wathen Fyffe was my second cousin four times removed

  3. Les Curwood said,

    October 29, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    Edward Wathen Fyffe was my second cousin twice removed.
    Jet Payne is my third cousin twice removed.

  4. NIGEL FYFFE said,

    January 17, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    MY FARTHER WAS BORN IN SAINT ANNS IN JAMAICA I WAS BORN AND RAISED IN ENGLAND AM I CONECTED WITH THE FYFFE FAMILY SOME HOW.
    I LIVE IN THE USA NOW BUT I STILL WONDER IF I AM.

  5. Janet HESKINS said,

    September 13, 2009 at 11:11 am

    I have photographed letter books in Gloucester Archives which give details of a young man travelling with tea samples on behalf of Edward Wathen Fyffe and his father in the early 1880s.

    At one point the word ‘banana’ is mentioned but I don’t think it was in terms of a commercial enterprise.

    The information would be of use to a serious researcher of family history.

  6. anuradha said,

    October 14, 2009 at 10:16 am

    It is an interesting biography. Normally I do not like reading biographies but reading it this way online is interesting. Knowing about this merchant makes me realize that if you wish you can definitely get to a position where you are recognized. On the other hand I think I’ll put up something here when I m worth it for my future generations. It is also somewhat a god idea to share about families with other people who are many times interestd in knowing about the various lifestyles.

  7. Anthony McCall said,

    April 5, 2013 at 4:05 am

    Very interesting biography. I beleive Ffyfe’s used to operate out of Preston docks (Lancashire) up to the late 60s or early 70s. I wish bananas still tasted like they did when Ffyfe’s imported them, they’re tasteless today.

  8. Deirdre Carroll (Nee Graham - Robinson) said,

    April 16, 2013 at 4:18 am

    Was James Fyffee of Omagh Co. Tyrone related to the Banana Merchant Fyffees, I believe he married a Miss Robinson from Fintona

  9. Heather Fyfe said,

    July 29, 2017 at 7:39 am

    Very interesting, always wondered where the Fyffe’s bananas were from. Unfortunately I can’t find a link with my Fyfe tree (yet).


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