The business originally consisted of the partnership of Lidbetter & Lucas, coal and corn merchants of Southwick. This was formed in 1824 between Thomas Lidbetter and Edward Lucas (1803 - 1874), with financial backing from the latter's father, Joseph Lucas of Hitchin, co. Herts., brewer. The partnership was dissolved in 1827, and Edward Lucas continued as sole trader from the same premises (Southwick Wharf). He expanded the shipping side of the business until this had supplanted the initial trading elements. In 1852, on being invited to join Sharples' Bank in Hitchin, co. Herts., he sold the business to his cousin Robert Horne Penney (1822 - 1902), formerly of Poole, co. Dorset, where his family had established shipping interests. In 1853, Robert Horne Penney married Lucy Rickman Lucas, a daughter of Edward Lucas, and to whom the freehold of the premises was bequeathed in 1874. The head office moved to Brighton in 1879. In 1895, Robert Horne Penney took into partnership his two sons, Robert Alfred Penney (1865 - 1935) and Sidney Rickman Penney (1867 - 1938), thereby forming R. H. Penney & Sons. The business was left by Sidney Rickman Penney, sole owner on his death, in trust for his widow Emmeline, and then equally to his four children, of whom Arthur George Wallis Penney, the elder son, was a partner.
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