Crossley, Francis (‘Frank’) William (1839–97), engineer and evangelist, and his brothers Sir William John (1844–1911), engineer, and (Thomas) Hastings (Henry) (1846–1926), classical scholar, were sons of Maj. Francis Crossley of the East India Company, governor of the Andaman Islands in 1815, and his second wife Elizabeth Helen Crossley (née Irwin). The family home was at Glenburn, Co. Antrim, and later at Anagola, Co. Armagh. Francis Crossley, born 29 November 1839, was educated at King William's College, Castletown, Isle of Man, and the Royal School at Dungannon, where he was joined by his brother William (b. 22 April 1844). Francis became an officer in the Tyrone Fusiliers after leaving school, despite his interest in engineering. He joined his family at Bonn, Germany, in 1857–8, where William and Thomas were sent to school. After leaving Bonn, Francis was admitted to the works of Sir Robert Stephenson at Newcastle where he was trained as a mechanical engineer before moving on to the drawing office of Fawcett, Preston & Co., Liverpool. After an unhappy love affair, he found comfort in religion and is recorded as preaching in Trim, Co. Meath, in 1868.
Through family help he was able to purchase the business of John M. Dunlop of Manchester, which manufactured india-rubber machinery at Great Marlborough St., Manchester. He was joined in partnership on 8 August 1867 by his brother William, who had just completed four years training at Sir William Armstrong's Elswick engineering works, Tyneside. There was a small workforce, and the company had many bad debts, so the brothers were obliged to do much of the work themselves, with Francis acting as draughtsman and William keeping accounts. Francis patented a machine for making rubber thread which was widely used. They were acquainted with developments in German engineering and purchased the patents of the atmospheric gas engine (1869) and the Otto gas engine (1876). Francis improved the design of the Otto, and this revolutionised the trade in small motors. Their success in selling one of the first internal combustion engines to be manufactured in Britain allowed them to move to larger premises in Openshaw and become a limited liability company by 1881. In 1906 the company made its first motor cars using its own engines, and formed Crossley Motors Ltd (re-registered in 1910) to concentrate on this end of the business. The success of the enterprise placed Crossley's as the fifteenth largest car manufacturer in Britain in 1913. The 20/25 model, produced in large numbers for the British flying services during the first world war, was light and fast; in ‘tender’ form it became one of the best-known vehicles of the crown forces in Ireland during 1920–21, and hundreds were subsequently transferred to the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland governments.
The Crossley brothers held strong religious convictions (the Coptic cross was their company emblem) and were teetotallers. Francis stipulated that his engines were not to be used to hoist barrels of beer or spirits or to make electricity for lighting theatres. He was an active supporter of the Salvation Army and is believed to have donated about £100,000 to its work, acquiring the nickname ‘the paymaster’. He supported home rule for Ireland but was appalled by the O'Shea divorce scandal (November 1890) and afterwards withdrew his support. Francis married (1 June 1871) Emily Kerr, who was also interested in missionary work; they had five sons and one daughter. In the 1880s and 1890s his deepest concern was the spiritual salvation of the local community at Manchester, for whom he erected a missionary and evangelical centre in 1889 at the Star Hall, Ancoats, costing £20,000. He and his wife sold their home in Bowdon, Cheshire, and in 1889 took up residence at Star Hall, where they ran the independent church mission themselves, and set up hostels in Manchester to rescue women from prostitution. Francis Crossley undertook occasional unsuccessful missionary trips to North America and India: he found black people in American unreceptive and Indians to be ‘polite’ but ‘steeped in inherited ideas and religions which bar the way to anything new’ (Harris, 178). While Francis was involved in missionary activities William ran the company, converting it into a public one and assuming the chairmanship after his brother's death on 25 March 1897, at which time the company employed 1,260 men.
William was elected a member of Cheshire county council in 1901 and was conferred with the freedom of the city of Manchester in 1903. He was one of the original directors of the Manchester Ship Canal Co., chairman of the Manchester Hospitals for Consumption, chairman of the Crossley Sanatorium, Delamere, and chairman of the Boys and Girls Refuges as well as being president of the YMCA. He was a liberal MP for the Altrincham division of Cheshire (1906–10) as well as being JP for Manchester and Cheshire, was knighted in 1909, and died 12 October 1911. He married Mabel Gordon Anderson of Belfast, who may have been a relative. She was a daughter of Dr Francis Anderson, who had been inspector general of hospitals in India; her brother was John Crossley Anderson, editor of the Belfast Commercial Chronicle.
Hastings Crossley (b. 1 August 1846) was educated at Bonn and in the Royal School, Dungannon, Co. Tyrone; in his first year in TCD in 1865 he received the royal exhibition and a university scholarship, and in 1869 (the year he graduated BA) he was awarded the first gold medal in classics, the second gold medal in philosophy, and the senior moderatorship. He was also awarded the Berkeley medal and in 1871 the degree of MA honoris causa. He was deputy professor of Latin in QCB (1875–6) and professor of classics in University College, Bristol (1876–8), and in 1878 was made professor of Greek in QCB. He retired in 1889. He was a fellow of, and classical examiner in, the Royal University, and received an hon. Litt.D. from QUB. He was best known for his edition and translation of the fourth book of Marcus Aurelius (1882). Crossley died in Bordighera, Italy, on 23 March 1926. He married in 1883 Emily Agnes, daughter of Frederick Chidley Irwin (1788–1860), Irish-born governor of Western Australia; they had one daughter.