Gamble, James (1803–91), soap manufacturer in the USA, was born 3 April 1803 in the Graan, near Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, eldest among four sons and two daughters of George Gamble and his wife Mary Norris. They were related to prosperous farmers, merchants, and linen bleachers – Josiah C. Gamble (qv) was George's younger brother – but business difficulties may have decided George Gamble in 1819 to emigrate to the USA with his family. He was a methodist preacher, but probably not ordained, as he did not follow a ministerial career in America. James was educated at Portora Royal School; at the age of 16, he left the port of Derry and sailed for forty-seven days to reach St John's, New Brunswick. The family travelled to Pittsburgh by boat and wagon, then went on flatboat down the Ohio river to Cincinnati, where they had to interrupt their journey in November 1819 when James became seriously ill. His father gave up plans to travel to Shawneeville, Illinois, and set up instead a horticultural nursery in Cincinnati. After his recovery James was apprenticed to a soap-maker. For his first six months he received no pay, only his board and lodging; thereafter he received $9 a month. He set up his own business in 1828/9, and had several partners, but from 1837 was in partnership with William Procter, an English-born candlemaker. They had met while courting two sisters, Elizabeth Ann and Olivia Norris, who had recently emigrated from Belfast; James married Elizabeth on 21 March 1833. Alexander Norris, the girls' father, is credited with recognising the compatibility of the businesses run by his sons-in-law: both soap and candles used the same raw materials, notably tallow and other animal oils, which were in plentiful supply in Cincinnati because of the meatpacking carried on in the town. The company sold its products widely, thanks to the expansion of the railways: in 1859 its sales exceeded $1 million. It was awarded contracts to supply the union armies with soap and candles during the American civil war, and in 1879 began the manufacture of Ivory soap, which became one of its most important products. The name of Procter & Gamble has been known worldwide ever since; family members, especially James's eldest son, James Norris Gamble (1836–1932), oversaw its great expansion and diversification. James and Elizabeth Gamble had ten children: seven sons and three daughters, of whom a son and a daughter died in childhood. Elizabeth Gamble died in 1888, James Gamble on 29 April 1891.
Editors of Advertising Age: The house that IVORY built (1988), 5–8; information provided (July 1999) by Nancy Frank, family historian in Atlanta, GA (includes reprints of articles from the Procter & Gamble corporation house journal, cuttings from Cincinnati newspapers, and genealogical tables); material downloaded (28 July 1999) from Procter & Gamble website