Born on 5th April 1825 in London, Henry Gaze moved to Southampton at an early age. His main business is shown as a bootmaker, but he seems to have been willing to turn a hand to any new venture and his interests eventually included insurance and, of course, travel.
He is arguably earlier into the commercial travel business than Thomas Cook and certainly took parties to Paris and Waterloo battlefield before Cook's earliest ventures into Europe. His business took a major turn in the mid-1860s when he gained the ticket agency for the London and North Western Railway - something that brought about a move from Southampton to London.
He continued to prosper and became the major rival to Thomas Cook and his son through the 1870s and beyond until his death in 1894. By this time there were offices in several UK cities and also in Paris and New York with agents in several other overseas locations. The business passed on to the Gaze's three sons but did not continue with the same success enjoyed under their father.
After at least two changes of ownership the Gaze business sadly fell into severe financial difficulties in 1903 and was declared bankrupt - perhaps the first major travel bankruptcy.
For most people Henry Gaze is a name of little meaning but in the late 19th century he was as well known as Thomas Cook.