The family firm of millers and manufacturers of fertilizers and pharmaceuticals, was founded in the mid-18th century by James Fison I (1735-1806), a baker born at Langham, near Bury St. Edmunds on 1 February 1735, who became known throughout Suffolk as 'the Methodist baker of Barningham'.
Through several generations of Fisons the firm prospered and diversified, with premises at Thetford, Stowmarket, Brandon, Whittington and Bramford near Ipswich, and with business connections elsewhere in Britain and in Europe.
James Fison's son James Fison II continued the business at Barningham. His son James Fison III (1786-1844) moved to Thetford, and set up in business there. He paid for the WM chapel in Thetford and was buried there. His only son, Edward Fison (1820-1896; e.m. 1844), born at Thetford, gave up the prospects of involvement in the family business in favour of the ministry and died on 4 October 1896 at Maidstone.
Another great-grandson of James Fison I, Lorimer Fison (1832-1907; e.m. 1864), born on 9 November 1832, the son of Thomas Fison, farmer of Barningham, Suffolk, went to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge in 1855, but was rusticated after two terms, following some misdemeanor, and went out to the Australian goldfields. He experienced conversion, became a Wesleyan and offered for the mission in Fiji. From 1863 to 1871 and again from 1875 to 1884 he served in Fiji, in the latter years at the teacher-training institution at Navuloa. He gained a considerable reputation as an anthropologist. During an interval in Australia from 1871 to 1875, he collaborated with A.W. Howitt in research on aboriginal life which resulted in their important study Kamilaroiu and Kurnai (1880). Back in Melbourne from 1888-1905, he edited a WM periodical, the Spectator, and was involved in establishing Queen's College. He was President of the anthropological section of the Australian Association for the Advancement of Science in 1892 and made a strong impression back in England when he attended the British Association meeting at Oxford in 1894. He was awarded a civil list pension in 1905, but died at Essendon, Victoria on 29 December 1907.