Wolverhampton ironmaster and WM. Born in Bilston in 1827 and orphaned by the age of nine, he was educated at the Royal Orphanage School, Wolverhampton. He learned design and mechanical drawing as apprentice to John Duncalfe in Bilston, and his skills eventually led to employment in Hartill and Jackson's japanning firm and then, in 1854, to a partnership with Samuel Jackson. Sankey took sole control of the business in 1861, expanding the range of goods manufactured and also acquiring companies supplying raw materials for the production process. Until the early 1860s Sankey lived on the factory premises in Bilston, but he later moved to Wolverhampton, where the family had a long association with Darlington Street chapel. After several generations of family ownership and management, the firm was acquired by Guest Keen Nettlefold in 1920.