English manufacturer and entrepreneur.
The son of a wealthy toy manufacturer, through his father Boulton he learnt how to establish and successfully manage business ventures. When his father died in 1759 he moved to the Soho area of Birmingham, rebuilt an old mill and transformed it into the Soho Manufactory - in its day the most famous factory in the world. It housed not only workshops but also showrooms, design offices, stores and workers' accommodation. Boulton built his reputation on the manufacture of top quality jewellery, silverware and plated goods.
In 1774 he went into business with the inventor James Watt, forming what was to be the most important partnership of the Industrial Revolution. Boulton's factory built and marketed Watt's steam engines. Watt's powerful new machine was extremely popular and proved a great commercial success.
Later, Boulton went on to use modern manufacturing methods to revolutionise coinage production.