Michael Bass was born in 1799. His family owned a brewery in Burton-on Trent, which had been founded by his Grandfather. Michel’s father had expanded the business including developing a lucrative export trade to Russia. At the age of 18, Micael left school and joined the brewery. It was a difficult time for the brewery as exports to Russia had been severely disrupted because of the Napoleonic war. However, a new market soon opened up with the sale of Pale Ale to India and Southeast Asia (By 1833 this represented 40% of the companies business). Michael became the head of the company in 1827 and the arrival of the railway in Burton helped reduce the costs of transport and increase distribution. By 1870 Bass was the biggest Brewery in the UK.
Michael Bass became the member of Parliament for Derby in 1848 and continued in this post until 1883, just before his death. He advocated free trade, low taxes and an improved standard of living for the working class. He worked to abolish imprisonment for small debts. He was a philanthropist to both Burton and Derby providing libraries, schools, museums and recreational facilities. In his last years, he was offered a peerage but refused, saying that he wished to remain in the House of Commons (His son Michael, also an MP became Lord Burton in 1897).