William Churton & Son, hosiers


Street View: 36
Address: 91 Oxford Street

We already came across another hosier in Oxford Street named Churton in the previous post, but William Churton of number 91 Oxford Street stressed in his Street View advertisement that he had nothing to do with the other shop and would customers please note the house number and the fact that his property was NOT on a corner. True, it was not, there was one house between him and Market Court, although the Churtons later acquired that house as well. William originally came from Whitchurch in Shropshire, but by 1796 he had established himself as a hosier at the Golden Fleece in Oxford Street.(1). The year after the start of his business, William married Elizabeth Bray at St. Mary’s, Marylebone. In 1807, some years after the death of Elizabeth (she probably died in 1804), William married Eliza Fuller.

Things were going well for our hosier and in 1819 he insured property in Little Sutton, Chiswick. His name can be found in A List of the Names of the Members of the United Company of Merchants of England Trading to the East-Indies (1825) with both addresses: 91 Oxford Street and Sutton Court Lodge, Chiswick. The Lodge was a rather substantial building that was later used as a boarding school and temporary council offices (see here for more information on its history). It was demolished just after 1900. The London Metropolitan Archives have an 1844 engraving of the property by M.J. Starling, showing a family walking in the grounds. We can well imagine that the artist depicted William Churton and his family, and the picture may even have been commissioned by Churton himself.

Detail of Starling’s engraving, See Collage for the complete picture

Henry Churton of 140 Oxford Street was known for the elastic rollers for horses’ legs that he developed, but William also had a speciality up his sleeve, not for horses’ legs, but for human legs. He developed elastic cotton bandages which were “particularly adapted to the treatment of rheumatismal and oedematous swellings, and even to fractures and dislocations, when they are followed by much tumefaction” according to Thomas Cutler in his Surgeon’s Practical Guide in Dressing of 1838. According to Henry Thomas Chapman in his Brief Description of Surgical Apparatus of 1832 the rollers were sold as ‘Chorton’s Stocking Bandages’ and were “well adapted to cases of anasarca of the lower extremity, varicose veins and hydrops articuli”.

William retired at the end of 1837 and handed over the business to his son Edward George who had already been in partnership with his father.(2) William died in 1851 and his wife Eliza a year later. William left Sutton Lodge House to his son Charles, but the latter does not seem to have lived there as the 1861 census show a Frederick Wigan, hop merchant, as the occupant.

Edward George lived above the shop in Oxford Street, although the 1841 census only shows shop assistants and servants living there. It is unclear where Edward was at that time, but he is certainly found at home in the 1851 and 1861 censuses. Also living there was son William who was Edward’s main assistant. To distinguish him from his grandfather, I will refer to him as William II. Around 1850, Edward and William II expanded the business to include the property next door at number 92.(3) One of the shopman in 1861 was Joseph Day who was still there in 1871 when he and his wife were looking after the property. It is, however, unclear for whom they were minding the shop as William II Churton had died in January 1868. His widow Emma died a few months later and the effects were turned over to William’s sister Julia Churton of 51 Ventnor Villas, Hove, for the benefit of William and Emma’s children.(4) Edward George was listed as retired in the 1871 census and living at Ventnor Villas, Hove, with his three unmarried daughters, among whom Julia, and two grandchildren, the sons of William and Emma.

Catalogue of the British Section. Paris Universal Exhibition of 1867

Edward George died in 1874 and his probate entry lists him as late of 91 and 92 Oxford Street and of Ventnor Villas, certainly suggesting that by then he was no longer involved in the hosiery business.(5) Another family member may have stepped in after the death of William II as the probate entry for William II’s brother John Ashton of 41 Foley Street, who also died in 1874, lists his widow Martha Elizabeth Churton as of 92 Oxford Street. From 1877 onwards, the electoral register shows James Churton at 91 & 92 Oxford Street (most likely William II’s other brother) and he is still there at the time of the 1881 census, although number 92 is then occupied by an Oriental carpet merchant.

When James ran the business, the financial situation was far from ideal and bankruptcy proceedings were started in 1878, which perhaps explains the occupation of number 92 by the carpet merchant. In 1884, James had paid off enough of his debt to be able to terminate the bankruptcy(6), but the business that had existed for over a hundred years was not to last much longer. At some point between 1881 and 1891 the houses in Oxford Street were renumbered and 91 and 92 became 192 and 194. The 1891 census just has the remark that no one sleeps on the premises, so that is no help at all, but an 1889 insurance map shows the name of Chas Baker & Co., outfitters, written across the two premises, so the Golden Fleece must have met its end in the second half of the 1880s.

1889 insurance map

Burke’s Landed Gentry Advertizer, 1871

(1) The tax records for the previous year show an empty property at number 91. William may have been the brother of Edward Churton of 140 Oxford Street as the latter names his brother William as one of the executors of his will, but he does not specify an address, so it is not a hundred percent certain it is the same William.
(2) The London Gazette, 26 December 1837.
(3) The Post Office Directory of 1848 only lists number 91 for the Churtons, but the 1851 edition already has 91 & 92 after their name.
(4) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1868 and 1869.
(5) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1874.
(6) The London Gazette, 19 December 1884.


<– 92 Oxford Street 90 Oxford Street –>

Henry Churton, hosiery warehouse


Street View: 41
Address: 140 Oxford Street

According to the advertisement Henry Churton had in several of Tallis’s Street View booklets, he had taken over from the late E. Churton who had established the shop in 1781. E. Churton was Henry’s father who does indeed feature in early directories, for instance in Lowndes’s London Directory of 1786. The premises at 140 Oxford Street were situated on the corner of Old Cavendish Street and “nearly opposite New Bond Street” as Churton said in his advertisements. That is stretching it a little bit, but Churton no doubt thought that New Bond Street was a better reference for his shop than Old Cavendish Street. The corner property, and in fact, the whole block, is now occupied by John Lewis. The map from the Street View booklet is orientated south-north, so upside down from the usual orientation we nowadays use. New Bond Street seems to run north on the map, but it does in fact run southwards. The building, and many of the surrounding ones, belonged to the Duke of Portland who took out an insurance in 1814 and in 1817 for his Oxford Street properties. The Sun Fire Office entry lists Edward Churton as the tenant of number 140.

Edward possibly married three times. At least, three marriages are recorded at St. Marylebone, but all were by banns, so no additional information about occupation or parents is available in the online records that I have seen. The first marriage was to Harriet Barber in 1784, the second to Elizabeth Blinman in 1789 and the third to Mary Smith in 1809. There were apparently no children from the previous marriages, but Edward and Mary’s son Henry was baptised in December 1809 and his brother Edward on 9 July 1812. There were two more children, Maria and Frederick, but they play no role in the further story of the hosier’s business. Edward wrote a will in 1827, making sure that the silver that belonged to his wife went back to her and that the rest of the silver was divided between the four children. The executors were asked to sell all other effects and hold them in trust for the children until they attained the age of twenty-one years. The executors were either to sell the business or to continue it, whatever they though best. In a codicil Edward stipulated that if Henry wanted to continue the business, he had to compensate his siblings but on no account was he to be charged more than £1200 for the lease and the fixtures of the shop and the goodwill was not to cost him anything.(1)

So, Henry took on the hosier’s shop of his father and he received a favourable mention in 1839 for the elastic rollers for horses’ legs in The Era of 27 October. The newspaper report tell the story of a horse after a long hunt which not only had to contend with the cross-country chase and the fences that need to be jumped, but also with the ride home which may be many miles. After such exertion, the legs of the animal need to be washed with warm water, rubbed and kept warm. This is normally done with flannel bandages, which, although it keeps the legs warm, are inflexible and will either be wound too tight and then hampering blood flow or too loose and then likely to slip down. But, Churton’s Cotton Webb is elastic and hence far superior to the old-fashioned flannel.

Despite this apparent success and the insertion of several advertisements in the Tallis booklets, a year later, bachelor Henry leaves England for New Zealand, so only just after Tallis listed him in his Street View of Oxford Street. The hosiery shop was listed for one Gilbert Wilson in the 1843 Post Office Directory. Churton travelled on the ship ‘London’ which sailed on 13 August 1840 and arrived four months later in Wellington on 12 December (see here). Henry was a cabin passenger, so certainly not fleeing from financial troubles and later reports of him suggest that he was rather well off. Why he went to New Zealand is unclear; he may have been drawn to the adventure or just sick and tired of hosiery.

Churton’s College at Aramoho, near Whanganui. Ref: 1/4-017192-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23132098

Henry settled in Wanganui on the North Island, which had only recently been reached by Europeans. The first traders only arrived at the mouth of the Wanganui river in 1831. According to David Young in his Woven by Water: Histories from the Wanganui River (1998), Churton ran a public house, which was presumably more profitable than selling hosiery to the early settlers. Henry seemed to have had a good relationship with the indigenous population and in 1880, he built a school/college/home for Maori girls. Read more about the building here or even more about it in the newspaper articles listed here. In 1845, some letters written by Churton in 1844 were published by his brother Edward, who had his business in Holles Street. The whole book can be read online here. The title-page contained a paragraph by Henry on his thoughts about the treatment of the Maoris.

“I much wish, that more was known in England about the real position of the Maoris and the Missionaries; and this can only be gathered by persons living, as we have done, in contact with them so long, and having no prejudicial interests to serve. I am more convinced every day, that as long as the present system is continued, the Maoris will not be improved, and no one is more anxious for their welfare than I am.”

Henry was known for his fair treatment of the indigenous population and his efforts to give them a better life. It may now seem like Victorian interference, but he certainly meant well. His brother Edward, the bookseller, also came to live in New Zealand. He arrived in 1862 and died in 1885. He busied himself with various societies and institutions, such as the Equitable Building Society, the Harbor Board and the Gas Company.(2) The former hosier turned settler Henry died in 1887 and a notice in the newspaper about his death described him as a good friend of the natives.(3)

(1) PROB 11/1833/396. One of the executors is “my brother William Churton” who may be the hosier of 91 Oxford Street.
(2) Wanganui Herald, 27 July 1885.
(3) Wanganui Herald, 1 September 1887.


<– 141 Oxford Street 139 Oxford Street –>

John Ashby, carver and gilder



Street View: 70
Address: 14 Old Compton Street

The 1808 land tax records for St. Anne, Westminster simply list ‘Hedges’ in Compton Street, but in 1809 they have changed that to ‘Nehemiah Hedges’. In 1811, Killingworth Hedges takes over and the 1819 Post Office Directory duly lists K. Hedges, looking glass maker at the corner of Dean and Compton Streets. There is another change in 1818 when John Hedges takes over. He certainly pays tax until 1829, but at some point in the 1830s John Ashby takes over. Ashby dissolves a partnership with Henry Sutton as looking and plate glass manufacturers, carvers and gilders at 14 Old Compton Street at the end of 1837.(1)

Ashby splashed out in the Tallis Street View, not only with an advertisement, but also with the depiction of his property in the vignette. The caption still mentions Mr. Hedges as the one Ashby succeeded; no doubt because it was a well-established and respected firm. The caption claims that Hedges had been in business since 1739. The advertisement lists the products that could be supplied, from plate glass for sashes to toilet glasses, and from wood frames to window cornices. The advertisement was not only entered in the booklet for Compton Street, but also repeated in the one for Trafalgar Square and the one for New Bridge Street.

The premises on the corner of Dean Street depicted in the vignette seemed rather large, apparently encompassing number 13 on the left as well, but that is not entirely true. The 1841 census only shows Ashby, his wife Frances Elizabeth, 3 children and one servant living above the shop and the Tallis directory shows E. Watson, ironmonger, at number 13. It looks as if Ashby just had the signboard on the facade lengthened with “14 PLATE GLASS” across the property next door. John died in November 1850 and in his very short will bequeathed everything to his wife. I think it was rather a rushed job as the will is dated the 18th of November and John was buried on the 25th.(2) Frances Elizabeth died in late January 1852. And that would have been the end of the story, but for the fact that Frances appointed former business partner Henry Sutton as one of the executors.(3) In 1860, that is, eight years after Frances’ death, a notice in The London Gazette mentions a decree of the High Court of Chancery in the case of Henry Sutton against John Ashby (that is, the son of the carver) and others.(4)

The Chemist and Druggist, 8 August 1954

The 1856 Post Office Directory lists Frederick Ellington, picture dealer, at 14 Old Compton Street, so John Ashby junior did not continue his father’s business. Various others occupied the premises after Ellington, but from 1893, it became the address for Percy Denny & Co’s hosier and outfitter. The street was renumbered in 1899 with the even numbers on one side and the uneven on the other, and number 14 became number 39. Denny’s continued at number 39 until 1997 when they moved across the street to 55a Dean Street. According to Soho & Theatreland Through Time the building on the corner of Old Compton Street had been there since the 1720s, but was replaced by another one in 1923. World War II bombs fell heavily in Soho, and on 11 May 1941 a high explosive bomb hit the buildings on the opposite side of Dean Street. Denny’s (these days without the apostrophe) were very proud that the clock they had on the building since 1935 survived the Blitz. You can see the clock in the second picture of the West End at War webpage, see here. The same photograph is also shown on Dennys own website, where you can find more information about their history.

Denny’s shop in c. 1908 (Source: Brian Girling, Soho & Theatreland Through Time, 2012)

(1) The London Gazette, 19 December 1837.
(2) PROB 11/2123/148.
(3) PROB 11/2155/397.
(4) The London Gazette, 10 February 1860.


<– 13 Old Compton Street 15 Old Compton Street –>

John Burder, solicitor


Street View: 73
Address: 27 Parliament Street

27 Parliament Street was situated on the west side of the street, but the row of houses it belonged to is no longer there. The building that now houses HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs) occupies the whole block of houses that used to be there, although not exactly, as the street has been widened in the late 1890s and the frontage set back and the street at the back, King Street, has disappeared altogether. The building is now known as 100 Parliament Street and Grade II* listed (see here).

27 Parliament Street in Horwood’s 1799 map

The Times, 11 Nov. 1891

At the time when Tallis produced his Street Views, number 27 was occupied by John Burder, a solicitor. We first come across him with this address in 1822 as the solicitor where particulars can be obtained about the sale of an estate in Buckden.(1) The previous occupant of number 27 had been Christopher Hodgson who provided similar services and who removed his business to Dean’s Yard. Hodgson and Burder were or became friends and Hodgson is remembered in Burder’s will as “his friend”. We next find Burder in an advertisement of the Medical, Clerical and General Life Assurance Society, established in June 1824. Burder was one of the society’s solicitors.

The Examiner, 20 June 1824

In early 1826, Burder married Elizabeth Taylor at Holy Trinity Church, Guildford. Ten years later, he acquired the freedom of the City of London through the Worshipful Company of Broderers. The 1841 census does not show him at number 27, but the entry does show a Mary Burden or Burder, 30 years old, without an occupation, who may have been a relative living with the Burders. Also present are a clerk and a female servant. Also in 1841, Thomas Evans of Hereford transmits Articles of Clerkship to William Gilmore Bolton of Austin Friars, attorney of the Queen’s Bench, solicitor of the High Court of Chancery, and Burder’s co-solicitor for the Medical, Clerical and General Life Assurance Society. The clerkship was for the benefit of John Burder junior, the son of John and Elizabeth. In addition, in 1843, John Burder junior became the apprentice of the same William Gilmore Bolton and he thereby obtained his freedom of the City after the customary seven years. The 1851 census shows John senior and his family living at Crown Lane, Brixton. That same year John junior and his brother Charles Sumner become members of the freemasons’ Middlesex Lodge. Charles Sumner was listed with the abode of Pembroke College, Oxford and was later to become rector of Ham on the Wiltshire/Berkshire border.(2).

In the alphabetical section of Boyle’s Fashionable Court & Country Guide of 1847, John Burder Esq. is listed as of 27 Parliament Street, but also of 41 Parliament Street. A look at the street section explains that the office of the Clergy Mutual Assurance Society was situated at number 41 for which Burder was one of the secretaries. John Burder senior died in 1855 and in his will and subsequent codicils still described himself as “of Parliament Street”, although The Freeman’s Journal stated that he died at his residence at Norwood.(3) The Morning Chronicle states that he was interred at Hale, near Farnham, by the bishop of Winchester, in the church created by his lordship [that is, St. John’s]. The Bishop of Winchester was Charles Sumner and there must have been some sort of link between the two gentleman for Burder to call one of his sons Charles Sumner Burder. The burial register of Hale also described Burder as of Norwood.

The family’s woes were not over yet as Burder’s other son, Thomas Henry Carr, died a few months later at Cambridge, just 23 years old. He was also buried at Hale. According to Anne Henry Ehrenpreis, Thomas was a little frail and she records him falling ill several times when on a trip to America with Henry Arthur Bright. Not to mention his clumsiness in losing his carpet bag and sticking his hand in a cactus.(4) When Elizabeth Burder died in late 1879, it turned out that she had not done anything with Thomas’s estate and it fell to her executors to sort out both estates in 1880.(5) Elizabeth was also buried at St. John’s, Hale.

St John the Evangelist’s Church, Farnham (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

John junior remained at 27 Parliament Street, later together with his brother-in-law Simon Dunning who had married sister Elizabeth Mary Burder in 1856. The gentlemen were secretaries to several bishops, among them the bishops of Ely, Chichester and Chester. They dissolved their partnership in July 1876 with Dunning to continue the business.(6) According to the 1861 and 1871 censuses John, unmarried, lived with his mother at 60 Queen’s Garden, Paddington, but in 1873, he married Annie Theresa O’Connell, 20 years his junior. The couple lived at various addresses, at some point in Brussels, Belgium, and had three children. In 1881, John filed for divorce on the grounds that Annie had committed adultery. He had not been living with his family since 1877, but Annie was delivered of a son in 1880, who must therefore have another father. Annie denied the allegation and said that John had lived with her in August 1879 and was therefore the father of her youngest son and that he had abandoned her for another woman, one Mary Jane Manning. John denied all that and said he left Annie because she was violent towards him, throwing plates and candlesticks, forcing him to sleep on the sofa. In March 1881, Annie had forced her way into the house where he then resided, creating a disturbance and assaulting Mrs Manning. On earlier occasions she had annoyed and threatened his mother and partner Dunning. The court dismissed the case with Burder to pay costs.(7)

In the 1891 census, John Burder is living in the same house as Mary Jane Manning, née Walker. He is described as ‘cousin’. There does seem to be a family link between the Burders and the Mannings or Walkers as in the 1881 census, one Sarah Burder is described as ‘aunt’ and living with the Walkers and Mannnings. When John died in 1895, probate was granted to Mary Jane Manning. His effects had dwindled to £14 15s, so whatever he had made as a solicitor had disappeared dramatically.(8) Simon Dunning had died in 1883.(9)

Solicitors’ Journal and Reporter, vol. 27 (1882-1883), p. 456

(1) The Morning Post, 23 May 1822.
(2) St. Mary Hall, Oxon., B.A. 1853, M.A. 1857. Deacon 1854, Priest 1856, Winchester. Curate of Privett (Hants); Rector of Ham, 1864 — 1900.
(3) PROB 11/2211/418; Freeman’s Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser, 6 April.
(4) Anne Henry Ehrenpreis, ‘A Victorian Englishman on Tour: Henry Arthur Bright’s Southern Journal, 1852’, in The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 84:3 (July 1976), pp. 333-361. Available via JStor.
(5) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1880. The executors were Charles Sumner Burder and Simon Dunning. Elizabeth’s estate was valued at under £1,500 and Thomas’s at under £5,000.
(6) The London Gazette, 11 July 1876.
(7) Civil Divorce Court: Class: J 77; Piece: 259.
(8) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1895.
(9) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1883. The executor was his widow Elizabeth Mary. The estate was valued at over £29,000.


<– 28 Parliament Street 26 Parliament Street –>

Isaac Henry Robert Mott, pianoforte maker


Street View: 9 Suppl.
Address: 76 Strand

The elevation at the top of this post is from the original 1839 booklet of Tallis’s Street View of the Strand (number 19), but the index to that edition does not mention anyone occupying the premises, so it was presumably empty at the time. On the right-hand side of the building is the entrance to Ivy Bridge Lane; the name is not very clear on the picture, but the index lists Bridge Lane between numbers 75 and 76. To confuse the issue somewhat, the 1847 edition of Tallis’s Street View calls it Ivy Lane. The official name was Ivy Bridge Lane and it is already depicted on the mid-16th century Agas map (see here). The lane used to slope down to the river (see for pictures here and here), but these days ends in Savoy Place. There are gates on either side of the lane, so no longer publicly accessible. My facsimile copy of Tallis’s work unfortunately shows number 76 in the 1847 Street View across two pages, split in half on either side of the fold, so not very convenient to show at the top of this post, but as it looks as if the 1847 occupant embellished the front of his shop with fancy lintels above the windows and the figures of two angels (?) between the first-floor windows, I thought it best to show you the picture anyway.

The occupant in 1847 was Isaac Henry Robert Mott, piano-forte maker. Isaac did not live above the shop, but from about 1830 to 1846 at Blythe House, Brook Green, Hammersmith, and later at Notting Hill. In the 1841 census, Isaac’s parents-in-law, George and Rebecca Jackson are living at Blythe House with one of their own daughters and six Mott children, three from Isaac’s first marriage and three from his second marriage to Rebecca Anne Jackson.(1) George Jackson was a ship and insurance broker of Billiter Court and he may have assisted Isaac financially when he was facing bankruptcy proceedings in 1840.(2) Blythe House was a rather grand building and most likely the property of George Jackson. When George died in 1846, his will (dated 1 October 1845) makes no mention of Blythe House, which suggests he did not own it.(3) Around 1846, Isaac Mott moved to Notting Hill, an event very likely to have been forced upon him by the death of his father-in-law; the baptism of the youngest child was registered at St. John the Evangelist, Ladbroke Grove, rather than at St. Paul, Hammersmith, as the other children from his second marriage had been.

‘Plate 111: Blythe House’, in Survey of London: Volume 6, Hammersmith, ed. James Bird and Philip Norman (London, 1915), p. 111. British History Online

Isaac Henry Robert Mott had a rather checkered career: in 1814 he is listed as a musician at Birmingham, but from 1817 onwards we find him as a piano-forte maker and that is what he is certainly best known for. However, in 1839 we also find him as a distiller at 75 Dean Street and 3 Richmond Mews. The distillery business seemed to have been short-lived and may have been the cause of his bankruptcy in 1840 and is no longer mentioned in directories for the 1840s. Early on in his career, from 1814 to 1818 or 1819, Mott lived at Brighton where he developed the New Steyne Library and Assembly Rooms. In 1817, he took out a patent for his ‘sostinente pianoforte’ and when George IV bought one of his instruments, his career was made. ‘Piano-forte maker to the king’ sounds much better than plain ‘music teacher and instrument maker’. Brighton could no longer hold him and Mott sought further fortunes in London; the library and assembly rooms he left behind were turned into the New Steyne Bazaar.

See the article by Katherine Prior (@Churchwardress) in the Kemptown Rag of May 2018, page 15, for more on Brighton’s New Steyne/Steine and the link with Mott.

Grand piano Buckingham Palace, Inscriptions on soundboard: I.H.R.Mott.A.D.1817; above keyboard: Patent Sostenente Grand / IHR Mott,I.C.Mott & Comp : / 95 Pall Mall London / Makers to His Majesty Probably purchased by George IV from Mott’s of Pall Mall; it stood originally in the Music Room Gallery, Brighton Pavilion, where it can be seen in John Nash’s engraving of 1824 (see below) Source: Royal Collection Trust

Royal Pavilion music room with Mott’s piano

Isaac and his cousin Julius Caesar Mott started a piano-forte business in Pall Mall, together with one John Chatfield, who may have been a relation of Sarah Chatfield, the stepmother of Isaac’s father. The partnership was dissolved in 1824, not entirely without acrimony, and Isaac continued on his own at 92 Pall Mall.(4) For a short period, 1829-1832, Mott also had an outlet in Oxford Street, and the review of Mott’s Advice and Instruction for Playing the Piano Forte with Expression in The Quarterly Musical Magazine and Review of 1824 mentions 24 Dover Street, Piccadilly, an address that can also be seen on ‘Fly ye moments!’ and Sacred Melodies below. The first mention of 76 Strand is in an Old Bailey case of January 1842 where Mott had to testify as, in December 1841, someone had falsely claimed that 76 Strand was his address. Mott denied knowing this person and stated that he lived in the country and has his piano-forte “ware-rooms” at 76 Strand since mid-November. Mott explained that nobody lived at the premises and that he had no lodgers. There was only one small bedroom and his son slept there to keep an eye on the place at night.(5) The 1843 Post Office Directory duly lists his Strand address. It also lists a Mrs Rebecca Mott at 24 Old Fish Street as a carwoman, but whether she was Isaac’s wife or someone else altogether I do not know. From 1842 till 1849, Mott also had premises at 23 Poppin’s Court.

advertisement in The Morning Post, 5 May 1825

The 1851 census shows Isaac, Rebecca and six of their children at 48 Norland Square, Notting Hill. Isaac is listed as piano-forte maker, employing 12 men. The Poppin’s Court property is no longer mentioned for Isaac in the 1851 Post Office Directory. In 1855, when on a business trip to France, Isaac died suddenly. R.E.M. Harding in her The Piano-Forte of 2014 lists “Mott’s Piano-Forte Athenaeum” in 1857, but the reference is without a source, so I am not sure where it came from. I have not found any indication that the piano business survived after Isaac’s death, so will end this post here.

top part of ‘Fly ye Moments!’ by Mrs Mott (presumably Fanny as the work must be dated somewhere between 1820 and 1824 (Source: National Library of Australia)

Addresses found:
1814 Maphouse Lane, Birmingham
1815-1818 Brighton (New Steyne?)
1830-1846 Blythe House
1846-1855 48 Norland Square, Notting Hill

1813-1815 Birmingham
1815-1818? New Steyne, St. James’s Street, Brighton
1819?-1825? 95 Pall Mall
?-1824 24 Dover Street, Piccadilly
1825?-1841 92 Pall Mall
1829-1832 315 Oxford Street (later renumbered to – I think – 283)
1839-1840 75 Dean Street & 3 Richmond Mews (distillery)
1841-1855 76 Strand
1842-1849 Poppin’s Court

(1) Isaac married Fanny Rackstrow in July 1813 at Oxford. Their children were Henry Isaac Robert July 1814-Dec. 1814; Henry Isaac Robert July 1815-Oct. 1815; Henry George Dennison 1817-before 1874; Evelina Maria Christina 1820-1901; Rosa Fanny 1822-1892. Their mother Fanny died in 1826 and Isaac remarried Rebecca Anne Jackson in April 1830. They had 8 children: George Henry 1831-1906; Emily 1832-1875; Fanny 1834-1913; Arthur Robins 1835-1876; William Henry 1837-1923; Herbert Frederik 1839-1840; Ernest Charles 1844-1899; and Francis De la Motte 1846-1902. More on the Mott family here.
(2) The London Gazette, 10 November 1840.
(3) PROB 11/2033/11.
(4) The London Gazette, 1 June 1824; and The Morning Post, 25 March 1824.
(5) Old Bailey case t18420103-452.


<– 77 Strand 75 Strand –>

George Peirce, printer


Street View: 10 Suppl.
Address: 310 Strand

Tallis did not list the occupants of 309-317 Strand in the Street Views that came out in 1839. That section of the street was situated behind St. Mary-le-Strand and, for whatever reason, Tallis decided to depict the church rather than the shops behind it. You can just about see a small section of number 310 behind the church, but Peirce was not listed in the directory that came with the Street View. Tallis did make amends, however, in the 1847 Street Views and instead of the church he depicted the row of shops of which you can see number 310 at the top of this post.

Peirce’s shop peeping out from behind the church in the 1839 Street View

In March 1829, Charles Ingrey and George Edward Madeley, lithographic printers, at 310 Strand dissolved their partnership.(1) Ingrey left us a nice trade card that depicts his lithographic printing office. The British Museum date the card to somewhere between 1824 and 1839.

trade card Charles Ingrey (© The Trustees of the British Museum)

The 1841 census tells us that James Randall, a collector of rents, and his family are occupying the premises, but so is George Peirce, printer, and his wife Susannah. At some point in time George had entered into a partnership with one Matthew Flinders Pearson of 7 Castle Street, Holborn, also a printer, but that partnership was dissolved in late 1842.(2) Peirce was to continue the business in the Strand on his own, although he later had another partnership with James Trevelyan Hyde which was dissolved in March 1848. The notice in the London Gazette stated that the firm of Peirce and Hyde had been working as booksellers, printers and publishers.(3) Once again, the business was to be continued by Peirce.

We can learn a bit more about the everyday practices in Peirce’s business and about the layout of his shop from an Old Bailey case of 1845. Charles Thomas Knight, described by Peirce as a pressman in his employ until 3 October, was indicted for stealing 900 sheets of printed paper from Peirce. Peirce said that he had printed Thomas Doubleday’s The True Law of Population and that he kept some of the print run in loose sheets in the store room. He had sold some of the work bound, but none unbound. He saw some of the sheets at Mr. Durien’s, an oil and colourman, who had bought the sheets from George Eaton, a bookseller. Scrap paper, printed or otherwise, was used to wrap any kind of produce in, so there was a ready market for waste paper among the shopkeepers and young Knight seems to have made use of that demand. He pilfered the sheets from Peirce’s warehouse, no doubt given a helping hand by his brother who still worked for Peirce. The unfortunate printer told the court that his business had two entrances, one in the Stand and one at the back leading into One Bell Yard. The latter entrance was the one the workmen were supposed to use. Knight was sentences to nine months confinement.(4)

Another book that Peirce printed was William Cobbett‘s Rural Rides in the Counties of 1853. A letter from Peirce to J.P. Cobbett contains the bill for printing 1000 copies of Rural Rides, which was not published by Peirce as he had done the edition by Doubleday, but by A. Cobbett of 137 Strand. J.P. Cobbett was the editor, so apparently a regular family edition. The invoice by Peirce can be found in the archives of the Museum of Farnham (see here).(5)

Peirce’s wife Susannah died in January 1857 and was buried the 22nd of that month at All Souls, Kensal Green, and George was to follow her exactly one year later as he was buried there on the 22nd of January 1858. His will was proved by his brother, Thomas Henry Peirce, an ironmonger.(6) In October 1858, the “materials of the newspaper and jobbing printing office of Mr. G. Pierce [sic] was sold by auction.(7) Thomas tried to dispose of the lease of 310 Strand (see advertisement below), but he continued to pay the Land Tax up to 1863. In 1864 a William Ponsford took over.

advertisement in Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper, 31 Jan. 1858

Nothing is now left of 310 Strand as the developments for Kingsway completely obliterated the row of houses behind St. Mary le Strand and where Peirce’s business once was, you can now find a gate between two buildings that – I think – belong to King’s college. And if you position yourself on the other side of the street – roughly at the bus stop in front of King’s College – you will have the same view as Tallis depicted in his 1847 Street View.

The gate where 310 Strand was situated (Source: Google maps)

Comparable view with Tallis’s 1847 Street View (Source: Google maps)

(1) The London Gazette, 24 March 1829.
(2) The London Gazette, 27 December 1842.
(3) The London Gazette, 7 March 1848.
(4) Old Bailey case 718451124-59.
(5) Museum of Farnham, Archives, 152/A/12/vi.
(6) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858. The effects were valued at less than £800.
(7) Advertisement in The Standard, 5 October 1858.


<– 311 Strand 309 Strand –>

Rehsif, Ablett & Co., outfitters


Street View: 86 and 18 Suppl.
Address: 37 Cornhill and 27 King William Street

Wiliam Henry Ablett, hosier, was made free of the City of London on 26 October, 1824, as “the fourteenth of fifty”, in other words: he had not gone through the usual 7-year apprenticeship, but became a freeman via the Company of Fanmakers by paying a fine of 46s 8d. Sun Fire insurance entries place his shop from 1824-1829 at 37 Fish Street Hill, but at some point before 1832 he moved the shop to 37 Cornhill. When son William Henry junior was baptised in May 1830, the family still lived at the Fish Street Hill address, but when the next son, Charles Grey, was baptised on the 1st of April 1832, the family had already moved to Cornhill.(1) A case of attempted theft from Ablett’s shop helps us to narrow down the removal period. John Wheeler, shopman to Ablett, caught a thief trying to put a silk handkerchief under his apron in June 1831.(2) The shop was then still in Fish Street Hill. The move to Cornhill must therefore have taken place between June 1831 (the theft) and April 1832 (baptism Charles). In November 1832, Ablett was assisted by his nephew John Lee Ablett who apprehended another thief who had walked off with six handkerchiefs.(3) At the Old Bailey, John Lee stated that William Henry was an outfitter and an advertisement in The Spectator of 1840 tells us that Ablett sold ladies chemises, night gowns, collars, and all kinds of shirts: made from calico or Irish linen, with linen collars, with plaited fronts, etc., and all cheaper if bought per dozen.

N. Whittock published a book in 1840 On the Construction and Decoration of the Shop Fronts of London and for plate 5 he chose Ablett’s outfitting warehouse in Cornhill, which shows lots of drapery in the windows, two swords as window decoration and something indefinable hanging over the counter. No evidence of any of the shirts Ablett advertised, however.

An advertisement in The Morning Chronicle of 22 April, 1845, tells us that Ablett had removed his business from 37 Cornhill to 27 King William Street, where he was to be trading as Rehsif & Ablett. According to the earlier set of Tallis Street Views, those premises had been in the occupation of Carpenter & Co., also outfitters. The shirts Ablett was celebrated for could still be ordered from the new establishment as all the patterns of W.H. Ablett had been preserved. An advertisement in The Times later that year, on 4 August, lists the shirts that could be bought. The range of items was the same as in the earlier advertisement, and all, as before, cheaper if bought by the dozen. But it was not to last. In October 1846, one H. Hurst, a publisher, occupied 27 King William Street, with no indication where Rehsif and/or Ablett have gone, although they may have shared the building for a while as Tallis’s Supplement was published in 1847 and he only lists Rehsif Ablett & Co. Who Rehsif was, where he came from and where he went is unclear, nor is clear what happened to Ablett. There is a suggestion that he and his family moved to South Africa and that he died there in 1876.(4)

But is this the Cornhill and King Willam Street outfitter? A William Henry Ablett did indeed die in South Africa in 1876, but the record that I saw transcribed his age as 22, although the original document is so mangled that it is hard to make out. If it says 82 instead of 22, then it is possibly our outfitter as he was born in ±1793. But, other records help us out. In 1880, Sarah Ablett, relict of William Henry Ablett, 80 years old, died of kidney failure in Durban. The informant who reported her death to the registrar is her son William Henry. Other Abletts who died in South Africa were Charles Grey in 1874 and James Potter in 1917. The latter died of pneumonia when he was 82 years old, but Charles Grey was only 42 years old and died in Pietermaritzburg of “suffocation caused by his falling into the watercourse in Boom Street when in an epileptic fit”. It would be extremely unlikely that another Ablett family existed with the same first names, so I think we may conclude that is was indeed the outfitter who went to Natal.

More on Ablett’s family history can be found in the Campbell Collection of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. They hold four files of manuscripts, typescripts, printed material, and photographs on the Ablett family. The first file consists of two accounts by James Potter of trading trips made from Lourenco Marques to Port Natal in 1871-1872, and to the Gold Fields, Eastern Transvaal, in c.1873. The other files contain biographical data and photographs. The record description given by the university tells us a bit more about the family’s journey to South Africa and their life in the new country.(5)

“William Henry Ablett came to Natal on the ‘Amazon’ in 1850 with 3 of his sons, William, James and Auther [mistake for Arthur]. His wife, Sarah, and another child, Charles, followed in January 1854 on the ‘Lady of the Lake’. The family farmed in various parts of Natal. James Potter Ablett was born in England on 31 December 1835 and came to Natal with his father in 1850. He was married to Rosario Winn on 10 March 1863 at Verulam. In 1867 he went bankrupt and had to sell his sugar estate ‘Kirkly Vale’. In the early 1870s he went on trading trips up the east coast from Durban and appears to have been based at Lourenco Marques for a time from July 1870. Later he went to Kimberley and Johannesburg where he worked as an auditor for several gold-mining companies. He returned to Durban in 1916 and died on 19 May 1917, two days after the death of his wife Rosario.”

The sons that came with their father to Natal were obviously the four sons born to William Henry and Sarah between 1830 and 1836 (see footnote 1). No mention is made of eldest daughter Sarah Ann, so she may have stayed in England, or perhaps she had died young as her sisters had, but I found no record of her death.

(1) William Henry married Sarah Potter in 1827. Their children were: Sarah Ann (1828), William Henry (1830), Charles Grey (1832), Arthur Wilson (1835), James Potter (1836), Emily (1837, she died in 1838), Isabella (1839, she died that same year) and Eliza Emmeline (1842, she died in 1852 at Park House asylum, Highgate).
(2) Old Bailey case t18310630-146.
(3) Old Bailey case t18321129-14.
(4) Suffolk Roots, v.17, 1991 via Family History Library Catalog online.
(5) University of KwaZulu-Natal, Campbell Collection, Ablett Family Papers (record online here)


<– 36 Cornhill
<– 28 King William Street
38 Cornhill –>
26 King William Street –>

James Corss, tailor



Street Views: 59 and 60
Address: 16, 25 and 49 Shoreditch

The elevations at the top of this post show the three shops James Corss had at the time when Tallis produced his Street Views: number 16 is Corss’s boot and shoe warehouse and numbers 25 and 49 are the outlets for his clothing business. From various sources, we can work out when each shop was occupied by him. He was often listed as of Holywell Street, but that should not be read as another address, but as an older name for Shoreditch High Street.
It all seems – and I use ‘seems’ deliberately, see further on – to have started at number 49 where we find him paying the Sun Fire Office insurance premium from 1816 tot 1839. From 1829 onwards, number 16 is added with a last mention for that shop in an 1845 street directory. From 1839 till 1844, we also find number 25 in Corss’s occupation, but numbers 16 and 25 were superseded in 1844/5 by the larger shop at number 63.

Insurance records also place him at 48 Chiswell Street from 1826 onwards, but that may have been his home address. We also find him at 15 New Bond Street in early 1832 and at 348 Oxford Street in July 1839, but it is unclear how long he used those premises. They may just have been temporary outlets.

James Corss said in the 1847 advertisement in Lloyd’s Weekly London Newspaper we already saw in the post on Josiah Luntley, that he had removed his “Great Emporium” to 63 Shoreditch. In the same advertisement he claimed that his business had started in 1807 on the site of the present terminus of the Eastern Counties Railway”, so most likely at number 49 where he must have been some ten years before he paid his first insurance premium. Number 49 was situated on the corner of the alley that led to Webb Square, which disappeared completely to make way for the new railway line and terminus. Tallis probably only just caught Corss at number 49 before the demolishing began. The Shoreditch terminus of the Grand Eastern Counties Railway was opened on 1 July 1840 (see here).

Horwood’s 1799 map with Corss’s properties indicated

The Webb Square area was a notorious haunt of “pickpockets, house-breakers and prostitutes”, at least according to the reverend Timothy Gibson when he gave evidence to the Metropolitan Railway Commissioners in April 1846.(1) It is therefore perhaps no wonder that Corss had to suffer several attempted thefts from his shop. He is listed several time in Old Bailey cases as the victim of small thefts. The records do not specify his address exactly, so are no use in determining whether he had always been at number 49, but they indicate that his shop was in Shoreditch. For instance, in 1819, when a pair of shoes were stolen, and in 1820 when a pair of trousers were taken, he is said to be of Shoreditch.(2)
The 1845 notice in The London Gazette about James Corss and Stephen Roberts dissolving their partnership as tailors and drapers already mentioned no. 63 as their address, so the move from 16 and 25 to 63 Shoreditch must have been made well before the advertisement in Lloyd’s Weekly London Newspaper of 1847.

The vignette street view in Tallis’s booklet shows two of Corss’s shops. Number 16 on the right, that is, the boot and shoe department which he ran in partnership with Tuckett and number 25 on the left, the tailoring business. It is quite likely that the advertisement Corss had in The Times of 5 December 1828 had something to do with the opening of his business at number 16. In the advertisement he is asking for a “smart, active, single young man” for a retail shoe warehouse. Also wanted is a shop boy. The first official mention of number 16 as Corss’s shoe shop is in an insurance record of February 1829. The 1841 census shows Charles Tuckett and his family at number 16. Was he the – by then married – young man of the advertisement who got promoted to partnership? It is just a guess. But the partnership did not last much longer as it ended at the end of 1841.(3) In the 1843 Post Office Directory, James Corss is still listed at numbers 16 and 25, without any indication that he was at that time in partnership with anyone else. The 1845 Post Office Directory, however, finds him at number 16 on his own, but at number 63 in partnership with one Roberts. Number 25 seems to have been relinquished and as the 1844 electoral register still has James for numbers 25 & 63, the change must have taken place in late 1844 or early 1845. On the 19th of February 1846, James Corss and Stephen Roberts dissolve their partnership with Corss to continue on his own.(4) The premises at number 63 were a lot larger than the previous shops, so James’s business seemed to have flourished.


63 Shoreditch

Although the business flourished, Corss’s personal life was less rosy. We saw him in the 1841 census at number 25 with his wife Mary Ann and children Maria (17), James (15) and Eliza (13). Young James was to work in the business and most likely destined to take over after his father retired. But James junior suffered from depression, feeling himself wholly inadequate to deal with life’s challenges and one summer night he killed himself. He had been spending that Tuesday on business, buying goods at a warehouse in Wood Street. His father said at the inquest that he had not seen his son afterwards. But young James somehow ended up at an inn in Greenwich where he engaged a bed and wrote a letter to his father to explain why he could not go on and he then committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. Corss senior said that the delusions of his son had no ground in reality and that he had good prospects, but that he had suffered at times from great depressions. He was know to have disappeared before and that time he ended up in America. The verdict was insanity.(5)

advertisement in The Star and National Trades’ Journal, 20 March 1852

Despite this tragedy, James Corss senior continued his Great Emporium business at 63 Shoreditch and in the 1861 census wife Mary Ann is given as the head of the family; she is listed without an occupation. James is not listed, but his daughter Eliza, an artist, and his son Clifford are at home. Clifford’s occupation is not easy to read, but it is [something] & tailor, so he is presumably working in his father’s business. Another son, Charles William, had chosen another career and was, in 1844, apprenticed to a Law Stationer, Alfred James Waterlow. On his marriage certificate (1863) Charles William called himself a lithographic artist. There was another link between the Corsses and Waterlows as Charles’s sister Maria married one of Alfred’s younger brothers, Albert Crakell Waterlow.

Father James Corss died in 1863(6) and brother Clifford in 1864(7); Charles then gave up his own career to take over the family business. Mother Mary Ann died in 1870(8), but it is unclear whether she had run the business after her husband’s death, or whether it were just the sons who had taken over. The 1871 census lists Charles William in Brighton, but with the occupation “master tailor employing 10 males at 63 Shoreditch”. The 1881 census saw him at Southbrook, Croyden, as “clothier” without any further information, and the 1891 census as “retired woollen draper”, still at Southbrook. He died there in 1902.(9) In the 1860s, the Corss firm seems to have specialised in boys’ school uniforms. I have not found any advertisements after 1868, but since Charles William still listed the business on the census papers in 1871, they must have continued for a bit longer.

advertisement in Reynold’s Newspaper, 9 April 1865

49 Shoreditch: 1807?-1839
16 Shoreditch: 1829-1845
25 Shoreditch: 1839-1844
63 Shoreditch: 1844?-1871 or later

(1) Minutes of Evidence Taken Before the Commissioners Appointed to Investigate the Various Projects for Establishing Railway Termini, within or in the Immediate Vicinity of the Metropolis, 1846.
(2) Old Bailey cases t18190217-94 and t18200517-130.
(3) The London Gazette, 31 December 1841.
(4) The London Gazette, 20 February 1846.
(5) The Morning Chronicle, 24 August 1848.
(6) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1863. The estate was valued at less than £5,000. The executor was Walter Blanford Waterlow, another brother of Alfred. See for the Waterlow family here.
(7) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1864. The estate was first valued at less than £5,000, but later resworn as £9,000. The executor was Charles William Corss.
(8) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1870. The estate was valued at less than £1,500. The executor was Walter Blanford Waterlow.
(9) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1902. The estate was valued at over £14,000. The executor was a solicitor.


<– 17 Shoreditch
<– 26 Shoreditch
<– 50 Shoreditch
<– 64 Shoreditch
15 Shoreditch –>
24 Shoreditch –>
48 Shoreditch –>
62 Shoreditch –>

Thomas Milroy & Sons, saddlers and harness makers


Street View: 86
Address: 72 Cornhill

The 1794 Directory for London, Westminster & the Borough of Southwark lists Thomas Milroy, patent saddler, at 12 Tottenham Court Road, which was an address that lay outside the City of London, so he need not have taken up the freedom of the City, but in 1795 he decided to do so anyway via the Company of Saddlers “by redemption”, paying 46s and 6d for the privilege. The – slightly mangled – document in the archives has a note in the margin telling us that Thomas was the son of William Milroy of Whithorn, Galloway. The membership of one of the Worshipful Companies allowed Milroy to trade within the City and we find that he had a good motive for joining as the 1796 tax records for Langbourn find him in George Yard, Lombard Street, that is, within the City. He was to remain there till 1827.

Horwood’s 1799 map of the Lombard Street area

Thomas had married Sarah Fry on 16 August 1788 at St. Mary’s, Marylebone Road. The marriage allegation gives him as 26 years old and of St. Giles in the Fields and Sarah as 21 years old and of St. Marylebone. They had at least three sons who went into the same business as their father: John (freedom of the City in 1812), Andrew Haigh (freedom 1816), and William Fry (freedom 1825). Another son, Alexander (freedom 1820), became an insurance broker, and later a (wine) merchant. When Thomas moved from George Yard to Cornhill in 1827, his new business premises were, according to the Land Tax records, a lot more expensive in rentals. As you can see from the elevation above this post, the Milroys occupied a very substantial building, which, in fact, consisted of numbers 71 and 72 together, and, as Horwood’s map shows, it ran a long way back, all the way to Merchant Taylors’ Hall. The rentals for the premises in George Yard had been 100, while the Cornhill premises were 191 of which 30 was to be paid by the Merchant Taylors, as they apparently still occupied part of number 72.

Horwood’s 1799 map showing 71 and 72 Cornhill

Thomas never saw Tallis come round to elicit information on the shop for his Street View as he died in January 1837, 79 years old according to the burial record, although that does not exactly corresponds with the age he gave at his marriage. Either he was not 26 years old in 1788, but only 22, or he was not yet 79 when he died, but 75 or thereabouts. Whatever his true age, he was buried in the old vault at St. Michael, Cornhill.

trade card for the Milroys which probably dates from the late 1810s or early 1820s (© The Trustees of the British Museum)

The 1835 Electoral Register lists the Milroys: Thomas was by then living at 4 Finsbury Square; John is given the address of 72 Cornhill; and Andrew Haigh, Alexander and William are all listed at Cornhill, without a house number. John died in September 1838 and was also buried in the old vault at St. Michael’s. The 1841 census shows William as the occupant of number 72, but the 1841 electoral register listed him at 7 Finsbury Square, where Alexander also lived. Andrew Haigh was listed at Highgate. The three men had a share in a copyhold house at Muswell Hill, most likely the house where Thomas lived the last couple of years of his life.

advertisement in the Morning Post, 3 Dec. 1842

The Rolt saddle in the advertisement above was invented by John Rolt, who described it as “a saddle, so constructed, as for the pommel to receive the handle of an umbrella, through which means an umbrella may be carried on horseback, without any fatigue to the rider”. Most convenient against the rain, but, according to Rolt, even better in hot climates as protection against the sun. The saddles were “for the present only to had only of Messrs. Milroy, saddlers, 72 Cornhill”. (1) And one Charles Barter wrote in his 1852 book, The Dorp and the Veld, or Six Months in Natal, that saddles sent out from England were often “trash” and “the ruin of many a fine animal”, but that his was made by the Milroys “and was one of the best in the colony”.

The Milroys all seem to have lived at 72 Cornhill for some time during their adult life, as Alexander’s burial record – he died in June 1846 – gives that address for him, although he described himself in his will, dated 6 May 1846, as a merchant of 45 King William Street. He left all his possessions to his sister Mary Penelope.(2) By then, the next generation of saddlers had joined the firm. In July 1847, Andrew Row McTaggart Milroy, the son of Andrew Haigh, was admitted into the Saddlers’ Company by patrimony. His address is then given as 22 Poultry and Kings Arms Yard, but in the 1851 census he is living with his uncle William in 4 Sun Court, Cornhill, which was just a few houses down from number 72. The 1855 electoral register still saw the saddlers at Sun Court and Andrew Haigh at Holly Terrace, Highgate.

advertisement in The London and China Telegraph, 1861

William died in June 1856 and Andrew Haigh in June 1877. By then he had already dissolved the partnership he had with his son Andrew Row (in 1874), but his probate record still mentions 4 Sun Court and 1 Holly Terrace, although the notice in The London Gazette about the end of the partnership just mentions business premises at 132 Leadenhall Street.(3) The trade magazine Saddlery and Harness of 1899 tells us that the Dublin firm of “Messrs. Box & Co. have purchased the business of Messrs. T. Milroy & Son, carried on for such a long period in Sun Court, Cornhill, and more recently in Leadenhall Street, and have removed the same to Pall Mall”. This takeover had probably all to do with the death of Andrew Row who died 1 August of that year.(4) In other words, the Milroy saddle business had lasted for more than a hundred years.

The Saddler from The book of English trades, 1818

(1) Rolt on moral command, 3rd ed., 1842.
(2) PROB 11/2037/342.
(3) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1877. The estate was valued at under £600.
(4) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1899. The estate was valued at just over £2360. Probate was granted to widow Eleanor Rainey Milroy.


<– 73 Cornhill 70 Cornhill –>

Hetley & Co., glass shade warehouse


Street View: 85
Address: 35 Soho Square

The 1841 census saw Richard Hetley, glass dealer, at 35, Soho Square, that is, on the west side of the Square. Living with him are James, Henry and Frederick, and although the census does not specify their relation to Richard, nor their occupations, we know that they were his sons. Pigot’s Directory of 1839 just gives him as glass shade manufacturer, but he also supplied plate glass and the 1843 Post Office Directory gives his business as “wholesale glass shade, sheet, crown & patent plate glass warehouse”, which must have been a standard formula used by Hetley, as the 1847 advertisement in a horticultural book (see below) uses exactly the same phrase, and so does the 1848 Post Office Directory. Richard had been at Soho Square since 1835, but before that, he could be found at 8 Tavistock Street, Covent Garden, where he had a short-lived partnership in 1828 with Antoine Claudet, whom we have come across before. Richard could not be found in the tax records of Tavistock Place before 1828, so I turned to the baptism records of his children to see if they elicited any relevant information.

His eldest son James Hicks Hetley, named after his mother Mary Hicks, was baptised in August 1817 at St. James Piccadilly. Richard’s address is given as Coventry Street and his occupation as fishmonger, which is certainly a surprise. The baptism in 1819 for the next child, Henry, gives the same information, but unfortunately, the next three children were baptised years later, in 1835, when the family was already living at Soho Square, so no more information can be gleaned there. Sun Fire Office insurance records tell us a bit more, namely that Richard was already working as a fishmonger in Coventry Street in 1810 and that he continued to do so until at least 1820. Richard must then have changed his occupation from fishmonger to glass merchant between 1820 and 1828 According to legend he started his glass business in 1823, but I have not found any evidence for that date. However, later censuses tell us that son Frederick was born in 1822 in France, and I wonder whether Richard’s connection with Claudet had anything to do with the move to France and the change in occupation. What came first one wonders? In May 1835, glass dealer Richard insured 8 Tavistock Street, but in September of that year he insured 35 Soho Square, which gives us a definite year for the start of the Soho Square business.

advertisement in George Glenny, The standard of perfection for the properties of flowers and plants, 1847

Sometime after 1843, Richard must have entered into a partnership with his sons, as, from then on, the firm is called Hetley & Co. Richard is listed as retired in the 1851 census and living at Beaufoy Terrace. Son James is living at 35 Soho Square and Henry at 13 Wigmore Street. Frederick is still living at home, but had chosen a different career; he is listed as a surgeon. Richard died in December 1853 and was buried at All Souls, Kensal Green. In his will, dated March 1852 [mistake for 1853], he said that he felt his “health declining very seriously”. He left one third of his possessions to his wife Mary and the rest was to be divided between the children.(1) He makes no mention of the business, so whatever provisions had been made must have been made before his retirement. Despite the fact that sons James and Henry were both glass manufacturers, they ran separate establishments.

Henry at 13 Wigmore Street

advertisement for Henry Hetley, 13 Wigmore Street, in The Lancet of 1856

In a previous post, we saw that the front of number 12 Wigmore Street was covered in scaffolding and that the date for the building work was given as 1820 in Walford’s Old and New London (vol. IV, p. 438). That date, however, could not be right. Number 13, the house next to number 12, is clearly showing the name of Hetley, glass shade manufacturer, but in the Tallis Street View of 1839, number 13 was occupied jointly by Hopper, a sculptor and Daniell, a dentist. They were still there when the census was taken in 1841. Daniell could be found in Wigmore Street till 1843, and Hopper till his death in 1844. Only in the 1851 census do we see Henry Hetley appearing as the occupant of the premises, so he must have moved in sometime after 1844. We can date his appearance in Wigmore Street more precisely to later that decade as the Post Office Directory of 1848 does not yet list him. And from an Old Bailey case we learn that in September 1846, Henry still described himself as a glass merchant of Soho Square.(2) Hetley and his family probably moved in between October 1848 and April 1850 as the address given in the baptism record of daughter Ellen May is 71 Great Portland Street, but for the next child, Elizabeth, it is 13 Wigmore Street.(3) The Hetleys were certainly still there when daughter Kate was born in 1857, but by 1861, they were living in Islington.(4)

13 Wigmore Street. Part of an 1852 drawing by T.H. Shepherd (© The Trustees of the British Museum)

advertisement in Edward Walford, County Families of the United Kingdom, 1860

Just because Henry Hetley moved to Islington does not necessarily mean he gave up his business – the 1861 census still lists him as glass dealer (employing 3 men) – but by the end of the year, he dissolved a partnership with James Meers of Gravesend as sand merchant.(5) And although sand and glass are certainly related, an advertisement in The Times of 18 May 1867 tells us that Henry’s business has been removed to Soho Square. What the exact circumstances were is unclear. Considering the remark at the end of an 1851 advertisement for James Hetley & Co, “their only establishment in London” (see below), it seemed unlikely that the brothers had some sort of partnership in the years that Henry traded from Wigmore Street. Did James gobble up his brother’s business in 1867, or had Henry wanted out anyway and found his brother willing to take over the content of his business? We may never know.

The next census (1871) tells us that Henry is living at Auckland Hill as a manufacturer of stationary. In October 1872, he collared the thief who tried to grab the two umbrellas he had with him when he went for a spot of lunch, and in the subsequent hearing of the case at Guildhall, Hetley described himself as a manufacturing stationer of 19, Finsbury Street.(6) In 1881, he is living at Versailles Road as a printer and in 1891 as a wholesale stationer. He died in 1899 and his probate record has him as wholesale stationer at Versailles Road and 63 St. John's Square, Clerkenwell.(7)

James at 35 Soho Square

advertisement for James at Soho Square in Adams’s Pocket London Guide Book of 1851

Meanwhile, James continued to run the 35 Soho Square business and also branched out into stained window glass (see here for his involvement with stained-glass designer Charles Eamer Kempe). James’s business had always been the bigger of the two, and, already in 1851, we see him employing 6 men and a boy, while Henry only had 4 employees at that time. The Great Exhibition was an excellent opportunity to bring in more customers and James entered an advertisement in The Times of 14 January, 1851, informing “manufacturers and others who intend showing works requiring BLOWN SHADES or CASES, in either plate, patent plate, or sheet glass, that they are prepared to furnish them, either on sale or hire, of all shapes and dimensions”. And as proof of their experience in these matters, James mentions that all glass shades needed for the Society of Arts exhibitions were made by Hetley & Co.

The Times, 9 Oct. 1965

Subsequent censuses no longer tell us anything about the size of James’s business, but it certainly lasted a lot longer than his brother’s business and, in fact, it still exists, albeit lately as part of Pearsons Glass, following the collapse of T&W Ide with whom Hetley was previously associated, and no longer in Soho Square, but at Glasshouse Fields, Stepney. Because of the traffic situation, Hetley’s had already left Soho Square in the early 1950’s for Wembley, that is, after well over a century.

advertisement in The Church Builder, 1869

In 1882, John Menzies Salmond, the manager, became a partner in the business. A later member of the Salmond family, Christopher, is reported in the Soho Clarion (nr. 69, late 1989/early 1990) as saying that “his great grandfather was a founder partner in Soho Square in 1823”. If that is the case, there must be a family link between the Salmonds and the Hetleys, but I do not know which one. I have not found a marriage to support this claim and there must be many more generations between the managing director of 1990, who was a child in WW2, and the founder of 1823. What he probably meant was that his great grandfather became a partner in a firm that had been established in 1823. Yale Center for British Art has the original vellum Deed of Partnership between James Hetley and John Menzies Salmond as part of a small collection of Hetley records. They have a scrapbook and an account book, dating from the second half of the 19th century (see here for a full description). I have not seen them, but they may tell us a lot about the everyday activities of the firm in the 19th century. The Soho Clarion, by the way, has a very nice picture of some of the Hetley employees posing in front of the shop windows at 35 Soho Square (see here for their archive, look for number 69).

(1) PROB 11/2184/15.
(2) Old Bailey proceedings t18460921-1837. Hetley had his watch and chain stolen in Holborn baths.
(3) Ellen Mary was baptised on 27 October 1848 and Elizabeth on 5 April 1850, both at St. Marylebone.
(4) Kate was baptised on 6 May 1857 at St. Marylebone.
(5) The London Gazette, 10 December 1861.
(6) ‘Police Intelligence’ in The Observer, 27 October 1872.
(7) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1900. Probate is granted to his widow Cornelia and the estate is valued at over £2600.


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