Ralph Wilcoxon, boot maker


Street Views: 1 and 18 Suppl.
Address: 60 King William Street

Ralph Wilcoxon of 60 King William Street was a rather enterprising shoemaker. Going through the Tallis index elicits a number of Wilcoxons as either shoe or boot maker, but as they are frequently listed without a first name, or even an initial, it is unclear whether they were the same shoemaker as the one of King William Street. However, a number of Old Bailey cases help us out. In 1835, John Green testifies that he is “foreman to Ralph Wilcoxon—he is a shoemaker, and lives in King william-street”.(1) A few years later, in another case, Ralph himself testifies and says, “I have seven shops, one in Howland-street, another in Tottenham-court-road, two in Oxford-street, one in Regent-street, one in Walker’s-court, Berwick-street, Soho, and one in King William-street, London-bridge—I live in Tottenham-court-road”. The total turnover of the shops was considerable. Wilcoxon states, “I have now a stock of 40,000 for my different shops”.(2)

Statue of William IV who is reported as looking towards London Bridge, which would mean that Wilcoxon’s shop is the darker property to the right of the statue. The statue was later moved, see here. (© The Trustees of the British Museum)

Wilcoxon may have lived at Tottenham Court at the time of the 1840 Old Bailey case, but in the 1841 census he is listed at Claremont Place, Clapham. Over the years he seems to have moved a number of times. With the help of more Old Bailey cases, the 1841 Post Office Directory, some insurance records and Tallis’s Street Views we will try and pinpoint the Wilcoxon shops a bit more precisely as he does not give any house numbers in the Old Bailey report mentioned above:
-1 Howland-street (not mentioned in the 1841 Post Office Directory, but mentioned in an insurance record for 1833, and in Pigot’s Directory, 1839)
-60 King William Street (Street Views 1 and 18 Suppl.)
-289 Oxford Street (Street View 48)
-303 Oxford Street (Street View 41, but mentioned by Tallis for Bellenger, wine and spirit merchant)
-99 Regent Street (Quadrant) (Street Views 12 and 2 Suppl.)
-93 Tottenham Court Road (Street View 49)
-5 Walker’s Court, Berwick Street, Soho (1828 and 1829 Old Bailey cases (t18281204-230 and t18290115-25), Wilcoxon testified “I live in Walker’s-court, St. James'”; last mentioned for Wilcoxon in the 1851 Post Office Directory.
The first and the last shops in this list were not mentioned by Tallis as he did not produce Views for those streets, so we will leave those for the moment.

Below pictures of the elevations of the Wilcoxon shop as represented in the Tallis Street Views. More information on the shops other than the one in King William Street will be given in later posts on the individual premises:

60 King William Street

289 Oxford Street

First mentioned for Wilcoxon in a Sun Fire insurance record of 1829. Wilcoxon testified in an 1828 Old Bailey case (t18281204-22), “I am a shoemaker, and live in Oxford-street”. He does not say at what house number, but the claim seems to contradict another Old Bailey report of the same day where Wilcoxon said he lived in Walker’s Court. Last mentioned for Wilcoxon in the 1848 Post Office Directory.

303 Oxford Street

First mentioned for Wilcoxon in a Sun Fire insurance record of 1829.
In an 1834 Old Bailey case (t18341205-311) the shopman, George Samsome, said “I am shopman to Mr. Ralph Wilcoxon, who is a shoemaker, and lives at No. 303, Oxford-street” and “I have possession of the house all day, and two boys sleep there at night—Mr. Wilcoxon does not sleep or take his meals there”. One shop-boy, Dennis Crowley testified, “I am shop-boy to Mr. Wilcoxon, who lives in Tottenham-court-road”. Philip Jewell, the other shopboy said “I then went to No. 289, Oxford-street, to acquaint Mrs. Wilcoxon—I left the policeman at the door—I came back—Mr. Wilcoxon was not at home”. Three different addresses for Wilcoxon mentioned in one court case; something must have gone wrong in the transcription of the answers each of the shop servants had given. For one, it seems unlikely that they did not know where their master lived. And another peculiarity is the fact that Crowley said that there was only one shop window that was fastened with a catch on the inside and had shutters on the outside. Judging by the elevations in the Street View, this was far more likely to be number 289 than 303. So, was the shop robbed at number 289 and did Wilcoxon live at the far larger property at number 303? Most likely. The property is last mentioned for Wilcoxon in the 1848 Post Office Directory.

99 Regent Street

First mentioned for Wilcoxon in a Sun Fire insurance record of 1834, but an 1826 insurance record for 99 Regent Street mentions “other occupier: shoemaker” without giving a name. Last mentioned for Wilcoxon in the 1848 Post Office Directory.

93 Tottenham Court Road

First mentioned for Wilcoxon in a Sun Fire insurance record of 1830 ; last mentioned for Wilcoxon in the 1851 Post Office Directory.

Other shops mentioned for Wilcoxon
-3 Peter’s Street, Soho (Pigot’s Directory, 1825)
-102 Berwick Street (Wilcoxon in an 1825 Old Bailey case t18250407-126 “I live at No. 102, Berwick-street”; insurance 1826)
-38 Princes Street, Soho (insurance 1829)
-11 High Street, Islington. Tallis’s Street View lists no less than three numbers 11, occupied respectively by a hosier, a hatter and a shoemaker. It is tempting to promote the last one to Wilcoxon’s predecessor, but a decisive identification must await further research. First mentioned for Wilcoxon in the 1845 Post Office Directory; last mentioned for Wilcoxon in the 1848 Post Office Directory.

Ralph Wilcoxon died unexpectedly in 1846; the coroner’s investigation into his death was reported in the newspapers:

On Sunday the deceased was in excellent health, attended divine service, and dined with his family. About nine in the evening he suddenly complained of shortness of breath, and went to the window for air, but feeling no relief, he proceeded down stairs, with the view of getting into the garden, but he got no further than the hall, when he fell on his knees, and died.(3)

Sounds like a heart attack to me. He left his wife Hannah the “goodwill and stock in trade of the business carried on by me in King William Street”. He does not separately mention the other shops, but I gather they were considered to be part of the King William Street business as Mrs Hannah Wilcoxon is listed as the proprietor of all the shops in later directories. His wife also gets the interest in Claremont Cottage, Wandsworth Road, and his mother the interest in the Paragon, Blackheath. He does mention lots of other houses and leaseholds in his possession which he distributes among his four children, Arthur (officially Arthur Samuel), Ralph, Hannah and Catherine. His executors are to take care of all these properties until the children reached the age of twenty-five when their inheritance was to be turned over to them.(4) Because he died so suddenly, his two youngest daughters were not mentioned in his will. He had no doubt planned to make a new will, but had not yet got round to it, so Hannah remedied the omission in her will, “I am especially desirous of making a provision for my two youngest children Eliza Wilcoxon and Emily Wilcoxon who from the circumstance of their being born after the execution of the will of their late father have by the disposition which he therein made of his property been excluded from any part of portion in his estate”.(5) She leaves the two girls all her personal estate, with the exception of an annuity for her sister.

After the death of her husband, Hannah continued the shoe shops and the 1848 Post Office Directory gives the following addresses after her name: 60 King William Street, 289 and 303 Oxford Street, 99 Regent Street (Quadrant), 93 Tottenham Court Road, 5 Walker’s Court and 11 High Street, Islington. By 1851, however, that is after her death – she died in 1849 – only 60 King William Street, 93 Tottenham Court Road and 5 Walker’s Court were listed after her name. The emporium was reduced even more after that and the 1856 Post Office Directory just lists Arthur Wilcoxon at 60 King William Street. He had probably been running that shop with his brother Ralph who had died in November 1850, just 31 years old.

advertisement in The Times, 11 November 1858

60 King William Street seems to have been the headquarters of the Wilcoxon shoe shop imperium, but until which year it continued is difficult to establish. According to the 1856 Post Office Directory, it was certainly still there in that year, and in November 1858, an advertisement lists the shop as one of the addresses where patent India rubber shoes could be had, but after that, no trace has been found of the shoe shop. Arthur himself married in 1859 and later lived for a time on the Isle of Wight, in Petersfield, Hants, and lastly in Frensham, Surrey, where he died in 1886.(6)

(1) Old Bailey case t18351214-255.
(2) Old Bailey case t18400406-1281.
(3) Daily News, 16 September 1846.
(4) PROB 11/2044/78.
(5) PROB 11/2103/352.
(6) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1886. The executors were his brothers-in-law, George Martin Hughes (husband of Catherine) and James Reynold Williams (husband of Hannah). The estate was valued at over £11,000, but later resworn at just over £10,000.


<– 61 King William Street (across) 59 King William Street –>

Ruddick and Heenan, importers of cigars


Street Views: 1, 1 Suppl. and 18 Suppl.
Addresses: 24 King William Street and 30 Regent Street

Although the title of this post(1) suggests there was a firm called ‘Ruddick and Heenen’, that is not the case, although the names are linked. From about 1834, Ruddick & Co. were trading as a snuff warehouse from 24 King William Street and one directory (Pigot’s) lists them as “Ruddick Ellen & Co, tobacconists”. By then, however, Ellen Ruddick was already married to James Heenan and another section of the same directory lists the shop for James Heenan. Another directory (Robson’s) and Tallis (Street View of 1839) persist in calling the business Ruddick & Co. But who was Ellen Ruddick and was she running the tobacco shop on her own before Heenan came along?

Ellen Ruddick’s father, John Ruddick, had died in 1826 and seems to have favoured his daughter Ellen over his four sons as she is to have 800 pounds while the sons only get £200 each. She is also to get the household goods and the rest of his estate after the death of her mother Hannah.(2) Perhaps the sons had already been provided for in other ways. Ellen was only 15 years old when her father died, so too young to set up a business of her own, but she, probably together with her mother, grabbed the opportunity to set up shop in the new development of King William Street, which was built in the early 1830s to ‘improve’ the northern approach to the new London Bridge. Their property was only small, but no doubt large enough for a tobacco shop.

1831 plan of the proposed King William Street with Ruddick’s shop outlined in red

an 1886 insurance map showing the corner shop at number 24. By then it was no longer a tobacco shop

How Ellen came to meet James Heenan is unclear, but on 18 October 1838 they were married at St. Mary, Islington. The marriage registration lists James as of Prince’s Row, Kennington(3) and Ellen as of Palmer Terrace, so she did not live above the shop. The tax records for 24 King William Street up to 1838 give Ruddick & Co, but from 1840, the property is listed for Heenan & Co. I am guessing that the ‘& Co.’ part of the name had something to do with the fact that mother Hannah was still alive and Ellen did not yet have the full rights to her inheritance. Hannah was living with Ellen and James at number 24 at the time of the 1841 census, and so was little Ellen Mary who was born, or at least baptised, in September 1840. The little girl unfortunately died in early November 1847. James and Ellen had one other child, son William Henry (born June 1842) who survived his parents and was still alive at the time of the 1911 census. He is probably the William H. Heenan who died in the last quarter of 1913.

advertisement in The Morning Post, 20 April 1843

So, the Heenans ran the small shop in King William Street, but in 1843, an advertisement tells us that they have opened a branch in Regent Street. The advertisement mentions a batch of cigars that have been purchased from Lopez and M’Kinnell. These gentlemen were wine merchants in Fenchurch Street, but apparently also dealt in Lopez cigars. The partnership between Lopez and M’Kinnell was dissolved later in 1843 and they may already have been offloading some surplus stock. In January, 1843, another tobacconist, J. Hudson of 132 Oxford Street, claimed to have taken over the complete stock of Lopez and M’Kinnell and his was therefore the only place in London where the real Lopez cigars could be obtained.(4) But, judging by the advertisement of Heenan, the Lopez cigars were not as exclusively available as Mr. Hudson would have wanted.

Another advertisement was entered by Heenan in April, 1843, in which he announced his desire to let the upper part of 30 Regent Street, consisting of eight rooms, including kitchen. It is therefore no wonder that the Tallis Supplement has both Heenan and the London and Windsor Railway Company at number 30. They probably rented part of the building for their office. It is quite possible that Heenan entered into a partnership to be able to afford a second shop, although it is uncertain when the partnership with Philip Hargrave Curtis started. It certainly ended on 18 May 1850 with Heenan to continue on his own.(5) The 1851 census lists two ‘assistants’ living above the shop in Regent Street, presumably shopmen in the tobacconist’s, and, separately, two brothers, Thomas and Joseph Hensley, leather merchants, with a servant and an apprentice. By that time, Heenan was no longer living in King William Street, but in The Cottage, Englands Lane, Hampstead. The shop in King William Street was minded for Heenan by Thomas Penn.

This Lopez cigar firm was apparently set up in 1876, so not the same Lopez cigars as the ones Heenan sold

In 1861 and 1871, the censuses showed more or less the same situation; servants were living above the two shops and the Heenans were living at Hampstead. But things were about to change. In 1872, Henry Brett and Co. of Old Furnival’s Distillery, Holborn, took over the premises at 30 Regent Street, and Heenan just concentrated on 24 King William Street. He may even have retired altogether, but that is not quite clear. James died in 1874 and his probate entry still mentions him as of Hampstead and King William Street.(6) Ellen died in 1889; she was then living with her son in Devon.(7)

advertisement in The Era, 17 September 1843

The two shop elevations are shown at the top of this post: 24 King William Street on the left and 30 Regent Street on the right. Click on the picture to enlarge.


(1) Research for this post started with a query by one of my readers who is involved in the one name study on the surname Heenan, see here. Some of the biographical information has been supplied by her, for which my thanks.
(2) PROB 11/1711/51.
(3) James Heenan, Gent., insured 39 Princes Road, Kennington, on 13 July 1840. Although it is fairly unlikely that a tobacconist who has just started a business is called ‘gent’, it probably does refer to the tobacconist. The record also refers to a Benjamin Heenan. The 1851 census lists a John Emanuel Heenan at 38 Princes Road and Benjamin Heenan at 39 Princes Road. Premises in Princes Road were mentioned in the will of John Heenan, tailor, who died in 1813 (PROB 11/1542/326). James, Benjamin and John Emanuel may have been brothers.
(4) The Standard, 10 January 1843. A repeat advertisement appeared in The Era, 2 July 1843.
(5) The London Gazette, 14 June 1850. The relation with the Curtis family remained cordial and James Heenan was one of the executors of one Francis Edward Hargrave Curtis who died in 1862.
(6) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1874. Probate of the estate, worth under £12,000, was granted to widow Ellen. She apparently left it unadministered and a second probate was granted to son William Henry in 1902. The value had by then dwindled to £144.
(7) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1891. William Henry was the executor and her personal estate was valued at £40.


<– 25 King William Street
<– 32 Regent Street
23 King William Street –>
28 Regent Street –>

Sampson Low, bookseller


Street View: 32
Address: 42 Lamb’s Conduit Street

The houses in Lamb’s Conduit Street have been renumbered in the 1860s and what was number 42 is now 83 Lamb’s Conduit Street, a property with a Grade II listing (see here). It sits snugly between two far more modern buildings, but looks more or less the same as it did when Sampson Low had his business there, despite the new shopfront that the listing text dates to the 20th century – you could have fooled me. The interior still retains some 18th-century features, such as the staircase and some panelling.

Google Street View

Before we get on to Sampson Low, the bookseller who had his shop at 42 Lamb’s Conduit Street, first something about his father:
On 3 September, 1782, Sampson Low, son of David, perukemaker from Ireland, was apprenticed to Jessintour (also Jessington) Rozea. This Rozea had his business at 91 Wardour Street and seems to have retired in 1786 or thereabouts as in that year J. Denew and A. Grant take over the printing business in Wardour Street. Apprentice Sampson Low is officially turned over to another master, Webster Gillman, on 3 February 1789. He must have been made free of the Stationers’ Company soon after that, probably after the required term of seven years, but he did not take up the freedom of the City until 7 October 1794, that is, more than two years after he started working for himself. The earliest evidence for him having his own business is an advertisement in The World of 24 December 1791 and the fact that in March 1792 he paid the duty for having an apprentice himself. He was then listed as letter press printer at Great Portland Street, which was outside the actual City and he had therefore no need to become a freeman of the City. 1792 is also the first year in which he is mentioned in the tax records for Great Portland Street. His earliest dated publications are from 1793: The Book of Common Prayer and A Catalogue of the Genuine Collection of Antient and Modern Coins & Medals. The latter publication did not mention Low on the title-page, but unobtrusively at the top of page 3.

In 1794, Low married Mary Ann Sheldrick from Dartford, Kent, and his son Sampson was born in 1797. To distinguish the two Sampsons, the father will henceforth be mentioned as Sampson (I) and the son as Sampson (II). Sampson (I) died in late 1800 or early 1801 and was buried on 5 January 1801 at St. James, Piccadilly. He had been trading since 1796 from Berwick Street, Soho. His business was probably sold by the executors, at least, it is no longer mentioned in advertisements or directories, but when his son grew up, he had the same bookish interest and was for a time apprenticed to Lionel Booth who ran a circulating library in Duke Street, Portland Place, and who also maintained the Register of Pamphlets and Newspapers at the Stamp Office. After Booth’s death in 1815, his son, also Lionel, continued the library. Sampson (II) worked for a time at Messrs. Longman, but in 1819, he set up his own bookshop in Lamb’s Conduit Street. According to his later partner Marston, his mother, who had remarried in 1802 to William Brough, kept house for him in the early years. In 1821, Sampson (II) married Mary Stent, but his mother continued to visit the bookshop and library frequently.

trade card (© The Trustees of the British Museum)

Early advertisements for Sampson (II) suggest that in the early years he just sold and published books, but on 27 June 1822, he entered an advertisement in The Morning Chronicle announcing that he had “that day opened a commodious room, built expressly for the purpose, which will be regularly supplied with the morning and evening newspapers [… etc.] Cards of terms may be had on application”. One such card is probably the one shown above with the various subscription options.

Low remained at Lamb’s Conduit Street till 1849, when he gave up the reading room and library and established himself at the corner of Red Lion Court and Fleet Street, only to remove a few years later, in 1852, to 47 Ludgate Hill. But that was not the end of the moves as the viaduct for the London, Chatham and Dover Railway Company was built right across the houses in Ludgate Hill and Low, by then in partnership with Edward Marston, moved to 14, Ludgate Hill. The firm moved again, in 1867 to 188 Fleet Street, and in 1887 to St Dunstan’s House, Fetter Lane. The business dealt with many authors who are now household names, such as Wilkie Collins and Mrs Gaskell. More on Low’s publications and Marston’s dealing with these and many other authors can be read in the latter’s biographical After work; fragments from the workshop of an old publisher (1904; online here).

Sampson (II) Low from Marston’s After Work via Wikimedia

Low retired in 1875 and died at his home in Mecklenburgh Square in April 1886. He had outlived his wife and his three sons, Sampson junior, William and Walter. His estate was valued at over £24,000, which seems modest for a successful publisher, but, as Marston said, “he was not the man to accumulate a large fortune in trade; his zeal and energy took a less selfish and more philanthropic turn”. Low had used his energy into establishing a fire service and worked as a Sunday school teacher. His partner Edward Marston was one of the executors of the will. The profitable business continued for may years with various other partners until the 1950s when it became part of the British Printing Corporation. Unfortunately, Robert Maxwell got his hands on it in 1981 and the long-standing firm was stripped of its assets and wound up after Maxwell’s death and subsequent bankruptcy. But, history repeats itself in a way, and where there was a gap between the working years of Sampson (I) and Sampson (II), there was also a gap between the termination of the business and the rebirth in 1997, when a descendant brought the name Sampson Low back to life as a new publishing company (see here). Sampson (I) and (II) would have been proud.

One of Sampson Low, Marston and Company’s publications (Source: Little Stour Books via AbeBooks.com)


<– 43 Lamb’s Conduit Street 41 Lamb’s Conduit Street –>

Wheeler and Dupin, auctioneers


Street View: 2
Address: 28 Leadenhall Street

Auctioneers (unlike shopkeepers) have no right to turn bidders out of the auction-room so long as they are peaceable at the auction. They must take the biddings of all persons attending the sale, which the public have a right to attend from the very nature of the transaction and the business.

This piece of text on the admittance of the public to auctions appears at the top of a report in The Legal Guide of 1842, detailing the proceedings at the Queen’s Bench on 2 February of that year. One Isaac Somers had complained that he had, for no reason, or so he alleged, been turned out of the auction house of Cornelius Wheeler and James Fray Lewellin Dupin in Leadenhall Street. Wheeler responded by saying that in a previous auction, Mr. Somers had misbehaved and had been turned out with the caveat never to come back again and if he did, his biddings would not be accepted. However, at this subsequent auction of 12 October, Somers appeared again and put in a bid. Wheeler refused to accept the bid and allocated the lot to someone else. Somers complained and Wheeler had him removed and given into custody for the duration of the auction. The court decided that Wheeler was in the wrong and could not bar Somers from all his auctions as long as Somers behaved properly. According to the judge, Wheeler was to accept the biddings of any bidder in the room without distinction. The jury concurred and damages of 1s were awarded to Somers.

advertisement in The Morning Post, 12 October 1841

The auction of 12 October, 1841, where Mr. Somers was evicted, was most likely the one where property coming from 80 Houndsditch was auctioned, and may have been the sale of the shop content of David Harwood’s business, who is mentioned as curiosity and picture dealer at that address in Pigot’s 1839 Directory.

Cornelius Wheeler acquired the freedom of the City of London in 1831 by redemption, but he may already have been working as an auctioneer before that. In 1825, one Joseph Jones, bookseller and auctioneer, insured 27 and 28 Leadenhall Street and Wheeler seems to have taken over from him. Wheeler’s partner, James Fray Lewellin Dupin, was indentured to his father in 1824 and would normally be eligible to acquire his City freedom seven years later, but he only did so in April 1841. He was, however, already working as an auctioneer in 1839 (Pigot’s Directory) and in the court case mentioned above, Wheeler mentioned him as his partner. The partnership did not last very long as it was dissolved in 1842.(1) Dupin died a few years later at 4 Brompton Place.(2) Wheeler continued the business on his own, advertising his upcoming auctions regularly. But his income did not entirely depend on his auction business.

advertisement in The Morning Post, 18 July 1843

In 1843, for instance, his address was mentioned as the outlet for British Fluid Axis Composition, apparently a greasy concoction to waterproof leather and to prevent friction, “applicable to every description of carriage”. In 1846, he is suddenly mentioned as the manager of The Consolidates Investment and Assurance Company of the Life Assurance and Building Society Combined, and in 1848, he is listed as the surveyor for The Provident Clerks’ and General Building and Investment Society. But these were just sidelines. He continued to auction all kinds of goods from 28 Leadenhall Street: furniture, household goods, carpets, wines, and even whole houses. From 1846, the advertisements also mention the address of 15 Chepstow Place, Camberwell, but the main business premises remained at Leadenhall Street. Cornelius Wheeler died in December 1848 and the auctioneering business was taken over by Edward and Frederik William Thomas.

Part of a sketch by T.H. Shepherd, showing nrs 27 and 28 (Source Collage)

As we saw above, Joseph Jones had insured both 27 and 28 Leadenhall Street and the elevation at the top of this post shows both houses. They were very narrow and the doors were situated next to each other on the left-hand side. At the time of Tallis’s Street View, number 27 was occupied by a T.A. Watson who sold pens and quills, so it was certainly no longer considered as one property. At some stage (probably shortly after 1859 when Shepherd sketched the houses) numbers 27 to 33 were demolished and one large office building was erected. The 1861 census only lists number 27 with the annotation “formerly nrs 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 and 33” without any names, indicating that no one slept on the premises. The 1871 census shows the same situation; no one lived there, which of course does not mean that no business was taken place there. The 1887 insurance map shows lots of office space, right back to Billiter Avenue. This 19th-century building has, in turn, since been replaced by an even bigger, glass-fronted office building and nothing now remains of the narrow building that once housed the auction business of Wheeler and Dupin.

insurance map, 1887

(1) The London Gazette, 19 April 1842.
(2) His estate was left unadministered by his widow and only registered after her death in 1877 by their son.


<– 29 Leadenhall Street 27 Leadenhall Street –>

Francis Szarka & Co., furriers


Street View: 9
Address: 119 New Bond Street

In July 1795, Francis Szarka (or Sarca as the registrar would have it) of the parish of St. Ann Blackfriars, married Sarah Richards at St. Andrew by the Wardrobe. They were married by banns, so no additional information about their parents or their address was recorded in the church records, but two years later Francis insured his furrier business at 10 East Harding Street, Fetter Lane. In 1810 and 1815, the Post Office Directories list him at 15 Gough Square.

Horwood’s 1799 map showing 10 East Harding Street and 15 Gough Square

By 1817, Francis had relocated to 188 Strand, on the corner of Arundel Street.(1) From 1823 onwards the business was called Szarka & Co., and some time later, the business was spread across two properties: 188 Strand and 119 New Bond Street. An 1835 Old Bailey case in which two foreigners were accused of stealing a sable-tail boa tells us more.(2) Francis stated that he had his business at 188 Strand and that he also lived there. His daughter helped him in the shop. His son George ran the New Bond Street premises for him, but he, Francis, was in the process of moving his whole business to that address, or so he said: “as I was going to move my business, if they wanted any thing in that line, I would be obliged to them to call in Bond-street, where my son lived—I told them he was my son—I was about moving at the time—”. The first indication that he actually did move is from an 1838 advertisement in which he mentions the expiration of the lease of 188 Strand as the reason for moving and we know that the next occupant, cutler Samuel Fisher, was first mentioned at the Strand address in 1838.

Advertisement in The Catholic Directory and Annual Register, 1838

Google Street View, August 2016

The New Bond Street property is now a Grade II listed building with the following description: “Terrace house. Mid C18 altered early to mid C19. Stuccoed with slate roof. Three storeys and dormered attic. Two windows wide. Ground floor has later C20 shop front. Upper floor windows: revealed sashes with late C19 glazing in architrave surrounds, those on first floor with cornices, those on second floor pedimented. Moulded cornice and blocking course”.(3) The cornices and pediments above the windows are probably later than 1840 as they cannot be seen on the Tallis Street View facade.

The 1841 census duly finds the whole Szarka family at New Bond Street: Francis, his daughter Caroline, his son George with his wife and five children, two independent ladies – presumably lodgers -, two female and one male servant. But things were not going as well as could be hoped and in 1843 bankruptcy proceedings were filed against Francis and George Szarka.(4) Francis was obliged to appeal to the generosity of the general public to supplement the 4s. he received from an unnamed charitable institution.

The Morning Post , 29 July 1844

What happened to George between the folding of the business in 1843 and 1849 is unclear, but he and his family were to set sail on the “Steadfast” as assisted immigrants to Australia where they arrived in April 1849. His wife Helen apparently died at sea after an epileptic fit and George had to provide a new life for his seven children aged between 1 and 16 and himself. He eventually became a public school teacher and died in 1885.

Francis and his daughter Caroline remained in London and were living at the almshouse, Garratt Lane, Streatham at the time of the 1851 census. Caroline married David Phillips that same year, another occupant of the almshouse and at least 20 years older than she was. David died in 1852 and Caroline and Francis remained at Streatham. Francis died in November 1861, well into his nineties, but probate was not granted to Caroline until 1868, possibly because George was in Australia and paper work had to be sent back and forth. Hardly worth the effort, though, as Francis’s wordly goods amounted to less than £20.(5)

furrier’s tools from Diderot’s Encyclopédie (Source: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)

For the top part of Diderot’s plate, showing a furrier’s shop, see the post on Borradaile, Son & Ravenhill.

advertisement in Tallis’s Street View

(1) The Times, 3 January 1817.
(2) Old Bailey case t18350105-389. Online here.
(3) Historic England, Listing NGR: TQ2880480946. Online here.
(4) The London Gazette, 10 March 1843.
(5) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1868. Francis exact age is unclear. The 1841, 1851 and 1861 censuses give him as 70, 86 and 95 respectively and the 1844 appeal advertisement as 77.


<– 120 New Bond Street 118 New Bond Street –>

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 –>