Edward Radclyffe, carver and gilder

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Street View: 20
Address: 237 High Holborn

The story of Edward Radclyffe starts with a trade card that I found in the British Museum Collection. It depicts Radclyffe’s name, occupation and address within an elaborate frame or cartouche. The Museum dates it to circa 1830.

trade card c. 1830 (© The Trustees of the British Museum)

They also have two other, undated, trade cards for Radclyffe with a more elaborate design than the one above. One of these trade cards had the address 237 High Holborn, which is the same as that which the trade card above mentions and which is also the address where Tallis found our carver & gilder, but the other card has the address 49 Brewer Street, Golden Square.

trade cards (© The Trustees of the British Museum)

So, which address came first? Although the Museum does not date the two trade cards, they also possess a sheet of paper with a copy of the card with the Holborn address that has been annotated with information about Radclyffe’s address. The sheet was bequeathed to the museum by Sir Ambrose Hill, who wrote Signboards of Old London Shops, so I assume they are his notes. He apparently had a look at various directories and found that the Brewer Street address was used by Radclyffe in 1817, but that he used the High Holborn address from 1827 onwards. A look at some other directories can pinpoint the date of Radclyffe’s removal a bit more precisely. Pigot’s 1822 directory shows Radclyffe already at Holborn, but the 1819 Post Office Directory still has him at Brewer Street. He had been there at least since 1811 when he is listed in Brewer Street in the London and Country Directory The Land Tax records also indicate a move in 1820 or thereabouts. He is not yet to be found in the 1819 and 1820 tax records, but he is there in 1821. Tax records were usually slightly behind with their administration, so a date of 1820 for the move is most likely.

In 1824, Edward got into financial difficulty and the creditors were asked to convene with the assignees of the bankrupt’s estate to see whether Radclyffe’s household goods and stock in trade had to be sold.(1) Radclyffe must have been able to turn things around as he continued to work as a carver & gilder at High Holborn. In 1838, in an Old Bailey case, he described himself as a picture dealer who had a picture, described as “Time flying away with Beauty”, stolen from him.(2) Despite his move from Brewer Street to Holborn, Edward and his wife Harriet continued to have their children baptised at St. James’s, Piccadilly. I found ten children, some of them with very fancy names, but there may have been more.(3) The eldest son, Edward William, later joined his father in the business.

Although Radclyffe started his career as a carver and gilder and was listed as such in most directories, in the 1843 Post Office Directory that designation has been expanded to “carver & gilder & picture dealer, liner, restorer & importer”, and in 1848 to “importer of pictures, picture & glass frame manfr. pictures lined & restored”. By 1851, however, he had apparently reduced his line of work to “picture importer”. From 1846 onwards, it must have been Edward William who ran the business and changed the line of work as Edward had died in that year. Edward had left the business to his wife and after her demise it was to go to Edward William.(4)

In the 1851 census, number 237 was occupied by John Beale, engineer, his wife Harriet M.A. and a cousin Geo. D. Radclyffe, shoemaker. Harriet Beale was Harriet Mary Anne Radclyffe who had married John Beale in 1835 in the presence of her father and sister. So, although the business of Edward Radclyffe remained at number 237, the owner, Edward William, was no longer living above the property, or maybe he did, but was away at the time of the census. I have not yet traced his whereabouts in 1851.

Edward William was often named William and unfortunately, there was another Edward Radclyffe and another William Radclyffe around of roughly the same age. They were the sons of Willliam Radclyffe, an engraver from Birmingham. But the 1861 census helps us out as Edward William’s brother Adolphus is living with him at the time. Edward William is listed as plain William, a dealer of works of art and living at 9 Charing Cross. Harriet, by then a widow, is still living at 237 High Holborn, which is bracketed together in the census record with number 238. I have not traced Harriet any further than the 1861 census and in 1871, the property for 237/238 High Holborn is listed as having no one sleeping on the premises, although the enumerator says that it contained a seed shop. This may very well be related to a) James Carter whom Tallis lists as seedman and florist at 238 High Holborn and/or b) Dick Edward Radclyffe, Edward William’s son, who was also a seed merchant. We will sort all that out when we write up the entry for number 238.

Edward William is known to have acted as intermediary at sales and supplier of paintings to Angela Burdett Coutts, and the National Portrait Gallery also has some paintings that passed through his hands.(5) By 1871 Edward William has relocated to 9 Warwick Street, but he also had a shop at 123 Pall Mall, as in the 1865 probate registry for John Jones, a picture restorer, he is mentioned as picture dealer of 123 Pall Mall, and in a notice after his death about his estate, he is said to have been of 123 Pall Mall and 30 Portland Road, Notting Hill.(6) The lease of the Pall Mall shop and of the house in Warwick Street were auctioned by Christies in April 1874 and so was the stock of about 240 paintings.

The London Gazette, 26 May 1874

The Athenaeum, 4 April 1874

(1) The London Gazette, 27 November 1824.
(2) Old Bailey case t18380402-1009.
(3) Harriott Mary Anne (1809), Caroline Sarah (1810), Edward William (1812), Robert Bolton (1816), Leopold Henry Radclyffe (1818), Arthur Dodd Walwyn (1821), Rosina Elizabeth Minchin (1823), Augustus Napoleon George (1825), Septimus Augustus Howlett (1827), Adolphus Thomas Hall Radclyffe (1829).
(4) PROB 11/2039/274.
(5) Susan S. Lewis, The Artistic and Architectural Patronage of Angela Burdett Coutts, thesis Royal Holloway, University of London, January 2012 (online here). For NPG paintings see here and here.
(6) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1874. The executor was son Dick Edward Radclyffe, seed
merchant of 129 High Holborn. Estate valued at under £5,000.

Neighbours:

<– 238 High Holborn 236 High Holborn –>
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General Steam Navigation Company

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Street Views: 17, 25 and 2 Suppl.
Address: 37 Regent Street

The General Steam Navigation Company had their office at 37 Regent Street, one of the houses of Piccadilly Circus, which was still called Regent Circus (South) when Tallis produced his booklets and looked similar to how Oxford Circus (Regent Circus North) still looks today, but it lost its complete circular form in 1886 with the construction of Shaftesbury Avenue. The Ordnance Survey map of 1893-95 below shows the changes in progress. The north-eastern corner of the Circus has already disappeared and the rounded off corners of the three remaining sections were to disappear over time when streets were widened and houses set back.(1) Number 37 is indicated by the arrow.

In February 1823, a meeting took place at the London Tavern, Bishopsgate Street, to see whether enough interest (read: money) could be raised to form a General Steam Navigation Company (GSNC). The idea was to raise a capital of £300,000 by issuing 150 shares of £2000, a large sum to fork out, but individual shares could be divided into halves or quarters. With the money raised steam ships were to be purchased or ordered to be built. It was envisaged that these ships would provide a regular service from London, Dover, Brighton, Southampton and Plymouth to various destinations on the Continent.(2) The official year for the start of the Company is 1824, as was proudly displayed on their flag. A notice in the papers a year and a half after the meeting in Bishopsgate Street, showed that the activities and the capital were to be increased considerably by issuing 20,000 shares of £100.(3) The GSNC initially had their office at 24 Crutched Friars, and later in Lombard Street, but certainly by 1834 they also had an office at 37 Regent Street.

Source: P&O Heritage website

After only a year in business, the Company announced that they were so successful that a dividend of eight per cent could be paid out to the shareholders and that fifteen vessels had been bought or built.(4) The company initially concentrated on passengers, but from the late 1820s they also transported livestock. By 1833, the company ran regular mail boats to Hamburg, Ostend, Boulogne and Rotterdam. In 1836, they acquired the six steam ships of the London and Edinburgh Steam Packet Company and the steamships of the rival Margate Steam Packet Company. Some of the GSNC’s personnel managed to be singled out for their achievements, such as, in November 1836, when one of the Company’s captains, W. Norwood of the Sir Edward Banks, was presented with a gold medal by the Emperor of Russia for rescuing some Russian citizens from the shipwreck of The Neptune on the Hinder Bank. To ditribute among the crew, £40 was given.(5) And one Henry Cobby, of the GSNC’s Kingston-upon-Hull office, listed a design for “an apparatus for causing the paddle-wheels of a steam-vessel to revolve in a contrary direction to each other at one time, and thereby to turn the vessel round”.(6) I wonder how they managed to do that before Cobby’s invention.

advertisement in Northcroft’s Parliamentary Chronicle, 1834

listing of rates and conditions in The Pocket Cambist of 1836

Pleasure boats, ferrying people for trips to Southend, Margate or Ramsgate, were very popular, but after the SS Princess Alice disaster in 1878 (see here), the market slumped considerably and it took all the efforts of the company to restore public confidence. The Continental cattle trade was also in trouble due to the Franco-Prussian War, a cattle plague on the Continent, and some severe winters blocking traffic to northern harbours, forcing the company to decommission some ships.

advertisement in The Post-Office Directory for Edinburgh & Leith, 1854-55

Changing holiday destinations, the railways and cheap flights all contributed to the decline of the Steam Company and they were taken over in 1920 by P&O, although remaining under own management till 1972. More on this later part of the history of the GSNC is to be found here.

A list of all the ships that have been owned by the General Steam Navigation Company can be found here. And if you want to know more about the history of the GSNC, have a look at Sarah Palmer’s “‘The most indefatigable activity’: the General Steam Navigation Company, 1824-50” in The Journal of Transport History 1982.

Guidebook (Source: P&O website)

shipping token (© The Trustees of the British Museum)

One of the GSNC’s ships (Source: Ebay)

Dutch poster for the GSNC (Source: Geheugen van Nederland)

Poster GSNC (Source: classicboat.co.uk)

(1) Changes described in Survey of London, vols. 31-2; online here and here.
(2) The Morning Post, 12 February 1823.
(3) The Morning Post, 19 August 1824.
(4) The Morning Post, 12 August 1825.
(5) The Nautical Magazine and Naval Chronicle for 1838, p. 628 and List of Shipwrecks in 1836.
(6) Newton’s London Journal of Arts and Sciences, 1843.

Neighbours:

<– 35 Regent Street 39 Regent Street –>

Henry Broughton, button maker

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Street View: 74
Address: 135 Fenchurch Street

To tell you something about the history of 135 Fenchurch Street, we have to go back to the mid-eighteenth century and to another part of London. According to John D. Davis in his Pewter at Colonial Williamsburg (2003), John Townsend, the son of another John, a Berkshire yeoman, started his business as a pewterer in 1748, which would have been soon after he obtained the freedom of the City. He had started his apprenticeship with Samuel Jeffery, pewterer, on 10 November 1740, which would give him his freedom after the usual 7-year period in late 1747. He started his professional life at 47 Prescott Street, Goodmans Field, but could later be found in Booth Street, Spitalfields. In 1752 he married Sarah Hogge and that same year, he took on as an apprentice, Thomas Giffin, son of Thomas, another pewterer. In 1770 the Land Tax records for the St. Gabriel Fenchurch precinct record Thomas Giffin for the first time at the property where Tallis was to find Henry Broughton, that is, on the corner of Cullum Street and Fenchurch Street. John D. Davis mentions a partnership Townsend contracted with one Reynolds between 1767 and 1771, but from 1771 he was in business with his former apprentice Giffin. From 1778, the company was known as John Townsend & Co., which included Giffin and Townsend’s son-in-law Thomas Compton.

touch marks Giffin (Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession number 23.80.53)

Compton had been Townsend’s apprentice since 1763 and had married Townsend’s daughter Mary in 1775. Townsend and Compton had their pewter and tin-foil factory in Booth Street, Spitalfields, and in 1790, they took on one John Gray from Brentford as their apprentice. Thanks to him, we know a lot about Townsend and Compton as in 1839 the Memoir of the Life and Character of John Gray, a Member of the Society of Friends was published by Theodore Compton. Later editions included short biographies of Gray’s masters Townsend and Compton. The Quaker Townsend travelled widely in England and in America on “religious services and missions”. Apparently, his brother had settled in Canada and from there Townsend went to New York and Pennsylvania, among other places. From time to time members of the family went to America on business and lots of their pewter, “immense quantities” according to Davis, ended up in America.

touch mark Townsend and Compton (Source: Wayne & Hilt)

But to return to 135 Fenchurch Street. Thomas Giffin took the corner property in 1770, but the tax records usually listed the property for Townsend & Giffin and from 1780 onwards for Townsend & Co. until 1803 when only Thomas Compton is listed. Thomas died in 1817 and the property is then listed for T. & G. (or T. & H.) Compton until 1831 when Henry Broughton takes over. Henry Compton later traded from 37 Fenchurch Street. We will leave the Townsend/Compton business for what it was and concentrate on Broughton. He called himself a hardware and button warehouseman in the 1831 Sun Fire Office entry where he is stated as having insured the property, “in which no manufactury takes place”, for £1300. In 1834, he also insures his stock and utensils for £500. From 1836, he shared the property with Jonathan White junior who insured his household goods for £100, later increased to £150. By the time Tallis produced his booklet, Broughton shared the property with Gordon & Leith. Tallis does not give these gentlemen an occupation, but they were merchants, trading in the Caribbean, with just an office in Fenchurch Street. In the 1851 Post Office Directory they have been replaced by Charles Avery, colonial broker. More on these men in a later post.

Goad’s insurance map, 1887

Henry Broughton did not trade just from Fenchurch Street, but also from Bouverie Street, Fleet Street, although by the time his will was proved in 1849, he was said to be “late of Bouverie Street and now of Fenchurch Street”, so the Bouverie Street property was given up at some point. According to the list of military button manufacturers that Peter Nayler compiled, Henry Broughton had been in partnership with Thomas Nortzell at 21 Bouverie Street from 1820 until 1831(1), so up to the time of his move to Fenchurch Street. It is unclear whether he remained in Bouverie Street after the partnership with Nortzell was dissolved in 1831, possibly just with a warehouse, but it seems likely, becaause why would he otherwise still refer to that address in his will? After Broughton’s death, the Fenchurch property was listed in the tax records under the name of Broughton & Son till 1854 when one Edmund Jones took over.

advertisement for Broughton in the Tallis Street View booklet

Although the premises at number 135 were listed in the tax records for Broughton, or rather, for his son, until 1854, an advertisement in the newspapers of late 1852 suggests an earlier change of hands. The property is advertised as a haberdasher’s shop, but Broughton always called himself a hardwareman or button maker, so it seems that Jones took over earlier than the tax records suggest. The 1856 Post Office Directory lists Jones as hosier and shirt maker, sharing the property with Thomas Thompson, solicitor. More on later occupants of 135 Fenchurch Street in the forthcoming post on Gordon & Leith, but for now, this is where this post stops.

advertisement in The Morning Chronicle, 28 October 1852

(1) Partnership dissolved 30 June 1831. Source: The London Gazette, 12 July 1831.

Neighbours:

<– 136 Fenchurch Street 134 Fenchurch Street –>

David Bogue, bookseller and publisher

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Street View: 15 and 14 Suppl.
Address: 86 Fleet Street

David Bogue started life on 16 October 1808 in East Lothian as the son of Jacob Bogue, a farmer, and Ann Johnston. According to the Oxford Dictionary of Biography, he became the assistant of Thomas Ireland, a bookseller in Edinburgh, but moved to London in 1836 to work for Charles Tilt. Tilt had his shop at 86 Fleet Street and specialised in illustrated books and lithographic prints (more on Tilt in a forthcoming post). In 1841, Tilt decided it was time to retire and, according to publisher and journalist Henry Vizetelly in his Glances Back Trough Seventy Years; Autobiographical and Other Reminiscences (1893), Tilt entered into an unequal partnership with assistant Bogue because of “his general shrewdness and steady application to business”. The idea was that Bogue would gradually pay back the money he owed Tilt for the partnership, between forty and fifty thousand pounds, and publications began to appear with both their names in the imprint. In December 1841, for instance, they had a page-long advertisement in the Quarterly Literary Advertiser announcing their latest publications.

In 1843, the partnership between Tilt and Bogue was dissolved with Bogue to continue the business on his own. As the shop was within the City of London, he had to obtain the freedom of the City, but as he had not officially apprenticed to a London freeman, he had to do so by ‘redemption’ for which he paid a fine. In 1844, he married Alicia Edgar, and went to live at 39 Lonsdale Square. Alicia was also from Scotland and in 1846 and 1848, they had their children, Anne, Alicia and Charles Tilt, baptised at the United Reformed Church in Regent Square with “National Scottish Church” written above the entries in the baptism register.(1) In 1844, Bogue jointly published Isaac Walton’s Complete Angler with Henry Wix who had his bookshop just around the corner in New Bridge Street.

But things had not gone well with the business for some time. Bogue was apparently not as clever a businessman, or perhaps not as lucky, as Tilt had been and had entered into a few publishing projects that did not pay off, such as his European Library, which consisted of reprints of classic titles. The first title in the series was William Roscoe’s The life of Lorenzo de’ Medici, called the Magnificent and in the preface Bogue stated that the works in the series were to consist of volumes of 450 to 500 pages on paper of the best quality and in a handsome and convenient size. Each volume was to be bound in cloth, was to have an illustration, and was to cost 3/6, “being unquestionably the cheapest series of books ever published”. However, his main competitor, H.G. Bohn, was quick to imitate him with the Standard Library. Bogue lost his European Library to Bohn after a legal wrangle over copyright, and the series was incorporated into Bohn’s Standard Library.

Bogue had one major asset, George Cruikshank, but not all of their joint ventures were successful. The temperance series The Bottle and The Drunkard’s Children flopped, and so did the Fairy Library, a series of children’s books with traditional fairy tales retold as moral stories by Cruikshank. Charles Dickens took exception to the distortion of the fairly tales in his Household Words and mocked Cruikshank’s efforts to rid the tales of any reference to alcohol by ‘rewriting’ Cinderella (see here for Dickens’s text).

The bottle, by George Cruikshank, plate 4, 1847 (Source: Wellcome Library, London )


The Adventures of Mr and Mrs Sandboys

The Adventures of Mr and Mrs Sandboys by Henry Mayhew and George Cruikshank, 1851 (Source: fulltable.com)

The 1851 census found the Bogue family at 76 Camden Road. The census papers for 86 Fleet Street tell us that “no person sleeps on premises”. David died in November 1856 of heart disease, aged just 48.(2) His name still appeared in the tax records and in imprints in 1857 and 1858 as the executors tried to keep the place going with the help of Charles Tilt, but by 1859, most of Bogue’s copyrights and stock, as well as the shop, had been taken over by William Kent (his name is listed in the Land Tax records for 1860). The 1861 census and the 1861 Land Tax records for 86 Fleet Street, however, saw Frederick Arnold living there. He helped George Cruikshank pay off the debts he owed to the Bogue estate, because, according to Cruikshank, Arnold wanted to become his publisher.(3) Arnold died in 1874 and the bookshop at 86 Fleet Street was continued by his son Alfred who had to liquidate the business in 1877 to satisfy his creditors.(4)


The shop itself was a sight to behold with its large windows curving around the corner into St. Bride Avenue. It was depicted many times, sometimes with the name of Tilt on the boarding , sometimes with that of Bogue.

vignette in the Tallis booklet. Bogue’s shop on the left.

Source: Gillmark Gallery

(1) David and Alicia were to have two more children, Edgar and David, but they were apparently not baptised at the Scottish Church.
(2) PROB 11/2242/348.
(3) More on Cruikshank and his publishers in Robert L. Patten, George Cruikshank’s Life, Times, and Art (1996).
(4) The London Gazette, 4 December 1877.

Neighbours:

<– 88 Fleet Street 85 Fleet Street –>

John Baddeley & Son, boot makers

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Street View: 34
Address: 48 Oxford Street

John Baddeley was the brother of Charles Baddeley who had his shoe shop at 130 Strand. His nephew, also a Charles, first had his shop in Fleet Street and later at 119 Oxford Street. But in this post we will concentrate on John and his son George who had their bootmaker’s business at 48 Oxford Street. John was baptised as an adult at the Independent Chapel in Marshall Street on the 29th of April 1831, but the record tells us that he had been born on the 2nd of December 1769. Why he had himself baptised so late in life is unclear, nor do other members of the family seem to have followed him. John had already been baptised in 1793, along with several of his brothers and sisters, at the Baptist chapel in Keppell Street. In 1797 John married Charlotte Cordell, the younger sister of Ann Cordell who had married Charles Baddeley senior in 1792, thereby forging a double family link.

When comparing Horwood’s 1799 map with Tallis’s Street View, I noticed a slight discrepancy in the numbering. Starting from the corner of Oxford and Berners Street, the first five properties are numbered 54, 53, 53, 51, 50 in both resources. Logic dictates that the next property is number 49 and that is what Horwood shows, but Tallis had Baddeley at number 48, next to number 50. Later Post Office Directories (1851 and 1856) list 49 & 50 together as one property, so that may be the explanation why Tallis does not show 49. But that is not all. If we follow the numbers from the other side, that is, the corner of Newman Street, both Tallis and Horwood have 40, 41, 42, 43, 44. Then Horwood has a double property with numbers 45 and 46 and Tallis just has 45. Horwood shows a small alley going to Timber Yard at the back where we find number 47; the house numbers in the street jump from 46 to 48 on either side of the alley. Tallis misses out number 46, but so do the tax records from ±1830 onwards and the later Post Office Directories. The Land Tax records show, from at least 1792 onwards, a continuous numbering from 40 to 54 with numbers 46 and 47 often bracketed together for the same occupant. The index to the Tallis Street View does not help very much as numbers 42, 43, 44, 45 and 51 have no names attached and were presumably empty at that time. Tallis shows Baddeley’s property with two doors, one of which, the one on the right, may very well have been the old entrance to Timber yard. In 1888 when Goad’s insurance map was produced, the open ground at the back of the houses, including Timber Yard, had more or less been filled in completely and the alley towards the back can no longer be seen. Besides that, the numbering changed and numbers 40-54 became 90-114 with Baddeley’s number 48 turned into 104.

click to enlarge

In 1801, Mary Cordell, that is John’s mother-in-law, by then a widow, insured two houses, one in Upper Rathbone Place and one in Carey Street, both rented out to others. She had inherited the properties from her husband Thomas who had died in 1798.(1) Her own address is given as 48 Oxford Street, but no information is given on the status of that house. Did she own the house, or did she just live with her daughter and son-in-law? The latter is probably the case as John Baddeley pays the Land Tax from 1798 onwards. In 1805 John insured number 48 and the Sun Fire Office record states that it was built of brick and valued at £200. He also insured his household goods, including china and glass to the value of £350, and £550 worth of stock and utensils. Mary Cordell died in 1809 and left three of her daughters, that is Elizabeth East, Ann Baddeley and Charlotte Baddeley, “all my property and effects”, excluding some named bequests.(2)

We can see the changes in Baddeley’s finances by looking at some later insurance records. The value of £200 on the house is increased in 1828 to £237, although a confusing entry in 1817 for one Richard Barnet lists 48 Oxford Street, which he insured for £600 as “in tenure of Baddeley a shoemaker”. Baddeley’s household goods for some reason decrease in value from £350 in 1805 to £220 in 1828. The value of his stock and utensils vary a bit from £550 in 1805 to £580 in 1814 and £500 in 1828. From 1814 onwards, however, Baddeley also insured a property in Great Russell Street, Covent Garden, occupied by a grocer, for £600 (£680 in 1828). In 1828 the rent he receives for that property is £63.

schoolplaat

Schoolplaat (Source: De Kantlijn)

The 1841 census still has John Baddeley, his wife Charlotte and two of their daughters, Charlotte and Elizabeth, at number 48, but a year and a half later, a notice in The London Gazette of 27 December 1842 tells us that John is terminating the partnership with son George. George could be found as a bootmaker at 2 Upper King Street in the 1848 Post Office Directory and at 521 Oxford Street from 1850 onwards. In June 1850, George registered a design for a boot (no. 2335), describing himself as “naval and military boot maker”. He was doing well for himself and the 1851 census lists him as employing 20 men. In the 1848 Post Office Directory, John can still be found at 48 Oxford Street, but by the time of the 1851 census John, Charlotte and their two daughters have moved to 20 High Street, with John listed as “proprietor of houses & dividens (sic.)”. Charlotte died in 1852, 74 years old, and was buried at Abney Park, Stoke Newington, where John was to follow her three years later.(3) He was then living at 12, Kingston Russell Place, Oakley Square.

After John’s retirement, 48 Oxford Street had been taken over by John Davies, a linen draper, who is listed there in the 1851 and 1856 Post Office Directories, but it was not to last as the advertisement below makes clear. Baddeley had remained the lessee of the property and in his will he states that the lease of 48 Oxford Street was to expire in June 1858, which may very well have been the reason that the stock of Davies was sold off that same month. The rent for Baddeley had been £115 a year, but he had subleased it to Davies for £200 a year, so a nice profit for our shoemaker.(2)

(1) PROB 11/1314/256.
(2) PROB 11/1506/135.
(3) Abney Park, Grave Number 007675.
(4) PROB 11/2207/372.

Neighbours:

<– 50 Oxford Street 47 Oxford Street –>

William Mortlock, china warehouse

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Street Views: 17 and 1 Suppl.
Address: 18 Regent Street

As we saw in the post on Mortlock & Sturges of 250 Oxford Street, John and William Mortlock dissolved their partnership in 1809 with John to remain at Oxford Street and William II to set up on his own in Regent Street. His sons John and Frederick also worked in the Regent Street business. William’s other son, also William, worked for his uncle in Oxford Street until 1828, when he partnered with his brother John at Regent Street. In 1835, however, uncle John of Oxford Street retired and nephew John left Regent Street to take over the business in Oxford Street. All quite complicated, but the end result was that William III was the sole proprietor of the Regent Street business.

advertisement in The Times, 23 May 1836

The Mortlock family did not live above the shop, or at least, they did not when the censuses were taken and the 1841 census only listed a shopman and several servants on the premises of 18 Regent Street. In 1851, James Clark and his wife Susannah are taking care of the shop with their son William acting as errand boy. James and Susannah are still there in 1861 and 1871, but by 1881 they have been replaced by Charles Cruse and his wife Dinah. The Cruses are still acting as caretakers at the time of the 1891 census, but by 1901 the premises appear to be empty. At least, number 18 is no longer mentioned in the census record which jumps straight from no. 16 (the Raleigh Club) to no. 20 (William P. Rowlands who worked on the Stock Exchange).

A coffee beaker with Mortlock’s mark on the bottom (Source: worthpoint.com)

William III Mortlock himself was listed as a retired china dealer in the 1871 census, but the next generation, brothers William IV and Frederick, had already taken over by then and in March 1872, a notice appeared in The London Gazette that the partnership between the three Mortlocks had officially been dissolved with the younger generation to continue the business. William III died in 1879 and left an estate of £60,000.(1) The brothers were both listed in the 1881 census as “gentleman”, suggesting they had retired. William IV died in 1888 and Frederick in 1915.(2)

In 1896, a large advertisement appeared in The Times for a sale at Mortlock’s in which they say they have sold the lease of 18 Regent Street. The 1902 Post Office Directory, however, still lists them, albeit with the information that the business had been transferred to Phillips Ltd of 19-21 Mount Street, Grosvenor Square. An intriguing notice appeared in The Times of 6 July 1881, in which Messrs. W. Mortlock and Sons of 18 Regent Street and 19 St. James’s Street state that, although the defendant in the Tower v. Mortlock case has several china shops in London, their business has no relation with that Mortlock. Although I have no idea what the court case was about, the notice in The Times tells us that at some point Mortlock had a second shop in St. James’s Street. The censuses for 1871 and 1881 have no names listed for the property, so no one was sleeping on the premises on the night of the census taking, but in 1891, the widow Clermont is listed at number 19 as a caretaker. Not that that proves anything as it does not say for whom she is caretaking. Tallis has a Mr. Brumby, glass manufacturer at the address, a business that was later taken over by J. Green and the 1856 Post Office Directory lists a J. Dobson, also a glass dealer. Did the Mortlocks take over from Dobson?

top section of the advertisement in The Times, 28 May 1896

Minton china plate, 1885, with Mortlock’s retailer’s mark on the bottom (Source: V&A)

More examples of Mortlock wares, both from the Oxford Street and the Regent Street shops are to be found here.

18 Regent Street is now part of the listed Dorland House at 14-22 Regent Street.(3) It was built in the 1920s and designed by John James Joass (1868-1952) whom we have come across in the post on John Belcher, the architect and surveyor at 5 Adelaide Place. Joass continued the Belcher business after the death of John Belcher junior and was very successful. He designed, for instance, the Mappin and Webb building at 1 Poultry.

Regent Street looking towards Piccadilly Circus, with Dorland House on the right (Google Street View, March 2017)

(1) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1859. The executors were sons William and Frederick.
(2) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1888 and 1915. William left an estate of almost £40,000 and Frederick one of ±£43,500.
(3) Historic England, Grade II, list entry Number: 1222573 (see here).

Neighbours:

<– 20 Regent Street 17 Regent Street (1839) –>
16 Regent Street (1847) –>

William Witcomb, tailor

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Street View: 88
Address: 54 Moorgate Street

William Witcomb started his career in the City of London in 1828 when he was made free of the Feltmakers’ Company by redemption, that is, by paying a fine of 46s 8d for not having gone through the usual 7-year period of an apprentice. He originally came from Frome in Somerset and may already have been working as a tailor before he moved to London. According to the information he gave in the 1841-1871 censuses, he was born in ±1800 and could easily have worked somewhere else for a number of years before coming to London. As the freedom document shows, he began his career in Little Bell Alley in the parish of St. Stephen Coleman Street. In the same year that he acquired the City’s freedom, 1828, he married Sophia Mary Macarthur, and the baptism records of his eldest children tell us that he worked as a tailor and glover at no. 4 Little Bell Alley.(1)

Little Bell Alley, not necessarily showing Witcomb’s property

Little Bell Alley was a very narrow street running from London Wall to Great Bell Alley; later in the nineteenth century it was widened and renamed Copthall Avenue. Moorgate Street (it later lost the ‘Street’ part of its name) was a new street of the 1830s, constructed as one of the roads to connect London Bridge with the north. Although Wikipedia says Moorgate was constructed in 1846, it must have been earlier as it is not only depicted in the Tallis Street View, but the inhabitants are listed in Moorgate Street from 1840 onwards in the tax records of the Coleman Street ward. The tax records show Witcomb for the first time in 1829 in Little Bell Alley, having taken over from one Savory. Witcomb is still listed in the 1837 poll book at 4 Little Bell Alley, but he must have moved to Moorgate between June 1837 – when three of his children are baptised at St. Stephen’s and his address is still listed as 4 Little Bell Alley – and June 1840 when his eldest son William is buried from Moorgate Street. The 1840 tax record for Little Bell Alley does indeed show a different name.

An insurance record of the Sun Fire Office, dated 21 October 1839, shows one John Joseph Tanner, solicitor of 53-54 Moorgate Street, paying the premiums for 47, 48 and 49 Moorgate. Tanner either acted for other proprietors, or he had invested in property himself and only used the address in Moorgate Street temporarily as he does not appear in any of these properties in the 1841 census. Proof that the Witcomb family moved to Moorgate around that time is given in the 1841 census where William, Sophia, and five children are listed, next to Thomas Johnston, the bookseller at number 53. Witcomb’s new property was next to White’s Alley and is nowadays known as 20, Moorgate. The 1887 insurance map below shows Witcomb’s property at no. 20 (was 54), with the entrance to White’s Alley on the south side of the building, leading to Moorgate Street Buildings. On the right-hand side of the map the southern section of Little Bell Street can be seen.

Goad’s insurance map of 1887

Things were, however, not going very well and in November 1842, William Witcomb, “late of no. 54, Moorgate-street, London, Tailor, Draper, and Glover” was in the Debtor’s Prison for London and Middlesex on his own petition. The 1843 Post Office Directory still lists him at no. 54, but that may have been because their information had been gathered in late 1842, that is, before Witcomb was imprisoned. In 1845, number 54 is occupied by L.J. Gaskill and Co., General advertising agents for the United Kingdom, France, America, and the Colonies.

top part of an advertisement in The British and Foreign Railway Review, vol. 1, 1845

And Witcomb? Well, he managed to be released from prison and in the 1851 census could be found as an accountant at 10 New Road, Stepney. An aptitude for administrative work apparently ran in the family as son Charles John is listed as a bookkeeper and son James Robert as a solicitor’s clerk. Ten years later, the youngest son Walter is listed as a clerk to a brandy merchant, George is a barrister’s clerk, and daughter Fanny has become a teacher. William himself is listed in 1861 as a clerk to a colonial broker. In 1871, William and his sons George and Walter are all listed as ‘clerk’ without any further specification. William died in 1874 and was buried at Abney Park Cemetery.

Bombing raids in World War II did a lot of damage to the buildings on Moorgate and in White’s Alley and Witcomb’s shop no longer exists (see here). The whole block of houses between Great Bell Alley (renamed Telegraph Street) and Great Swan Alley is now designated as 20 Moorgate and houses the Prudential Regulation Authority.

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(1) The five eldest children were all baptised at St. Stephen Coleman: William (1829-1840); Sophia Maria (1834-1834, she died when she was just 4 months old); Charles John (1830-1912), James Robert (1831-1859) and Alexander (1836-?). I have not found a baptism record for George (1839-1871), but the two youngest children, Fanny Sophia (1841-1875) and Walter (1846-1921) were baptised in 1867 at Dalston Presbyterian Church.

Neighbours:

<– 53 Moorgate Street 54 Moorgate Street –>

John Newton & Son, cork cutters

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Street View: 37
Address: 50 St. John Street

It looks as if the property of John Newton, cork cutter, was wrongly numbered as 51 by Tallis on his street plan, as it makes no sense that the next-door neighbour is no. 49. Newton’s house should be no. 50 as the numbering was still consecutive in those days. On the other side of the alley were three houses combined, incorrectly numbered on the street plan as nos. 52-54, but correctly labelled 51-53 in the Tallis index, and listed for Field, the straw hat maker. An 1821 plan of the parish of St. Sepulchre also shows 50 between the alley and no. 49, so that was the correct number for Newton’s cork cutting business.

detail of a 1821 plan of the parish of St. Sepulchre by B.H. Gardner


16th-century houses before their demolition in c. 1814 (Source: Survey of London via British History Online)

To make life complicated, the house numbering changed dramatically somewhere between 1861 and 1871 with the odd numbers on one side of the street and the even numbers on the other and what was number 50 became 73. The house is still there, but the alley has been built in and, together with number 69 (which used to be number 51) looks rather squashed between the larger buildings on either side. According to volume 46 of the Survey of London the houses were built in 1817-18 to replace the sixteenth-century ones that are thought to have been part of the mansion of Sir Thomas Forster in St John’s Lane. Holden’s 1811 London and Country Directory lists John Newton jun, cork cutter, at 54 St. John Street and there is also an 1810 insurance record for John Newton at number 54. The fact that the directory lists him as junior, certainly suggests that there should also be a John senior and we do find another John at number 56 in 1811 as a brass founder.

Google Street View July 2016

However, the cork business had existed for longer than that, as in 1791, the newspapers reported on a fire that started at Mr. Labrow’s chemist shop and spread to several businesses, among them that of Mr. Blower, a tallow chandler and Mr. Newton, cork cutter. This must, however, been on the other side of the street as Labrow had his shop at no. 128 and Blower at no. 135. Unfortunately, two directories from around the time do not list cork cutter Newton. We can follow John Newton’s business from 1810 onwards through the insurance records of the Sun Fire Office. In that year he insured his “household goods, wearing apparel, printed books and plate in his dwelling house” at 54 St. John Street for £150 on the proviso that no cork was burnt on the premises. His stock and utensils at that same address were insured for £50 and his stock and utensils in his warehouse in the Skin Market, Islington, for £300. In 1813 he insured 55 St. John Street: his household goods for £200, his stock and utensils for £100 and his stock and utensils in the Skin Market again for £300. The total of his insured possessions had gone up from £500 to £600, and went up again in 1814 to £700.

The Sheep Skin Market had been situated near Northampton Square, where now the Brunswick Estate can be found, but the area was redeveloped in the years following 1815, so it is no surprise that the next insurance record finds Newton with a warehouse in East Street near Globe Road, Mile End (also designated as East Street, Globe Fields). From 1819, we find Newton at 50 St. John Street, still with the additional warehouse in East Street, and the total value insured has now gone up to £1000. He was obviously doing alright for himself and in 1820 the Sun Fire Office record shows him adding china and glass, worth £50, to his insurance policy and in 1823 even musical instruments for £25 and pictures and prints for another £25. Newton must have been the first occupant of the new building at number 50, as we saw in the Survey that it had been built in 1817-1818. From then on, we always find our cork cutter at 50 St. John Street, that is, until 1848 (or perhaps a few years earlier) when, according to the Post Office Directory number 51 was added to the Newton business.

In 1841, one of the errand boys of Newton stole some 20l in copper coins from his master. James, the son of John (although the Old Bailey report mistakenly calls the father James) Newton, gave evidence and described that “there is an area-gate in the front of the premises, the key of which hung on a hook over the desk in the front shop”. Morley, the errand boy, had tried to get Fisher, an apprentice, to help him, but Fisher was reluctant to participate in the robbery, although he did help Morley with opening the padlock on the gate. Morley left some of the stolen money for Fisher, but he would not touch it. Everything came out and Morley was sentenced to transportation for fifteen years. The whole transcript of the Old Bailey case can be found here.

stack of cork beneath a cork tree (source: hideawayinspain.com)

In 1842, son James Newton married his neighbour Eliza, the daughter of James Field, straw hat manufacturer, and no. 51 was apparently signed over from the Fields to the Newtons sometime after that date, as in the 1851 census we see widow Frances Elizabeth Newton (John had died in 1845) living at no. 50 and James and Eliza at no. 51. The 1843 Post Office Directory still only lists no. 50 for the cork business, so presumably James took over no. 51 after that. Frances died in 1854 and was then living at 71 Euston Square. She left her share of the business to her daughter Elizabeth and her son James. Her other son George received a hundred pounds.(1)

James and his growing family did not remain at number 51, but could in the 1861 census be found at Paradise Cottages, Green Lane, Islington. His son James Field Newton, 17 years old, was also listed as a cork manufacturer. The census listed a packer, a housekeeper, and a shopman at no. 50 St. John Street; no one was living at no. 51. And in the 1871 and 1881 censuses, that is, after the numbering had changed, no one was living at either no. 69, 71 or 73. James died in 1867 and James Field in 1873. James Field had left his father’s estate unadministered and his brother Frederick George arranged probate for both estates in 1873 and 1874.(3) The business was continued in St. John Street by widow Eliza and in 1871 the census lists her as employing 18 men and 5 boys. In 1881, Frederick, his sister Elizabeth, and his younger brother Sidney, all unmarried, were living together at 27, Stapleton Hall Road.

In March 1882, there was a fire in the cork warehouse which, according to the newspaper report, raged for several hours and only left the walls standing.(3) According to the London Historic Asset Assessment the property was rebuilt after the fire with the extension over the alley, but judging by the numbering in the 1871 census, the building-over of the alley probably took place quite a number of years earlier. Why else would numbers 50 and 51 suddenly get 3 house numbers: 69, 71 and 73?

The cork business at 69-73 St. John Street continued at least till 1912 when the telephone directory lists them there, but I found no evidence for them after that date. They are certainly not listed in Hughes’ Business Directory of 1821.

advertisement (Source: Grace’s Guide)

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(1) PROB 11/2201/86.
(2) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1873. The effects of James Field were valued at were valued at under £100. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1868 and 1874. The effects of James were valued at under £3,000.
(3) Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper, 12 March 1882.

Neighbours:

<– 51-53 St. John Street 49 St. John Street –>

Henry Richards, chemist

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Street View: 14
Address: 55 St. James’s Street

The chemist’s shop Tallis lists at 55, St. James’s Street had been there since 1829 when Henry Richards took over the property from John Lanman, a tailor. Richards had moved to number 55 from number 11, on the opposite side and further down the street. The move had all to do with the widening of Little King Street, the small passage that linked King Street to St. James’s Street (see Horwood’s map below). The widening had been set in motion by Statute 7 George IV C. 77 of 1826 (see here). Number 11 disappeared altogether and numbers 10 and 12 can now be found on either side of King Street. Number 10 was rebuilt as the grand, but unsuccessful St. James’s Bazaar. Richard’s new shop at number 55 was situated on the corner of Bennet(t) Street and was frequently referred to as 1 Bennet Street. In later years, the chemist’s shop was run by Daniel Rokely Harris and his name is still attached to the business, although it has since moved to 29 St. James’s Street via 30 King Street and 27 St. James’s Street. The accepted history of D.R. Harris & Co. (see their website) states that the business started in 1790, but as we shall see, not with a Harris in charge.

The Morning Chronicle, 24 April 1829

If we try to work backwards in time to get to the 1790 beginnings of the firm, we find a listing in Kent’s Directory of 1803 for Henry Richards, chemist & druggist at number 11. Although the Land Tax records at that time did not include house numbers, Richards was listed in the record for 1803 as occupying the 2nd property from Gloucester Court, which is number 11 St. James’s Street. Before Richards came on the scene in 1803, the tax records list a James Gent for the property. Where Richards himself had come from is as yet a bit of a mystery. We know he was born in Arminghall, Norfolk, but what he did before he took over from Gent is unclear. James Gent was, according to The General London Guide; or, Tradesman’s Directory of 1794 a ‘chymist and druggist’ at 11 St. James’s Street, so we are getting closer to the origins of D.R. Harris & Co., and we can take it back even further as Gent is also listed as a ‘chymist’ at number 11 in The Universal British Directory of 1791, close enough to substantiate the 1790 claim.(1)

Entry in the 1791 Universal British Directory

Although the takeover from James Gent to Henry Richards appears to have taken place in 1803, it must have been the year before as James Gent died in early 1802. He wrote his will on 25 December 1801 and probate was granted to his executors on 2 March 1802. Gent bequeathed to “James Eades my nephew now living with me as an apprentice all the beneficial interest in the lease of the house which I at present occupy and in which my trade is at present carried on in St. James’s Street … together with all the stock in trade”. But, as James Eades was still an apprentice, Gent asked his executors to enlist the help of a “proper assistant” who could help run the business until Eades had attained the age of 21 or was “more fully and sufficiently competent to carry on the same”.(2) There is, however, no mention of Eades in the tax records, so it is uncertain what happened. Did the executors make other arrangements? Was Eades reluctant to continue the business? Or was Henry Richards perhaps the “proper assistant” who carried on by himself when Eades for whatever reason bowed out? We may never know, but fact is that Richards continued the chemist’s shop.

Henry Richards was the proprietor when Tallis produced his Street View of St. James’s Street. In 1841, he is listed in the census as unmarried, 65 years old, and not born in the county. Living with him is Rotely Harris, 25 years old, a chemist’s shopman, and Eliza Mily (or Miles), a servant of the same age. The 1841 census was notoriously imprecise as regards ages, so we must not be too dependant on them to trace back the lives of these people. We will come back to Rotely Harris in a minute, but first the 1851 census in which Richards is listed as a 79 year old, so he was probably born in 1772. Also on the premises in 1851 is Henry Harris, a 34-year old surgeon, and servant Jane Miley (or Miles, probably a relation of the Eliza who was listed in the 1841 census). We will also come back to Henry Harris in a moment, but first the death of Henry Richards. He died somewhere in mid-1853 and probate was granted on 9 July, 1853, to solicitor Charles Steward, his nephew from Ipswich whom he had named sole executor and heir.(3)

From 1855 onwards until the end of the century, the Land Tax of 1 Bennet Street is listed for Henry Harris, the surgeon we saw on the premises in the 1851 census. Henry Harris was the son of Daniel Harris and Juliet Susanna Rotely of Swansea, Glamorgan. He was baptised on 4 October 1815 at St. Mary’s, Swansea. His older brother Daniel Rotely Harris was baptised in the same church on 22 April 1814. The Rotely Harris in the 1841 census of 55 St. James’s Street was most likely this Daniel Rotely. He is, by the way, the one whose initials still grace the firm’s name: D.R. Harris & Co. The two brothers were both involved in the medical world: Henry as a surgeon – he became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1842 – and Daniel Rotely as a pharmaceutical chemist. While Henry seems to have stayed in London – the 1861 census still finds him at 55 St. James’s Street -, Daniel could be found as a chemist in Ware, Hertfordshire in the 1851 and 1861 censuses. He lived at 1 Baldock Street with his wife Susan, daughters Susan Powell, Mary Elizabeth, Julia Jane and son Daniel Rotely Philemon.(4) In 1862, however, Kelly’s Directory finds him at Laurie (or Lawrie) Place, Sydenham.

Letter in The Morning Chronicle, 2 March 1861. Holroyd was most likely the 28-year old chemist William H. Holroyd who, according to the 1861 census, lived with his mother and younger brother at 22 Alexander Square, Kensington

The 1871 census still finds Daniel R., by then a widower, and two of his children, at Sydenham, but the electoral register of 1871 lists him for 55 St. James’s Street. From 1878 onwards, the rate books of Westminster also list him at number 55, and so does the 1881 census. But that does not mean that he had moved to London completely as Kelly’s Directory of 1882 lists him at 11 Kirkdale, Sydenham. And his probate record – he died in November 1888 – lists him as late of 55 St. James-street and of Kirkdale, Sydenham.(5) He was buried on 4 December 1888 at Lewisham.

Goad’s 1889 insurance map overlaid on a Google map, showing in brown the porch that juts out; in the elevation at the top of this post it can be seen to extend to the first floor; the perfect place to watch the jubilee procession of 1897 and the coronation in 1902

The Times, 24 April 1897

The Times, 11 June 1902

And Daniel Rotely’s brother Henry? Well, there is a bit of an open end to his story, as I have not been able to find out exactly when he died. His name is still listed in the tax records for 1892 and in the Medical Register for 1899, but that is as far as I got. Henry Harris is not the easiest name to research as there were quite a number of them around at the time. The Post Office Directory of 1902 shows that D.R. Harris & Co. had moved to 30 King Street and at some point in the early 1920s D.R. Harris took over Hairsine’s, another chemist, who had been trading from the Haymarket.(6) And due to an air raid in 1944 the firm had to abandon the King Street address and move back to St. James’s Street, first at number 27 and from 1963 onwards at number 29 where you can hopefully find them for a very long time to come.

Horwood’s 1799 map showing the five locations of the chemist’s shop. Red arrow 11 St. J’s; green 55 St. J’s; yellow 30 King St.; light blue 27 St. J’s; dark blue 29 St. J’s. Click to enlarge.

To sum up, the addresses and proprietors of the business were:
11, St. James’s Street
1791 – 1802 James Gent
1802 – 1829 Henry Richards

55, St. James’s Street / 1 Bennet Street
1829 – 1853 Henry Richards
1853 – c. 1900 Henry Harris
c. 1871 – 1888 Daniel Rokely Harris

30, King Street
c. 1900-1944 D.R. Harris & Co.

– in 1821 or thereabouts, Hairsine & Co. of 47 Haymarket were taken over by Harris’s

– in 1944, the so-called ‘Little Blitz’ caused heavy damage in the area, see here and here.

27, St. James’s Street
1944-1963 D.R. Harris & Co.

29, St. James’s Street
1963 – present D.R. Harris & Co.

(1) I am very grateful to Julian Moore of D.R. Harris & Co. for alerting me to the long history of the chemist’s and for providing the scans of some of the pictures that illustrate this post, and to both Julian and Alison Moore for generously making available the information they have on the history of the shop (their website: www.drharris.co.uk).
(2) PROB 11/1371/24.
(3) PROB 11/2176/72.
(4) The children were all baptised at Ware, Hertfordshire: Susan Powell, 29 August 1844; Daniel Rotely Philemon, 2 December 1846; Julia Jane and Mary Elisabeth, 26 March 1858.
(5) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1889. His effects are valued at just over £3,650, later resworn at just over £3,885.
(6) Hairsine and Co, 47 Haymarket, is listed in the telephone directory up till 1921. As an interesting aside, I noticed that from 1922 a W. Hairsine is listed at 52 Wardour Street. We have come across another W. Hairsine, chemist, in the post for John Christopher Addison, although this original W. Hairsine had died in 1916 and cannot have moved to Haymarket and back again to Wardour Street, so a bit of a mystery there.

two pictures of an 1825 Hairsine ledger in the Harris archive


20thC-recipe for Lettuce Shaving Cream from one of the books in the Harris archive. No lettuce involved I am happy to say, as I doubt anyone would have wanted to use it on his chin if it had.

Neighbours:

<– 56 St. James’s Street 54 St. James’s Street –>

Samuel Hunt, billiard rooms and cigar divan

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,

Street Views: 19 and 9 Suppl.
Address: 370-371 Strand

In the post for Edward Cahan, tailor, we saw that he occupied 371 Strand from ±1845 onwards and that he was listed by Tallis in the 1847 Street View Supplement. But in the main collection of Street Views (±1839-1840), Tallis listed S. Hunt & Co, tobacconists, at number 371. The elevation at the top of this post shows Hunt as a billiard table maker. Samuel Hunt combined both jobs, after all, what better place to sell your cigars than in a billiard room full of gentlemen? Although Cahan moved into number 371 at some point, Hunt continued to use most of the premises as his “billiard rooms and cigar divan”. According to London as it is today, cigar divans were “essentially coffee houses, but of a distingué character, expensive in their charges, and more studied, elegant, and luxurious in their appointments and conveniences”. Cahan probably just had the ground floor of number 371 and perhaps a few bedrooms upstairs. Various illustrations of the property before and after Cahan’s occupancy show the cigar divan on the ground floor of number 371 with the billiard rooms above. It looks as if Hunt rented out some space at number 371 to Cahan, while keeping the rest of the property for himself.

Illustrated London News, 1843, showing the Exeter Hall divan on the right and the billiard maker above.

The neighbouring property at 370 Strand had been in the occupation of one Bennett, pastry cook and confectioner in the early Street View; we will find out what happened to him in a later post, but for now we are concentrating on Hunt & Co. They, that is S. and C.J. Hunt [Samuel and ??], entered an advertisement in The Athenaeum of 1834 in which they warned their customers against inferior billiard tables that were advertised under “names of the most ridiculous nature – such as ‘Imperial Marmorean Stratification’ and ‘Petrosian Stratification Tables’ – made use of only to mislead the unwary, and to disguise the fact that they are made of COMMON WELSH SLATE”. As you can guess, the tables Hunt provided were anything but common, but made according to an improved principle, which needed no trumped-up names; the use of the word ‘slate’ was enough. The only thing to surpass the slate tables of Hunt were their metal tables. In the same advertisement, Hunt also advertised “A Scientific Treatise on Billards”. No author or proper title mentioned, but it was probably François Mingaud‘s The Noble Game of Billiards, a translation by John Thurston, rival billiard table maker, of the Noble Jeu de Billiard. Thurston, by the way, had an advertisement just above Hunt’s in The Athenaeum in which he advertised his ‘Imperial Petrosian Tables’ and also Migaud’s book. No love lost between the two rivals apparently.

advertisement in The Athenaeum, 1834

Hunt & Co. had probably taken over from David Farrow, who was described in The London Gazette of 1834 as “formerly of no. 370 Strand, Middlesex, gun-maker and gun-dealer, and also a billiard-table-keeper, … out of business”. From an 1836 Old Bailey case, we learn a little bit more about Hunt. One Henry Bell was indicted for stealing 3 ivory balls, the property of Samuel Hunt. Hunt’s son, Horatio, gave evidence and said, “I live with my father, Samuel Hunt, in the Quadrant; he has another house in the Strand; he is a billiard-table-keeper”. While Horatio was cleaning the billard room in the Strand, “which is on the first floor”, the accused came in and started to “knock the balls about on the table”. The minute Horatio turned his back, the accused left, taking the balls with him; they were later found at a pawnbroker’s.(1) The 1841 census shows Horatio, with occupation tobacconist, living at 370 Strand and Samuel Hunt, billiard-table-keeper, at 371 Strand. Also living at 370 Strand is William Preist, trunk maker, who was in the debtor’s prison later that year.(2) In the bankruptcy notice, Preist is described as a foreman to a trunk maker and it is entirely possible that he was employed by Hunt in the making of the billiard tables. In Robson’s London Directory for 1842, Samuel Hunt & Co. are described as “trunk and camp equipage manfrs, tobacconists & billiard table makrs” and in the 1843 Post Office Directory as “metal & slate billiard table ma. tobacconists, & trunk makers, 370 & 371 Strand, & 105 Quadrant”. That same year, 1843, Samuel and Horatio Nelson, as he is officially named, dissolve the partnership they have at 370 Strand. No mention is made of the other addresses.(3)

c.1825 Hand-coloured etching and aquatint “Drawn by W.H.Pyne / Engraved by G.Hunt / Etched by Williams” and “Pubd by Pyall & Hunt, 18, Tavistock Strt, Covent Garden” (© The Trustees of the British Museum)

Samuel Hunt died in July 1845 of “disease of the lungs and debility”, just 48 years old. Horatio Nelson continued the business, at one point assisted by one John Drucquer, who had at one time had had his own tobacconist and billiard establishment at 334A Strand, but had fallen on hard times.(4) By 1850, Horatio must have left the tobacco side of the business to William Henry and Charles Russell who dissolve their partnership as tobacco and snuff dealers at 370 Strand in February 1850.(5) The billiard business was, however, still in Hunt’s hands and he is listed as billiard table keeper at number 370 in the 1851 census. At number 371, the census lists George Beckingham, also a billiard table keeper. What exactly the relationship was between Hunt and Beckingham is not clear, but it seems that Beckingham took over part of Hunt’s business as in 1859, The Building News of 15 July reported that 371 Strand, known as Beckenham’s Billiard-rooms, was sold for £1230. The Land Tax records still show Hunt at number 370 and Cahan at 371. The 1861 census shows Horatio and his family at number 370, but 371 is just occupied by a single lodger, so no great help in determining what happened. In the 1871 census, Horatio has moved to 2, Montague Place, and is described as billiard table maker, employing 5 men. He went bankrupt in 1878 and was then living at 11 Finborough Road, South Kensington.(6) He got himself out of trouble and continued to work as a billiard table maker/keeper, in 1881 at 6 Tavistock Street. He retired sometime between 1881 and 1891 as the 1891 census finds him living on his own means. He died in 1898.

It is unclear what happened to 370 Strand just after Hunt left, but it came on the market in 1872 with an unexpired lease of 56 years.(7) It became part of the Exeter Hall Hotel, often referred to as Haxell’s Hotel after its proprietor Edward Nelson Haxell, but at some point it also housed George Hammer & Co’s, school furnishers. In the 1920s Haxell’s Hotel became part of the very grand Strand Palace Hotel, but that is another story.

(1) Old Bailey case t18360919-2121.
(2) The London Gazette, 16 November 1841.
(3) The London Gazette, 29 September 1843.
(4) The London Gazette, 6 February 1846.
(5) The London Gazette, 5 February 1850.
(6) The London Gazette, 19 February 1878.
(7) The London Gazette, 3 September 1872.

Neighbours:

<– 372 Strand 370 Strand –>
369 Strand –>