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)
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:
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.
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.
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.
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