Street View: 33
Address: 98-99 Hatton Garden
The carpet manufacturing firm of Danks and Son was spread over two properties, 98 and 99 Hatton Garden. Number 98 had been occupied by Thomas Danks who had died in 1837 and the business was continued after his death by his son Michael.(1) The 1841 census shows Michael living at number 98 with his wife Caroline Emblin whom he had married in September 1835. At the time of the census they had two children, Caroline Robson, aged 5 and Michael Henry, aged 2. Also living at number 98 were Josiah Danks (Michael’s younger brother) and his wife Rebecca Berdoe, both 20 years old.(2) Michael and Josiah’s sister Ann married a near neighbour, John Jaques.
In the general information Tallis provided on Hatton Garden, he mentions Danks & Son as occupying the premises where once John Stanley (1712-1786), a blind musician had been living. In their shop, a very special carpet could be seen, which had once graced the altar of Kidderminster’s St. George’s Chapel. How the mutilated carpet came to be in the hands of Danks is not explained. The building of the “Bed, feather, blanket & floor cloth warehouse” looks quite substantial in Tallis’s Street View, but just to make sure you realise how grand their business is, Danks used a whole page of the Street View booklet to advertise his wares and to illustrate it with a view of the premises where it looks even larger and where elegant customers just happen to be arriving in their horse-drawn carriage.
To emphasise the solidity of the shop, the advertisement is headed by the phrase “Fashionable carpet manufactory, upon old-fashioned principles, the interest of customers and the proprietors”. Underneath the illustration, they explain that they have been “compelled” by the “unprecedented increase of their business” to enlarge the shop with the adjoining premises. They certainly splashed out in a major way in Tallis’s booklet, not only did they have their name on the building in the elevation and the page-long advertisement with illustration, they also had another advertisement on another page in the booklet. This one on a third of a page, smaller than the first advertisement, but still larger than the average advert of other shops and illustrating one of their carpet making devices.
By combining the advertisements we learn that they supplied bed, feather, blanket and floor cloths, all sorts of carpets, Lapland wool rugs, damask Hollands, stair covers, painted baize for table covers, mats, doyleys, drugget, door mats, material for outside blinds and foot stools. And if that was not enough, they also specifically addressed carpet shoe makers to inform them that they had just introduced a new carpet for shoes, “very superior dyed jet black”. What are carpet shoes? I guess a kind of slipper with the uppers made from carpet material. The Oxford English Dictionary suggests as much for carpet slippers. Any thoughts anyone?
Things seemed to go smoothly for the Thomas Danks & Son business, but all was not well. The London Gazette of 3 December 1841 shows that bankruptcy proceedings had been filed against Michael Danks and in May 1845, 98 Hatton Garden had to be sold by order of the High Court of Chancery. Intriguingly, the case is referred to as “Danks versus Danks”. Can we assume that Michael’s brother(s) wanted a fair share of their father’s legacy? [see postscript]
What is known is that Michael and Caroline moved to St. Leonards, Hastings for a while and that two of their children were born there, Elisabeth and Alfred. These two, together with two more children, Flower and John, were all baptised at St. Philip, Stepney, Tower Hamlets on 18 July 1855. The parents apparently liked to do this ritual in batches as the two eldest, Caroline and Michael, were both baptised on 18 June 1840 at St. Andrew Holborn.(3) By the time of the 1851 census, Michael, Caroline and the children were back in London, this time living at 111 Whitechapel Road. Michael is now a “general agent”, but in 1861 he is a “tripe dresser”, this latter occupation most likely not involving the innards of animals, but mock velvet.
Michael died 25 December 1870 at 140 Pennington Street and probate was granted to his widow Caroline on 15 February 1871. His effects had the value of under £20. (4)
98 Hatton Garden is now a jeweller’s shop and number 99 is occupied by Barclays Bank, but do not be tempted to have a look at the building, it is all post-war concrete on that side of the street.
Postscript: since writing this post, I have become aware of a second marriage that father Thomas entered into in 1832 with Elizabeth Scudemore. A son was born of that marriage, Andrew Sidesman Danks (baptised 1834), who was a lot younger than his half-siblings. In his will, Thomas divided up his properties in such a way that Michael, Josiah and Andrew Sidesman were to continue the Hatton Garden business. In 1839, however, on behalf of Andrew Sidesman (who was only 5 years old at the time) a case was started against the other heirs and although I have not yet seen the court papers themselves, a family feud seems to be in the making.
(1) Thomas was buried on 1 April 1837 at St. Andrew Holborn. Probate was granted on the 10th of April (PROB 11/1876/166). Michael is baptised on 18 June 1807 at St. Andrew Holborn.
(2) Both marriages took place at St. Andrew Holborn, 17 September 1835 and 31 May 1839 respectively.
(3) Caroline Robson was born 4 April 1837, Michael Henry 25 July 1839, Alfred 12 October 1847, Elizabeth Mary Ann 20 April 1846, Flower 29 December 1844 and John Early 24 June 1843. Their exact date of birth is given in the baptisms registers of St. Philip and St. Andrew.
(4) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1871, p. 23.
You may also like to read the post on the other side of the family, Jeremiah Danks of 9 Tottenham Court Road.
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