Street Views: 34 and 36
Address: 89 Oxford Street


For no apparent reason, Oxford Street 88 and 89 are depicted in both the Street View booklets 34 and 36. Why there was a repeat in number 36 is not clear; the shops were shown quite clearly in number 34 (see the elevation above), while in number 36 they were drawn across the map that Tallis provided on the left-hand side of the page, which looks very messy and not at all how the rest of the booklets were produced. One reason could be that Cubison’s neighbour wanted his shop more prominently displayed in a vignette which could not be included in booklet 34 because someone else had arranged that spot before him, so his was depicted in number 36. Fortunately for us, that vignette also shows the Cubison shop, to the left of Barron’s.

shops at 88 and 89 Oxford Street overlapping the map in booklet 36

shops at 88 and 89 Oxford Street overlapping the map in booklet 36

vignette in booklet 36

vignette in booklet 36

Mrs Elizabeth Cubison, a widow, depicted herself as a hatter in the Street View booklets, but in the 1841 census, she is listed as a milliner. In the census, she lives at Albion House, 89 Oxford Street, with her three daughters Jane, Lydia and Harriet, all milliners. In the 1841 Post Office London Directory, however, number 89 is listed to William Henry Cubison, a hatter, and, on the next line, but with the same address, we find Mrs E. James, leghorn, chip & hat manufacturer. William Henry is easily explained as the son of Elizabeth Cubison, but Mrs James is somewhat of a mystery. Further up the street, at number 95, we find one J. James, leghorn, straw, & bonnet manufacturer. Were they related? The census does not help as neither of the Jameses lived above the shop and the name is not an easy one to search for. In the 1845 Post Office London Directory there is just one entry for “James & Cubsion, milliners & straw bonnet makers” at number 89, suggesting a partnership. See below for a picture of a straw bonnet in the National Trust collection and they are as confused as anybody else about the James and Cubison partnership; they call the maker ‘Cubison, James’ as if it were his first name. We’ll come back to a member of the James family later on, but first the Cubison family.

Snowshill Wade Costume Collection, Gloucestershire (© National Trust)

Snowshill Wade Costume Collection, Gloucestershire (© National Trust)

Elizabeth Goldsmith married Richard Cubison on 25 November 1817 at St. Anne Soho. The couple had seven children: William Henry (born 1814), Jane (born 1816), Mary Ann (born 1817), Harriet (born 1820), Lydia (born ±1821), Frederick John (born 1823) and Richard Marsh (born 1824); the four eldest children were baptised at St. George’s, Bloomsbury and the two youngest at St. Anne Soho. The baptism record for Lydia has not been found yet, but judging by the other available records, she must have been born around 1820. Richard died intestate in October 1829 and administration was granted to Elizabeth. We know for certain that Richard had a straw hat manufacturing business in Oxford Street in October 1819 when Elizabeth testified in an Old Bailey case concerning dodgy money received from a customer(1), but he may also have been in the Navy. I will come back to this and Richard’s unsavoury character later.

After Richard’s death, Elizabeth continued the business, possibly in partnership with (Mrs E.?) James, but in her will (she died in March 1856), she leaves the business to her daughter Lydia and her daughter-in-law Charlotte Louisa, the wife of son Richard Marsh. The two ladies do indeed continue the shop, although it appears from some advertisements that the whole family was involved in the straw hat and millinery business. In 1852, for instance, the Post Office London Directory lists Frederick and Richard as lacemen at 89 Oxford Street, but also – separately – Mrs Elizabeth Cubison as milliner for James & Cubison. Advertisements in The Times of 10 January and The Observer of 14 January, 1855, name “Messrs. F. and R. Cubison” as the source of a stock of lace available at a large discount. Was the lace business of the brothers perhaps separate from their mother’s millinery shop which she had in partnership with James, but were both businesses run from the same address? It would appear so, as on 17 April 1856, a notice in The Times announces that James and Cubison have filled the shop “with the latest novelties from Paris by their French milliner” and that “the business will still be continued by Miss Cubison” in a way the customers were used to “for upwards of 35 years”.

Milliner from Tabart's  Book of Trades, volume 2 (1806)

Milliner from Tabart’s Book of Trades, volume 2 (1806)

The 1861 census sees Richard junior, his wife Charlotte Louisa, his sisters Lydia and Jane (by then widowed) and his children resident at 89 Oxford Street. He died in February 1864 and probate is granted to Charlotte Louisa and two other executors.(2) From 1867, various directories seem to suggest that James & Cubison, milliners, also had a shop at 64, East Street, Brighton. [Postscript:They did! See Hats off to Hats for a straw hat with their label]. The 1871 census shows that Charlotte Louisa, Lydia and Jane could still be found in Oxford Street as milliners. Jane died in 1872 and on 31 December 1880, the partnership between Lydia and Charlotte Louisa was dissolved.(3) Charlotte and family moved to 29 Jeffreys Road, Lambeth, where she was to remain at least till 1891. I have not found a census record for 1901, but in 1905 she died at St. Andrew’s vicarage in South Streatham where her son Walter Charles Goldsmith Cubison was the vicar.(4)

1881 LG 7 jan

The dissolving of the partnership at the end of 1880 is no doubt linked to the fact that Lydia marries George Lodge Stockfisch, a widowed wine merchant, on 1 January 1881. The couple can be found in Bristol at the time of the 1881 census, living with George’s sister-in-law at Clarendon Villa. George dies in October 1887 and is then described as formerly of Clarendon Villa, Ashley Hill, Bristol, but lately of Westbury-upon-Trym.(5) Lydia continues to live at Glenthorn, Henbury Road, Westbury on Trym. The 1901 census tells us that she had a visitor at that time, Emily Sarah James. Aha!; was she related to the James who were involved in the millinery business in London? Quite likely, but hard to prove. Lydia dies in May 1901 and probate is granted to Frederick Henry Marsh Cubison, the son of Charlotte Louisa.(6)

1881 marriage Lydia and George

And now back to where it all began, Richard Cubison. He was born around 1788 and baptised in Aldington, Kent as the son of Stephen Cubison and Mary Ann Marsh. In 1823, Richard, hat manufacturer of 89 Oxford Street, is accused of assault by Bessy Pennythorne. Cubison stands bail.(7) I have not seen the actual documents, so do not know the details, but it may not have been the first time that Richard was not able to control himself. In 1816, an inquest was held into the death of Sarah Rapps who committed suicide by hanging herself.(8) At the inquest, a witness claimed that Cubison, Sarah’s brother-in-law, had frequently beaten and ill-treated Sarah and her sister, Cubison’s wife Elizabeth, but Cubison denied that. Mrs Cubison’s evidence, however, “was a material difference from that of her husband”. The verdict was “that deceased came to her death by hanging herself in a fit of lunacy” and no charges seem to have been brought against Cubison. Now, I cannot prove that we are talking about the same Cubison in these two assault cases. The first one involving Bessy Pennythorne definitely involved Cubison, the hatter, but the second case involving Sarah Rapps poses problems. Yes, Cubison is an unusual name and there are not many Richard Cubisons around at that time; yes, he had a wife Elizabeth, although they were not officially married until 1817, but they did already have children together. His wife’s last name was Goldsmith, not Rapps, but the women may have been half-sisters. Or is Elizabeth Goldsmith his second wife? The marriage registration of 1817 does not say whether either of them had been married before. So, questions remain, not only about the assault, but also about Richard’s work in the Navy.

On the marriage record for daughter Lydia, the father’s profession is given as R.N. and that was not the only instance. In the Gentleman’s Magazine of 1872 in which daughter Jane’s death is announced, she is described as “daughter of the late Captain Cubison, R.N.” and in 1864, the same magazine, announcing the death of son Richard Marsh, also called the father “Capt. Cubsison, R.N.” And the same happened in 1851 when the magazine announced Harriet’s marriage to John Mathers. This can no longer be a mistake. Richard senior must have been in the Navy while his wife conducted the millinery and hat-making business. Could it have been a part-time job? I do not know anything about the Navy and have no idea if one could combine a business in London with the work aboard a ship, or was it just a case of simply him being the official proprietor of the business while in fact his wife ran it? I have found a list of ship masters where Richard’s seniority is listed as 28 June 1809, but that does not help much.(9) Can any of my readers help?

(1) Old Bailey case t18191027-70.
(2) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1864. His estate is valued at under £450.
(3) London Gazette, 7 January 1881.
(4) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1905. Estate valued at just over £1027.
(5) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1887. Estate valued at just over £4974.
(6) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1901. Estate valued at just over £7422.
(7) LMA: MJ/R/P/004/178.
(8) The Examiner, 8 September 1816.
(9) A List of the Masters, medical Officers,and Pursers of His Majesty’s Fleet, 1827, p. 9.


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