Street View: 82
Addresses: 93 Charlotte Street
In a previous post, we saw Richard Attenborough of Blakesley married to Elizabeth Coales. Elizabeth was the niece of Susannah Leete Coales who married John Attenborough of Titchmarch. The story of the extended Attenbury family is quite a complicated one and especially the Titchmarch side of the family. To make the story not more complicated than it already is, I will leave out all the family members that do not figure in the pawnbroker’s story.
John Attenborough (1736-1800) of Titchmarsh and his wife Elizabeth Winfield had three sons:
-John (1773-1860), married Susannah Leete Coales (1780-1864); they had a son George (1815-1874) and a daughter Elizabeth (1804-1884) who married her cousin Richard (1809-1886). Susannah’s niece Elizabeth (1829-1914) married Richard (1822-1901) of Blakesley.
–Robert (1777-1809), married Mary; they had three sons: John (1806-1861, a farmer), Robert (1807-1892) and Richard (1809-1886; who married his cousin Elizabeth, the daughter of John)
–Richard (1780-1862), never married
The various family members spread themselves out as jewellers and pawnbrokers at many addresses in London. Only three of which are in the Tallis Street Views, one for the Blakesley lot (see here) and two for the Titchmarsh side of the family; the one you are reading now and this one. There were many more addresses, some of which will be mentioned, but others will unfortunately have to be ignored, either because I cannot quite work out what the family connection is, or because the story will get too complicated and too far removed from the Tallis Street Views, after all the subject of this blog.
Tallis lists 110 High Street, Shoreditch and 93 Charlotte Street, Fitzroy Square for the Titchmarch Attenboroughs and I will start with the latter. Robert (1807-1892), the second son of Robert (1777-1809) was the jeweller / pawnbroker at 93 (later 93-94) Charlotte Street. The numbering in Charlotte Street has changed dramatically since then and the property is now number 10. The earliest mention I found for Robert in Charlotte Street is in an 1834 Old Bailey case where his shopman gave evidence.(1) The 1851 census lists Robert, his wife Mary Ann, two sons, three daughters, one assistant, two shopmen, a warehouseboy, two nurses, a housemaid and a cook. By 1861, he has removed his family to 56 Avenue Road where he remained until he died. Robert's name does figure a few times in Old Bailey cases when dodgy articles have been pawned in his shop, but he seems to have acted honourably on the whole (but do see later in this post) and tried to avoid acting as a fence, for instance in 1836 when he did not trust the chap who brought in some material and went to find the man’s master to see whether the pledge was genuine. It wasn’t.(2)
Two more addresses are found in Old Bailey cases for a Robert Attenborough: Greek Street (1855 and 1863) and Duke Street (1873 and 1874). In the Old Bailey transcripts, there is no evidence that it concerns the same Robert as the one in Charlotte Street, but a report in the Morning Post of 14 July 1851 on a burglary at Greek Street at least tells us that the owner, Robert Attenbrough, does not live above the shop, so it may certainly be a second shop belonging to the Robert of Charlotte Street. Robert figures several times in newspaper reports of fraudsters, cheats and liars trying to fob off stolen goods to the pawnbroker, either at Charlotte Street or Greek Street, but only in 1864 do we find evidence that it concerns one and the same Robert, incidentally also giving us information about the other Attenboroughs.
The first time, 39 Duke Street, Manchester Square, is mentioned as the address for Robert Attenborough is in September 1866 when an assistant of Attenborough’s gave evidence against a suspected thief. The business is referred to as “late Neale”.(3) In 1872, both the names of Robert and Percy Attenborough are mentioned in the newspapers when they reported on one of their employees who had been stealing from the firm. Percy turned out to be Robert Percy, Robert’s son, born on 10 January 1848.
Robert was mentioned in Customs’ Administrators and Customs’ Reformers by James O’Dowd (1853) in an 1845 case where bent Custom officers had cheap French watches smuggled into England where they were distributed by a custom-house agent to various pawnbrokers from whom they were subsequently seized by the same customs officers who had hedged the plot. Attenborough was chosen as one of the victim as he dealt in that sort of material, but he got wind of the scheme and dispatched a friend to Calais to gather evidence. The two Customs officers were caught and fired from their office. O’Dowd gives this shortened version of events, but he also gives a longer version in which Attenborough does not act as honourably as he could by not voluntarily giving up all the watches he had in his possession and which had come from the swindlers. According to this version, Attenborough even offered the officers who came for the watches a bribe for which he was fined £50. The pawnbrokers who had been a victim of the smuggle scheme were allowed to retain the watches, but only after paying the import duty.
Robert died on 23 August, 1892 and the estate was valued at over £74,000.(4) Percy died in 1930 and in his probate entry, there is no reference to the business, so it is unclear what happened to it.(5) Despite the slur on his integrity in 1845, Robert is called the “prince of pawnbrokers” in a list of people who have died in 1892.(6)
(1) Old Bailey t18341124-141a.
(2) Old Bailey, t18360404-1011.
(3) The Pall Mall Gazette, 24 September 1866.
(4) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1892. The estate was first valued at £66,000 but later revalued at £74,255.
(5) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1930.
(6) The Bristol Mercury and Daily Post, 31 December 1892.
You may also like to read the posts on George and Richard Attenborough of Fleet Street and Piccadilly, and on Richard, Richard and George Attenborough of Shoreditch High Street and Crown Street, Finsbury Square, or on John Graham of 10 Ludgate Street whose son married Amy, the daughter of Robert.
More information on the Attenborough family can be found in blog post 243 on the Landed Families of Britain site (here)