Street View: 74
Address: 28 Fenchurch Street
The index to Tallis’s Street View 74 lists George Moffatt erroneously as a baker, but he was in fact a tea broker. The first time he, as Messrs. Moffatt and Co., appears in the records for 28 Fenchurch Street is in 1836 when he takes out an insurance for the property. The 1838/9 Glasgow Post Office Directory describes the firm as “tea & colonial agents, 41 Virginia Street, and 28 Fenchurch-street, London”. If the numbering has not changed, the Glasgow building is still there, see here. 28 Fenchurch Street, however, no longer exists, at least not in the form Moffatt knew. There were also Moffatts dealing in tea in Mincing Lane, but sources are in two minds whether that address belonged to Moffatt and Co. of Fenchurch Street or not, so I will leave them out of this post. Moffatt, by the way, was not the only occupant of number 28. Tallis also lists the Grand Collier Dock Company and H. Powell (no occupation given) at the address.
The 28 Fenchurch Street property belonged to the Skinners’ Company; to be precise, to their Thomas Hunt Charity. Thomas Hunt bequeathed upon the Skinners the remainder of his estate with the proviso that the rents were to be used to help deserving young man with a loan. The neighbouring house, number 27, at the time of the Tallis Street Views in use by the jewellers W. and J. Marriott, was also “let to George Moffatt for 21 years, from Christmas 1856” for £150. In 1864, the following statement was entered: “the trustees of the charity, granted a new lease of the site of the buildings above described, and Nos. 26 and 27, Fenchurch Street, to Mr. George Moffatt for a term of 77 years, from Lady Day 1864, at an annual rent of 415l., the lessee covenanting to expend a sum of 4,000l. upon buildings upon the demised property.” An 1880 account for the Charity lists Moffatt at number 26 paying £442, 12s as rent for one year to Lady Day 1882. Whether they moved from 27-28 to 26-27 or whether the numbering changed is unclear.(1) The Horwood map of 1799 shows number 28 next to a passageway, but by 1839, the building had been extented to go over the passage, see the elevation at the top of this post where the passage can clearly be seen on the left-hand side of the building.
Moffatt and Co. did very well, but as in all businesses, there was the occassional set-back. An example is an absconding bankrupt who was chased across the Channel. See the article in the Glasgow Herald on the left. Unfortunately, I have not found out what happened in the end. Did they apprehend Lamb or his property?
George Moffatt was the son of William and Alice who had set up the tea agent and broker’s business at 4 Fenchurch Buildings. George started his career in his father’s business, but whether the 28 Fenchurch Street company is a continuation of his father’s business, or one he set up for himself is unclear. George cannot be found in the 1841 census, but apparently, he travelled extensively in the 1840s on business.(2) In 1851, he lived at 103 Eaton Square as an unmarried merchant and MP with seven[!] servants. He had unsuccessfully contested the seats of Ipswich in 1842 and Dartmouth in 1844, but he won the latter in a by-election in 1845. According to Dod’s Parliamentary Companion (vol. 15, 1847), Moffatt was “an advocate of free-trade principles, and opposed to all taxation not strictly applicable to the exigencies of the State; opposed to church rates and in favour of the ballot”. In 1856, he married Lucy Morrison, the daughter of James Morrison, another MP and one-time London draper.
In 1861, George, his wife Lucy, their children Alice (3), Harold Charles (1) and Ethel (2 months), and a whole army of servants, can be found at St. Leonard’s House, Clewer, Berkshire. George’s occupation is given as MP, but in 1871, when the family is back at Eaton Square, he is listed as a retired merchant. The latest addition to the family is daughter Hilda (born ±1863). 1871 is also the year in which Moffatt buys Goodrich Court, near Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire where he settles down as a country squire. He died in February 1878 at Torquay. His son Harold Charles did not follow his father in the tea business, but became a boat builder and a collector of English furniture.(3) The tea business in London was, however, continued as a 1902 notice in the Edinburgh Gazette of 1 August announces the bankruptcy of Robert Henry Salmon the elder, Robert Henry Salmon the younger, and Stanley Richard Salmon who were trading as Moffatt & Co. at 28 Fenchurch Street. How these gentlemen were related to George Moffatt, if at all, is unclear. Perhaps they just took over the business on Moffatt’s retirement and kept the name as being that of a good and reliable firm.
(1) City of London Livery Companies Commission. Report, Volume 4, Charitable accounts of the Skinners’ Company. Originally published by Eyre and Spottiswoode, London, 1884 via British History Online.
(2) Thomas Bean, “Moffatt, George (1806-1678)”, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography where more information on Moffatt’s political career can be found.
(3) John Martin, A History of Landford in Wiltshire. Part 11: Hamptworth Lodge (online here). Harold inherited Goodridge Court from his father and Hamptworth Lodge from his aunt, Barbara Jane Morrison. He published a catalogue of his collection: Illustrated Description of Some of the Furniture at Goodrich Court, Herefordshire and Hamptworth Lodge, Wiltshire (1928).
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