Street View: 41
Address: 130 Oxford Street
The shop of Samuel Mart at 130 Oxford Street was a substantial building on the corner of Holles Street. The earliest evidence for the occupation of that shop by the fruiterer is a 1823 list of members of the Horticultural Society, although that was not the Samuel Mart of the Tallis Street View, but his father, also called Samuel. The fruiterer had been in Oxford Street before that, but, as many records do not mention an actual house number, I do not know for certain when he started trading at number 130. At some point (at least as early as 1808, but perhaps even earlier), Samuel senior had been in partnership with another fruiterer, John Dawes at 143 Oxford Street and in 1802 that number is given at the baptism of one of the Mart children. The move from number 143 to 130 probably took place in or just before 1823.
When exactly the partnership between Dawes and Mart ended is unclear, but afterwards Dawes got into difficulties and was declared a bankrupt in 1824. Instead of submitting to his creditors, he fled to Calais, while the fruit business was carried on by his wife. In a case brought by Smallpiece and another, it was alleged that Dawes had been in London several times, e.g. for the marriages of his daughters, and that Mrs Dawes, still at 143 Oxford Street, acted as his agent. Smallpiece tried to charge Dawes with the cost of the fruit supplied to his wife, but the case was dismissed as the plaintiffs could not prove their case sufficiently.(1)
Samuel Mart did a lot better at number 130 than his former partner had done and even received the patronage of the Royal household. In 1844, Mart junior advertised in The Morning Post of 15 November with a fresh supply of New Town Pippins, “superior in flavour to any that have been landed for some years”. They were possibly very good in 1844, but the batch he sold in 1846 was not received as well as he might have hoped. The Hutchinsons, a family of singers from America, were on tour in England in 1846 and on 5 February “on the corner of Hollias and Oxford Streets entered a fruit shop for apples, for small Newtown pipins 3d each (5 cents). Outrageous price! Bought 3 English apples each about the size of a walnut for 3 pennies”.(2) It cannot have been as bad as Hutchinson makes out, as the Royal approval would undoubtedly not have been given to a fruiterer who consistently sold inferior produce.
Samuel Mart senior had married Ann Grange on 5 January 1800 and their eldest daughter Mary was baptised on 1 December of that year at the Independent Providence Chapel at Grays Inn Lane. In 1802, when daughter Sarah was baptised at Grays Inn Lane, the address of 143 Oxford Street is given. In 1805, there was a change of chapel as daughter Ann was baptised at the Tottenham Court Chapel. Daughters Lydia (1806) and Elizabeth Margaret (1808) are also baptised there, but that chapel did not record the address of the parents. Two more children were born to Samuel and Ann: Hannah Kezia (born 1809) and Samuel junior (born 1811), but I have not found any early baptism records for them. However, in 1824, all five surviving children (Sarah and Lydia died young) were (re-)baptised on 30 December 1824 at St. Marylebone’s.
Samuel junior took over the shop after the death of his father in 1839. Where he is at the time of the 1841 census is unclear, as the only Mart to appear at the 130 Oxford Street address is Hannah. Besides some servants, a Margaret Dawes can also be found there and in the 1851 census, she is described as “cousin” to Samuel, who, with his wife Margaret Elizabeth, is found at number 130. Margaret Dawes is singled out in Samuel senior’s will as one “who has been many years in my employ in my business and has conducted herself to my satisfaction” and if she continued to do so, his wife is charged with giving her “a discrete bequest”. Since Margaret is still living at 130 Oxford Street in 1851, we may assume that she continued to give satisfaction. Was she, by the way, a relation of the former partner John Dawes? And if so, were the Dawes and Marts related by marriage? I have not found any evidence, but it is entirely possible. Also living at number 130 in 1851 is 16-year old nephew Caleb Porter who is later to take over the business of his grandfather and uncle.
Three of Samuel Mart junior’s sisters (Hannah remained unmarried) and his own daughter married other London shopkeepers.
In 1834, Elizabeth Margaret married Thomas Porter, surgical instrument maker. Their son Caleb came to work in the fruiterer’s shop and was to continue it after Samuel junior’s retirement.
In 1835, Mary married John Pearson Teede, a grocer at 85 Bishopsgate Street Without.
In 1836, Ann married Charles Baddeley, a boot and shoemaker at 102 Fleet Street. Charles was the son of another Charles who had his shoemaker’s shop at 130 Strand.
In 1839, Samuel junior married Margaret Elizabeth Rippon. Their daughter Margaret Rippon Mart was to marry Ebenezer John Wallis, the son of Edward Wallis, a publisher at 42 Skinner Street.
The family links seem to have been quite close, as they all appear as executors in wills and probate records of their relations. Samuel Mart senior had originally named “his friend” John Baddeley of 84 Oxford Street as his executor, but revokes that and names his own son Samuel and his sons-in-law John P. Teede and Charles Baddeley (the nephew of friend John Baddeley) as executors.
The entry of Mart & Co. for the 1862 Exhibition(3) shows that the company had expanded to include a wholesale department south of the Thames and that oranges and apples were no longer their most important commodity, although in 1880, Caleb Porter still styled himself a fruiterer at 130 Oxford Street in the probate record of his cousin-in-law Ebenezer John Wallis, but wines and preserved fruits were apparently deemed the main produce in 1862.(4) Presumably the new wine department involved more than the orange and ginger wines advertised in 1842. English Heritage have a photograph of Mart & Co’s wine establishment in Castle Street, Finsbury, dated 1893 (see here), which suggests that the firm also dealt in whisky. The National Archives hold a ledger for 1924-1930 for Samuel Mart & Co, wine and spirit merchants (GB/NNAF/C102732), so the firm must have survived at least as late as that. By then, of course, the business was no longer in the hands of Samuel junior, as he had died in 1884 at Sutton Lodge, Sutton-at-Hone, Kent, where he had been living for some time.(5)
(1) Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the English Courts of Common Law, volume 32 (1838).
(2) Excelsior: Journals of the Hutchinson Family Singers, 1842-1846 (1989), p. 339.
(3) The International Exhibition of 1862. The Illustrated Catalogue of the Industrial Department, volume 1.
(4) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1880. Ebenezer had died 26 October 1879 at Sutton Lodge, the home of his father-in-law. His estate was valued at under £800.
(5) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1884. Probate granted to his widow Margaret Elizabeth. The estate vauled at over £26,374.