Street View: 25
Address: 6 Piccadilly
Samuel Hemming appeared a while ago in the post on Benjamin Poulson of Regent Street as the nephew of John Eddels and Nathaniel Keen Eddels and as one of the executors of the latter’s will. Nathaniel’s will was quite a complicated one with lots of bequests to various family members, some of whom make their appearance in the Tallis Street Views. One such is the subject of this post, nephew Samuel Hemming who had his hosier business at 6 Piccadilly. In 1827, one Sophia Burke insures the premises and the Sun Fire Office entry gives ‘Eddels, hosier’ as the occupier. Although no first name is mentioned, we may assume that the shop was already in the hands of the extended Eddels/Hemming family and that at some point Samuel was put in charge.
The American Medical Intelligencer of 1839 reported on a lecture given by a Dr. T. King at the Blenheim Street Dispensary on the treatment of fractures. Dr. King used Hemming as an example of how a broken arm was treated in such a way that it ameliorated the pain considerably. Apparently, Mr. Hemming (no first name given), of 6 Piccadilly, had fallen down “two years ago”, so somewhere in 1837, “and severely lacerated his right arm”. The arm was since then prone to swelling and pain. The unlucky Hemming was thrown from a gig in the spring of 1839 and fractured the same arm. As you can imagine, Dr. King worked his miracle – or he would not have been so proud of his achievements and given a lecture on the subject – by providing a special bandage, or ‘apparatus’ as he calls it, and the patient was at the time of the lecture “able to move the limb a good deal”. You can read the whole report here. As no first name was mentioned, I am not absolutely sure that it was Samuel who broke his arm, but if so, he had his arm out of commission when he got married on 29 June 1839 to Elizabeth Parsey at St. Mary’s, Whitechapel. It cannot have been his writing arm, by the way, as his signature is perfectly legible.
The 1842 Robson’s London Directory lists S. Hemming & Co., tailors & outfitters at 6 Piccadilly, but who the Co. is remains unclear. The 1843 Post Office Directory just lists Samuel as a hosier, so if it had been a partnership, it was rather short-lived. In the 1851 census, we see the ever-growing Hemming family (4 daughters, 3 sons) living above the Piccadilly shop. Also living there are Edward Hemming, nephew, shop assistant, Benjamin Hemming, nephew, shop boy, and Robert Wright, assistant. Edward is listed in the 1851 Great Exhibition catalogue as having entered with his design of “a model shirt, of fine Manchester long cloth and Irish linen”. No picture unfortunately, so we do not know what the shirt looked like.
Just round the corner, at 14 Tichborne Street, another Samuel Hemming, 17 years old, can be found as shop assistant. Two other young man are listed on the premises, but they are both shop assistants and who actually ran the shop is not made clear, at least not in the 1851 census. Ten years later, however, Elizabeth Hemming, by then a widow, is given as the head of the business, so, can we assume that the Samuel of 6 Piccadilly also ran the shop in Tichborne Street?
Yes, we can, as Samuel describes himself in his will as “of Piccadilly and of Tichborne Street”. Samuel had made his will in July 1854; he died 6 April 1857 and probate was granted solely to the widow on 26 June 1857. The other two executors, Edward Ives Fuller and Benjamin Poulson “having renounced the probate and execution of the will and letters of administration”. In the 1861 census, 6 Piccadilly was occupied by William Ridgway, a tailor, so Elizabeth must have rented that establishment out or let it go completely to concentrate on the Tichborne Street shop. Although she was named as the head of the Tichborne establishment, the day to day running was probably done by a manager, one William Gorby, who is also listed in the census with his assistant Emilia Malini. In 1863, the freehold of 14, Tichborne Street comes up for sale by auction and Edward Hemming – the one of the design for the shirt in the Exhibition? – is mentioned as the occupier, paying a rent of £300 a year. It would seem that Elizabeth retired sometime between 1861 and 1863. In the 1871 census she can be found as a retired outfitter in West Hackney. She was to live on till May 1889 when she is buried in the same grave as Samuel at Brompton cemetery.(1)
In 1867, Edward Hemming gives evidence in an Old Bailey case and then still declares himself as of 14, Tichborne Street. The case is about stolen gloves and Edward describes various gloves and the number of them that he bought of the accused.(2) Not much is known about the other goods sold at the Hemming shops, but an 1847 advertisement mentions Golden Flax Cravat Collars, apparently a combination of a collar and a cravat, available in “a variety of styles”. The summer of 1846 had been exceptionally hot with temperatures in the sun of well over 100°F and cool clothes were in great demand. The Golden Flax Cravat Collar was one of the items that was recommended as very suitable in the hot conditions.(3) And a year later, the advertisements for the cravat still mentioned it being “delightfully cool for summer weather”.
In 1871, another chapter could be added to the administration of the will of Nathaniel Keen Eddels, the uncle of Samuel Hemming (see the post on Benjamin Poulson who was the other executors of Eddels’s will). After Samuel Hemming’s death, Elizabeth took on the role of trustee for the Eddels’s 153 Whitechapel property. Nathaniel Keen had bequeathed the interest of that property to Eliza Wakefield after the death of his own wife Sarah, and after Eliza’s death to her child or children. On Eliza’s death, her only child, Eliza Sarah Freudemacher had not yet attained the age of 21 years, so the interest of the property reverted to the residual estate. In May 1870, however, Eliza Sarah attained the age of 21 and claimed the interest for the period between her mother’s death in 1861 and 1870. Because of the wording of Benjamin’s will, that was contested by Elizabeth Hemming and four of her children. The judge agreed with Elizabeth, but wanted to stress, that from her 21st birthday, Eliza Sarah had a right to the interest.(4)
Family connection abound in the hosier community in London, not all of them part of this blog as the shopkeepers involved are not mentioned in Tallis’s Street View, but where possible, I will try to link the various family members, so that you can get an idea of the networks that played a role in the running of London businesses, not just in the Eddels-Hemming family, but throughout the retailing community. See for another example the post on Samuel Mart.
(1) Brompton Cemetery grave R/113/4.3.
(2) Old Bailey case t18670107-162.
(3) Alathea Hayter, A sultry month. Scenes of London Literary Life in 1846 (1965, rprt 2009), p. 47-49.
(4) The Weekly Reporter, Containing Cases Decided in the Superior Courts of Equity and Law in England and Ireland (1871), pp. 815-816.