Street View: 58
Address: 60 Blackfriars Road


Although Zetterquist is called an oilman in the Tallis index, he was not the same type of oilman as Thomas Snelling was. Snelling ran an Italian warehouse, not unlike a deli, but Zetterquist was more frequently referred to a ‘blue manufacturer’, that is, someone who produced blue dye from indigo. Zetterquist is an unusual name and I believe it has Swedish origins, although the Zetterquists of this post had been in London for quite a few generations. Already in 1767, we see a Carl David Zetterquist in the marriage register for St. Dunstan’s, Stepney. His spouse was Ulrika Long (or Lang) and from a Land Tax entry of 1778, we know that at that time he lived at Lower Shadwell (land side). He must have died quite soon afterwards, as his widow remarries in 1780 to Willem Gyllenskiepp (later usually referred to as Gyllinship), also of Swedish origin. In the 1781 tax records, Willem is living at Wapping Dock Street, and in 1788 at Ratcliffe Square, Stepney. Ulrika’s son from her first marriage, Charles David Zetterquist, marries Ann Cuckow on 12 July 1799 at Saint Anne, Soho.

"Indian indigo dye lump" by Photo by Evan Izer (Palladian) - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Indian_indigo_dye_lump.jpg#/media/File:Indian_indigo_dye_lump.jpg

Indian indigo dye lump. Photo by Evan Izer (Palladian). Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Indian_indigo_dye_lump.jpg

Charles and Ann had 7 children, all but the youngest baptised at St. Marylebone’s: Mary (1800), Charles David (1802), Ann (1804), Gustavus Adolphus (1805), Elizabeth (1807), Thomas Cuckow (1809) and William (1812). William was baptised at Christ Church, Southwark which corresponds nicely with the move of the business to the other side of the Thames. In 1809 Gustaf Gyllinship and Charles Zetterquist, oilmen, take out an insurance with the Sun Fire Office for 18 Warren Street, Fitzroy Square, but in the 1811 London and Country Directory, Zetterquist is listed at 15 Commerce Row, Blackfriars Road as oilman and blue maker. Gyllinship is then still at 18 Warren Street as oil and colourman. How Charles and Gustaf were related is uncertain, but Gustaf may have been Charles’s half-brother. The problem is that the name Gustavus was a very popular one in Swedish circles and certainly in the Gyllinship family. Never mind, we will continue with the story of the Zetterquists.

The part of Great Surrey Street that was called Commerce Row, between Gt. Charlotte Street and Cross Street (Horwood, 1799)

The part of Great Surrey Street that was called Commerce Row, between Gt. Charlotte Street and Cross Street (Horwood, 1799)

An 1816 Sun Fire insurance entry lists Charles as “oil and colourman indigo blue and frankfurt black manufacturer”, still at Commerce Row, but in 1819 he is listed at 60 Great Surrey Street, the earlier name for Blackfriars Road. Despite this apparent change of address, he did not moved as Commerce Row was part of Blackfriars Road “about a quarter of a mile on the right hand from the bridge, and nearly opposite Surrey Chapel”(1), which is about right for number 60. The street name and the numbering changed, not Zetterquist’s place of business.(2)

top part of Charles David junior's indenture, 1816

top part of Charles David junior’s indenture, 1816

In 1816, Charles David junior joined his father in the business as an apprentice via the Fishmongers’ Company and the address given is already Blackfriars Road. The younger son, Thomas Cuckow joined in 1823. Both boys remained single and continued the business in partnership long after their father had died. The other two sons, Gustavus Adolphus and William, probably died young as they are no longer mentioned in the will of Charles David senior (he died in 1844). The three girls survived, but Mary was the only one to get married (to William Blewitt); Ann and Elizabeth remained spinsters all their lives. It was a close-knit family and in the 1851 census Charles, Ann and Elizabeth are living together at Elm Hill, Streatham. On the day of the census, Thomas is keeping an eye on the premises at Blackfriars, but in the 1861 and 1871 censuses he too could be found in Streatham. Thomas is the first to die on 6 April 1882, Charles David follows on 9 October 1883, Ann on 3 November 1890 and Elizabeth on 4 July 1892. Thomas named his brother Charles as executor, but the others chose Blewitt nephews as executors.

An intriguing and rather sad article appeared in The Era of 20 December 1857 in which an inquest is reported on three bodies found at Croydon. It transpired that William Smither murdered his mother Mary and his younger brother Charles with prussic acid and afterwards committed suicide. Charles Zetterquist said that he was a relative of the dead. The inquest tried to established who had died first in order to sort out who inherited from whom. They found that the mother had died first, then Charles and then William. In The London Gazette of 3 May 1859, Charles David and Thomas Cuckow Zetterquist are mentioned as the creditors of Charles Zetterquist Smither, suggesting a close family relationship, considering that Charles Smither had been given the Zetterquist name as his middle name, but it remains unclear how exactly the Zetterquists and the Smithers were related. The only sister of the Zetterquists that married was Mary and she became a Blewitt, so there must be another link somewhere between the Smithers and the Zetterquist.

The London gazette, 3 May 1859

The London Gazette, 3 May 1859

The death of the Zetterquists from Elm Hill, Streatham, did not mean the end of the business. As late as 1934, Zetterquist & Harvey Ltd, 16 Collingwood Street, are listed in the Post Office Directory as “established in Blackfriars Road, London in 1812”, “laundry blue & scouring powder manufacturers, oil merchants & drysalters”. Collingwood Street is not a new address for the firm as already in 1828, Charles David junior explained that the Zetterquist “manufactory was at the back of the premises in Collingwood-street, Blackfriars-road”.(3) Collingwood Street was a later name for Green Walk, see the Horwood map above. In 1879, one James Harvey testified in an Old Bailey case and he then says that he is a “clerk to Charles Zetterquist, a blue merchant of Blackfriars Road”.(4) Was he the Harvey who later added his name to Zetterquist in the Limited Company?

In 1864, the Zetterquests applied to the Metropolitan Board of Works for permission to erect a furnace chimney at their premises in Blackfriars Road. Permission was granted on the condition that the foundation of the chimney was made according to the regulations set out in the Building Act.(5) At some point, Zetterquist must have had his premises rebuilt, as an obituary for the architect Thomas Hayter Lewis (1818-1898) mentions that “several large wharves and warehouses, demanding very considerable knowledge of construction, were carried out by him in London, such as Hedge’s Wharves at Wapping, Reed’s Upper and Lower Wharves, Bermondsey, and Zetterquist’s Factories, Blackfriars”.(6) No more details are given about these ‘factories’, but they were most likely the ones at the back of 60 Blackfriars Road.

(1) James Elmes, A Topographical Dictionary of London and Its Environs (1831).
(2) Early 1820s advertisements in the newspapers, for instance in The Morning Chronicle, 2 May 1820, for the Margate Steam Packet ‘Eclipse’ gave Mr. Zetterquist, Commerce Row, Blackfriars Road, as one of the addresses where information could be obtained.
(3) Old Bailey case t18280221-10.
(4) Old Bailey case t18790805-706.
(5) Minutes of the Proceedings of the Metropolitan Board of Works, 18 November 1864, application 66.
(6) Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, 14 Jan. 1899, p. 126-130.


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