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Street View: 31 and 35
Addresses: 11 Blackman Street and 42 and 52 Newington Causeway

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The Rudderforths, staymakers, had three shops, one in Blackman Street and two on Newington Causeway. We will see if and how they are related in this post. Tallis gives no indication at all; he does not even give the proprietors an initial, so we have to look further afield. The 1793 will of one Thomas Rudderforth, staymaker of St. Paul’s Churchyard gives us a few good clues and working from there, we can reconstruct the following family tree (only persons who were involved in the family’s staymaker’s business are shown). The Thomas of St Paul’s was, according to the document that records his freedom of the Fanmakers Company in 1777, the son of another Thomas of Yorkshire, also a staymaker, deceased, but we know nothing more than his name.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Nice as being able to produce a family tree is, it still does not explain the three addresses, as all we have so far is a shop in St. Paul’s Churchyard which is not listed for a Rudderforth by Tallis, so the search goes on. Now that we have first names, however, the task is slightly easier, although the first mention I found in a directory muddies the waters somewhat. The Post Office Annual Directory of 1808 has a T. Rudderforth, stay warehouse, at 39 Bishopsgate Without, but perhaps The London Gazette helps to explain what happened. In 1799, they have Thomas Rudderforth of St. Paul’s Churchyard as having been declared bankrupt.(1) This must be Thomas junior as Thomas senior died in 1793 and son John Thomas is still too young. Thomas next tried his luck in Bishopsgate, but in 1802, he is once again declared bankrupt.(2) He manages to hang on and the 1814 Post Office Directory lists him at 36 Bishopsgate Without. The Land Tax records, however, from 1814 onwards, suddenly list Elizabeth Rudderforth. She is listed until 1833 for 36 Bishopsgate. What happened to Thomas and who was Elizabeth? Thomas and Loveday had a daughter Elizabeth Jane; did she take over? But why was she then still called Elizabeth Rudderforth after 1820 when she married William Wilkinson Drayton, another staymaker? I am afraid this mystery will have to stand as it is, as we must move on across the river.

William Hogarth, The stay maker, c. 1744

William Hogarth, The stay maker, c. 1744

Bankruptcy was a constant threat in Victorian England and in 1814, Thomas Rudderforth the younger is declared a bankrupt; his address is given as Newington Causeway and 120 Ratcliffe Highway.(3) He is apparently able to satisfy the commissioners that his business is viable and he is given a certificate, so he can continue trading in order to pay off his debts. This Thomas must be the eldest son of Thomas and Loveday and he must have started out on his own on the other side of the Thames. As all three addresses Tallis gives are south of the Thames, it seems logical to look at Thomas the younger as the most likely one to be the proprietor of these three shops, but that would be too simple.

For more information, let’s turn to some other records to see who is occupying which shop. Listed are only those names and addresses with firm dates. More addresses were used by the Rudderforths for their staymakers’ business, but I have listed only those that are mentioned by Tallis with the exception of Aldgate High Street for reasons I will explain later on.

42 Newington Causeway
– 1819: H. – Post Office Directory
– 1822: Henry – Pigot’s Directory
– 1825: Henry – Pigot’s Directory
– 1839: Henry – Pigot’s Directory
– 1840: Matthew Henry – will
– 1841: Mary – Census
– 1842: Harriet – Robson’s Directory
– 1843: Henry (Mrs) – Post Office Directory
– 1848: Henry (Mrs) – Post Office Directory
– 1851: Harriet – Census
– 1856: Hy (Mrs) – Post Office Directory

52 Newington Causeway
– 1829: John Thomas (with John Sarl) – Sun Fire Office
– 1839: Thomas – Pigot’s Directory
– 1842: T. – Robson’s Directory
– 1843: John Thomas – Post Office Directory
– 1848: John Thomas – Post Office Directory
– 1855: John Thomas – burial Nunhead Cemetery + will
– 1856: T. (Mrs) – Post Office Directory

11 Blackman Street
– 1842: J.T. – Robson’s Directory
– 1843: John Thomas – Post Office Directory

19 Aldgate High Street
– 1825: Thomas – Pigot’s Directory
– 1839: John Thomas – Pigot’s Directory
– 1841: John – Census
– 1842: T. – Robson’s Directory

8 Aldgate High Street
– 1843: John Thomas – Post Office Directory
– 1851: J.T. – Census “visitor”
– 1855: John Thomas – will

trade card 42 Newington Causeway (source: British Museum)

trade card 42 Newington Causeway (source: British Museum)

We will start with the easy one, 42 Newington Causeway, which was run by (Matthew) Henry and later his wife Harriet. As you can see from the trade card above, they warn their customers that their business has nothing to do with the other Newington Causeway address. That is not to say that the family had fallen out as Matthew Henry names his brother John Thomas the executor of his will. Matthew Henry left his house and business at number 42 to his wife Harriet, but he also provided for Lucy Hart who had been the family’s faithful housekeeper and forewoman in the business, by leaving her his property at 61 Newington Causeway. She was probably related to Harriet as her maiden name was also Hart. Number 61, by the way, was the address given on the burial registration of Henry.(4) The only anomaly is the 1841 census where Mary Rudderforth (50 years old), Ann Rudderforth (28 years old) and Caroline Rudderforth (26 years old) run the business. How they are related to Matthew Henry and Harriet is unclear, but they may just have minded the shop while Harriet sorted out Henry’s estate after his death. In any case, Harriet is back in 1842 and continues to run the business till at least 1856.

trade card 52 Newington Causeway (source: British Museum)

trade card 52 Newington Causeway (source: British Museum)

The more difficult one is 52 Newington Causeway as the name of the proprietor is sometimes Thomas and sometimes John Thomas. I am guessing that the brothers Thomas and John Thomas traded together, but have found no evidence other than the alternation of names. As you can see from the trade card above, (John) Thomas had more than one shop, at the time when the trade card was published at 158 Strand, but 52 Shoreditch High Street was another one, and, as Tallis tells us, he or they also had a shop at 11 Blackman Street. For the purpose of this story, however, the one at Aldgate High Street is more interesting. The earliest mentions are of number 19, but around 1842 or 1843 it changed to number 8. Whether he moved the shop or whether the street numbering changed is unclear. What is significant (that is, if you like gossip) is that the 1841 census shows a Nancy Russell (47 years old) listed below John (Thomas) Rudderforth (57 years old). Also listed is a Rosina Russell (19 years old). Ten years later, Nancy is listed as the unmarried head of the household, a staymaker employing 6 hands. Rosina is still there and listed as Nancy’s niece. John Thomas is a ‘visitor’, 66 years old and a widower.

John Thomas died in 1855(5) and in his will, he mentions his daughter in law, Elizabeth of Edgware Road to whom he leaves £50. We do indeed find a Mrs Elizabeth Rudderforth, staymaker, at 39 Edgware Road in the 1856 Post office Directory and in the 1851 and 1861 censuses. But, the will continues with the statement that “all the rest and residue of my estate and effects of what nature or kind soever I give and bequeath the same unto my friend Nancy Russell of number 8 Aldgate High Street”. The 1856 Post office Directory does give Nancy Russell as the proprietor of the business, but judging by the information in the 1851 census, she had already acquired the business several years before John Thomas’s death. Nancy and Rosina continue to run the shop until 1872 when Nancy dies. That she kept in touch with the Rudderforths is apparent from her probate entry as she named Thomas William, the nephew of John Thomas, as one of her executors.(6) We will probably never know the exact relationship between John Thomas and Nancy, but fantasy can – correctly or not – fill in lots of blanks.

Stay-making seemed to run in the extented Rudderforth family. In this post I have concentrated on the family members that have a link with the locations mentioned in Tallis’s Street Views, but if one was to follow all the possible links, a whole network of stay makers would emerge. It is quite possible that I will come across more links when I research more Tallis stay makers and if so, I will provide links, but for now, I think I have done enough.

(Source: British Museum)

(Source: British Museum)

(1) The London Gazette, 2 November 1799.
(2) The London Gazette, 2 February 1802. We know for certain it is the same Thomas as he and Loveday baptise a daughter, Mary Ann, in St. Botolph Bishopsgate in 1801. Mary Ann later marries another staymaker, John Richard Colbron.
(3) The London Gazette, 5 March 1814.
(4) Norwood Cemetery, 26 January 1840.
(5) Nunhead Cemetery, 16 April 1855. His address on the registration is given as 52 Newington Causeway.
(6) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1872.

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