Street View: 64
Address: 39 Rathbone Place
In August 1817, a “J. Foster (late partner with N. Story)” advertised as “the only manufacturer of the improved French dyeing balls” at 39 Rathbone Place. He or she also sold Eau de Cologne, gloves and other hosiery and haberdashery. In a nice piece of editorial irony, the advertisement for Miss N. Story’s “celebrated French dyeing balls” was placed next to Foster’s. Miss Story sold her wares from 44 Rathbone Place and warns her customers of “spurious imitations”.(1) I think we can surmise a serious falling out between the erstwhile partners. Foster did not last very long at number 39 and in 1820 he advertised his removal to Percy Street.(2) The next occupant is one Marr who had an East India and French Cambric Warehouse.(3) That shop did not last very long either and neither did the next one as in 1823, the “shop and house fixtures” of one John Collier, a bankrupt, were sold on the premises at 39 Rathbone Place.(4)
It is becoming rather dreary, but in 1825, the partnership between John Richard Evans and James George at number 39 is dissolved.(5) Who occupies the shop next is not entirely clear, but in 1832, it is definitely in the occupation of Israel Belasco, fruiterer and general dealer. Not that his story is all that much more positive as the first mention of him is in the ‘List of prisoners brought into custody’ of Marshalsea Prison on 16 February 1832 at the instigation of S. Nathan who was apparently owed £50. Two and a half months later, proceedings against Belasco were discussed at the Bankruptcy court.(6) No more is heard of the case, so presumably Israel managed to stave of his creditors. We find him in the 1839 Pigot’s Directory, still at 39 Rathbone Place and as we know, he was there when Tallis produced his Street View, but – you guessed – not for much longer.
On 11 December 1843, Belasco was giving evidence in an Old Bailey case against the employee of one Poole. Belasco had employed Poole’s assistant to “bring goods from the City to my stall”. The boy had been given money to get six boxes of oranges from a Mr. Knill of Botolph Lane, but absconded with the money. In his defence he said he got drunk and lost the money.(7) Not very exciting; cases like this were daily routine at the Old Bailey, but in this case it does tell us that Belasco no longer had the shop in Rathbone Place, but was trading from a stall in Covent Garden market. In the 1851 census, we find Israel and his family at 6 Clare Court, but whether he just lived there and still had his stall at Covent Garden is not made clear. Ten years later, he is listed as a fruiterer at 49 Great Queen Street. He died in September 1866 and was buried at Novo Cemetery, Mile End.
That would have been the end of the story for a fruiterer who only briefly occupied the premises listed in Tallis’s Street View, but for the fact that he was also a boxer, or a pugilist as they tended to be called. We are talking bare-knuckle fights here, by the way. At least three of Israel’s brothers were also boxers of which Abraham, or Aby, was the more famous. Aby was officially a licenced victualler, but later became the keeper of gambling houses and thinly disguised brothels.(8) Israel was no mean fighter either and the Jewish Encyclopedia tells us that his first appearance as a prize-fighter was on 23 July, 1817, at Moulsey Hurst where he was defeated after a fight of thirty rounds by Ned Brown. Sometimes he won, sometimes he lost, and his last match seems to have been in March 1823 when he fought against Arthur Matthewson from Birmingham. A report in The Morning Chronicle relates how teeth, noses and mouths were targeted with the spilling of a lot of blood as a result.(9) Barbaric ‘sport’ if you ask me, but no doubt a nice source of income for the winner as prize money seems to have been between £25 and £50.
(1) The Repository of Arts, literature, Fashions, Manufactures, &c, volume 4, 1817.
(2) The Morning Chronicle, 29 April 1820.
(3) The Morning Chronicle, 25 April 1820.
(4) The Morning Chronicle, 4 September 1823.
(5) The London Gazette, 19 February 1825.
(6) The London Gazette, 10 April 1832. Case to be discussed 3 May 1832.
(7) Old Bailey case t18431211-290.
(8) T.M. Endelman, The Jews of Georgian England, 1714-1830 (1999).
(9) The Morning Chronicle, 20 March 1823.
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