Street View: 6
Address: 48 Ludgate Hill
Tallis lists Mr. Flint, according to the index a hosier and general outfitter, on the corner of Ludgate Hill and Farringdon Street, but as the elevation tells us, Flint had global ideas and described his shop as hosiery and shirt warehouse that outfitted to India. We will get back to Flint shortly, but an email from Jim Hunn mentioned a previous occupant of 48 Ludgate Hill and we will look at that shopkeeper first.
From 1802 to 1805, Christian August Gottlieb Göde (1774-1812), a lawyer, was attached to a legation that visited Britain. He wrote down his thoughts on what he saw during this visit in England, Wales, Irland und Schottland: Erinnerungen an Natur und Kunst aus einer Reise and in volume 1 he remarked that “in the vicinity of Ludgate-hill, the house of one S–, who has amassed a fortune of forty thousand pounds by selling razors, is daubed with large capitals three feet high, acquainting the public, that ‘the most excellent and superb patent razors are sold here'” (translation by Thomas Horne, 1821 edition). In the German original, however, we can read that “one S–” is in fact a mister Shrop. Something must have gone wrong when Göde’s diary was printed as no Shrop has come to light, but Charles Sharp did sell razors on Ludgate Hill at the time Göde was in London, so we can assume that is whom he meant.
Sharp used to have his shop at 131 Fleet Street and 67 Cornhill, but from 1794 onwards we find him at 48 Ludgate Hill.(1) Advertisements for Sharp in various newspapers promote his concave razors which were made from the very best steel and were so good that others attempted to pass inferior razors off as Sharp’s. Sharp warns the public that his razors are only sold from his shop and have the name Sharp stamped on the blade. But razors were not all he sold as all manner of perfumery articles, shaving cases and tooth brushes could be had in his shop.(2) An advertisement of 1795 lists Sharp as one of the addresses where Dr. Daniel Johntenoco’s original Spanish Aromatic Dentifrice could be bought. This ‘dentifrice’ was a type of tooth powder that allegedly fastened loose teeth, cured gumboils, cleansed the mouth and breath, and only cost 1s. 2d.(3) This last advertisement also reveals that Sharp was “Perfumer to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales”, but he was more.
As I said at the beginning of this post, Jim Hunn sent me information on Sharp as he owns a portable desk box that was supplied by Sharp. It has three different labels which show that Sharp was not just a perfumer who supplied razors, but was also a cutler and dealt in portable desks, dressing cases, cork screws, snuffers and pocket books. One of the labels is for M. Sharp, but what relation he or she was to Charles remains unclear. I am most grateful to Jim for sending me photographs of his desk and the attached labels.
Sharp was certainly still at number 48 in 1811 when his address was used as the receiving office for replies to an advertisement of a young man looking for work in the brewery sector(4), but he must have stopped his perfumery business soon after that, as from 1814 to 1816 Charles Wigley used the address for his music business.(5) Kent’s Directory of 1823 and Pigot’s of 1825-26 have a George Longstaff, hosier, at number 48, but on an engraving by T.H. Shepherd of Ludgate Hill, which is dated 1830, we can see the premises on the corner with Farringdon Street, on the left-hand side of the picture, with the name of Palmer above the window.
The side of the building in Farringdon Street was far more substantial than the front on Ludgate Hill as depicted in the elevation above this post. The Ludgate Hill side had only a width of one window, but the Farringdon side had five windows. The second edition of the Tallis Street Views, published in ±1847, shows both sides of the building and gives a far better idea of the size. It also shows that Flint was importing silk handkerchiefs from the East.
The Land Tax records of 1826 list a William Palmer at number 48 and he is still there in 1837, but in 1838, Ebenezer Flint is the one paying the tax. He must have moved in sometime in 1837, as we first find his name in that year when he appears as the owner of 63 yards of flannel, stolen from his shop on the corner of Ludgate Hill, which must be number 48.(6) In an advertisement that Flint had in the Tallis Street View booklet he claims that his business had been established for 40 years, but that must have been at another address and with another proprietor. When Ebenezer acquired the freedom of the City in 1841 by redemption (that is, by paying a fine for not following the usual course of an apprenticeship) his father is named as Thomas Flint of Cambridge Street, Westminster, house painter, so whoever had the hosiery business before Ebenezer, it was unlikely to have been his father. And Ebenezer was only born in 1813, so was certainly not the one to start the business and even if we count the other hosiers that came before him (Palmer and Longstaff), the years still do not add up to forty.
In 1839 The Charter takes issue with an advertisement Flint had apparently put in the newspapers for ‘a young man of religious habits to take the lead of a hosiery and outfitting business’. The Charter had a problem with the word ‘religious’ and wonders what Flint means.(7) Did he mean a precise religion, or would any religion do? It is a bit of silly stop-gap journalism by The Charter, but at least it gives us an idea of Flint’s values.
Unfortunately, Flint got into financial difficulties and a bankruptcy case was started against him in 1840.(8) He managed to hang on, though, and could be found at number 48 in the 1841 census. In the 1851 census, he is residing at 39 Kings Road, Brighton, with his wife Harriet. And the Post Office Directory of 1852 shows him at both Brighton and Ludgate Hill as hosier. The 1851 Land Tax records for Ludgate Hill still show his name, but in early 1853, he can be found with his wife and their three children on the Ganges which left Dartmouth on the 23 of March, bound for Melbourne. They arrived there on 22 June and Flint’s was one of the names under an advertisement in the Australian Argus in which captain Robert Deas of the Ganges is heartily thanked for his kindness. There is reference to Deas’s ‘delicate position’, but what they mean by that is not made clear. What is clear, however, is that the Flints chose a new life on the other side of the world.
Flint’s name appears in Clara Aspinall’s Three Years in Melbourne as the secretary of the Mechanics’ Institute, whom she describes as “the right man in the right place” and “nothing can exceed the unwearied diligence with which he calls, and calls, and calls again, once, twice, and thrice in the day, if necessary, on any gentleman whom he has made up his mind is the fit and proper person to deliver the next lecture”. I am sure the inhabitants of Melbourne sometimes preferred to be ‘not at home’ on occasion, but Flint apparently did his best for the institute. Sometime before 1881 Ebenezer and Harriet returned to England and at the time of the 1881 census could be found at Stoney Lane, Lewisham. Ebenezer died in 1889 and when probate was granted, Harriet could be found in Brighton once again.(9)
(1) The Directory of London, Westminster & Southwark, 1794.
(2) The Times, 14 May 1785.
(3) The Morning Chronicle, 28 March 1795.
(4) The Morning Chronicle, 9 February 1811.
(5) C. Humphries and W.C. Smith, Music Publishing in the British Isles, 1970.
(6) Old Bailey case t18371127-9.
(7) The Charter, 10 March 1839.
(8) The London Gazette, 27 March 1840.
(9) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1889. Estate valued at £284.
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