Street View: 46 and 16 Suppl.
Address: 27 St. Paul’s Churchyard


Linda Green contacted me a while ago to ask if I was was interested in the information she had on the Hardy family. Yes, I certainly was and below you will find the text with the information she supplied in red and my additions in black. As you can imagine, I am most grateful to Linda for her willingness to share her family history and some of the pictures to go with it.

The Hardy family went into the Playing Card business in the early 1770s, initially from the Old Bailey. This started with Henry Hardy, who purchased the Freedom of London through the Goldsmiths’ Company in 1766. The Land Tax records show Hardy from 1770 onwards on the east side of Old Bailey, just a few houses away from the corner with Ludgate Hill. Both his eldest sons, James and Henry, served apprenticeships, and achieved their Freedoms in 1794 and 1796 respectively. Henry senior died in 1789 and the business and the supervision of the apprenticeships was taken over by his wife Sarah Hardy. The business was plagued by bankruptcy, culminating in son Henry being admitted to the debtor’s prison from 1801, until 1804 when he absconded and a warrant was issued for his arrest for debts owed to ‘The King’, for fines and debts to various others.

The London Gazette, 2 April 1805

The London Gazette, 2 April 1805

James Hardy then restarted the business in his own name, initially from the Minories, but moving to No 4 St. Paul’s Churchyard in the early years of the 19th century. In 1802-3 James was apparently a successful man, being master of the Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards for that year. He was also a churchwarden at the church of St. Martin Ludgate, and had a family of his own. In January 1809 the Gentleman’s Magazine reported that there had been an extensive fire at the Hardy premises at No 4, which burned for three hours before it was subdued. In April 1809, James insured additional premises at 6 Little Carter Lane with the Sun Fire Offices and the Land Tax records show the building as being on the corner of Sermon Lane. The 1811 London and County Directory still have James at 4 St. Paul’s Churchyard, but the Land Tax records show that he had moved the following year to number 27 (late Robert Hedges). The family remained at number 27 until the early 1850s.

1847 edition of Tallis's Street View

1847 edition of Tallis’s Street View

top part of Edmund's indenture (1817)

top part of Edmund’s indenture (1817)

Two of James’s sons, Henry and Edmund, were apprenticed to their father, in 1814 and 1817 respectively, for seven years, with the Goldsmiths’ Company. They both completed their apprenticeships and became Freemen of the City, Henry in 1821 and Edmund in 1824. In March 1825, James Hardy, Playing Card Maker & Copper Plate Printer of 27 St. Paul’s Churchyard, took out an insurance policy with the Sun Alliance on his ‘dwelling house’. The house & contents were valued at c. £6000 [“No cards made nor stove therein, Brick”]. Possessions listed included household goods and wearing apparel £1200, Jewels £300, Musical instruments therein £150, China & Glass therein £100, Stock and utensils and Goods in trust therein £2,500. A second policy was taken out for their ‘dwelling house & manufactury’ at 3 Little Trinity Lane, with building & contents £3,500. The policy was renewed in 1826. It was wise to take out insurance with such inflammable items as playing cards on the premises. Soon afterwards a large fire caused destruction of many houses in Marylebone, including the card manufactury there of ‘Hardy & Sons’. It is not know if that was insured also.

Hardy cards from c. 1823 (LG)

Hardy cards, c. 1823

In 1826 James Hardy & Sons placed an advertisement in Cores General Advertiser, Liverpool, May 18th, The Public Leisure & Daily Advertiser, 19 April, and other newspapers: “Spanish Playing Cards for the South American Market, James Hardy & Son, Playing Card Makers, 27 St. Paul’s Churchyard, London, respectively inform Merchants and others, exporting to South America, that they have ready for Shipping a quantity of Playing Cards from an approved Spanish Pattern, which they have been in the habit of supplying for the Spanish market, upwards of twenty years. The prices are greatly reduced. English cards, plain and coloured backs of the best quality, for home consumption and exportation.”

trade card (Source: Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge)

trade card (Source: Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge)

In 1831-2 James Hardy became [for the second time] Master of the Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards. In January 1837 there was an assignment of interest in the business from James Hardy to his two eldest sons, Henry and Edmund Hardy [noted in family papers]. In December 1837 James Hardy died, described as ‘Gentleman, of St. Paul’s Churchyard’; he was buried at St. Martin Ludgate.

Dated 1839, a Bond signed by Henry [3] & Edmund Hardy, of 27 St. Paul’s Churchyard & 3 Little Trinity Lane, ‘licensed card makers’ and James Hardy [2], stationer of 27 St. Paul’s Churchyard and Carter Draper, Solicitor, states that they are ‘to pay all duties and taxes demanded, the sum of £500, and one shilling for every Ace of Spades issued by the stamp office’. A Licence application had preceded this document. It states that Henry & Edmund will be carrying out the card making business [family papers]. The younger son of James [also James], was apparently not to be part of the business; he died in 1841.

In the 1841 Census, Henry and Edmund are listed as resident at St. Paul’s Churchyard, Henry as ‘Cardmaker’. Other residents included Alice and Hannah Hardy [their sisters], Alice Houghton [an aunt] and two servants. In 1847 Henry Hardy, ‘Gentleman’ of St. Paul’s Churchyard, married Susan Morling. Family tradition is that he was disinherited for marrying the maid. She was certainly half his age, already living at the address and pregnant. In 1852 ‘Hardy’ is still listed in Kelly’s Directory at 27 St. Paul’s Churchyard, though family members were listed as living at different addresses in the 1851 Census. By 1853 they were no longer showing up in Watkin’s Directory, but were instead found in Upper Thames Street and Little Trinity Lane. In 1854 Henry Hardy, Playing Card Maker, died, by then resident at Kings Place, Commercial Rd East. His widow Susan Hardy petitioned the Goldsmith’s Company for financial assistance. By 1861 she was working as a ‘bootbinder’ in Southwark and their children were resident in the City of London’s workhouse school. I freely admit that I had no idea what a bootbinder was and first thought it was a mistake for bookbinder, but it turns out to have been someone who operated a machine which stitched the uppers of boot and shoes to the soles. You learn something new every day when doing historical research.

By 1881 Susan was in Brookwood Asylum, moved from Newington Infirmary after suffering from delusions, and she stayed there until her death in 1895. Her son Henry married a woman who lived in St. Andrews Road, and became a painter/decorator with his own business. He had probably learned the trade in the Workhouse school. In 1895 he renewed his connection with the Goldsmiths’ Company so that he could apply for financial assistance when there were problems with his business. Edmund Hardy died in 1859, by then of Gibson Sq, Islington, Gentleman [the last of the Hardy card makers]. During 1867-71 his sister Hannah repeatedly petitioned the Goldsmiths’ Company for help, on the grounds that her money had all been used up to prop up the family business. She was eventually awarded a Goldsmiths’ pension.

The card-making industry as a whole was experiencing difficulties by the middle of the nineteenth century, and many businesses closed down or were sold to bigger firms. The Hardy business is thought to have been sold to Reynolds. But another development may very well have triggered the move by the Hardys away from St. Paul’s Churchyard. To alleviate the congestion in Cheapside, Cannon Street, which only used to stretch as far west as Walbrook, was extended in the 1850s from Walbrook to St. Paul’s Churchyard by clearing a wide section of small streets to the south-​​east of St. Paul’s. In the map below, you can see how the original curve of the houses (red line) followed the contours of the church to Watling Street. With the alterations, a whole triangle of houses in St. Paul’s Churchyard disappeared and where number 27 had once been, only road surface remained. The 1852 Land Tax records already showed quite a number of empty houses around number 27, and by 1853, 27 was empty as well. And that was the end of the card making business of the Hardys in St. Paul’s Churchyard.

1886 insurance map overlay showing where 27 used to be

1886 insurance map overlay showing where 27 used to be

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge


<– 28 St. Paul’s Churchyard 26 St. Paul’s Churchyard –>