Street Views: 42 and 17 Suppl.
Address: 58 Cheapside


As we saw in the post on the 49 Skinner Street shop, Thomas Bowtell had quite a number of shops in various places and 58 Cheapside was one of them. The earliest we find him in Cheapside is in Kent’s Directory of 1823, albeit still at number 51. There is not a lot of evidence for the occupation of number 51, as Bowtell’s name does not appear in the tax records for that property which is continuously listed for a Benjamin Johnson. We know that in 1835 George and Alfred Pill had their confectioners’ business there, sharing it with other occupants. Only in 1841 does their name appear in the tax records, so it is likely that in their early years, as Bowtell had before them, they just rented the property from Johnson. What is certain, is that by 1835, Bowtell had moved to number 58, the house on the corner of Bow Lane as the tax records find him there in that year. He shared the property, at least at the time of the Tallis Street View, with Green & Chubb, hair cutters and wig makers. In the 1847 Tallis Supplement, the depiction of the shop is without any names, so no help in establishing whether Bowtell continued to share the shop, but the index tells us that James Green, hairdresser & wigmaker, was still there. In a forthcoming post, we will try and find out what happened to Chubb.

Goad's insurance map of 1886, showing numbers 51 and 58

Goad’s insurance map of 1886, showing numbers 51 and 58

(© The Trustees of the British Museum)

(© The Trustees of the British Museum)

The British Museum has the year 1832 pencilled in for the above advertorial poem which lists four addresses for Thomas, but there is a bit of a problem with that: 1835 is the year in which Bowtell is first recorded in the tax records for 58 Cheapside, but the printers of the advertisement, the Soulby brothers, dissolve their partnership and change addresses in April 1834.(1) It is very likely that Bowtell moved from no. 51 to no. 58 in 1834, as the tax data were only recorded once a year in August. We still have a discrepancy as in August 1834, Bowtell was not yet listed at number 58, and in April 1834, the Soulby brothers dissolved their partnership. The other addresses do not help much either; 49 Skinner Street was Bowtell’s address from 1813 to 1852; the Brighton address changed from number 106 to 116 somewhere between 1832 and 1838; and the Norwich address changed at some point from number 1 to numbers 20 & 21, but that address is frequently just described as Davey Place without a number, so that does not help much either. Anyway, somewhere in the early 1830s, Bowtell moved his shop a few houses, and he continued to trade from Cheapside till he died (1852). Until 1855, the shop was subsequently listed in the tax records for son William, but in the 1856 Post Office Directory and in the tax records for that year, the property is listed for John Edwin Shaw, a tailor.

advertisement in The Brighton Patriot and South of England Free Press,  23 Oct. 1838

advertisement in The Brighton Patriot and South of England Free Press, 23 Oct. 1838

We will come across William again in the post on the Tottenham Court Road shop, but first a bit more about the Brighton shop. In December 1856, Joseph, William’s brother, had trouble with one of his customers. One Sarah Cooper was charged with obtaining a pair of shoes under false pretences. She had come to the Bowtell shop, pretending to be a servant of a lady residing for the winter at 4 Brunswick Square, Brighton, who asked for a pair of overshoes on credit. She was to bring him the money next day. She did so and then asked for a pair of boots which were to be paid the following Monday. But she did not return with the money and Bowtell had her charged. The newspaper article was not so much about the theft itself as about the shambles the Grand Jury had made in going against the prosecutor’s case by claiming regret for the fact that Sarah had been held in custody and for the damage done to her reputation. The judge examining the case afterwards said that “he considered it a gross neglect of duty on the part of the grand jury, through which a prisoner had escaped punishment”.(2) The newspaper reporting on the case, by the way, starts out by – erroneously(?) – naming the shoemaker James, in stead of Joseph, but in the rest of the article, they call him Joseph. As far as I know, Thomas Bowtell did not have a son James, so Joseph should be the correct name, but the confusion occurs again in a book on crime in Brighton.

In 1857, a young workhouse girl was raped by James Bowtell, her master, who is described as a married shoemaker with four children. The magistrates decided to release him on paying a fine of £10, because of his position and the feelings of his wife. Excuse me for using an expletive when I read this. The poor girl was sent back into the ‘care’ of the workhouse guardians.(3) When I tried to check up on this story, I found another mention of the case in the CMPCANews, but here the man is named as Joseph Bowtell.(4). So, what was going on? I contacted the author of the Church Hill Workhouse article, James Gardner, and he was certain the name was Joseph, although the local newspaper report he sent me also mentioned the name James.(5) As we have seen in the post on the Skinner Street shop, the newspaper reports on the drowning of Henry Bowtell were very imprecise in the naming of the characters in the disaster, so I do not suppose this case was any different and James and Joseph are one and the same person.

116 St. James's Street, corner of Charles Street, Brighton

116 St. James’s Street, corner of Charles Street, Brighton

The 1861 census, in listing Joseph’s family, who was by then back in London, corroborates that Joseph and his wife Kezia had four children at the time of his crime. Three of the children had been born in Brighton (Kezia, 11, Margaret, 10, and Charles, 5) and one (Emma, 6) in London. By 1861, one more child had been born in London (Susannah, 2). No evidence has been found in the census for a James Bowtell. That the third child was born in London can perhaps be explained by two notices in The London Gazette of that year in which we read that Joseph’s brothers Thomas and John were – at different times – declared bankrupts and in prison. John and Joseph had been trading as Bowtell Brothers in Piccadilly since 1842, first at number 181, but from 1848 at number 170. John’s bankruptcy may very well have necessitated a spell in London for Joseph, but he apparently went back to Brighton until his disgrace in 1857. Joseph does not seem to have had a shop again, but worked as an assistant. The 1871 census gives his occupation as ‘boot clicker’, which was someone who cut out the leather for making the uppers. I am afraid that his brother William did not fare much better, but he will be discussed in the next post on the shop at 152 Tottenham Court Road.


(1) The London Gazette, 22 April and 25 November 1834.
(2) Daily News, 30 December 1856.
(3) D. d’Enno, Brighton Crime and Vice, 1800-2000 (2007), pp. 167-168.
(4) J. Gardner, “Church Hill Workhouse, Part 2 Children and Vagrants” in Clifton Montpelier Powis Community Alliance News 12, 2008.
(5) The Brighton Observer, 9 January 1857. Thanks go to James Gardner for sending me this newspaper cutting.


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