Street View: 9
Address: 119 New Bond Street
In July 1795, Francis Szarka (or Sarca as the registrar would have it) of the parish of St. Ann Blackfriars, married Sarah Richards at St. Andrew by the Wardrobe. They were married by banns, so no additional information about their parents or their address was recorded in the church records, but two years later Francis insured his furrier business at 10 East Harding Street, Fetter Lane. In 1810 and 1815, the Post Office Directories list him at 15 Gough Square.
By 1817, Francis had relocated to 188 Strand, on the corner of Arundel Street.(1) From 1823 onwards the business was called Szarka & Co., and some time later, the business was spread across two properties: 188 Strand and 119 New Bond Street. An 1835 Old Bailey case in which two foreigners were accused of stealing a sable-tail boa tells us more.(2) Francis stated that he had his business at 188 Strand and that he also lived there. His daughter helped him in the shop. His son George ran the New Bond Street premises for him, but he, Francis, was in the process of moving his whole business to that address, or so he said: “as I was going to move my business, if they wanted any thing in that line, I would be obliged to them to call in Bond-street, where my son lived—I told them he was my son—I was about moving at the time—”. The first indication that he actually did move is from an 1838 advertisement in which he mentions the expiration of the lease of 188 Strand as the reason for moving and we know that the next occupant, cutler Samuel Fisher, was first mentioned at the Strand address in 1838.
The New Bond Street property is now a Grade II listed building with the following description: “Terrace house. Mid C18 altered early to mid C19. Stuccoed with slate roof. Three storeys and dormered attic. Two windows wide. Ground floor has later C20 shop front. Upper floor windows: revealed sashes with late C19 glazing in architrave surrounds, those on first floor with cornices, those on second floor pedimented. Moulded cornice and blocking course”.(3) The cornices and pediments above the windows are probably later than 1840 as they cannot be seen on the Tallis Street View facade.
The 1841 census duly finds the whole Szarka family at New Bond Street: Francis, his daughter Caroline, his son George with his wife and five children, two independent ladies – presumably lodgers -, two female and one male servant. But things were not going as well as could be hoped and in 1843 bankruptcy proceedings were filed against Francis and George Szarka.(4) Francis was obliged to appeal to the generosity of the general public to supplement the 4s. he received from an unnamed charitable institution.
What happened to George between the folding of the business in 1843 and 1849 is unclear, but he and his family were to set sail on the “Steadfast” as assisted immigrants to Australia where they arrived in April 1849. His wife Helen apparently died at sea after an epileptic fit and George had to provide a new life for his seven children aged between 1 and 16 and himself. He eventually became a public school teacher and died in 1885.
Francis and his daughter Caroline remained in London and were living at the almshouse, Garratt Lane, Streatham at the time of the 1851 census. Caroline married David Phillips that same year, another occupant of the almshouse and at least 20 years older than she was. David died in 1852 and Caroline and Francis remained at Streatham. Francis died in November 1861, well into his nineties, but probate was not granted to Caroline until 1868, possibly because George was in Australia and paper work had to be sent back and forth. Hardly worth the effort, though, as Francis’s wordly goods amounted to less than £20.(5)
For the top part of Diderot’s plate, showing a furrier’s shop, see the post on Borradaile, Son & Ravenhill.
(1) The Times, 3 January 1817.
(2) Old Bailey case t18350105-389. Online here.
(3) Historic England, Listing NGR: TQ2880480946. Online here.
(4) The London Gazette, 10 March 1843.
(5) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1868. Francis exact age is unclear. The 1841, 1851 and 1861 censuses give him as 70, 86 and 95 respectively and the 1844 appeal advertisement as 77.
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