Street View: 30
Address: 93 Bishopsgate Street Within
In December 1789, Henry Luke, the son of Joseph and Elizabeth Cooper was baptised at St. Helen’s Bishopsgate. In due course, Henry Luke is apprenticed to his father who was a member of the Scriveners Company, although he was in fact – as the indenture states – “a cabinet and looking glass manufacturer”. The indenture just vaguely described the place of business of Joseph as Bishopsgate, and the 1814 Post Office Directory has Cooper & Co. at 107 Bishopsgate Within. In 1820, however, an advertisement places Cooper, Elliott and Cooper at number 93.(1) In the following years, many advertisement were placed in the newspapers by the upholsterers, not just in the London papers, but also in The Derby Mercury, The Belfast News-Letter, The Caledonian Mercury and The Ipswich Journal, emphasising that their services were not just local, but that their goods could be delivered to any part of the country.
Sometime in 1821, Mr. Elliott disappears and Cooper and Son continue the business and if we are in any doubt that the Son mentioned is Henry Luke, we only have to turn to an Old Bailey case of 1824 where an employee of the Coopers was indicted for embezzlement, and where Henry Luke states that he is in partnership with Joseph.(2) Other than learning of the embezzlement itself, the proceedings also tell us the names of various people involved in the business: Edward Scott Mann, the accused, who had been a clerk and warehouseman; Samuel Elcock, a clerk; Henry Mark, the cashier; and Henry Searle, the manager. A few years after this case, Joseph Cooper retired from the business and Henry Luke continues on his own and “apprise[s] the nobility and gentry, [that] he continues to manufacture upholstery, cabinet work, and looking glasses […] and every other article connected with furnishing in the first style of elegance”.(3)
Subsequent advertisements show an ever increasing list of goods and services Cooper provided, from carving and gilding to paper hanging and painting, but also sales, appraisements and the collection of rents. The firm would even, if you wished, completely fit up your ship’s cabin “with elegance and despatch”.(4) More and more advertisements appear in the paper where Cooper is asking for houses and in which he calls himself “estate agent, auctioneer and upholder”, in other words, Cooper not only furnished your house, he also provided the house itself. In 1830, he even opened another branch at 57, Conduit Street, especially to be able to extend the agency business and to cater for the customers in West London.(5)
1830 was not only the year in which Henry Luke extended his business, but it was also the year in which his wife Frances died. As far as I can work out, the couple only had two daughters, Sarah Ann and Frances, and Henry Luke must have been wondering what to do with the upholstery and the agency business when he retired, which he seems to have done in 1838 or thereabouts. While Cooper was still extending his business in the years before his retirement, however, one Thomas Fox, the son of a woollen draper, became the apprentice of James Toplis & Son whom we encounter as auctioneers in St. Paul’s Churchyard in another Tallis Street View. Toplis’s career was similar to Cooper’s in the sense that they also branched out from upholstery into appraising and surveying. Young Thomas Fox saw an opportunity to further his career and went to work for Cooper. When in 1837, Thomas married Jane Toplis, yes, indeed the daughter of his former boss, his address is already given as Bishopsgate Within and in 1838, we find advertisements for Fox as “successor to Henry L. Cooper”. The Conduit Street branch was probably sold to someone else, as Fox was only to be found at 93 Bishopsgate with the same range of goods as Cooper, that is, with any kind of furniture, upholstery or glass you could think of.
Thomas Fox variously advertised as the Bishopsgate Plate Glass Warehouse or the Upholstery Warehouse, but he remained at Bishopsgate and when he died in August 1892, his probate record still called him upholsterer of Bishopsgate Street. Various sons worked in the family business and as late as 1912, one of them, Cecil Toplis Fox, describes himself as partner in Thomas Fox & Co.
But I like to return to Henry Luke Cooper who was left a widower in 1830. The first census of 1841, shows him living at Trafalgar Square with two female servants, Mary and Ann Calton. Trafalgar Square was also the address given in 1838 for his two daughters Sarah Ann and Frances when they got married. Henry Luke is then described as “Gent.”, already suggesting retirement, although he is still listed as the proprietor in Tallis’s Street Views, which were published in ±1839, so either the Tallis booklets were produced earlier than we thought, or Tallis erroneously used the name of Cooper rather than of Fox. Henry Luke died in 1844 and in his will he says that he has provided his two daughters with a “liberal settlement” on their respective marriages, so he feels himself at liberty to dispose of his estate to others.(6) After a few small bequests, he continues: "I give to my housekeeper Ann Calton for her long and faithful services all my household furniture plate linen china glass pictures books wine and liquors". Generous indeed.
If Ann Calton should die before Henry Luke, the same goods are to go to her son Henry Luke Calton. Aha, another Henry Luke. If we go back in time, we see a baptism record in 1834 at St. Botolph, Aldgate, for Henry Luke Calton, the son of Henry Luke & Ann. The occupation of Henry Luke sr. is upholsterer. Young Henry Luke had been born in 31 December 1831, so it took a while to get him baptised. Well, anything is possible of course, but I would guess that Ann Calton was more than a housekeeper to Henry Luke Cooper, especially as no Henry Luke Calton senior seems to have existed. But the household goods are not all that Ann gets, as the will continues with the provision that the executors are also to pay her the dividends of two lots of £833/9s/8d in bank annuities. On the death of Ann, the said dividends are to be used for the maintenance of her son Henry Luke. Well, well, modern-day tabloids would have a field day, but let’s just say that the former upholsterer provided generously for his housekeeper and her son. The will continues with pages and pages of directions to his executors, but I will spare you the legalese and leave you with two advertisements of Thomas Fox.
(1) The Morning Chronicle, 12 December 1820.
(2) Old Bailey case t18240407-34.
(3) The London Gazette, 21 March 1826; and The Examiner, 2 July 1826.
(4) See for instance, The Derby Mercury, 27 February 1828.
(5) The Standard, 5 May 1830
(6) PROB 11/1994/262.
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