Street View: 31
Address: 110 Blackman Street
In the post on George Alderson, we saw that George and his brother John sold their father’s old shop somewhere in the second half of the 1820s, but I think John had moved to 110 Blackman Street a little bit earlier [Update: no, wrong, that is another John, see comment on the post of George Alderson by David Williams]. In July 1823 he had married Margaret Loy at St. Giles, Camberwell and when their daughter Margaret was baptised on 28 May 1824 at St. George the Martyr, their address is already given as Blackman Street, albeit without a house number. The Land Tax record for 1826 shows John’s name squeezed in at number 110 between the names of his immediate neighbours. Unfortunately, John died in 1833, just 36 years old.(1) As his brother was to do, John left everything he possessed to his wife Margaret without specifying what properties and goods he owned.(2)
Margaret continued the business and in 1835 she is given as the proprietor of the business when Richard Russell testifies in a case of theft from the shop. He says ” I am in the service of Margaret Alderson, she keeps a linen-draper’s shop, in Blackman-street, Borough”.(3) But less than a year later, widow Margaret married bachelor John Askew, hence Askew’s name in the Tallis Street View. In the 1841 census, Askew is classed as a carpet dealer; Margaret is not given an occupation and in the 1843 Post Office Directory, Askew is described as “linendraper & carpet war[e]h[ouse]”, suggesting he had taken over the management of the business. Another Old Bailey case tells us a little detail about the building. Askew testified: “I looked at the skylight over the counting-house the next morning, and part of the frame of it was broken”. We nowadays refer to a counting house as the inner office and it was were the money and papers were kept as the shopman testified: “they had … taken the money from the till, and I missed two coats from the counting-house — all the drawers in the counting-house had been broken open, and the papers were all about the floor”.(4) The building at Blackman Street apparently had a skylight, but no more information is given, so, other than the picture of the front of the house at the top of this post and the existence of the skylight, no more is known about 110 Blackman Street.
From 1841 onwards, it is Askew’s name that appears in the Land Tax records. In the 1848 and 1851 Post Office Directories an additional address is given for Askew: 2 & 3 Mint Street, which was just round the corner from the Blackman Street shop, but the list of occupants for Mint Street in the 1856 Post Office Directory no longer shows Askew’s name.
Margaret dies in 1870 and is buried on 11 March at Nunhead Cemetery in the same grave as her daughter Eliza Loy who had died in 1860.(5) Also in the same grave is a Margaret Sherrington (died 1856) whose connection to the Askew-Alderson family is not clear. A Margaret Askew married a Thomas Sherrington in Kerby-Stephen, Westmoreland in 1814, but whether she is the same woman is uncertain. Nor is it entirely clear who John Askew’s father was, but in the 1851 census he claims that Westmoreland was where he came from, although in other records, he names Lancashire. Margaret Sherrington may have been his mother who remarried after the death of John’s father, but that is only guesswork.
What is surprising in this post, and was indeed in the post on George Alderson, is that I have not found any advertisement for the shop, no trade cards, nor any references to them other than in a few Old Bailey cases of petty theft, with one exception. Unfortunately, that one exception was after the death of John Askew. According to a small item in LLoyd’s Weekly Newspaper of 15 June 1873, an inquest was held at St. George’s Workhouse in Mint Street, just round the corner from the draper’s shop, into the death of Askew. “He had lately engaged in large business transactions, and not being successful executed a deed of inspectorship for the benefit of his creditors. Since then he had been very desponding as to the fate of his business, and blew out his brains with a pistol. The jury returned a verdict of ‘temporary insanity'”. Poor chap. What the large business transaction was remains unsaid, but a deed of assignment of 21 May 1873 was mentioned in The London Gazette of 22 September 1874 where all creditors are urged to send in their claims. John was buried in the same grave as his wife and step-daughter on 14 June.(6) The stock of the business was purchased by a company in Hull and advertised as for sale in that city.
One more thing is left to say about Askew and that is that he moved from number 110 to number 109 Blackman Street. Margaret’s probate record of 1870 still mentions number 110, but the 1871 census lists John and his sister Peggy at no. 109. In April 1869, however, The Building News advertised the freehold business premises at no. 110 for £2,300 (let at £140 a year). Did that mean that Askew never owned the premises? Or did he sell it when he was in financial difficulties?
(1) There is something unexplained about his date of birth, though. I have found a son John for William and Martha Alderson of Barnard Castle, but he is baptised on 8 August 1783, which would make John 49 or 50 years old when he died. It is of course possible that the 1783 John died and that the name was re-used for a later child, but I have found no record of a later baptism. [Update: it is another John, see comment on the post of George Alderson by David Williams]
(2) PROB 11/1821/33.
(3) Old Bailey case t18351214-301.
(4) Old Bailey case t18450512-1216.
(5) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1870. Probate was granted to her son George Alderson and her estate was valued at £100, later resworn at under £200.
(6) In 1885 John’s sister Peggy was also interred there. Peggy, 7 years older than her brother, had lived with him at the time of the 1871 census, possibly as his housekeeper, although that is not made clear in the census record. The sister’s name Peggy, may strengthen the case for Margaret Sherrington as their mother. After the death of John, Peggy rented a room at 47 Blackman Street (census 1881). In the census record she is described as from Caton, Lancs. which leads me to suggest her baptism on 24 Nov. 1799 as the daughter of James and Margaret Askew. John may then very well have been the brother baptised on 30 July 1809, also with parents James and Margaret, but at St. Mary’s in Lancaster itself. It is slightly tenuous and circumstantial, but not impossible to tie the Aldersons to the Sherringtons.
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