Because the stories of the occupants of 4 Smithfield Bars and 81 West Smithfield are intertwined and at some point cannot be distinguished, they are described in one blog post. The story starts with Richard Puddick who took out an insurance with the Sun Fire Office for 81 West Smithfield in late 1823. He is then described as cook. A month later he is described as “dealer in alamode beef and soups”. In July 1827, he petitions for the freedom of the City by redemption, that is, by paying a fine, via the Company of Cooks. The request is granted in November. This request suggests that his father was not a member of one of the London trade companies, or he could have been admitted as an apprentice and received his freedom after serving his time, or by patrimony. But Richard bought himself the freedom by paying 46s. 8d. The year after, the insurance entry of the Sun Fire Office not only lists 81 West Smithfield as his place of business, but also gives 4 Smithfield Bars as his property.
And this is where the other Puddick comes in. On 14 September 1828, William Puddick married Mary Ann Hitchcock at St. Mary’s, Newington and by 1830, the insurance for 4 Smithfield Bars is in his name. Are the two events related and what’s more, are Richard and William related? One would assume so, but I have not found any records to substantiate the assumption.
Murder or accident?
A newspaper report of 1847 on the inquest into the death of a woman does not really give us enough information to determine which of the Puddicks was involved. Caroline Lawson, a widow, was found dead in a cab and Mr. Puddick – no first name mentioned – was examined as a witness. It transpired that Mrs Lawson had turned an Irishwoman by the name of Macarthy out of her house on Tuesday because she had nearly bitten off the finger of another lodger. Macarthy threatened revenge and on the Saturday night kept following Mrs Lawson wherever she went and quarrelled with her and attempted to strike her. Mrs Lawson had bought a few drinks in the various pubs she visited, but according to the publicans, had hardly drunk any. The couple ended up in Puddick’s eating house where they ordered “some soup and some eatables”. According to Puddick, Macarthy “devoured her share, the deceased ate nothing, but sat looking about her, and was shortly afterwards noticed … to be choking or strangling, and altogether so dangerously ill, that he carried her out into the street”. He placed her against the railings and ran inside again to get some water. When he returned, Mrs Lawson had been pushed over by someone trying to rob her and who ran away as soon as Puddick spoke to him. Macarthy had stayed inside, not caring what happened to her ‘friend’ and was reproved by Puddick for being heartless. In the end, she got up and made a lot of noise outside, “conducting herself very indecorously”, but eventually assisted in placing Mrs Lawson in a cab and getting in with her to drive her home. When they were two streets away from where Mrs Lawson lived, Macarthy asked the cabman to stop and she got out. When the door of the cab was opened on arrival at Mrs Lawson’s home, she was found dead, lying in the bottom of the cab. The surgeon who performed the post mortem examination, found the stomach full of beer, despite the statements of the publicans that she had hardly drunk anything, and that the brain was “so much subcharged with blood, that he had no hesitation in saying – as there was no wound on the back of her head, on which the deceased had fallen when knocked down by the strange man in Smithfield, nor sufficient injury on any part of the body to otherwise account for it, – that she must have come to her death from apoplexy”. Some of the jury were surprised that the medical evidence differed so much from that of the other witnesses and also remarked on the discoloration the police had seen on deceased’s neck “as if produced by fingers”, but in the end they concurred with the coroner and an open verdict was returned.(1)
Richard and Henry at 81 West Smithfield
Although which Puddick was the good Samaritan who tried to help Mrs Lawson remains unclear, we will now return to the eating houses they occupied in the Tallis Street Views. Richard first. After the apparent occupation of both premises in 1828, he remained at 81 West Smithfield and pays the 1838 insurance for that property. Although the 1843 and 1848 Post Office Directories still list Richard as the proprietor of the “dining rooms” at number 81, the census of 1841 shows that he no longer lived there. The “eating house” is occupied by Henry Puddick, his wife Mary, sons Henry and Thomas and daughter Eliza, but what the relation was between Richard and Henry remains uncertain. The 1843 land tax records still show Henry at West Smithfield, but Henry is not as fortunate as William at Smithfield Bars was to be. In 1844, Henry presents a petition to the Court of Bankruptcy “praying to be examined touching my debts, estate and effects, and to be protected from all process, upon making a full disclosure and surrender of such estate, and effects, for paying of my just and lawful debts”.(2) It is not clear what happened exactly after this examination, but in the long run, things went from bad to worse. In 1850, he was one of the prisoners brought before the Court for relief of insolvent debtors and is then described as “formerly of no. 81, West Smithfield, London, Eating-house Keeper, then of 16, Albion-place, Saint John’s-lane, then and late of No. 3, Berkeley-street, Red Lion-square, both in Clerkenwell, Journeyman Blacksmith”.(3) Well, that is a bit of a change, from stirring soup to forging spades.
But food and cooking ran in the family and Henry’s son Thomas is described at his marriage in 1862 as provision dealer, but even earlier, in the census for 1851, he is working as a cook for William Farr at 4 Smithfield Bars. Farr apparently took over from William Puddick (see below). Later on, Thomas worked in various places as cook and provision dealer. He died in 1894.(4)
In 1856, the building at 81 West Smithfield, along with number 82, had to be pulled down because bad maintenance had made it dangerous. The district surveyor, one Mr. Stephen, was asked to give evidence at Mansion House and he stated that the building had been built before the Great Fire of 1666 and was still half-timbered. The walls were disjointed and “out of the upright”. He said it could be repaired, but only if all the brick and timber work was replaced and that would be “almost the same as building a new house”. One of the alderman asked whether the boarding that had been put up would contain the debris if the house were to fall down. According to the surveyor it would not “for it supported part of the Rose Inn, and the house vibrated every time a waggon load passed under the gateway of the Rose Inn, and should it fall, it would be death to the person that might be there”. After deliberation it was ordered that the house was to be pulled down in 14 days.(5) And that was the end of number 81.
William at 4 Smithfield Bars
In the meantime, in 1836, William also acquired his freedom of the City, although the document does not say whether he received his freedom by patrimony or redemption, so we are still none the wiser about the possible relationship between Richard and William. The 1841 census sees Wiliam and his wife Mary Ann living at the “eating house” in Smithfield Bars with their children Mary Ann, Jane, Susan and James. In 1851, however, the family (William, Mary Ann, son Richard and daughters Susan, Emily and Agnes) have relocated to Mitcham where they run the Swan Inn on the London Road. The census also tells us that 4 Smithfield Bars was at that time run by William Farr, most likely on his own account as the census calls him “cook shop keeper”, rather than just cook. William Puddick dies 15 June 1858 at Shumac Cottage, Mitcham and probate is granted to widow Mary Ann who is however given the address of 127 Thames Street.(6)
An 1854 report on a fire in the City already sees the Puddicks at 32 Fish Street Hill, but whether this was in addition to the Swan Inn, or whether they gave that up between 1851 and 1854 is not clear. They must have taken over from Charles Francis who is still listed in the 1848 Post Office Directory as managing the Sun coffee rooms at 32 Fish Street Hill and 127 Lower Thames Street. The 1854 fire broke out in the warehouses of a druggist company at the back of the Puddick property and the damage done to the eating house was listed as consisting of “the back windows and top floor burned out, half of roof off, and rest of house damaged by fire and water”.(7) Unfortunately, history repeated itself in 1861 when the warehouse of J. and J. Batton, tea dealers at 125 and 126 Lower Thames Street burnt down and spread to Mrs Puddick’s coffee shop, some other shops and to 32 Fish Street Hill, “another coffee and refreshment rooms, belonging to Mrs Puddick’s son”. Apparently the Sun coffee rooms of Mr. Francis had been split into two, the one on Lower Thames Street managed by Mrs Puddick and the one around the corner in Fish Street Hill managed by the son. The 1861 census gives Mary Ann living in Lower Thames Street with sons Richard, William junior, James and daughter Emily. 32 Fish Hill Street is given as solely occupied by lodgers, so the census is no help in determining which son ran that side of the business. Ten years later, William junior and James are listed in the census as their mother’s assistants, so still no clue as to who ran the other coffee house. What is clear, however, is that in 1873 when probate was granted after the death of Mrs Mary Ann Puddick, she is described as “late of the ‘Sun’ Coffee House Lower-Thames-street and of Fish-street-hill”, suggesting that the split recorded in the paper at the time of the fire was an organisational one, and not a complete property split.(8)
(1) The Times, 14 July 1847.
(2) The London Gazette, 14 June 1844.
(3) The London Gazette, 16 July 1850.
(5) The Morning Post, 15 October 1856.
(6) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858.
(7) London Daily News, 31 August 1854.
(8) She died 31 March 1873. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1873. Probate was granted to Saul Wells, the husband of her youngest daughter Isabel, and William Notting, a machinist from Dalston.
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