Street View: 88
Address: 63 Moorgate Street
Although his name, Amadio, suggests that he was of Italian descent, Francesco’s freedom papers from the City (via the Company of Spectacle Makers) contain a note in which he declares to be British born, of the Christian religion, the son of a Swiss who has resided in England for 40 years and who had married an English woman. So his father was born in Switzerland, not in Italy, and had married an English girl. And indeed, Francesco Amadio senior married Charlotte Seawarde on 18 February 1798 at St. Mary’s, Lambeth. Two sons, Francesco (or Francis) junior (1809-1866) and Joseph Phillips (often referred to as John or Josh, 1812-1892) followed in their father’s footsteps as opticians.(1) Francis worked at one time together with his father as F. Amadio & Son, although they seemed to have kept their separate addresses. Joseph had his own business at 6 Shorters’ Court, 7 Trogmorton Street, but that street is not included in Tallis’s Street Views, so we will include him in this post.
In the 1825 insurance papers of the Sun Fire Office, Francis senior is listed at 118 St. John Fleet Street [= St. John Street Road], next door to The Coach and Horses, barometer and thermometer maker, and he was to remain there the rest of his life. He died in June 1843. Francis junior, as we can see from the Tallis Street View and the 1841 Post Office Directory had his shop at 63 Moorgate Street. The 1843 and 1848 Post Office Directories list him, however, at 35 Moorgate Street. This is not a mistake, he must have moved, as he writes that address himself on the declaration that went with the probate of Francis senior’s estate. Francis junior and his sister Agnesa were to share the inheritance. No mention is made in Francesco’s will of Joseph nor of daughters Charlotte and Maria.(2) Perhaps they already received a share when marrying or setting up business.
The 1851 and 1861 censuses see Francis junior at 5 Birchin Lane, but his probate record in 1866 gives his last address as 9 Matson Terrace, Kingsland Road.(3) According to Brian Stevenson, Francis had given up working on his own in the early 1860s and from then on worked with his brother Joseph, although the Moorgate shop may have been retained throughout these years. In 1864, a joint catalogue for Francis and Joseph was brought out. Francis had continued his father’s work on barometers, but Joseph had branched out into microscopes and these were well-regarded by, for instance, Charles Dickens who writes in his Household Words that his two “excellent” microscopes came from Amadio in Throgmorton Street and in All the Year Round he says that microscope preparations can be had at “a reasonable rate” from Amadio. Joseph also sold glass stereoscope pictures and microphotograph slides. These latter became quite a craze and minute pictures of celebrities, Charles Dickens and Dr. Johnson, for instance, and famous buildings, such as St. Paul’s Cathedral or Windsor Castle, could be had from Amadio’s for instruction and amusement. After Francis’s death in 1866, Joseph moved his shop to 17A Telegraph Street, Moorgate Street, but that was not the same shop as Francis had; 35 Moorgate Street was further north, on the corner of London Wall.
The Times of 31 August 1854, reported on a severe accident at Amadio’s,
Shortly before 12 o’clock yesterday morning an explosion of gas, which created great alarm in the city, occurred on the premises of Mr. Amadio, an optician in an extensive way of business at No. 7, Throgmorton-street. Several persons were passing at the time the accident occurred, and one or two sustained some injuries. A gentleman named Hamilton was blown with violence against the wall on the opposite side of the way, his hands being torn; while another gentleman who was struck down by the shock was, curiously enough, taken into the Dartford gunpowder offices opposite for safety. Mr. Amadio’s shop front was blown out, and his valuable stock in trade was scattered in all directions. It is feared that his loss will be severe. Immediately after the explosion the back of the house took fire, but the enginemen, who were quickly on the spot speedily subdued it.
Good job the gunpowder offices did not catch fire as well, or the situation would have got seriously out of hand. Joseph probably retired in 1870 and later lived with his sister Maria at 3 Grosvenor Villas, Sutton Lane, Chiswick. He died on 24 January, 1892, on the same day as Maria.(4)
More information, especially on Joseph Amadio’s output can be found at http://microscopist.net/Amadio.html.
(1) Francesco and Charlotte also had four daughters: Charlotte (1800-1871), Agnesa (1803-1866), Angelina (1809-1818), and Maria (1815-1892).
(2) Probate, valued at £1,500, granted 22 July 1843 (London Metropolitan Archives and Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section, Clerkenwell, London, England; Reference Number: DL/C/519; Will Number: 185).
(3) Probate, valued as under £1,500, is granted 23 April 1866 to his sister Maria.
(4) Probate, for both valued at over £4,000, granted in May and June 1892 respectively. Joseph’s re-granted in August 1893.