Mortlock & Sturges, china warehouse


Street View: 72
Address: 250 Oxford Street

This story starts with a bit of family history, which is quite a complicated one since most of the family members working in the Mortlock china business were either called William or John.(1) The firm of Mortlock & Sturges had started as plain Mortlock in 1746 by John Mortlock I (1698-1758), whose son William I (1747-1807) took over at some point. He worked with his two sons, William II (1778-1833) and John II (1776-1837), who took over when William retired. In 1809, the brothers dissolved their partnership with John to continue the Oxford Street business.(2) William set up independently at 18 Regent Street. So far so good, but this is where it gets complicated as William II’s son William III (1801-1879) went to work for a number of years at his uncle John’s in Oxford Street. William II’s other sons John III (1808-1888) and Frederick helped out in the Regent Street business. In 1828, William III left working for his uncle and partnered with his brother John III at Regent Street.(3) A few years later, however, uncle John II of Oxford Street retired and John III left his brother to take over the business in Oxford Street, together with his cousin (several times removed) Simon Sturges, hence the name ‘Mortlock & Sturges’ in Tallis.(4) The partnership between the cousins was dissolved in 1841, and the Oxford Street firm was continued by John III on his own until his son John George (1835-1917) joined him in 1861.(5) Still there? Right, on to the china business itself.

letter head (© Trustees of the British Museum)

By 1800 the Mortlocks claimed that the porcelain they produced was “superior to any porcelane [sic] ever manufactured in this kingdom, particularly for its durability and elegance of finishing”.(6) They also sold china from other manufacturers and glass ware. In fact, it is debatable how much they actually produced themselves. They are known to have bought in huge supplies of white porcelain which they decorated and fired to their own designs, for instance from Nantgawr.(7) We also know the names of some of Mortlock’s customers, as an 1805 invoice in the collection of the British Museum, for instance, names Colonel Ribou who bought a pickle set, wine glasses, scallop shells, decanters, and coffee cans, but you could apparently also borrow items you only needed for a particular occasion. On the invoice are entries for two dozen blue and white plates, six soup plates of which two were returned broken, and a month later again 12 blue and white plates, 6 soup plates and 12 smaller plates “lent”, this time no breakage was reported. Borrowing a dozen plates cost one shilling. Mortlock had Royal patronage and supplied various aristocrats with china, as, for instance, to George, 3rd Earl of Egremont at Petworth House.(8) And more substantial items, such as pedestals and jardinières, were supplied to William, 5th Duke of Portland.(9) In 1854, Mortlock repeatedly advertised in The Examiner, specifically with flower pots and garden seats in various colours “at the lowest possible price, for cash”. And in 1874, they advertised in The Gardeners’ Chronicle with dairy utensils in white or brown ware “at wholesale prices”.

trade card of June 1831 (© Trustees of the British Museum)

In 1831, around the time when William II started out on his own in Regent Street, John II though it necessary to acquaint his clients that, despite rumours to the contrary, he was not moving and he even said so on a trade card, which is dated June 1831.

trade card (© Trustees of the British Museum) The museum gives the card a date of 1813 in the right-hand bottom corner, but that cannot be right as the only time there were two Williams and one John running the business was when William I and his two sons were in partnership, but William I died in 1807, so the card must be dated earlier.

In 1861, Mortlock entered an advertisement in The Sunday Times in which he announced that he was selling off his stock as the Marquis of Westminster did not want to renew the lease on his premises at 250 Oxford Street and 58 Park Street (just around the corner from the Oxford Street shop).(10) He sounds quite peeved about it. It took a while to get rid of the stock as similar advertisements appeared in the newspapers till at least May 1862. For a while after that, the advertisements just give the address as Oxford Street without specifying a number, but design registrations from 1868 onwards give number 204 as the new address, which was across from the old shop. It did not take long for the business to spread itself to neighbouring properties; first 203 Oxford Street was added and then 31 and 32 Orchard Street around the corner.

miniature plate (Source: see here)

In 1881, Oxford Street was renumbered in such a way that the residents of some properties objected. Not only were they forced to spend thousands of pounds on new shop lettering and business stationary, there were also duplicate numbers. Brown, Gould & Co. who had offices at 470 and 520 Oxford Street, complained that the duplicate numbers were causing confusion and they gave Mortlock’s, on the opposite end of the street, as an example since they had also been given the new number 470, and Brown’s other premises (at number 520) had the same number as James Pile & Co, tailors. Brown had enquired at the Metropolitan Board of Works whether the eastern end of Oxford Street, that is, the section east of Tottenham Court Road, was to be renumbered as well to solve the confusion, but they had been told that that was not planned. I am not too sure whether there really was a problem as the eastern section was and is named New Oxford Street, which should avoid confusion, but apparently the ‘New’ part of the name was often excluded from the address causing non-delivery of letters.(11) So, Mortlock had been given new numbers and although Brown and Gould were slightly simplistic in calling it just 470, Goad’s insurance map shows that they occupied 466, 468 and 470 Oxford Street, communicating with 31 and 32 Orchard Street.

In 1914, John George Mortlock’s private collection of porcelain was auctioned by Christies (catalogue online here) and it did, of course, include some choice examples of their own china, which in some cases showed how “Royal” services did the rounds and were sold twice over. For instance, number 50 in the sale catalogue is described as a dessert service decorated with roses, thistles and shamrock with a lion and crown in red and gold, in dark blue borders gilt with the garter motto. These items were part of a large service manufactured around 1810 for H.R.H. The Duke of Clarence (the later King William IV) who gave it to Lady Augusta Fitzclarence. Mortlock ‘repurchased’ it [you wonder why; was the lady short of money?] and then sold a portion of it to the Royal Warrant Holders for presentation to George V on his wedding. I think I found a picture of it in the Royal Collection (see for full description here). There is a slight discrepancy in years as the catalogue dates it to 1810 and the Royal Collection to 1820, but it matches the description in the sale catalogue.

on the left item 50 in the sale catalogue and on the right the plate from the Royal Collection (click to enlarge)

trade card for the premises in Orchard Street (© Trustees of the British Museum)

advert from MacMillan’s Magazine, April 1875

advert in Kelly’s Handbook to the Titled, Landed & Official Classes, 1888

Mortlock ewer from Standen House (National Trust Collection) Click here for more Mortlock items in the NT collection

Mortlock & Co. became a Limited Company in 1894 and ceased trading in the 1930s. There is far more to be said about Mortlock & Co., for instance that they organised exhibitions of pottery, and that they also had an art studio where they taught people how to decorate china, but I will stop here and refer you to the website on Meldreth History (footnote 1) where you will find all you want to know about the Mortlocks.

Mortlock’s mark (Source:

(1) Information taken from the website on Meldreth History which also contains a family tree (see here), combined with partnership notices in The London Gazette.
(2) The London Gazette, 10 January 1809.
(3) The London Gazette, 29 March 1831. The notice stated that the partnership had been dissolved on 25 March 1828.
(4) The London Gazette 19 May 1835. Simon was the son of Elizabeth Mortlock and John Sturges; Elizabeth was the granddaughter of John Mortlock who was the brother of William I. Elizabeth and Sturges were married in 1812 and Simon was born in 1817.
(5) The London Gazette, 9 July 1841. Simon Sturges later became the vicar at Wargrave, Berkshire.
(6) Advertisement in The Porcupine, 29 November 1800.
(7) Howell G.M. Edwards, Swansea and Nantgarw Porcelains: A Scientific Reappraisal, 2017.
(8) West Sussex Record Office, PHA/9212 and PHA/10416.
(9) Nottingham University Library, Pw K/4533.
(10) The Sunday Times, 11 August 1861.
(11) The Times, 10 September 1881.


<– 251 Oxford Street 249 Oxford Street –>

William Blundstone, broad silk manufacturer


Street View: 5
Address: 37 Newgate Street

Tallis lists the shop at 37 Newgate Street for W.J. Blundstone, but that should have been W. & J. Blundstone. In 1837, William Blundstone, Joseph Blundstone and William Brown dissolve their partnership as warehousemen at 37 Newgate Street.(1) The two Blundstones are to continue the business, but two years later that partnership is also dissolved and William is to continue on his own.(2) In the 1839 notice, their address is given as 31 Gutter Lane and the 1838 land tax records already give a Mr. Milbourne as the occupant of number 37, indicating that Tallis’s Street View booklet number 5 was indeed published in 1838 as the preface to the facsimile edition surmises. The 1837 electoral register for Christchurh, Newgate Street, saw both Joseph and William still at 37 Newgate Street, but I do not know at what date the names were entered in the registry. So, the Blundstones moved the business from Newgate Street to Gutter Lane between March 1837 and (early?) 1838, and Tallis only just caught them, but they had not always been at Newgate Street.

trade card (© British Museum Collection)

An 1815 insurance policy with the Sun Fire Office and a trade card in the British Museum Collection tells us where Brown and Blundstone were before they occupied the Newgate Street property, as they are listed as silk manufacturers at 21 Foster Lane. The Rate Assessment book for St. John Zachary shows William Brown, from 1811 onwards, at number 21, which was next to Bell Square. However, the General Post Office had their eyes on the area for their new building and the Act of Parliament 55 George III c. 91 provided for a grand site, obliterating the houses between Foster Lane, St. Martin le Grand, St. Ann’s Lane and Round Court. Brown and Blundstone are listed in the rate book until 1820, but then the entry for the property said, “empty in consequence of the intended new Post Office”.

On the left Horwood’s 1799 map and on the right the 1892-95 Ordnance Survey map showing the same area with the position where Brown and Blundstone had their business indicated by a red cross

The later rate books show a separate section for the houses requisitioned for the Post Office:

The undermentioned Houses were taken down and form part of the Seite of the New Post Office in pursuance of the Act of Parliament of 55 George 3 C. 47(3) and under the 8th Section of that act and the particular circumstances are to be rated according to the rates made for this Parish from the 25th day of March 1814 to the 25th day of March 1815 which was one rate for the whole year payable Quarterly wherein the said Houses are assessed as follows …

What follows is a list of ‘late’ owners with their assessments and rates; for W. Brown the value assessed was £75.-.- with a corresponding rate of £3.8.9. The Report of the Select Committee on the proceedings following the Post Office Act lists 21 Foster Lane as occupied by William Brown and William Blundstone.(4) They are also the leaseholders, but the freehold is in the hands of Francis and Elizabeth Piercy. The assessment for the property tax is £60 in the Report, but at some point that must have been raised to the £75 that the Rate Book lists. The London Metropolitan Archives have several boxes of documents, dated 1770-1823, entitled “Suits in relation to property required for improvements”. Especially the ones of 1815 and later are of interest in the case of the improvements for the New Post Office and among the people taking up a case in the Mayor’s Court in 1816 are William Brown and William Blundstone (CLA/024/08/114). The names of the people who also filed a suite in 1816, tally with the names found in the list of householders in the Report of the Select Committee (see footnote 4). I have not seen the documents themselves, but the outcome of that case could very well explain the difference in property value, and hence the compensation awarded.

The London Gazette, 12 March 1839

Kent’s Original London Directory of 1823 duly lists Brown and Blundstone at their new address at 37 Newgate Street as silk manufacturers and warehousemen. We already saw that they left Newgate Street in 1838 for Gutter Lane, but how long William remained in business after Joseph retired is not entirely clear. The 1841 census has him as a 54-year-old silk mercer, living at Cloudesley Square, with his wife Elizabeth (52) and three children.(5) William died in 1845 and in his will, which he wrote in September 1844, he described himself as ‘gentlemen’ of 2 Cloudesley Square, Islington, so certainly no longer in business.(6) We can get a bit closer to the date of his retirement as the 1843 Post Office Directory lists him as ‘esq.’ rather than silk mercer, so presumably he retired somewhere between 1841 and 1843. William’s widow Elizabeth died in 1855, and although she mentions her son William in her will, who was named ‘assistant’ in the 1841 census, she makes no mention of the silk business and it is not clear whether William jr. continued his father’s business.(7)

In 1838 or thereabouts, 37 Newgate Street became the address for Robert Milbourn, a silk warehouseman. In 1842, he, along with several other shopkeepers, was duped by Frederick Shackleford who pretended to be a Mr. Beamont who was buying goods for his new shop in Maidstone. ‘Beaumont’ came into Milbourn’s shop on several occasions and each time he ordered goods to be transported to the inn where he was staying. Each time he paid part of the sum required and was to pay the rest later. For references he gave the names of two people who could vouch for him, but as they were involved in the scam, their word was not worth a lot. The transcripts of the Old Bailey case give us several names of Milbourn’s employees and also the kind of goods he dealt in. Evidence was given by Donald Cameron, shopman, John Wells, counting house clerk, and one Freeborn (no first name given), a porter. Shackleford, alias Beaumont, bought yards of silk in various colours, artificial flowers, handkerchiefs, shawls, scarfs, crapes, and satinet.(8) There is no way of knowing whether Brown and Blundstone sold the same articles, but their stock was probably not very different.

silk flowers of unknown age from Greys Court, Oxfordshire (© National Trust Collection). No, nothing to do with Blundstone or Milbourn, just a splash of colour on the page

(1) The London Gazette, 24 March 1837.
(2) The London Gazette, 12 March 1839.
(3) 55 George III. c 47: An Act for procuring Returns relative to the Expence and Maintenance of the Poor in England; and also relative to the Highways.
(4) Report by the Select Committee as published in Parliamentary Papers, volume 2 and The Statutes of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, volume 6.
(5) Elizabeth Selby (22), Catherine (18), and William jr (20) who is described as ‘assistant’.
(6) PROB 11/2111/139. His burial took place on 4 April, 1845, at St James, St Pancras, but probate was not granted until five years later, No indication is given why it took so long to sort out.
(7) PROB 11/2215/210.
(8) Old Bailey case t18421024-3041.


<– 38 Newgate Street 36 Newgate Street –>

Thresher, Son & Co., outfitters and shirt makers


Street Views: 28 and 10 Suppl.
Address: 152 Strand

Thresher’s was situated next to the Peacock Inn, and, although the inn was no longer to be found there at the time Tallis produced his Street Views, the peacock sign remained – until this present day – as the logo for the Thresher business. In 1779, Richard Thresher had taken sole possession of the business he had with one Mr. Newham, although the business itself had existed since 1696.(1) At the end of 1804, Richard retired and dissolved his partnership with George Miller, his nephew. Miller continued the business with another of Richard’s nephews, John Thresher.(2) That partnership was dissolved at the end of 1815 with John Thresher to continue the business on his own.(3)

And now for a bit of confusion over the shops as it turns out there were two John Threshers. Until his death in 1835 another John Thresher had a shop at Panton Street, Haymarket, especially geared to the theatre world. It may have belonged to Richard Thresher as there is a memorandum of an agreement in the City of Westminster Archives, dated 1795, about the sale of the lease of 1 Panton Street and the sale of fixtures, furniture and stock by Charles Shuile to R. Thresher. The tax records for Panton Street show John Thresher’s name from 1801. Kent’s Directory of 1823 duly lists that John as hosier & mercer at 1 Panton Street, but for 152 Strand, they have Wm Threasher [sic]. The John Thresher of Panton Street died in 1835 and left most of his estate to his daughter Ann who is also named executor together with friend George Miller. The executors duly insure 1 Panton Street with the Sun Fire Office, but the business is not continued as a Thresher shop, but taken over by John Brumby, a bookseller. In John’s will of 1835, he makes no mention of the shop in the Strand, nor of the people running it, which may very well indicate that he had no stake in it. It is possible that the John Thresher of Panton Street was Richard’s son and the John Thresher of the Strand was his nephew. The entry in The London Gazette about the end of the partnership of Richard with Miller clearly states that Miller and John Thresher were Richard’s “nephews and successors”.

trade card (© Trustees of the British Museum)

Pigot’s Directory for 1825-6 correctly lists 152 Strand for John Thresher. Also living at 152 Strand was John’s sister Mary who died in 1828 and appointed him sole heir and executor of her estate.(4) In 1833, this John Thresher, his son Henry Thresher and John Glenny insure the Strand property with the Sun Fire Insurance Company. The partnership of John Thresher with Henry Thresher and John Glenny is dissolved in late 1839 with Henry Thresher and John Glenny to continue the shop.(5) Glenny married John Thresher’s daughter Henriette Jane in 1836.(6) At the time of the 1841 census, Henry Thresher was living at 152 Stand with two apprentices and a couple of servants, one of whom is named Charlotte Glenny. In 1843, Henry Thresher married this Charlotte Glenny, thereby tightening the family relationship between the two families. In 1841, John and Henriette Glenny are living in New Street, Hampton, with retired John Thresher living next door; John T. died in 1846 (see footnote 6). From around 1847, Thresher & Glenny are starting to call their business the “East India Outfitting Establishment” and they advertise with ‘India Gauze Waistcoats’. And to transport these precious waistcoats and the other items of your tropical outfit, Thresher’s could also supply you with travelling cases for which they registered a design under the Act for Articles of Utility 6 and 7 Vic. Cap. 65 (28 February 1846, no. 660).(7)

advert in D.L. Richardson’s The Anglo-Indian Passage, Homeward and Outward (1845)

advert in A hand-book for travellers in Switzerland and the Alps of Savoy and Piedmont (1846)

According to a 1846 document in the Westminster Archives, Thresher and Glenny applied to the Metropolitan Board of Works for permission to make openings in the party wall in order to connect the two properties of 152 and 153 Strand. The 1851 census does list 152 and 153 Strand together as the abode of John and Henriette Glenny. Also living with them is apprentice Frederick Giles, who was the son of Somerset farmer and maltster James Giles and his wife Elizabeth Thresher. I do not know how Elizabeth was related to the Threshers of the Strand, but as the name is unusual, there must have been a family link between Frederick and his employers. Although number 153 had been added to the living space of the Glennys, the tax records continue to list number 153 for Philip Firmin. In 1860 Firmin takes over number 154, but he still pays the tax for 153 until 1877 when the situation changes. Firmin is from then on still listed as the occupier of numbers 153 and 154, but Glenny is now listed as the proprietor of 152 and 153 and the occupier of 152. More on Firmin in a later post.

Glenny, by the way, not only expanded the shop, but also the items on offer. In 1854, for instance, he introduced a portable camp bed for which he received a patent. At roughly the same time, Thresher’s branched out into military uniforms, perhaps not such a great leap as many of the travellers to India were or had been military personnel. At some point John Glenny went into partnership with Frederick Thresher Giles and after John Glenny retired in 1876, Frederick entered into a partnership with Henry John Glenny (John’s nephew), which lasted until 1902.(8) The mortgage of the lease and the goodwill of the business were then transferred from Glenny to Giles, although the name of the business remained Thresher & Glenny.

Plan of the properties at 152 and 153 Strand from the Land Tax record of 1902

The property at 152-153 Strand looks rather sad these days, but then, it is no longer in use as a shop by Thresher & Glenny. Plans to destroy the houses at 152-158 for a development by King’s College have been averted – hopefully permanently – and Save Britain’s Heritage has produced an alternative plan, see here.

152-153 Strand, next to Somerset House, on an old postcard

Over the years, Thresher and Glenny had shops at various London locations (see Wikipedia), but since 1992 they have been trading from Middle Temple Lane, so only for a short period in the long history of the firm, but it looks as if they have been there for centuries. The outside of the building is like a time capsule and gives us a good idea of what an 18th or 19th-century shop might have looked like. Thresher & Glenny are still going strong, albeit no longer under family management. The last of the line to work in the business, Charles Frederic Glenny, the son of Henry John Glenny, died in 1967.

the Thresher and Glenny peacock sign taken from their website

(1) According to Thresher & Glenny’s website. Wikipedia gives 1755.
(2) The London Gazette, 12 January 1805.
(3) The London Gazette, 27 January 1816.
(4) PROB 11/1742/146.
(5) The London Gazette, 14 January 1840.
(6) It has been suggested that Henriette Jane was Richard’s daughter, but that is not correct. John clearly mentions Henriette Jane Glenny as his daughter in his will (he died in 1846, PROB 11/2030/133).
(7) The Magazine of Science, 1846, p. 352.
(8) The London Gazette, 2 January 1903.


<– 153 Strand Somerset House –>

Henry Wix, bookseller & publisher


Street View: 78
Address: 41 New Bridge Street, Blackfriars

Always Keep Your Temper

The Merchant Taylors’ School Register lists Henry Wix, born 3 June 1803, the son of the reverend Samuel Wix, as entering the school in February 1811. This date of birth in the register is almost certainly wrong. Henry was baptised by his father at All Souls, Inworth, Essex on 14 December 1804.(1) After having been at school for eight years, Henry was apprenticed to John Rivington, one of the many Rivingtons who ran a well-known publishing house from St. Paul’s Churchyard. Henry’s father had to pay £200 for the privilege of seeing his son instructed as a member of the Stationers’ Company, but it paid off and in 1826, Henry was duly given the freedom of the Company after his seven years of ‘servitude’. The first publication I found with his name in the imprint is from 1829, so there is a gap of a few years, but Henry may have lingered on as a servant to the Rivingtons until he had acquired enough money to set up on his own. The 1829 Post Office Directory does not yet list him, either at New Bridge Street or anywhere else, and the 1829 tax records for 41 New Bridge Street show an empty space. However, in the 1830 tax record Wix is listed at number 41. The last tax record for him there is 1844 and in 1845 Thomas Quartermaine is listed for the property. Quartermaine was the proprietor of the York Hotel, which Tallis lists for 39 New Bridge Street, and it looks as if Quartermaine was trying to get hold of the two houses between the large property of the Albion Life Assurance Company at number 42 and his own at the corner of Little Bridge Street. We will see if he succeeded in his plan when we write the post on his hotel, but first the career of Henry Wix.

trade card (© Trustees of the British Museum)

Henry must have started his business early in 1829, or perhaps even in 1828, as on the 24th of February we find his first advertisement in The Morning Chronicle in which he announces John Halcomb’s Patriotic Address to the Inhabitant Householders of London and Westminster. That same year he also published Two Sermons; One on the General Errors, the Other on the Particular Pretensions, of the Romish Church, to which are Prefixed Some Thoughts on “Catholic Emancipation”. These sermons were by Edward Rice, but they could just as well have been by Henry’s father as Samuel Wix was opposed to Catholic emancipation.(2) The Two Sermons were co-published with the Rivingtons, suggesting that Henry’s apprenticeship with them led to a helping hand in the first years of his independent career. In 1832, he published, again together with the Rivingtons, his father’s Reflections Concerning the Expediency and Unchristian Character of Capital Punishments, as Prescribed by the Criminal Laws of England.

New Bridge Street from Ackermann’s Repository of Arts &c., vol. 7 (1812) via Wikimedia Commons. What would become Wix’s shop can be seen on the left, next to the large white building

advert in The Liverpool Mercury etc, 9 April 1830

If you get the impression that Wix’s publications were all about religion, you would be wrong as he also co-published A History of English Gardening (1829), The Magazine and Review of Literature, Science, and the Arts, and Charles Caswell’s The Physiology of the Organ of Hearing (1833). Wix seemed to have terminated his business in 1844 or 1845 and in 1845 we find him listed at 65 St. Paul’s Churchyard – according to Tallis the address for the Religious Tract Society – as a member of the committee for the Booksellers’ Provident Fund which was being used to build a home for those in the book trade who had fallen on hard times.(3) In the 1851 census, we find Wix at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, living with his father, the vicar at St. Bart’s. Henry’s own occupation is given as ‘assistant to a bookseller’, but unfortunately it is not stated which bookseller. In 1861, the census still records Henry living with his father at St. Bart’s, but this time with ‘no profession or occupation’. The reverend Samuel Wix died later that year, leaving the tidy sum of £80,000.(4) Ten years later, Henry is found in Clay Street, Walthamstow as ‘independant’ with a coachman, a housekeeper and a house servant.

Wix died in 1881(5) and The Athenaeum wrote “We hear of the death, at the age of seventy-seven, of Mr. Henry Wix, many years ago a well-known bookseller in Bridge Street, Blackfriars. Mr. Wix will be remembered by many persons as the publisher of a hymnal which at one period had a very large sale.”(6) He was buried at Chingford and the inscription on his gravestone of polished grey granite reads “In affectionate remembrance / Henry Wix / Clay Hill House, Walthamstone / Died March 27, 1881 / In the 77th year of his age”.(7) Henry Wix was, however, more than just a bookseller who retired early because he had the financial means to do so; he was also a keen angler.

advert in The Publishers’ Circular and Booksellers’ Record, 15 October 1844

In 1844, he published a book after his own heart, Walton’s Complete Angler. This edition of Walton’s book on angling was published together with David Bogue of 86 Fleet Street whom we will come across again in a forthcoming blog post. Walton in his time had fished on the river Lea near Amwell Hill and The Amwell Magna Fishing Club was founded in 1831, starting out as a club mainly fishing for pike, but gradually changing into a group of keen fly fishers for trout. Wix was the secretary of the club from 1851 until 1874. For more on his contribution to the club and a lovely portrait of Wix as an angler all kitted out see their website.

In 1860, a small booklet of just 16 pages On Roach Fishing and its Peculiarities was published by H.W., initials in which we can recognise Henry Wix. Proof, if necessary, of Wix’s authorship is found in a copy of the book in the New York Public Library (online here) as that contains a letter by Wix of 7 May 1860 to Thomas Westwood, addressed from the vicarage at St. Barts where he was then still living with his father, in which he wrote, “I have the greatest pleasure in forwarding a copy of my little treatise on the ‘Peculiarities of Roach fishing'”. After apologising for the less than serious manner in which he pushed it “hastily through the press” as he intended it only as a bit of fun, he said that he “would prefer, that my name be not mentioned as regards this little work”. Was he ashamed of it? Or was it just false modesty? Whatever the reason for the use of his initials rather than his full name, he gave excellent advice at the end of the booklet, which, by the way, does not just apply to angling, namely Always Keep Your Temper.

tail piece from Wix’s edition of Walton’s Complete Angler

(1) Thanks go to Feargal Starkey, archivist of the Amwell Magna Fishery, for providing the relevant information.
(2) Peter B. Nockles, ‘Wix, Samuel (1771–1861)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.
(3) Gentleman’s Magazine, October 1845, p. 411.
(4) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1861.
(5) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1881. He left an estate worth £45,000
(6) The Athenaeum, 9 April 1881.
(7) Fragmenta Genealogica, vol, XIII (1909).


<– 42 New Bridge Street 40 New Bridge Street –>

Peter Jones, chemist


Street View: 60
Address: 11 Norton Folgate

Volume 27 of The Survey of London: Spitalfields and Mile End New Town (1957), describes 11 Norton Folgate as having

a four-storeyed front of early eighteenth-century character, with a charming shop-front of about 1790. This consisted of two segmental bows, the left wider than the right, flanking the two-leaf door to the shop. Each bow had a stallboard grille of columns and a window divided by slender bars, horizontally into six panes and vertically into four. Windows and door were flanked by very attenuated columns, and the front was finished with a delicately moulded entablature, conforming to the bows and having a further bow over the shop entrance which was surmounted by a large gilt spread eagle. The upper part of the front was, presumably, of stock brick, with red brick jambs and segmental arches to the three windows evenly spaced in each storey. All of these windows had stone sills, and straight-headed flush frames containing sashes with slender glazing bars. The second floor was marked by a moulded stringcourse; the third floor by a dentilled cornice, and the front was finished with a stone-coped parapet. In 1909, when it was a chemist’s shop, it bore the legend ‘Established 1750’ and was certainly occupied by a druggist in 1778.

As we can see from the elevation at the top of this post, the ‘Established 1750’ lettering was already there when Tallis produced his booklet and so was the chemist. Not that 11 Norton Folgate, or 11 High Street, Norton Folgate, as it was also known, had always been in the hands of the Jones family, but there were certainly chemists since 1757. The Land Tax records show a John Thomas on the premises from 1750 to 1752 and John Crook from 1753 to 1756, but I have not been able to find out if they were chemists. From 1757, we find Edward Calvert in the tax records, and he is most certainly a “chymist and druggist”.

© The Trustees of the British Museum

Public Ledger or The Daily Register of Commerce and Intelligence, 25 March 1760

On his trade card, he proudly advertised his violet cordial for which he received a patent in 1760. A much later listing of patents quotes Calvert as stating that it is “a most pleasant and useful cordial, which discovery had been attended with a great loss of time and immense expense” and it is, of course, much better than any other variety and “the finest medicine to expel wind at the stomach”. The ingredients were: “spirit, aromatic calamus mace, cloves, nutmegs, cinnamon, allspice, sal-volatile, sugar, vegetable juice coloured with violets, and ‘marum syriacum'”, but in what proportion these ingredients were used or how the medicine was prepared remained Calvert’s secret.(1) Calvert was very proud of his concoction and had advertisements put in the newspaper on a weekly basis for the rest of the year 1760. He died in December 1775 “after two hours illness” of “convulsions in the bowels”.(2)

His widow Mary continued the business until her own death in 1787.(3) The next occupants of the chemist shop are Thomas Johnson & David Jones, but that partnership goes bankrupt in 1797. According to the tax records, Johnson continues on his own in 1798 and 1799, but then he is declared a bankrupt as well and Samuel Knight takes over.(4) Knight died in November 1823, “much and sincerely lamented by his numerous acquaintances”.(5) Next a couple of short-lived occupations by an E. James (bankrupt in 1832) and James Blake (bankrupt in 1833) and finally we find Peter Jones at number 11 whom Tallis included in his booklet and whose family was to run the chemists’ until well into the next century. When Jones ran the shop it was named the Golden Eagle, but it is unclear whether the previous proprietors had also used that name.

Horace Dan and E.C. Morgan Willmott, English Shop-fronts, Old and New, 1907, plate VII

The photograph in English Shop-fronts, Old and New shows the shop as ‘Peter Jones, Son & Mundy’. We can follow the various family members who ran the shop from the census records. In 1841 and 1851 it is Peter Jones himself; in 1861 he is living at Edmondton, but still listed as a chemist and at 11 Norton Folgate we find Peter Cooke Jones, the son, and Frances Mary, the daughter. In 1865, Frances Mary Jones married Alfred Octavius Mundy, hence the Mundy in the name above the shop. Peter died in 1870 and the executors are widow Alice and sons Peter Cooke and Frederick William.(6) Peter Cooke is no longer a chemist, but is described as clerk of Milton near Sittingbourne. He was to become the vicar at Hunstanworth. In 1871 and 1881, Frederick William is running the shop, but he died in 1884.(7)

The tax records for 1885 show Alfred Mundy as the proprietor and the 1891 census saw him living at number 11 with his wife Frances and son John. Alfred is still there in 1901, but by 1911 he is boarding in Islington. Son Alfred Jones Mundy is living in Leyton, and is described as a manager of a retail chemist, but whether he worked in the Norton Folgate shop is not made clear, although the 1907 tax records list A. & A. Mundy at number 11. There is a gap in the tax records available online, but by 1918, the Mundys had gone.(8) The building as Jones and Mundy knew it no longer exists.

Daily News 30 March 1847

The Chemist and Druggist 15 November 1902

(1) Patents for Inventions: Abridgments of Specifications, 1873. Patent no. 746, dated 21 February 1760.
(2) Middlesex Journal and Evening Advertiser, 9-12 December 1775. PROB 11/1014/207.
(3) PROB 11/1156/201.
(4) The London Gazette, 21 November 1797 and 9 November 1799.
(5) The Morning Chronicle, 13 November 1823. PROB 11/1679/107.
(6) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1870. The estate was valued at under £12,000.
(7) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1884. The estate was valued at under £3,000, later resworn as £3,600. His brother Peter Cooke of Hunstanworth is named as the executor.
(8) They both died in 1919; Alfred Octavius on 13 February and Alfred Jones on 18 May.


<– 12 Norton Folgate 10 Norton Folgate –>

James Fergusson, architect


Street View: Suppl. 5
Address: 20 Langham Place

Although Tallis just described James Fergusson as Esquire, he was much more than just a gentleman retired from active business. He was heavily involved in various building committees and the history of architecture on which he wrote several books. I have therefore given him the occupation of ‘architect’, although he was not a practising architect as such. Fergusson had made his money in India as an indigo planter, but sold up in 1840 or thereabouts and came back to England. In June 1842, he acquired the leases of four properties in Langham Place(1) and proceeded to build a block of houses to his specifications on what had been the front of Marks’ coach repository. Henry Stacy Marks, in his Pen and Pencil Sketches of 1894 wrote “the old premises were sold to Mr. Fergusson the architect, who had them entirely rebuilt and reconstructed”. “The Langham Place frontage was displaced by a new row of handsome houses … in the centre of which was an entrance to the new business premises, entirely remodelled, and if less picturesque, more convenient”.

Fergusson used number 20 (mistakenly numbered 25 by Tallis) as his own residence, which was larger than numbers 3, 19 and 21 as he also had the section above the new entrance to Marks’ coach repository (see illustration below; red line under Fergusson’s residence). See for the illogical numbering of the houses the post on Alfred Markwick who occupied number 19, and for the changes to the coach repository the post on Marks & Co.

The houses were not designed by Fergusson himself, but by David Mocatta. A sketch of the plan is held in the RIBA collection.

The third edition of Fergusson’s The History of Architecture was published after his death and included a ‘Sketch of his Life’ by William H. White, who said that Fergusson had always intended to come home from India as soon as possible and that “having known the pleasures as well as the discomforts of a planter’s life, he kept a tolerable stable”, whatever that is supposed to mean. He was certainly in England in 1841 when the census was taken and then living with his parents in New Windsor, Berkshire. According to White, he returned to India several times in the period 1843-1845 for lengthy tours that culminated in several books. But when he came back from these tours, it was to live at Langham Place for the rest of his life. In 1851, his mother, his sister and a niece were living (or just staying?) with him, but in later censuses, he is found on his own with just two servants. Lots has been written about Fergusson himself and the books he wrote, so I will not repeat all that, but suggest two websites with more information: Clan Ferguson and The Victorian Web.

Fergusson’s carte-de-visite by McLean, Melhuish, Napper & Co, ±1860 (© National Portrait Gallery)

Fergusson died in January 1886(2) and the leases of Hayne’s Livery Stable (behind number 21), of the Portland Bazaar (behind number 20), and of 20 and 21 Langham Place themselves were acquired by Francis Ravenscroft who agreed with the Crown for the building of a concert hall, designed by Thomas Edward Knightley.(3) The hall became known as Queen’s Hall and was from 1895 until 1941 the home of ‘The Proms’, the promenade concerts founded by Robert Newman, the Hall’s manager, and conductor Henry Wood. The Hall stood proudly on the extensive corner plot until May 1941 when the fire caused by a German incendiary bomb destroyed it completely.

Goad’s insurance map of 1889 with the plots acquired by Ravenscroft outlined in red. The arrow points towards number 20

Photograph copied from Robert Elkin, Queen’s Hall 1893-1941, 1944.

More information about the end of Queen’s Hall can be found on the West End at War website, and more about the Hall itself on the Wikipedia page. All that now remains is a green plaque.

(1) Appendix no. 1 of the Twentieth Report of the Commissioners of her Majesty’s Wood, Forests, Land Revenues, Works and Buildings, 21 August 1843.
(2) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1886. The estate was valued at just under £43,000.
(3) Robert Elkin, Queen’s Hall 1893-1941, 1944, pp. 14-15.


<– 21 Langham Place 20 (was 3) Langham Place (Marks) –>
19 Langham Place (Markwick) –>

James Chaffin, glass and lamp manufacturer


Street View: 15
Address: 69 Fleet Street

In 1839, when Tallis brought out his first set of Street Views, James Chaffin shared 69 Fleet Street with Perkins, Bacon & Fetch, bank note engravers. They were the more important occupants, or perhaps they were more willing to pay Tallis to show their names above the building in the Street View booklet. Jacob Perkins paid the tax from 1821 onward, and Chaffin’s name is not listed in the tax records for Fleet Street, suggesting he just rented some space from Perkins & Co. By 1847, when the Street View Supplements came out, Perkins & Co. shared number 69 with bookseller Robinson; Chaffin was no longer mentioned. More on Perkins and Robinson in later posts, but in this post, we will go back in time, rather than forward.

top part of James’s indenture

In 1808, James, the son of James Chaffin of Lower Street, Islington, is apprenticed to his father, a chemist and druggist, which may go a long way towards explaining why Chaffin junior is sometimes listed as a chemical glass lamp manufacturer. In 1815, James Chaffin senior wrote his – very short – will. He does not start with the usual preamble, but says that “reflecting upon the uncertainty of life” he considered it “a prudent measure to declare on this written paper my will”. He names his wife Sarah as his sole heir and executrix and gives his address as 5 Lower Street, Islington. He only died in 1840, so quite a number of years after he wrote his will, but he apparently saw no reason to change it in the intermediate years. His son James of 69 Fleet Street, glass manufacturer, and Jane Richards Nash of 2 Canonbury Place, an acquaintance of many years, both testify in 1840 that they knew the deceased well and that the will and signature are indeed in his handwriting. Widow Sarah is duly granted probate.(1) Although James junior had his shop in Fleet Street, he did not live there. The 1841 census saw the bachelor living with his mother Sarah and Jane Nash at Albion Terrace.

Although he did not have his name displayed above the shop in Tallis, Chaffin was considered to supply lamps of quality, good enough for the likes of Michael Faraday, who, in 1835, wrote to Percy Drummond about some bills from Chaffin’s.(2) Chaffin sold, no doubt besides other types of lamps, the Sinumbra, or Shadowless Lamp, patented by Paisley & Co. of New Bond Street. According to an advertisement, the lamps “increase illumination without any additional consumption of oil, dissipates all shadow by the construction of it frosted glass distributor, and softens the glare of light so generally objected to in other lamps”. See for examples here and for more information on the lamps and their history here. But lamps were not all that Chaffin sold. An Old Bailey case of 1829 also mentions decanters, water bottles, tumblers, salt cellars and salt cellar standards.(3) A watchman giving evidence in the same case confirms that nobody actually lived at the property.

The Morning Chronicle, 28 November 1822

The 1843 Post Office Directory lists Chaffin’s at 69 Fleet Street as ‘chemical & gen[eral] glass & lamp wa[rehouse]’, but in the 1848 directory he is no longer present and 69 Fleet Street is occupied by W.W. Robinson and Perkins, Bacon & Fetch. A clue can be found in the 1851 census where James is found in Henrietta Street as clerk to a print seller, so no longer with his own glass business. There is no record in The London Gazette of him going bankrupt, so that cannot have been the reason for his career switch, but we will leave his later career for what it is and return to 69 Fleet Street for an earlier occupant.(4)

In 1820, an advertisement in The Morning Chronicle stated that Chaffin and his partner Vaughan were the successors to Messrs. Parker and Sons at their Glass and Lamp Warehouse in Fleet Street. The partnership with Vaughan, by the way, must have lasted till at least 1825 as they are still listed together in Pigot’s Directory for that year.

Chandelier by William Parker (© National Trust Collection) at the Bath Assembly Rooms. He supplied them with three 40-light chandeliers for the tea rooms and another five for the ballrooms.

Samuel Parker and William Perry had been trading together at Fleet Street since 1803 as cut-glass manufacturers, but dissolved their partnership in 1817.(5) Samuel continued the Fleet Street business with his sons till 1820, but then sold the premises, moved his business to Argyll Street and concentrated more on producing goods in bronze rather than glass.(6). Twenty years earlier, in 1798, Samuel had taken over the glass and lamp manufactury from his father William Parker. William was famous for his chandeliers and counted many aristocratic and royal patrons amongst his customers. The catalogue Country House Lighting 1680-1890 calls him the “pre-eminent London maker” of chandeliers from the 1770s and the “development of a supremely elegant style of chandelier [is] associated with his name”. The Prince of Wales’ feathers on his invoices clearly advertise Parker’s royal patronage and he apparently supplied the Prince of Wales with £4,000 worth of items for Carlton House in the 1780s. Country House Lighting quotes an invoice for the Duke of Devonshire which tells us that “2 large 12 light lustres richly cut and ornamented” cost £210 and “13 very large vase lamps” were £11-14-0. But Parker also sold more moderate items, such as decanters, glasses, candle sticks, table lamps, etc., many of which are still to be found. A Google Image search for William Parker + glass brings up a number of examples, see here.

invoice 1787 (Source: Lewis Walpole Library, see here)

Parker also improved the quality of lenses (or rather burning glasses) to such an extent that the correspondence of men of science favourably reported on them, for instance in 1782 when one William Vaughan wrote to Benjamin Franklin:

I saw yesterday a lense whose powers you are not perhaps unacquainted with. Platina melts in Seventeen Seconds & other metals yeild to its power. The weather has not been favorable for a variety of experiments. Parker has however many in contemplation with the assistance of our philosophical men here. I beleive it is found superior to the one in France. The lense is solid, & weighs 212 pd. (7)

The Benjamin Franklin Papers at the American Philosophical Society include an engraving of Parker’s lens.

Source: American Philosophical Society, online here

Horwood’s 1799 map showing the four houses between Water Lane and Crown Court

Sources vary as to when William Parker started his glass business at 69 Fleet Street, but 1763 seems to be the correct year. At least, from that year onwards we find his name in the Land Tax records for the Salisbury Court Precinct of Farringdon Without. He occupied the second of four houses situated between Water Lane (later renamed Whitefriars Street) and Hanging Sword Court (later Crown Court). In the Tallis Street View, we can indeed see that Chaffin, Robinson and Perkins & Co. had their shops in the second house from Water Lane.

trade card for William Parker (© Trustees of the British Museum)

William Parker took over the premises in Fleet Street from Joshua Lewis halfway through the tax return period of 1763; they are both listed for that year. Lewis was most likely the upholder (or upholsterer) who moved to The Three Tents near Water Lane in 1736. But since he had nothing to do with the sale of glass, I will stop this post here.

London Daily Post and General Advertiser, 17 March 1736

(1) PROB 11/1924/405.
(2) The Correspondence of Michael Faraday, volume 2: 1832-1840. Letter 823, dated 15 October 1835.
(3) Old Bailey case t18290115-49.
(4) James Chaffin died 16 November 1869. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1870. His estate was valued at under £200.
(5) The London Gazette, 30 September 1817.
(6) Geoffrey De Bellaigue, ‘Samuel Parker and the Vulliamys, purveyors of gilt bronze’, Burlington Magazine, vol.139, 1997, pp.26-37.
(7) Founders Online.


<– 70 Fleet Street 68 Fleet Street –>

Smith & Pinkney, solicitors


Street View: 75
Address: 41 Chiswell Street

No elevation from the Tallis Street View to grace the top of this post as Tallis depicted numbers 1-37 and on the other side of the street numbers 53-91, missing out 39 to 52. Did he plan another Street view of that section of Chiswell Street, continuing into Beech Street? Possibly, but then why would he include the occupants of those properties in the index? No logical answer seems to be available, so we will make do with Horwood’s street plan of 1799.

Horwood shows what became Smith and Pinkney’s property as number 80 (red arrow), just around the corner from Whitecross Street. The blue arrow points towards what is now Sundial Court, formerly part of the Whitbread brewery, and the green arrow points to Lamb’s Passage which is still there.

Pinkney’s career started on the 27th of May in 1831 with the following contract:

William Davidson Keats clerk to George Trewhitt of Cooke Court near Lincolns Inn in the County of Middlesex Gentleman one of the attornies of his Majesty’s Court of Kings Bench at Westminster and a solicitor by Articles of Clerkship bearing date the Twenty first day of May Instant and made between The said George Trewhitt of the one part and Herbert Pinkney of Walnut Tree Walk in the County of Surrey Gentleman and Thomas Francis Pinkney Son of the said Herbert Pinkney of the other part the said Thomas Francis Pinkney for the consideration therein mentioned did put place and bind himself Clerk to the said George Trewhitt to serve him in the profession of an Attorney at Law and Solicitor in Chancery from the day of the date of the said Articles for the term of five years from thence next ensuing ….(1)

I will spare you the rest as it is not so easy to follow the long sentences that were written with capitals in unexpected places and without punctuation marks or apostrophes. Joseph Smith, Pinkney’s partner, was most likely the Joseph Smith who was articled in 1821 as clerk to William Rosser.(2) When exactly the gentlemen decided to set up a practise together is unclear, but they are listed in Chiswell Street in Pigot’s Directory of 1839. They dissolved the partnership a few years later, in 1841, with Pinkney to continue the practice on his own.

The London Gazette, 14 May 1841

Both solicitors went bankrupt in 1847; Pinkney, whose address is then given as Eccleston Street, Belgravia, seems to have got off lightly, but Smith ended up in prison. Between the end of his partnership with Pinkney and his bankruptcy he seemed to have had five different addresses and besides having a practice as an attorney, he was at one point also the Superintendent Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths of the parish of St. Luke.(3) But in 1851 the census found him once again as a solicitor, this time in Arbour Street, Stepney. In 1843, Pinkney was still working at 41 Chiswell Street, but is, according to the Post Office Directory, no longer to be found there in 1848. He re-emerges in the 1871 census in Stoke Newington as the manager of an unspecified public company and died four years later.(4)

After Pinkney left 41 Chiswell Street, the building was occupied by various people. The 1851 Post Office Directory lists Henry Dale, auctioneer and appraiser. He dissolves a partnership with two others in March 1853 and seems to have left Chiswell Street.(5) In February 1855, Philip Nelson and Albert James Cappel dissolve a partnership as merchants at 41 Chiswell Street(6), although the 1856 Post Office Directory still lists them there. The next occupant is Charles Eaton who advertised auctions from number 41, but he combined that with the trade of leather factor. Many of his auctions did indeed feature leather, shoes, boots, etc. He also went bankrupt and had to assign all his effects in trust to an accountant for the benefit of his creditors.(7)

The London Gazette, 25 March 1864

I could go on listing the businesses that occupied 41 Chiswell Street until the present day, but I think I will call it a day and leave you with a Google Street View of the property.

Google Street View of 41 Chiswell Street

(1) National Archives, Kew: Court of King’s Bench – Affidavits of Due Execution of Articles of Clerkship, Series II, Class KB 106, Piece 16.
(2) National Archives, Kew: Court of King’s Bench – Affidavits of Due Execution of Articles of Clerkship, Series II, Class KB 106, Piece 5.
(3) The London Gazette, 27 April and 7 May 1847.
(4) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1874. His estate was valued at under £450.
(5) The London Gazette, 18 March 1853.
(6) The London Gazette, 2 March 1855.
(7) The London Gazette, The London Gazette, 11 April 1862 and 25 March 1864.


<– 42 Chiswell Street 41* Chiswell Street –>

Marks & Co, coach and harness manufactory


Street View: 16 and 5 Suppl.
Address: 3 Langham Place

The coach and harness business of John Isaac Marks at Langham Place was situated on the site of the former riding house of the Horse Grenadier Guards, hence the name of the street between Marks’s building and All Souls Church: Riding House Lane (now Street). The stables and barracks of the First Troop of the Horse Guards had been built in 1726 on what was then open ground. The First Troop became the First Regiment of Life Guards in 1788 and the buildings were adapted for use as livery stables and a coach repository. When John Nash was redeveloping Regent Street, he agreed with John Marks (John Isaac’s father) that a new frontage on the Langham Place side would be created at the expense of the Crown. It was only to be used as a pedestrian entrance and for showcasing the coaches. The new building was ready to be opened in 1824. It was quite an impressive front for Marks’s business and when The Gentleman’s Magazine of July 1826 reported on the recently consecrated church of All Souls, a frontispiece was included which not only showed the church, but also the coach repository (on the right, behind the coach and horses).

frontispiece from The Gentlemen’s Magazine, July 1826 (© Trustees of the British Museum)

The buildings at the back around the yard were two stories high, with storerooms and standing places for carriages on the ground floor and galleries above for the display of carriages. In one corner of the building a crane could be found for raising the carriages. Various workshops were also found upstairs, such as those of the body and harness makers.(1) But, as we already saw in the post on Alfred Markwick, the frontage of the coach repository at number 3 did not dominate Langham Place for very long. James Fergusson who had made his fortune in India as an indigo planter, took over the lease and had four houses built in Langham Place in 1842. The coach depository was rebuilt at the back with the entrance leading to Marks’s business on the ground floor next to the new number 20 where Fergusson was to live until his death in 1886. Tallis was not quite sure what to do with the numbering and in the index to his Supplement, he lists Marks at number 19, although that was the house number of neighbour Markwick. The upper floors above Marks’s entrance were part of Fergusson’s house. Henry Stacy Marks, in his Pen and Pencil Sketches of 1894, wrote that the business became known as the London Coach Repository and concentrated more and more on selling coaches from other makers on commission.

In 1851, Marks sold out to one William Walker, who redeveloped the coach repository into the Langham Bazaar, later to be renamed the Portland Bazaar. It was not a great success and in 1862 the buildings were acquired by the Prince of Wales’ Hall & Club Company for redevelopment as a hall for musical entertainments. Before anything could be done, however, the bazaar was destroyed by fire and it took till 1867 before the southern half of the former bazaar had been rebuilt as a music hall. It was named St. George’s Hall and had a new main entrance at 19 Langham Place.

entrance to Marks’s coach depository in Langham Place after 1842 (ground floor only)

So, what do we know of the Marks family who ran the coach repository? The one who sold out to Walker in 1851 was John Isaac Marks. In the 1851 census we find him as a coach maker in Mornington Road. One of his children living with him was Henry Stacy whose occupation is given as a portrait painter. He had been destined to work in the family business and when his drawing and painting skills became apparent, he was set to paint the crests and coats of arms on the coaches. His commercial acumen, however, left much to be desired, and he went on to study art rather than take over the business. In his later reminiscences, he said that the business was “always irksome, never enlisted my energy or liking”. This may very well have been a contributing factor in John Isaac’s decision to terminate the business at Langham Place, although Henry Stacy contributed the closure to the fact that his father “had not the faculty for business”. Henry Stacy’s second name was derived from his great-grandfather Isaac Stacy, whose daughter Sarah had married John Marks in 1801. When John Marks died in 1828, a bit of bother occurred as one of the sons, James, that is, John Isaac’s brother, did not fulfil the requirements set out in his father’s will for attaining a fourth share in the business.(2) He had not worked the full term of his apprenticeship, but had set up on his own – unsuccessfully – as a horse dealer. He went bankrupt and Sarah and John Isaac were summoned to disclose the books of the Marks business. They refused on the grounds that James had nothing to do with the business and had shown no interest in it, but under John’s will James still had a financial interest in the business between the age of 21 and the bankruptcy, so it was ruled that Sarah & Co had to disclose the books, but that it would be done in private. You can read the transcript of the case here.

The advertisement above from The Edinburgh Review of 1831 shows how extensive the business was. They had 300 to 400 carriages on show and it is no wonder that their premises at the back of Langham Place were large enough to accommodate the later Portland Bazaar. If we work backwards, we can see that Marks took over from Stacy’s Repository which was already depicted in Horwood’s 1799 map. Yes indeed, that was the property of Isaac Stacy whom we met above as the father of Sarah Stacy, the wife of John Marks. In other words, Marks took over the business of his father-in-law who had died in 1803.

advertisement in The Morning Chronicle, 29 November 1806

advertisement in The Morning Herald and Daily Advertiser, 30 May 1785

What was to become Langham Place was still called Edward Street in 1799 when Horwood produced his map, but Mortimer Street and Riding House Lane are clear markers for the position of the coach business. According to the 1831 advertisement shown above, Stacy had started the business in 1789, but it was probably a few years earlier. We already find advertisements in 1785 for a Mr. Stacy, (coach) painter, in Riding House Lane who deals in carriages. Although no first name or initials are given, it was most likely Isaac who started out as coach painter and expanded his business after the Horse Guards left into the repository, calling himself in his will a “coach broker”.(3) At some point (at least since 1790) Isaac subleased the livery stables to one Roger Hayne, but he kept the coach repository as his own line of business. Hayne’s stables were situated on the north side, the Riding House Street side, marked on Goad’s insurance map as “ruins of stables” (underlined in red). The middle section of the land was the northern part of Stacy’s and Marks’s depository and became the Portland Bazaar; the southern section of the depository became George’s Hall.

1889 Goad’s insurance map which still shows “ruins of stables” in Riding House Lane

When Marks gave up on his coach repository in 1851 and removed himself to 140 Holborn(4), he left us a useful invention that considerably reduced the noise of the carriages, as described in The Northern Star and National Trades Journal of 27 July 1850, although Thomas Hancock and Charles Goodyear may have had something to say about that claim, see here.

UCL has published various chapters on streets in London, two of which I have found very helpful in writing this post. See for the direct links to the PDFs of the chapters here:

Chapter 19

Chapter 25

(1) Henry Stacy Marks, Pen and Pencil Sketches, 1894.
(2) PROB 11/1745/400.
(3) PROB 11/1393/160.
(4) Old Bailey case t18530815-848.


<– All Souls Church
<– 20 Langham Place
2 Langham Place –>
19 Langham Place –>

Anthony Brown, musical instrument maker



Street View: 8
Address: 28 High Holborn

As we saw in the post on John Hooper, 28 High Holborn was occupied by his neighbour (and later father-in-law) Richard Swift, perfumer, but the last we hear of the latter is in 1831 when he took out an insurance policy with the Sun Alliance. Two years later, Eliza Huntley, hairdresser and perfumer, insures the property, but that is all we know of her. In July 1837, Emma Sarah, the daughter of Anthony and Julia Brown is baptised at St. Andrew’s, Holborn, and although no house number is given, the family lived at High Holborn. In the church record, Anthony is described as musical instrument maker. Although he was born in London, Anthony was originally called Antonio Bruno, as his ancestors were of Italian origin, but he anglicised his name to Anthony Brown. Pigot’s Directory of 1839 duly lists him at number 28. Tallis lists him at 28 High Holborn as violin, violincello and guitar maker, but he was not to stay at the address for very long.

In the 1841 census, Anthony can already be found at 40 Upper Rosoman Street, Clerkenwell, still listed as musical instrument maker. At the same address we find Alexander Cheffins, professor of music, whom we came across in the post on 4 Mortimer Street. Both gentlemen only made a brief appearance at the addresses that Tallis listed and if he had published his booklets a year later, he might have missed them altogether. Anthony Brown was to remain at Upper Rosoman Street for quite some years, although he seems to have emigrated to Australia later in life. At some point in time he worked with Joseph Panormo, the brother of Louis Panormo whom we have encountered in the post on 46 High Street, Bloomsbury. I suppose musical London was not that big a place and we should not really be surprised that Panormo, Cheffins, and Brown were in some way linked.

The next occupant of number 28 is Charles Laughton, a hosier, who was definitely there when the census of 1841 was taken, that is, on the night of 6/7 June. According to the Post Office Directory of 1848, he was still there, but, in the directory of 1851, he has made way for Henry Hart, clothier and outfitter. Around that time, Thomas Hosmer Shepherd, depicted the two small houses at 28 and 30 High Holborn.

T.H. Shepherd, 27-31 High Holborn (© Trustees of the British Museum)

Both Shepherd and the engraver for Walford’s Old and New London give the shop at number 28 the name “Aux Mille Couleur” and above the windows the words “cleaner, dyer, scourer”, so the shop was certainly no longer occupied by Hart, the outfitter. The alleyway between the two buildings, behind the man and the dog, leads to number 29, the Coach & Horses whose proprietor Pacy also took over number 30. The 1851 census (30 March) tells us that Henry Hart is still at number 28, so the Shepherd and Walford drawings must date from a later period. The British Museum dates the picture to c. 1850 and J.F.C. Phillips in his Shepherd’s London (1976) to c. 1852, which accords with the pencilled comment by J.G. Crace under the British Museum copy which says c. 1852 and that seems a more likely date than 1850 since Henry Hart is still at number 28 at the time of the census and is also listed in the 1851 Post Office Directory. The 1856 Post Office Directory gives ‘Boura Aimé, dyer & scourer’ which does corresponds to the lettering on the property in the two pictures. No comma between Boura and Aimé, so unclear whether Aimé is a first name.

E. Walford, Old and New London, vol. 4 – detail

But the listing in the 1856 directory does not solve everything. There were two gentlemen of that name in London who were both listed as scourers and dyers: Julien Aimé Boura and Louis Aimé Boura, no doubt with a close family relationship. In the 1851 and 1861 censuses, Julien is enumerated at 42 Edgware Road and Louis at 31 Rathbone Place, so neither was living at 28 High Holborn. The Finsbury electoral register for 1865 lists an Aimé Boura at 28 High Holborn, but does not give more information. The 1841 census, however, lists Louis as Aimé Boura at Rathbone Place and an Old Bailey case confirms that Louis and Aimé are one and the same person. Boura states that he is a dyer of Rathbone Place and that “I call myself both names when it is required, but generally I do not give any name but Aime” and when asked to confirm that he had two names, “I have never been used to write only Aime — it is the name I have always gone by — it is my Christian name”; in other words, he is called by his second name, but uses both first names in writing.(1) This explains why the census and electoral register just use ‘Aimé’ as that was probably his answer to their question ‘What is your name?’.

The 1861 census for 28 High Holborn shows a blank space behind number 28, so presumably nobody slept on the premises and the 1871 census even skips the number altogether. This would be the end of the story of 28 High Holborn, but for an invention by Louis Aimé Boura of Rathbone Place which was explained in The Patent Journal, and Inventors’ Magazine of 1848 and which I thought I’d share with you. The contraption was also shown in the 1851 Great Exhibition.

(1) Old Bailey Case t18420919-2638.


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