Street View: 61
Address: 110 Shoreditch High Street
As mentioned in the previous two posts, the Attenboroughs that had a pawnbroker’s or jeweller’s shop in London are manifold and cause many identification problems, especially the ones that are the subject of this post as they seem to be all over the place all at once, not to mention their predilection for the name Richard, but I will do my best to keep their story as simple as possible. Unfortunately, some family members will fall by the wayside, either because I cannot prove a relation between them, or including them would complicate matters unnecessarily. For a break-down of the Attenboroughs from Titchmarch, see the previous post and for the Attenboroughs from Blakesley, see here.
In this post I will attempt to sort out the ones from Titchmarsh that had their business at 110 Shoreditch, but to do so, we must first look at Robert Attenborough (1777-1809) who describes himself in his will as of Crown Street, Finsbury Square, pawnbroker. He mentions his brothers John and Richard who are to be the joint executors.(1) Not long after Robert’s demise, we find brother Richard (1780-1862) running the business in Crown Street. Robert’s sons are then still too young to be working, but in 1825, in an Old Bailey case, we learn that Richard (1809-1886), the son of the Robert who died in 1809 and the nephew of the Richard who took over the Crown Street pawnbroker’s, is working in his uncle’s shop.(2) Crown Street, by the way, is sometimes given its later name of Sun Street, but the same property is meant. From at least 1812, one Alexander Innes Burgess (sometimes called plain Alexander and sometimes Alexander James) is working at the pawnbroker’s and is later taken on as a partner. The partnership is dissolved in 1838 and Burgess goes his own way.(3) However, when the partnership is dissolved, the address of the business is given as 110 High Street, Shoreditch. When we look back through the Old Bailey cases, we find that at least from 1825 onwards, the 110 High Street shop is used by Richard alongside the Crown Street property. If the uncle and nephew had kept to these two addresses, there would not be a problem, but alas, their expansion drift knew no bounds.
The 1841 census finds nephew Richard with his wife Elizabeth (who is also his cousin), their children (Mary 8 years old, Elizabeth, aged 6 and Richard, aged 2) in Oxford Street. Also living there as apprentices are yet another Richard Attenborough and a James Attenborough (both 15 years old, although that is probably approximate). There is a James Attenborough, silversmith, to be found in Victoria Road in 1851 who was born in 1823 in Titchmarch, and most likely the son of John and Susannah, and therefore nephew Richard’s cousin. Whether the other apprentice, Richard, is also the son of John and Susannah or another relation (perhaps Richard, son of George of Blakesley?) is unclear. But keep an eye on little Richard, the two-year old son of nephew Richard, as he will figure again later on. The 1842 Robson’s London Directory tells us that nephew Richard had his shop at 68 Oxford Street which was empty at the time Tallis brought out his Street View. It is also very badly depicted in the booklet with a gaping hole on the ground floor, so it may have been in the proces of being rebuilt for Richard.
The 1848 Post Office Directory tells us that Richard senior (the uncle) is still working from 31 Crown Street, but also from 8 Bridge-house Place, Borough; the Shoreditch shop is not mentioned. The Bridge-house property must have been in his possession since at least 1835 as he takes out an insurance with the Sun Fire Office for the shop in that year. In 1848, nephew Richard is working from 68 Oxford Street and 1 Adam & Eve Court, but that latter address quickly disappears and is no longer listed for him in the 1851 Post Office Directory. The 110 Shoreditch address is back in the 1851 directory, but now belonging to George Attenborough (1815-1874) who also has shops at 31 Compton Street and 24 Kenton Street, Brunswick Square. He is the son of uncle Richard’s brother John. George is mentioned as working and living in Crown Street in various Old Bailey cases between 1833 and 1842. In 1850, he marries Harriet Elizabeth Leete, who, judging by her last name, was in some way related to George’s mother who was called Susanna Leete Coales, but I do not know how exactly. George died in 1874 and his probate entry describes him as of “11 Paragon, New-Kent-road and of 93 and 95 Old-Kent-road”.(4) No more mention is made of the 110 High Street, Shoreditch shop.
In 1851, uncle and nephew Richard are living in the same house again, this time in Green Street House, East Ham. In 1861, Richard junior, the son of nephew Richard, can be found at 68 Oxford Street with his sister Mary. Unfortunately, young Richard dies just two years later.(5) The business at 68 Oxford Street remains in the family as in 1871, we find nephew Richard living in Acton with the job description “pawnbroker 68 Oxford Street”. Ten years later, we find him at 52 Holland Park, but he is not happy and on 6 December 1886 he commits suicide.
“Dr Diplock held an inquest yesterday at no. 52, Holland-park, concerning the death of Mr Richard Attenborough, who shot himself with a revolver on Monday. –Miss Elizabeth Attenborough, daughter of the deceased, said her father was a pawnbroker, and was 77 years of age. Ever since Mrs Attenborough’s death [in 1884] deceased had been depressed and suffered from sleeplessness, and said he was worn out. On Monday witness heard a report as of firearms, and deceased was afterwards found, with a revolver near him, in a closet. –The Coroner asked if it was true that deceased had had to pay a large sum of money into the High Court of Justice. –Witness replied that she did not know; he had not mentioned any thing of the kind to her. –Dr R.A.Jackson, Ladbroke-grove, Notting-hill, said the bullet had entered the right ear and come out at the left temple. The wound must have been self-inflicted. –A verdict of suicide whilst of unsound mind was returned.”(6)
Richard was buried at Brompton cemetery on the 10th. Probate was granted to his daughters Elizabeth and Annie, spinsters.(7) Uncle Richard could be found living at the 8 Bridge-house Place, Newington Causeway, property in 1861. He died in 1862 and although his probate entry only mentions Bridge-house Place, a notice about his death in The Observer also mentions Crown Street, so he must have retained that shop till the end of his life.(8) An 1864 notice in Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper mentions a John Attenborough at 8 Bridge-house Place, but I do not know how he was related to uncle Richard, or to the nephews Richard and George.
Despite the use of the word jeweller, most of the pawnbroking business of 110 Shoreditch concerned everyday objects and pieces of clothing, rather than rings and watches. The Old Bailey cases where the Shoreditch or the Crown Street shops are mentioned, relate to items such as a looking glass, shawls, shirts, sheets, handkerchiefs, stockings and bits of carpet. For instance, in October 1831, Henry Horn, shopman to Attenborough’s at Shoreditch gave evidence in a case of a purloined shawl which the accused had pawned for 2s at the shop.(0) And in another case, nephew Richard produces the sheet, valued at 3s, the accused had stolen from a farrier.(10) Being accused of dealing in stolen items must have been a constant worry for pawnbrokers — it probably still is — and the Attenboroughs seemed to be in court quite often to give evidence on stolen property. In 1872, the Pawnbroker’s Act regulated the trade, making sure that pawnbrokers were of good character before they obtained their licence which could be revoked if the pawnbroker knowingly received stolen goods (see here). In 1907, Charles Leete Attenborough wrote The Law of Pawnbroking. With the Pawnbrokers’ Act, 1872, and the Factors’ Act, 1889, and Notes Thereon. Charles Leete was the son of George of 11 Paragon, New-Kent Road.
Pawnbroking and the jeweller’s trade seems to have run in the blood of any number of Attenboroughs and even today, Attenboroughs can still be found in London plying the same trade. There is a branch in Bethnal Green Road and their website states that they have been in business since 1892, but how they are related to the Attenboroughs that have been discussed in the last three posts is unclear.
(1) The National Archives; Kew, England; Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers; Class: PROB 11; Piece: 1491, 7 January 1809.
(2) Old Bailey, t18250113-59.
(3) First mention in 1812 (Old Bailey, t18120219-37); partnership dissolved (London Gazette, 30 January 1838); In 1848 he can be found as a pawnbroker at Clarence Place, Camberwell (Old Bailey, t18480918-2213).
(4) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1874. Probate was granted to Gill and Layman, pawnbrokers and his son John of St. Paul’s Churchyard, a solicitor. The estate was valued at £16,000.
(5) The Observer, 12 June 1864. Richard had died on the 4th of June and was buried at Brompton cemetery on the 10th.
(6) The Standard, 9 December 1886. Thanks go to Nicholas Thompson for sending me his information on the Attenboroughs and for alerting me to the tragic end of nephew Richard’s life.
(7) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1886. The estate was valued at just over £35,000.
(9) The Observer, 26 May 1862; England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1862. Probate was granted to nephews Richard and John (a farmer at Brigstock, Northants). The estate was valued at £120,000. Uncle Richard was also buried at Brompton cemetery.
(9) Old Bailey, t18311020-107.
(10) Old Bailey, t18251027-81.