Street View: 86
Address: 72 Cornhill
The 1794 Directory for London, Westminster & the Borough of Southwark lists Thomas Milroy, patent saddler, at 12 Tottenham Court Road, which was an address that lay outside the City of London, so he need not have taken up the freedom of the City, but in 1795 he decided to do so anyway via the Company of Saddlers “by redemption”, paying 46s and 6d for the privilege. The – slightly mangled – document in the archives has a note in the margin telling us that Thomas was the son of William Milroy of Whithorn, Galloway. The membership of one of the Worshipful Companies allowed Milroy to trade within the City and we find that he had a good motive for joining as the 1796 tax records for Langbourn find him in George Yard, Lombard Street, that is, within the City. He was to remain there till 1827.
Thomas had married Sarah Fry on 16 August 1788 at St. Mary’s, Marylebone Road. The marriage allegation gives him as 26 years old and of St. Giles in the Fields and Sarah as 21 years old and of St. Marylebone. They had at least three sons who went into the same business as their father: John (freedom of the City in 1812), Andrew Haigh (freedom 1816), and William Fry (freedom 1825). Another son, Alexander (freedom 1820), became an insurance broker, and later a (wine) merchant. When Thomas moved from George Yard to Cornhill in 1827, his new business premises were, according to the Land Tax records, a lot more expensive in rentals. As you can see from the elevation above this post, the Milroys occupied a very substantial building, which, in fact, consisted of numbers 71 and 72 together, and, as Horwood’s map shows, it ran a long way back, all the way to Merchant Taylors’ Hall. The rentals for the premises in George Yard had been 100, while the Cornhill premises were 191 of which 30 was to be paid by the Merchant Taylors, as they apparently still occupied part of number 72.
Thomas never saw Tallis come round to elicit information on the shop for his Street View as he died in January 1837, 79 years old according to the burial record, although that does not exactly corresponds with the age he gave at his marriage. Either he was not 26 years old in 1788, but only 22, or he was not yet 79 when he died, but 75 or thereabouts. Whatever his true age, he was buried in the old vault at St. Michael, Cornhill.
The 1835 Electoral Register lists the Milroys: Thomas was by then living at 4 Finsbury Square; John is given the address of 72 Cornhill; and Andrew Haigh, Alexander and William are all listed at Cornhill, without a house number. John died in September 1838 and was also buried in the old vault at St. Michael’s. The 1841 census shows William as the occupant of number 72, but the 1841 electoral register listed him at 7 Finsbury Square, where Alexander also lived. Andrew Haigh was listed at Highgate. The three men had a share in a copyhold house at Muswell Hill, most likely the house where Thomas lived the last couple of years of his life.
The Rolt saddle in the advertisement above was invented by John Rolt, who described it as “a saddle, so constructed, as for the pommel to receive the handle of an umbrella, through which means an umbrella may be carried on horseback, without any fatigue to the rider”. Most convenient against the rain, but, according to Rolt, even better in hot climates as protection against the sun. The saddles were “for the present only to had only of Messrs. Milroy, saddlers, 72 Cornhill”. (1) And one Charles Barter wrote in his 1852 book, The Dorp and the Veld, or Six Months in Natal, that saddles sent out from England were often “trash” and “the ruin of many a fine animal”, but that his was made by the Milroys “and was one of the best in the colony”.
The Milroys all seem to have lived at 72 Cornhill for some time during their adult life, as Alexander’s burial record – he died in June 1846 – gives that address for him, although he described himself in his will, dated 6 May 1846, as a merchant of 45 King William Street. He left all his possessions to his sister Mary Penelope.(2) By then, the next generation of saddlers had joined the firm. In July 1847, Andrew Row McTaggart Milroy, the son of Andrew Haigh, was admitted into the Saddlers’ Company by patrimony. His address is then given as 22 Poultry and Kings Arms Yard, but in the 1851 census he is living with his uncle William in 4 Sun Court, Cornhill, which was just a few houses down from number 72. The 1855 electoral register still saw the saddlers at Sun Court and Andrew Haigh at Holly Terrace, Highgate.
William died in June 1856 and Andrew Haigh in June 1877. By then he had already dissolved the partnership he had with his son Andrew Row (in 1874), but his probate record still mentions 4 Sun Court and 1 Holly Terrace, although the notice in The London Gazette about the end of the partnership just mentions business premises at 132 Leadenhall Street.(3) The trade magazine Saddlery and Harness of 1899 tells us that the Dublin firm of “Messrs. Box & Co. have purchased the business of Messrs. T. Milroy & Son, carried on for such a long period in Sun Court, Cornhill, and more recently in Leadenhall Street, and have removed the same to Pall Mall”. This takeover had probably all to do with the death of Andrew Row who died 1 August of that year.(4) In other words, the Milroy saddle business had lasted for more than a hundred years.
(1) Rolt on moral command, 3rd ed., 1842.
(2) PROB 11/2037/342.
(3) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1877. The estate was valued at under £600.
(4) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1899. The estate was valued at just over £2360. Probate was granted to widow Eleanor Rainey Milroy.
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