I’ll drink to that!

Emma Susannah Blyth, born eight years into the new queen’s reign – Victoria, that is – was a pupil at the School between 1853 and 1860. This was because her father, James Blyth, died in 1852 at the age of 48. He had been a greengrocer and cheesemonger and in 1851, the last census in which he appears, his residence was Nutford Place, Marylebone. Although this street still exists, it has all been redeveloped and none of the mid-nineteenth century housing stock is evident. Born in Norfolk, James married Caroline Gilbey in 1839 and they took up residence in Chelmsford where Emma was baptised in what was then St Mary the Virgin and is now (from 1914) Chelmsford Cathedral.

https://www.chelmsfordcathedral.org.uk/

Take note of the mother’s maiden name as that is going to become important.

At some point between 1847 (when the youngest child was born) and 1851, the Blyth family moved from Essex to Marylebone and for the next half century or so Emma Blyth claimed the capital as her home. Although Nutford Place was their residence in 1851, by 1853 James’ widow was given as residing at 27 Upper Southwick St, Hyde Park as a lodging housekeeper. Now there are lodging houses and there are lodging houses. This one was the superior kind inhabited by well-to-do gentlemen with society connections, as witness this record from the National Archives at Kew:

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D44882

However, when Emma left school on 22nd March 1860, she was returned to her mother who was then at 36 Norfolk St, Strand so there appears to be a little instability in the Blyth residences during this period. Norfolk St was in an area once in the possession of the Howard family, the Dukes of Norfolk, and the streets were laid out after Arundel House was demolished in 1678. The image shows the junction between Howard St and Norfolk St so the family might be moving quite frequently but the houses were very grand.

https://www.revolvy.com/page/Norfolk-Street,-Strand

Less than a year later, in the 1861 census, Caroline and her children are found in Great Titchfield Street. The return places them in ‘House in Yard’ but remember the Gilbey name? Caroline Blyth nee Gilbey’s brothers founded the company W & A Gilbey which created Gilbey’s Gin.

https://www.thewhiskyexchange.com/p/12251/gilbeys-gin-70cl

 

‘On the east side of the street, running back alongside All Saints’ Church, wine stores were erected in 1860–1 for the wine importers and distillers W. & A. Gilbey, whose business was expanding … Described as ‘cellars above ground’, these consisted of at least two floors of vaults for barrels, connected by a ramp, taking up three sides of a glass-roofed courtyard …’ https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/architecture/sites/bartlett/files/chapter23_great_titchfield_street.pdf

So the ‘house in the yard’ was a part of the Gilbey premises. ‘Relations were drawn in to run the new branches, so that it expanded as an interlinked family business from the start’ http://www.locallocalhistory.co.uk/industrial-history/drinks-trade/page1.htm

Emma’s brother James Blyth joined the firm. ‘James Blyth and Alfred Gilbey toured French and other Continental vineyards, buying and shipping direct to England for bottling at the Pantheon… ‘ (ibid)

http://www.locallocalhistory.co.uk/industrial-history/drinks-trade/page1.htm

James was ‘a recognised authority on wine culture and wine commerce’ and was created a Baronet of Chelmsford in 1895. In 1907, he was raised to the peerage as Baron Blyth of Blythwood and of Stanstead Mountfichet in the County of Essex.

https://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/person/mp84117/james-blyth-1st-baron-blyth

Given the success of W & A Gilbey and the interconnection of the Blyth and Gilbey families, it hardly comes as a surprise to find that Emma never had any occupation recorded for her but she is found in various census returns at posh houses: 1871 and 1891, she was residing in Great Marlborough St, Westminster and in 1881 at Elsenham Hall in Essex. This was the home of Uncle Walter Gilbey (the W of W & A Gilbey)

Image from http://www.elsenham-history.co.uk/misc/miscdocs/Sir%20Walter%20Gilbey.%20Bart.%20.pdf and map from https://www.recordinguttlesfordhistory.org.uk/elsenham/elsenhamhistory.html

‘While Walter Gilbey lived at the hall, the Prince of Wales was a frequent visitor and on December 11th 1889, he also brought with him Sir Randolph Churchill and several other dignitaries.’ https://www.recordinguttlesfordhistory.org.uk/elsenham/elsenhamhistory.html

So no doubt during the time that Emma was there, she too moved in exalted circles. Elsenham Hall is now divided into flats but the exterior still looks much as it did.

https://www.recordinguttlesfordhistory.org.uk/elsenham/elsenhamimages.html

Where Emma was in 1901 is a mystery as she is not found in any of the census returns. Clearly she was somewhere as she reappears in 1911 at Dormston, 41 The Avenue, Beckenham. This is given as a ten roomed property which Emma occupied with two servants, a cook and a housemaid. Also there at the time the census was taken were her nephew, Oscar Blyth Taylor, a decorative artist, and a visitor Claude Gothard, a stockbroker. The Avenue today is what an avenue was originally – a roadway with trees on either side. The houses are mostly large modern-built properties. There does not appear to be anything from early C20th so possibly the land was acquired, original properties demolished and newer houses built but all of a substantial size.

Emma died on 27 Oct 1927, her estate being valued at £3.5k [equivalent of £11,500 today) – not bad for someone who never apparently earned a living! Given that, on her father’s death, the family met the criterion of indigence, if Emma’s estate derives from family, it post-dates 1853. As the Gilbeys were clearly family-oriented, it seems not unreasonable to suppose that Emma’s income stemmed from them or their property. Like many other members of her family, Emma is buried in Bishops Stortford Old Cemetery, recorded on the headstone for her brother James.

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/35717685/james-blyth#view-photo=16771703

The little girl born on 24 February 1845 who lost her father when she was seven years old – as did so many of the pupils – ended her days living in comfort and all because her uncles, at a loose end after returning from the Crimean war in 1856, started a wine merchant’s business which branched out.

 

 

 

1971 advertisement https://www.thedrinksbusiness.com

Gin and tonic?

Don’t mind if I do!

Down Under Up Top

A goodly number of our former pupils have wended their way to the Antipodes for new lives. Going from the UK to Australia or New Zealand is a well-established global passage. Indeed, the vast majority of websites concentrate on the emigration routes from UK. But this post is actually looking at the reverse trend, so to speak. At least eight of our former pupils between 1857 and 1905 were born in Australia and made their way to UK as very young children.

Today’s transoceanic travel is comparatively a piece of cake. Nineteenth century sailing to and from Australia was gambling with one’s life a lot of the time. To those of us used to rolling up at an airport and boarding a flight; sitting back and relaxing, even if for a goodly time, being fed regularly, using on board conveniences; then landing, through customs and out to perhaps a holiday or a new life, or to visit relatives not seen for a few years, it is quite eye-popping discovering what travel was like for some of our earlier pupils.

For a start off, “In calm weather a sailing ship might take as long as four months, while a well-run clipper ship with favourable winds could make the journey in a little over half this time.” https://museumsvictoria.com.au/longform/journeys-to-australia/ Compared with that, almost 24 hours cooped up in cattle-class is a doddle! The sailing equivalent of cattle-class – steerage – was below the water line but the Southern ocean storms they might encounter were not their only problems. “Hygiene was poor at the best of times and worse in bad weather” (ibid) so in stormy weather, the order ‘batten down the hatches’ went out. And this meant that the steerage passengers were locked in without ventilation or light for the duration of the storm. Candles or oil lanterns were forbidden because of the danger of fire:

“… cramped conditions with timber, straw mattresses, hemp (rope) and tar caulking, meant a fire could spread with terrifying speed” (ibid)

Fire at sea is the mariner’s worst nightmare and, as few could swim and there were nowhere near enough lifeboats, a shipwreck left little chance of rescue. The conditions in steerage during a storm, with many people crammed together, no toilet facilities and the inevitable seasickness, must have been horrifying and doesn’t bear thinking about it. So perhaps we won’t. Think about it, I mean. Oh no – too late, the image is there …

Vinegar and chloride of lime were used to wash the decks of the ships, as fresh water was reserved for drinking and cooking. The vinegar helped prevent the spread of disease, although the understanding of why was not yet there, and, if nothing else, it made the ship smell better. Relatively.

On better managed ships, the areas below deck were thoroughly cleaned every few days by sailors and the women in steerage. Most ships provided only basic toilet and bathing facilities.

‘Sea bathing in the Tropics’, sketch from Edward Snell’s diary on the Bolton, London to Melbourne, 1849 (ibid)

The illustration indicates all too clearly the lack of privacy and may not have been available to ladies at all! Bathing was not normally a regular occurrence as the connection between personal hygiene and disease was little understood at the time. Most made do with a clean-up with a damp cloth under a blanket.

Straw bedding attracted fleas and cockroaches so people laid out their bedding in fine weather to air it. During storms, though, the bedding could get – and stay – soaking wet and this added to the problems with outbreaks of influenza and pneumonia.

Facilities for washing clothes were very restricted so many passengers wore the same clothes throughout the voyage. This, added to the stink emanating from the bilges below steerage, and given the increase in heat in the tropics, probably meant that the ship’s imminent arrival in port was announced by the wind rather than by any sightings from land!

The first steam ships made the journey to Australia in 1852 but these early steamers also had sails as their engines were inefficient and there were no coal depots mid-ocean for re-fuelling and actually few coaling ports en route.

The introduction of more efficient compound steam engines and iron, rather than wooden, hulls, enabled a voyage to be completed entirely under steam power. This was from the 1860s onwards but it was not until the 1880s that they became the transport of choice for emigrants. Because these ships did not have to rely on wind power and could travel at a constant speed, and the motive power could also provide electric lighting, refrigeration and ventilation, they could provide more comfort for passengers.

Grand saloons were able to be provided for first class passengers, and small cabins instead of sleeping berths were provided in steerage class.’ (ibid)

 

Married couples’ accommodation in steerage, by unknown artist, taken from the Illustrated London News, 13 April 1844

So accommodation such as above began to give way to smaller cabins for significantly fewer people! A diary of a journey made in 1874, read across the grain, shows how accommodation had improved.

the hatching had broken open in the second class cabin and they … all had to get to work baling … water out of the saloon (Diary of Ally Heathcote, England to Melbourne, Victoria, Onboard ‘SS Northumberland’, 1874) https://museumsvictoria.com.au/longform/journeys-to-australia/ [my emphasis]

The routes between Australia and London (with the Suez Canal option only available after 1869)

London to Perth is just a smidgen over 9000 miles with Sydney another 1500 miles further on. So that’s 10.5 thousand miles for things to go wrong. Great storms, gigantic icebergs, danger of shipwreck were some external factors but death from dysentery or typhus from the insanitary conditions and mediocre medical treatment at best added to the dangers.

“Deaths at sea were tragically common. As many as one in five children, and one in 60 adults died on the voyage to Australia” (ibid)

Conditions improved as the ships got larger. The Orient, launched in 1879, was the largest steamship built for the Australia route. It offered comforts unheard of for the period, including a promenade deck, refrigeration, and later, electric lighting.

Painting by Charles Dickinson Gregory of the sailing ship Orient on the sea, (1927)

Amongst other things was an ice-making plant. Horses were stabled on the rear deck and pigs, sheep and cows were in cages. These were not intended for a new life in another country because they were converted into pork, lamb and beef for diners in first-class!

‘The first-class saloon was fitted out with ornate brass furniture and elaborate wooden carvings, whilst the music saloon boasted a grand piano and an organ amidst profusely growing ferns and dracaenas.’ (ibid)

The SS Great Britain, Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s ship, carried thousands on the Australia-London route from 1852, being converted to sail in 1881.

In 1884, she was retired to the Falkland Islands and used as a warehouse and coal hulk before being scuttled in 1937. But as those who have visited Bristol will know, this was not her end. In 1970, Sir Jack Arnold Hayward, OBE paid for the vessel to be raised, towed back to the United Kingdom, and returned to the Bristol dry dock where she had been built. And where she can be visited to gain an idea of what life on board might have been.

 

Sir Jack Hayward from his obituary, Daily Telegraph 13 Jan 2015

 

Image from a cabin in SS Great Britain from https://teatimeinwonderland.co.uk/2016/11/09/bristol-brunels-ss-great-britain/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And none of this takes into account something that hasn’t changed – even today. The decision to leave one country for a new life far away brings the emotional issue of having to say goodbye to home and loved ones.

‘… people were very conscious of the fact that they would probably never see their friends and relatives again.’ (https://museumsvictoria.com.au/longform/journeys-to-australia/)

All in all, it was not a voyage undertaken lightly. Nonetheless, eight of our pupils did undertake it, some more than once.

Elizabeth Minnie Lumley b 1857; Florence Hopkins, 1868; May Vockins 1884; Florence Webb 1886; Amy Margaret d’Arcy Sugden, 1894; Marjorie Gimblette, 1899 and Annie & Ethel Hewer in 1903 & 1905 respectively were all born in Australia and became pupils in London.

Just to offer some balance, Emma Amelia Humphreys (1829) and Margaret Humphries (1836), both former pupils, went to Australia before any of the above were born. Emma and Margaret, despite the different spellings, do appear to be sisters! They would definitely have travelled by sailing ship because their emigration occurred before steam ships were in use. The individual stories of these travellers must await another day.

All aboard who’s going aboard, please!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

South of the river

The final two of the first pupils had the furthest to travel when they left home for Somers Town (via Pall Mall where they were foregathering). Mary Ann Woolveridge and Ann Kane both came from south of the Thames. And this at a time when bridges were few and far between.

Mary Ann’s home was given in the Morning Post as Melliore Street, Maize – a somewhat less accurate rendition of Melior St, Maze but, either way, in Southwark.

https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side-by-side/#zoom=18&lat=51.5027&lon=-0.0845&layers=163&right=BingHyb

Daughter of William and Mary Woolveridge, Mary Ann was baptised in 1787, not in Southwark at all, but in Bethnal Green, which record confirms her birthdate.

London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Reference Number: P72/MTW/009

Quite why she was baptised considerably after her birthdate and in a place some distance away from her home address is a mystery we may never solve. Of interest is that single word ‘Pauper’, which tells its own story.

There were nine children born to her parents of whom five were born and had died before Mary Ann put in an appearance. Mary’s parents were unfortunate to lose so many children and of the remaining four, two others did not make it to the nineteenth century which was, metaphorically speaking, only just around the corner when they arrived in the world. Mrs Woolveridge’s father had the interesting forename Reason which may hint at a non-conformist background and two of Mary Ann’s brothers also carried the name but neither for any great length of time.

William, a carpenter, died in 1797 and was buried in St Matthew, Bethnal Green. Clearly this church featured heavily in the lives of the Woolveridges but Mary Woolveridge nee Palmer was born in Southwark so perhaps, somehow, they managed to keep ties with both areas. Whatever the truth, Mary Ann was clearly living in Melior St in 1789.

After Mary Ann joined the School, we hear nothing further until April 1794 when the Committee received a letter from Mrs Woolveridge requesting that her daughter be allowed to leave school six months earlier than expected. This was to assist her mother in running a school. The Committee’s response was starchy:

…no child should be permitted to be taken out of the school by her parents until the expiration of her time … unless such Parent shall pay for her Board, Cloathing &c from the time of her being admitted until the time of her being taken out.

Girls were there for the full whack or not at all. Whilst this might seem a little harsh for modern taste, it should be remembered that the board, clothing and education were provided at absolutely no cost to the family and the Committee was anxious not to be taken advantage of. We must assume that Mary Ann stayed for the remaining time and then went home. The Book of Governors in 1818 simply states that she was returned to her parents without specifying whether that was in April or October 1794. Sadly, that is the last we hear of Mary Ann as no further trace of her has yet been found. There is a possible marriage in 1823 but she would have been 44 years old so that may be straw-clutching time.

We can find far more about Melior St itself than we can about one of its inhabitants. It was named for Melior May Weston, a local 18th century property owner, who died in 1782.

https://www.mutualart.com/Artwork/PORTRAIT-OF-MELIOR-MARY-WESTON/95C393425D0D72B9

Rocque’s map of 1746 shows the beginning of development in the area and, interestingly given Mary Ann’s grandfather’s forename (Reason), has a building labelled Meeting House (although there are no other documents relating to it)  which ‘suggests that there was a Quaker Meeting House in the site at this time’ (planbuild.southwark.gov.uk/documents/ 4 Sep 2013) .

Maze Manor, after which the area took its name, had been in the Weston family since about 1623.

‘The site of the manor is marked by Weston Street, Weston Place, Melior Street, Great Maze Pond and Maze Pond (VCH Surrey iv, p 141–151). The manor … was inherited by John Webbe, a distant relative, who took on the Weston name (www.jwhistory.org.uk/sutton.html). Melior Street, John Street, and Webb Street (now under the railway) all date to this period.’ Ibid.

At the time that Mary Ann was in residence, there were some houses there ‘small terraced houses, without individual gardens … The remainder of the site is open ground at this time, probably in use as a communal garden or yard, possibly with small-scale industrial activities taking place.’ Ibid

Horwood 1792-9

A hundred years later, and well beyond the remit of this article, the area is much developed and what was open land has been built on and garden walls put up.

1894 map

Even further beyond remit, there was war damage inflicted on Melior St: ‘five of the 18th century buildings facing onto Melior Street suffered serious damage’

John Webbe-Weston, who inherited the land from Melior Weston, erected a marble tablet to her memory in Holy Trinity Church, Guildford where she is buried. Mary Ann Woolveridge has no memorial tablet that we know of so this post, and some history of Melior St in Southwark, must suffice instead.

Ann Kane, the other Southwark girl, was also baptised significantly later than her birth. She was baptised in St Giles in the Fields in October 1788 (possibly in preparation for her admission as a candidate) but was born in November 1780.

London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Reference Number: P82/GIS/A/02

The Morning Post gives her address as No 2 Lant St, Borough whilst the Rough Minute Book tells us that her application for a place was supported by Mr Peter Reilly. Her time at the school was uneventful but there seems to have been some difficulty in finding her a position as she approached the end of her time at school. Despite her mother, Susannah, declaring that she was not in a positon to take her daughter back, she was nevertheless instructed to come and take her away. The fact that it was her mother the Committee were dealing with implies that the father (Thomas) had since died although, like his daughter, there are scant records to be found. Even his lodge record (Fortitude) gives only his name and no occupation or address as with other lodge members. Did somebody mention conspiracy? At the last moment a position for Ann was found and in January 1796 she was apprenticed to Samuel Higgins of Red Lyon St, Clerkenwell, a pocket book maker. This was probably what today we call wallets. It is likely that Ann would have been employed in a domestic capacity. It wasn’t all plain sailing however as, in June 1797, Mrs Higgins appeared before the Committee complaining that Ann had absconded four times. After closer questioning, it was revealed that each of these followed a few days after a visit from her mother who, it was felt, was giving her daughter ‘imprudent advice’ – what a wealth of possibilities that phrase brings! The Committee took it upon themselves to tell Mrs Kane that her behaviour was not in the best interest of her daughter who, they pointed out, was well-placed in this situation ‘much better than might be expected from one of her Child’s weak intellects’.

What happened next is a cliffhanger with no following chapter because there is no further information of any kind. Let us hope that the Ann Kane found in the Australia Convict Ship Muster Rolls 1790-1849 as arriving there in 1806 on the Tellicherry, convicted as a vagrant and transported for 7 years, is not our [wo]man. Rather, instead, that the Ann Kane who married in 1811 in St Marylebone (she would have been 31 years old) might be her. Mind you, she married a Mr Smith so if she was hard to find before, she is impossible afterwards!

This is not the Tellicherry but her sister ship William Pitt which arrived the same year.

https://www.jenwilletts.com/convict_ship_william_pitt_1806.htm

Lant St, on the other hand, is much easier to research and brings the ghost of Charles Dickens back to the School’s history. (It is remarkable how often he features in the school’s history!)

Not far from Lant St is St George the Martyr church which was used by the School during its residence in Southwark. This is the church at which Dickens has Little Dorrit marry. The Marshalsea debtors’ prison, which also features in Little Dorrit, was located to the north of one end of Lant Street. This was also a spectre in Dickens’ own life as his father was incarcerated there, during which time Dickens lodged in Lant St and worked at the blacking factory.

https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/drawing-of-lant-street-borough

The image above is a somewhat romanticised one suggesting pretty little cottages. In fact Lant St was part of one of London’s many notorious slum areas. ‘It is located in the area known as ‘the Mint’, which in the nineteenth century was notorious for its poor, overcrowded and insanitary conditions, as well as for crime and disorder.‘ http://www.history-pieces.co.uk/Docs/Lant_Street_1851.pdf

A modern novelist describing Lant St had this to say:

“We were all more or less thieves, at Lant Street. But we were that kind of thief that rather eased the dodgy deed along, than did it…it was a very dull day with us, when no-one came to Mr Ibbs’s shop with a bag or a packet in the lining of his coat, in his hat, in his sleeve or stocking.” Fingersmith by Sarah Waters.

Whilst this is fiction, it is intended as a realistic portrayal of the street in the C19th.

The skeleton of another Lant St girl from even further back in time (fourth century) was one of four skeletons sent to McMasters University in Canada for an in-depth study of DNA. Nicknamed the Lant St teenager, this study enabled the researchers to discover that she had blue eyes and blonde hair; that her heritage (through her mother) was from the eastern parts of the Roman Empire; that she spent the first ten years of her life in Africa and then arrived in what was then Londinium; she had a diet of fish, grain and vegetables and that she died aged 14.

In fact, more is known about her than we know about Ann Kane. Perhaps we only need to wait another seventeen centuries to find out!

Four streets – or maybe three

Morning Post 1789

Four addresses, all given as Soho, feature above: Brewer St, Berwick St, Moor St and Tower St. Now this last is a conundrum as there is no Tower St in Soho. There is, however, a Tower St in present day Covent Garden which is next door, as it were. It is unclear whether Tower St was once regarded as being in Soho (no historical references to support that) or if whoever recorded the information, or the clerk who copied the same for the newspaper insertion, or the typesetter of the newspaper, or whoever simply made a mistake. It is not the only possible mistake attached to these four girls as Catherine Charlotte, given the surname Baes in School records, has on her baptismal record records the name Bayce or possibly Boyce. So who made the mistake and when?

Baptismal record for Catherine Charlotte

Catherine Charlotte, daughter of Francis and Catherine, was born on 12th July 1783 and, at the time of her admission to the School, lived at 23 Tower St. The application for her place was supported by ‘Mr Ruspini jnr’, son of the Chevalier. Clearly, Francis was a Freemason but the only reference in lodge records is M F Baes, listed as a Maj of languages (whatever that means) but with an address in Castle St, Leicester Square. This is not very far from Tower St but that may not be helpful in pinning down whether this is the right person or not.

Tower St today is a highly sought after address, at least according to the estate agents. (Now there’s a surprise!) Described as ‘In the heart of central London’s uber cultural Covent Garden’, 22 Tower St is a listed building now been converted to luxury apartments.

By Philafrenzy – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50413744

 

 

 

London’s house-numbering system appears to change from street to street so whether 23 Tower St is adjacent to 22 or opposite is unknown.

When Catherine left the School, she was apprenticed to James Duff esq. of Finsbury Square although the School records do not indicate in what capacity. There is a complete absence of any further records save a possible burial record in 1847 as Catherine Bays.

 

 

Sophia Riches, daughter of Henry and Mary, was the oldest of the first pupils having been born in 1780. Her address in 1789 was given as 43 Brewer St, Golden Square.

 

Map showing close proximity of these streets

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https://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vols31-2/pt2/pp138-145#highlight-first

The layout of Golden Square (above right) in 1675 is a clear indication of the peculiarity of street numbering as it shows the back of 19 being adjacent to No. 82 and 62 adjacent to 13! Presumably those facing into Golden Square were built first, the rest being added into spaces left over. Brewer St, on the southern flank, was developed by Sir William Pulteney and was probably named for the breweries in the area. None of these houses survive today.

https://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vols31-2/pt2/pp116-137

This outline is even worse for numbering, showing No 1 next to No 44! The above website indicates Nos. 40 and 42 Brewer St were paired houses ‘with plain brick fronts of early nineteenth-century character’. It describes the interior styling in some detail and then states that No. 44 is a four-storeyed house of a slightly earlier date, constructed in yellow London brick with a shopfront and accommodation above. Sadly, No 43 is not mentioned specifically. We might extrapolate a similarity but there seems to be such inconsistency that it is impossible to be sure. Lodge records for Henry Riches suggest that he may have been a coal dealer although neither lodge places him directly in Brewer St.

‘Brewer Street and its immediate vicinity was evidently a centre for noxious trades’ (ibid)

The western end of it was known as Gunpowder St as there was a saltpetre house there and the nearby Glasshouse St probably relates to a glass manufactory. You only needed a tanner’s yard and you’ve got a full house for stinks! The eastern end was originally called Knaves’ Acre and then Little Pulteney Street until 1937, when it was absorbed into Brewer Street. Whilst the word ‘knave’ today has connotations of roguish behaviour, in origin it simply meant boy or male servant and was a neutral term which ‘gradually underwent a process of “pejoration” and took on its modern meaning’ http://www.word-detective.com/2012/08/knaves-jacks. It is also used in cards and Dickens uses the term to demean Pip in Estella’s eyes in Great Expectations:

“He calls the knaves, Jacks, this boy!” said Estella with disdain, before our first game was out. “And what coarse hands he has! And what thick boots!”

Sophia does not appear to have returned to Brewer St after her time at school because she was apprenticed to Mr Whitehouse of Brownlow St although, as this was Covent Garden, she may not have been far from home.

Berwick St, our next port of call, was described in 1720 as ‘a pretty handsome strait Street, with new well built Houses, much inhabited by the French, where they have a Church’. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vols31-2/pt2/pp219-229#h3-0007

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=571451

Berwick St is pictured on the Oasis album cover (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? It is famous for its market, the earliest reference being 1778 where the vestry committee minutes note that:

‘Ten brokers living in Berwick Street … were then summoned ‘for setting out goods in the Street‘ Whereupon the Committee … advised them to be careful not to offend in future.’ https://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vols31-2/pt2/pp219-229#h3-0007

Clearly this mildest of rebukes did not prevent the trading which continues to the present day. We’ve already had Dickens, so now let’s have Virginia Woolf, who “regularly frequented Berwick Street Market to buy ‘silk stockings (flawed slightly)’. Berwick Street featured in her writing and she described Soho as a space ‘filled with fierce light’ and ‘raw’ voices.” https://www.thisissoho.co.uk/history/

Berwick market was the place to shop for ‘exotic’ ingredients. In 1880 tomatoes first appeared in there and the first grapefruit in 1890. In the 1950s, Elizabeth David’s book introduced a post-war, monochrome Britain to Mediterranean food although actually buying the ingredients was a problem. Olive oil then was only used medicinally but Berwick market stepped up to the plate and became the place to buy all the unusual ingredients we can now find on the shelves of even relatively small supermarkets.

Margaret Burgess, who lived in Berwick St in 1789, may well have visited the market herself. Her home was given as ‘Turner, No 29 Berwick St’ so we have to assume that the family rented part of a house, from Mr Turner. Wakefield’s Merchant and Tradesman’s General Directory for London … 1794 lists a ‘John Turner, Upholder and Auctioneer’, albeit at No 12 rather than 29. There is no other Turner listed for Berwick St so one may make the assumption that this could be the same business. In Berwick St was ‘Le Quarré de Sohoe’ French Church (since demolished) in use since 1694. By 1770, this had become an auction room. Could this be the place of business of John Turner? By 1818, it was the ‘Berwick Street Theatre’, owned by Mr Daley, an auctioneer and copperplate-engraver. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vols31-2/pt2/pp219-229#h3-0007

Another building that Margaret would have seen – well the outside of it anyway! – is the Blue Posts Public House, at the corner of Broadwick and Berwick streets since at least 1739.

https://pubshistory.com/LondonPubs/Westminster/BluePostsBerwick.shtml

After her time at school, Margaret was apprenticed to Mr Dodd of Lime St, a packer in the East India Company so did not return to Berwick St.

If the other three addresses suggested previously gentrified areas gradually sliding downhill, Moor St could well be described as already at the lower end!

‘One area where the dodgy Soho clung on was the bit known to the police as the Moor Street Triangle, bounded by Old Compton Street, Charing Cross Road, and Moor Street itself’ http://englishbuildings.blogspot.com/2008/05/moor-street-london.html

Perhaps this is an unfair description of it in 1789 but it neatly encapsulates its downward path.

 

The view from Google Earth street view shows a façade that may have been Georgian in origin but in which, at its nadir, the interiors were knocked about something cruel to accommodate their use.

‘The properties in the triangle had been unofficially converted and adapted – extra ceiling height for the lap dancing, lower ceilings for the more horizontal activities above, lean-tos in the courtyard to provide extra kitchen space for the restaurants, interconnecting corridors allowing those in the know to enter from Moor Street and exit via Old Compton.’ http://englishbuildings.blogspot.com/2008/05/moor-street-london.html

At the time the Vinets were there, it had perhaps not yet become synonymous with seediness and was probably an area with some shops and accommodation above as suggested in the image above.

Vinet Pere (the use of the French is appropriate here) was recorded in the first Minute Book (rough copy) as Jean Antoine Vinet, a master tailor now ‘in distress’ and with a sick wife.

‘Her Father appeared, 60 Years of Age brought persons known by the Committee who testified his being made a Mason before the year 1768. Having been in good circumstances but now in great distress produced a Certificate from the Grand Lodge and with great difficulty had procured 6/6d to pay for the same.’

Just a few years earlier he was recorded as paying Poor Rates and Watch Rates so perhaps the family, according to the rule of indigence by which all candidates were judged, had seen better times and sickness and increasing age were rendering life difficult. At any rate, his daughter was deemed ‘a proper object’ so the Committee accepted Vinet’s petition. Whilst Harriet was at school, her elderly father and possibly also his ‘sick wife’ both died, as Harriet, on leaving school, was returned to her aunt, Mrs Johnson, ‘who kept a house in a respectable part of Camden Town’. Thereafter there is but one uncertain reference to her, the burial of Harriett Ann Vinett, aged 45, in 1828 at St James, Piccadilly and of Little Pulteney St.

John Anthony Vinet was a tailor but in 1789 the family were living at Mr Shaw’s, Ironmongers, Moor St.

This image is actually a shop in Soignies (Belgium) but is typical of the old-fashioned ironmonger’s shop. http://spitalfieldslife.com/2013/05/18/at-londons-oldest-ironmongers/ states that London’s oldest ironmongers [In Hackney Rd] opened for business in 1797 as Presland & Sons’ but, as Mr Shaw the ironmonger in Moor St is listed by the Morning Post in January 1789, it was clearly not the first ironmongers. Whatever the history, ironmongers’ shops were pretty much all like that pictured above and testament to this is the wonderful sketch by the ‘Two Ronnies’ known as Four Candles. The delicious word play based on misunderstanding items on a shopping list could not take place anywhere but an ironmongers. In the sketch, Ronnie Corbett, as the increasingly exasperated shopman, is asked for things which he duly retrieves from little boxes or drawers only to find that the customer, Ronnie Barker, is actually asking for something else. It is a classic piece of comedic wordplay.

Four candles? No … just four streets!

Glanville St as was

Sophia Kewney, another of the first pupils starting at the School in 1789, hailed from Marylebone although part of the street in which she lived was originally St. Pancras, ‘the boundary passing between the east and west sides of the street in an oblique line.’  http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol21/pt3/ [1] ‘The crossroads at the corner of Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road is an historic junction, where four parishes met.’ [2]

https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side-by-side

In fact the address of 44 Glanville St, Rathbone Place is a kind of anomaly in itself as Rathbone Place was originally known as Glanville Street rather than being a separate street and perhaps it was at the point of changing in 1789 when Sophia’s address was given. Rather like a belt-and-braces approach, both names for the street were used so that there could be no doubting which street it was.

The surname Kewney is often difficult to trace through records, as the w may be written so that it blends into the n and could easily be read Kenney. In the Rough Minute Book, Sophia is described as being ‘approved a proper Object’, her parents being William and Ann. Her application was supported by H Spicer (Henry Spicer a portrait & enamel painter of Great Newport Street), someone who had been involved in the School since the beginning. There are some fleeting references in public records to a William Kewney. He appears in tax records in 1782 and 1792, both times given in Glanville St. However an electoral roll in 1774 gives him as a mason living in Noel St, Westminster. Presumably, this same William is the one who applied for financial assistance in the List of petitioners[3] where it is recorded

‘William Kewney, mason, requests assistance after severe illness has left him unable to support his family. Recommended by Lodge of Operative Masons, No. 185 [SN 613], London’

Whether these two are the same William Kewney is impossible to say but, given the rarity of the surname, it seems likely.

 

The newspaper gives that Sophia was baptised in St Pancras on 6th March 1780 having been born on 29th January of that year. However, the records actually give a baptism on 6th March 1779 at Percy Chapel, St Pancras so, like Mary Ann Ruscoe, Sophia appears to be a year older than the School thought she was! If this were a deliberate fraud (as Mary Ann Ruscoe’s was) it is one which has only been uncovered two centuries later …

Of her time at the School, we know only that she was retained as a servant at the School when she was old enough to leave. This might imply that family circumstances had deteriorated even further than in 1788 or it may simply be a case that there was a vacancy for a house servant and Sophia was available. She clearly worked hard as she earned a guinea’s gratuity after a year. So we can place her until at least 1796 and then, in 1799, there is a marriage.

London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Reference Number: p85/mry1/393

This marriage took place at St Mary’s, Lambeth and indicates that both lived there. This is not an area previously associated with the Kewneys but possibly Sophia had moved on from being a house servant with the School to a domestic role in Lambeth. John and Sophia had five children and their only daughter later married Mr Crichton and there are Crichton descendants today who can claim Sophia as an ancestor.

But it is Rathbone Place, Glanville St that is the star of this show (post) as around the time the Kewneys were there, it was a little hotspot for artists and art suppliers.

The houses [in Rathbone Place] were regular three and four-storey brick terraces … Houses with 20–22ft widths generally had three-bay fronts, standard rear-stair layouts, corner fireplaces and closet wings. Some had marble chimneypieces … The street was a good private address, with a number of wealthy residents ‘ https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/architecture/sites/bartlett/files/chapter31_hanway_street_and_rathbone_place.pdf

Where there are artists and architects and ‘Nearly every house in Rathbone Place had an artist as tenant at some point’ (ibid), then almost inevitably there will be art suppliers. George Jackson & Co, Samuel and Joseph Fuller, Winsor & Newton and George Rowney & Co were all in this area. The Fullers were at No. 34 from 1809 until 1862 in what came to be called Fuller’s Temple of Fancy.

A leaflet, apparently from the Lady’s Magazine, August 1823, depicted Fuller’s shop interior, and gives a good idea of the product range; the business was advertised as ‘Publishers of the greatest variety of Sporting Prints …Wholesale Manufacturers of Bristol Boards, Ivory Paper & Cards./ Engravers, Publishers, Printsellers, & Fancy Stationers.’ https://www.princeton.edu/~graphicarts/2013/03/interior.html

Left: Fuller’s Temple of Fancy Right: Jackson’s logo today from https://www.georgejackson.com/

George Jackson & Sons Ltd was established in 1780 producing decorative plaster ornament. Their premises were at No. 50 by 1817, expanded into No. 49 c.1832 and then to Nos 47–48. Behind the showrooms was a large workshop. The firm continued to operate from Rathbone Place until 1934.

 

 

 

 

Next door at No 51 was George Rowney & Co., artists’ colour manufacturers, from 1817 to 1862 and at No. 52 from 1854 to 1884. This is a company that has had almost as many names as the colours of paint they produce! It started as T & R Rowney (Thomas and Richard Rowney), then Thomas’s son took on the business with his brother in law, trading as Rowney & Forster. After 1837, another son took over and it became George Rowney & Company, later George Rowney & Co Ltd. It relocated many times, finally leaving London completely. It retained its connection with the Rowney family but eventually it ran out of Rowneys and in 1969 was sold. In its bicentenary year (1983), it became Daler-Rowney, under which name it still trades very successfully today.

http://www.daler-rowney.com/

 

 

The other art suppliers from Rathbone Place, still very much trading today, is Winsor & Newton. William Winsor, chemist and artist, and Henry Charles Newton, artist, set up business at No. 38 in 1833 in what was then ‘part of an artists’ quarter in which a number of eminent painters had studios, and other colourmen were already established’ (Wikipedia). Together they combined the knowledge of science and the creativity of art to provide

‘a regular source of reliable colours and brushes.’ http://www.winsornewton.com/uk/discover  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     38 Rathbone Place may well have been Newton’s home before it became business premises and within a short time, No 39 was also part of the business. https://www.npg.org.uk/research/programmes/directory-of-suppliers/w.php

To Dickens they were ‘Rathbone-place magicians … Has anyone ever seen anything like Winsor and Newton’s cups of chromes and carnations … and crimsons, loud and fierce as a war-cry, and pinks, tender and loving as a young girl?All the year round, vol.7. 1862, p.563

http://www.winsornewton.com/uk/

 

Having sourced our paints, let us go and find the artists who used them. Of the Rathbone Place ones, at least two of them had a connection with the School’s history. Humphry, Hardwick & Hone were there at the time that we know the Kewneys were living there; Burrell, Constable, Lewis and Pugin may have coincided with the Kewneys’ residence but after Sophia had started at the School; Linnell, Hawkins, Bielfield & Moore were there slightly later but still in the early part of the C19th.

Joseph Francis Burrell, was a miniaturist who exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1801 and 1807. He lived at No 7. John Constable, of course, is known to all of us. He lodged at No 50 when he was a student at the Royal Academy. Frederick Christian Lewis was an etcher, aquatint and stipple engraver, and also a landscape and portrait painter. He lived at No 5.

Left: miniature by Burrell. Centre: self-portrait Constable. Right: etching and aquatint by Lewis

Augustus Charles Pugin at No 38 was a French-born artist and draughtsman and a skilful watercolourist. He was in Rathbone Place 1804–6. Perhaps he is somewhat eclipsed in fame by his son Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin. John Linnell, who lived close by at No. 35 (1817–18) was a painter and engraver. Like Constable – but just a couple of years later – he became a student at the Royal Academy where he won medals for drawing, modelling and sculpture. It is known that Nathaniel Hone, portrait and miniature painter, died at No. 30 in 1784. He was an Irish-born painter and one of the founder members of the Royal Academy.

Left: portrait of Pugin by John Nash. Centre: self=portrait by Linnell. Right: self-portrait by Hone

Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, living at No. 11 in the 1830s, was the son of an artist (Thomas Hawkins) and is particularly renowned for his work on the life-size models of dinosaurs in the Crystal Palace Park in south London. However he also produced very fine natural history paintings. Henry Bielfield, painter, lived at No. 13 (1837–54) but he also lived at No 18 and No 21. Presumably not at the same time. George Belton Moore, landscape painter, lived at No. 1 Rathbone Place in 1830. Moore was a pupil of Pugin so he only had to walk down the street for that.

Left: Porcine Deer (Axis porcinus) from Knowsley Park by Hawkins. Centre: Meeting of day and light by Bielfield. Right: Fish Street Hill looking towards London Bridge, 1830 by Moore

That leaves the two who have tangential connections to the School’s history.

Ozias Humphry, who lived at No. 29 in 1777, was a miniaturist of some renown who was later appointed Portrait Painter in Crayons to the King (1792). Lest this sound somewhat childish to modern ears, crayons was the term used for what today we call pastels. Sadly, his deteriorating sight (he eventually became blind) meant that he had to turn from miniatures to larger portraits. Amongst his work was a portrait of one Bartholomew Ruspini, the instigator of the School of which Sophia Kewney became a pupil.

 

Left: Extract from “The Royal Freemason’s School for Girls”. The Builder. 9: 722. 1851..Right: photograph of Philip Hardwick, c 1850 from The Patrick Montgomery Collection

Philip Hardwick, an architect and son of an architect was born at No. 9 in 1792. He trained as an architect under his father, Thomas Hardwick, who was in turn the son of another architect Thomas Hardwick (1725–1798). The Hardwick family name spans over 150 years in the history of British architecture. When the School desired to move to its third site (Somers Place East and St George’s Fields, Southwark were the first two), Philip Hardwick was appointed the architect.

Whilst working on Lincoln’s Inn Great Hall (1843-4), Philip Hardwick fell ill and poor health dogged the rest of his life. His son Philip Charles Hardwick assisted his father and they worked as a team. In 1851, the 3rd school site was opened, its style very much reflecting the zeitgeist for Gothic revivalist style.

The School at Clapham

So the School in Somers Place East connects to the site in Clapham via Rathbone Place, or Glanville St that was, in a very curious and unexpected way.

 

[1] Survey of London: Volume 21, the Parish of St Pancras Part 3: Tottenham Court Road and Neighbourhood ed. J R Howard Roberts and Walter H Godfrey (London, 1949), p. 12. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol21/pt3/p12 [accessed 7 March 2019].

[2] ‘https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/architecture/sites/bartlett/files/chapter31_hanway_street_and_rathbone_place.pdf

[3] Moderns Grand Lodge Committee of Charity, GBR 1991 HC 12/C/110

There’s Something about Mary(lebone)

No-one is in agreement with how the place Marylebone is pronounced – Marleybun, Marrylebun, Marylebone, Marrybone – and this indecision is echoed in the early newspaper reference to the first pupils. Mary Ann Fiske, it tells us, lived in ‘St. Mary-le-bone’ at the corner of ‘Marybone-lane’. In the space of six words, it is spelled in two different ways!

Morning Herald and Daily Advertiser, Jan 1789

Marylebone Lane, one of the original streets of the Marylebone district, runs from Oxford Street in the south to Marylebone High Street in the north. Its sinuous shape contrasts strongly with other streets laid out in a grid pattern, a legacy of their being developed together. The lane originally followed the course of the River Tyburn.

‘While most of Marylebone dresses rather formally, with grand streets laid out in a stiff grid, Marylebone Lane is the stubborn old man who turns up in grubby chords [sic] and comfortable shoes, far too hoary and set in his ways to care. While its neighbours are all about straight lines and right angles, this most ancient of highways is defined instead by its distinctive lazy wiggle.’

https://www.marylebonevillage.com/marylebone-journal/street-stories—marylebone-lane

http://www.openstreetmap.org/search?query=marylebone%20lane#map=17/51.51644/-0.14892

The modern street map shows the contrast particularly well and gives it today a charm missing from its neighbours.

Marylebone gets its name from a church dedicated to St Mary built on the bank of a small stream or bourne, called the Tybourne or Tyburn. The church then became known as St Mary at the bourn – or Marylebone. The Ty- prefix is derived from Anglo-Saxon teo a word meaning boundary. Watercourses were often used as boundaries between districts, just as gallows were often erected beside them. The name Tyburn is probably most often recalled as a place of execution near to where Marble Arch now stands. The village of Tyburn is recorded in the Domesday Book and stood at the end of what is now Oxford Street, formerly called Tyburn Road. What is now Park Lane was once Tyburn Lane. That should cause a lot of confusion in a Monopoly game.

The earliest written mention of the Tyburn dates back to around 785 AD. The brook that is the Tyburn is not be confused with Tyburn Brook which is a tributary of the Westbourne and not connected to the Tyburn River! (http://www.londonslostrivers.com/river-tyburn.html) It’s hardly surprising non-English people find the British way of life confusing. The R. Tyburn today mostly flows underground and is connected into Bazalgette’s great sewerage system. It runs along a pipe in Baker St station and through an open rill near Grey’s antiques (complete with goldfish!). It also flows underneath Buckingham Palace before it finally emerges in an outfall at the Thames.

http://www.londonslostrivers.com/river-tyburn.html

Like the ancient village of Tyburn, Marylebone originally ‘was a small village, nearly a mile distant from any part of the metropolis.’ Daniel Lysons, ‘Marylebone’, in The Environs of London: Volume 3, County of Middlesex (London, 1795), pp. 242-279. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/london-environs/vol3/pp242-279 [accessed 5 March 2019].

The earliest development was in the early to mid 1720s at the south end, along the east branch into Oxford Street, on the future Marshall & Snelgrove site. (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/architecture/sites/bartlett/files/chapter05_marylebone_lane_area.pdf)

There is something rather deliciously cyclical that ‘the future Marshall & Snelgrove’ later became Debenhams after Marshall & Snelgrove ran into financial difficulty in 1819 and now, one hundred years later, Debenhams itself is in financial difficulty!

Image from Mary Evans picture library

Where exactly on Marylebone Lane Mary Ann Fiske lived is an unknown. We are told it is ‘Stationer, corner of Marylebone Lane’. In a roadway that curves and winds its way south, precisely which corner of many is unclear. There is a later reference to a stationer, Henry Somerfield, who had Nos 15-17 Marylebone Lane built for him. However, these buildings, demolished in 2010, were built in 1890-1 so long, long after the Fiskes were there.

One of four daughters of Jonathan and Prudence Fiske, Mary Ann – usually referred to as Ann – was born on 16th October 1782 and baptised on Dec 1st of that year.

London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Reference Number: P89/MRY1/008

 

This first reference to her is the only one before her admission to the School. However in 1781, her father appeared at the Old Bailey in 1781, indicted for forgery

Session Papers of the Old Bailey OB/SP/1781 London Metropolitan Archives

He was found not guilty in May 1781. In July of the same year, he published an account of the trial in which he not only made clear his opinion of his accuser but cast aspersions about him which would have lawyers licking their lips today – and maybe then too.

Morning Herald and Daily Advertiser, London, England, 7 July 1781

Of course, the cunningly disguised name of the prosecutor and his alleged mistress might just have saved his bacon …

What is interesting is that this was printed for J Fiske but also for four other booksellers which implies that they were a mutually supportive group. Fiske’s address is given as Edward St, Portman Square at this time but by the time he was applying for Mary Ann to attend the School, the family was in Marylebone Lane. Had they moved because of indigence? In 1828, Prudence Fiske, Jonathan’s widow, is listed as a bookseller in Wigmore St (next to which Portman Square can be found), so it is unclear whether they kept moving or had several premises. Between 1784 and 1811 Jonathan paid rent in Marylebone Lane and if this were one of several ‘outlets’, one has to assume a lack of indigence, but the fact remains that during this period he applied for his daughter’s attendance at the School and was successful in that application. By 1799, Jonathan had again achieved respectability – if he had ever lost it – when he was appointed foreman of the jury, his name being cited in a coroner’s inquest of that year.

London Lives, Culture & Society 1680-1817 MJ/SP/C/W London Metropolitan Archives

Mary Ann had eight siblings although the last two of these were born after she was attending the School in Somers Place East, so perhaps it was the large size of the family that made her eligible. Unfortunately the Rough Minute Book, which lists details of ten of the candidates for the first admission, does not include any reference to Mary Ann Fiske so we are not party to the thinking behind her inclusion.

Unlike the last Mary Ann this blog focused on – who had a rather unladylike turn of phrase it would appear – Mary Ann Fiske seems to have passed her time at the School blamelessly. She did leave ‘before her time was due to expire’ however. In 1794, we are told that ‘In consideration of the peculiar circumstances of this child’ she was returned home with the sum of £10 and no further claims on the Charity. Her father was asked to collect her. This was a considerable sum of money for the time and is an indication that she was not leaving in any disgrace, for which she would have been dismissed summarily with no payment. A month later, her mother wrote to the Committee expressing gratitude and in this communication lies a hint of the reason the child left. Her mother wrote that ‘Ann’s health seemed very precarious for since she had been at home she had had frequent relapses of the disorder with which she was afflicted’.

We will never know what affliction she was suffering from in 1792. However, lest one might imagine that a burial record would be the next document found, it might come as a surprise to discover that Mary Ann Fiske actually died in 1862, some 70 years after she left with an affliction! In fact many of the family lived to ripe old ages. Prudence (the mother) was 96 when she died, Mary Ann 82 and Thomas Hammond Fiske, the brother whose home she shared at least between 1841 and 1861, was 83.

Jonathan (the father) died in 1823 in Marylebone and was buried on the 4th February (the ditto, ditto in the record).

London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Reference Number: P89/mry1/326

Although, of course, we cannot be certain this is ‘our man’, it should be noted that the 1841 census does not find him with the rest of his family. Furthermore, Prudence is listed as a bookseller at Wigmore St in the 1828 Pigot’s directory which implies that it was a family business that Prudence took responsibility for after her husband’s death. The 1841 census did not record marital status so we do not know if Prudence was widowed but it seems likely. She is recorded, as are two of her daughters, as ‘Ind’. It might, however, explain why the Fiskes upped sticks and moved to Portsmouth if the head of the family had died. Mary Ann is sharing the household of her brother Thomas Hammond Fiske and it is in Portsmouth on 4th June 1862 that she dies and is buried, her address being given as the High St.

So from Marylebone Lane to High Street, Portsmouth, her life is mapped out albeit with tantalising gaps that one longs to fill!

Court Report

Sibella Proctor, Ann Martin and Charlotte Richardson, three of the first pupils in January 1789, all lived in Courts. To wit: Black Swan Court, Wild Court and Flower de luce Court. Of these, only one still exists – Wild Court –immediately behind the Library and Museum of Freemasonry and United Grand Lodge.

https://www.streetlist.co.uk/wc/wc2b/wc2b-4/wild-court
Image from Google Earth street view

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A map of 1750 sort of shows Wild Court, on the edge of one map and the next, showing that the propensity for the places you want being right on the fold of gazetteers is not a new phenomenon!

https://www.theundergroundmap.com/map.html?id=33108&mapyear=1750&zoom=16&show=none&mode=fullscreen

Fifty years later and the court is a little clearer

ibid.

Wild Court ran off Great Wild St with Little Wild St (now renamed Keeley St) running parallel. In 1781, a sermon was preached in Little Wild St.

Image from Google books

Dr Samuel Stennett, a dissenting Baptist preacher, ministered to the Little Wild Street church. The map below, although somewhat later in date, shows the Baptist chapel.

https://www.theundergroundmap.com/map.html?id=33108&mapyear=1750&zoom=16&show=none&mode=fullscreen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

His sermon was made on a day which had been declared a public fast. Unfortunately ‘references to public fasts are relatively scarce in public records’ (Religion and the American Civil War: Miller, Stout & Wilson, 1998) and the same must apply to UK as not a trace can be found to explain why February 21 1781 was a public fast day. For those with plenty of food it perhaps had more impact. For the less well-off, for whom a fair few days might involve fasting, the impact was less great.

Whether Charlotte Richardson’s family witnessed the sermon or participated in the fasting is unknown. Charlotte herself was not yet born, arriving in the world in April 1781. She was baptised at St Sepulchre’s in June 1781 which is certainly not the nearest church to Wild Court. Perhaps the family did not at that time live there but we will never know.

The map of 1889 from Charles Booth, Life and Labour of the People in London marks Wild Court as being an area of ‘Intermittent or casual earnings’. Although this is a century later perhaps the beginnings of these are evidenced in the entry in a Minute Book of 1788 which states that Charlotte’s father ‘was … formerly in good Circumstances but now much distressed’.

The school records tell us that, having arrived at the School in January 1789, in February 1789 Charlotte’s name again appears in the Minute Book.

The Matron being then called in and examined reporting Charlotte Richardson (one of the Children) who had been taken away by her Parents when she informed the Committee that her Father had been very troublesome and had insulted and abused her and afterwards the Mother came had took her Daughter away and notwithstanding the Child declared she was perfectly satisfied.

Oh dear.

Charlotte’s place was taken by Charlotte Hatton. Curiously, despite Charlotte Richardson’s parents being instructed to remove their daughter, her benefits withdrawn, the Book of Governors, published in 1818, records that she had been returned to her parents ‘in consequence of an alteration in circumstances’. As this was almost 30 years later, the edges of memory may well have been softened.

Where Charlotte went after this has proved impossible to trace with confidence. Wild Court, however, continues to exist even if much changed. Some of that change may well have been courtesy of the Luftwaffe as a high explosive bomb fell in the area between Oct 7 1940 and June 6 1941 as shown by http://bombsight.org/#17/51.51454/-0.12005

But then Wild Court has fared better than either Black Swan Court or Flower de luce court neither of which exist any longer.

Black swans, native to Australia, were regarded as exotica in Britain and perhaps explains why a number of pubs and streets were named after them. [A piece of swan ephemera for you – on the ground, a group of swans is a ‘bank’. When undertaking group flight they are a ‘wedge’. ]

 

This image from https://haydensanimalfacts.com/2015/08/22/5-interesting-facts-about-black-swans/ has quite a high cute factor, don’t you think?

https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/dictionary-of-london lists at least four Black Swan Courts, plus one Black Swan Alley which had formerly been a court. What is unclear is which of these is the Black Swan Court where Sibella Procter lived. This is largely because her address is given as Black Swan Court, Market St, a street that does not appear in earlier maps.

https://www.londonremembers.com/memorials/st-john-zachary

We have already seen from Charlotte Richardson that the place of baptism of these early pupils may not be an indication of where they were living. In Sibella’s case, it is even more confusing because she was baptised at St John Zachary, a church which did not exist after the Great Fire!

The parish was absorbed into St Ann and St Agnes and St John’s never rebuilt. Only its graveyard remains and its site is now a garden.

 

 

By Matt Eyre – Own work (Original text: self-made), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7966662

Despite this, her baptismal record is clearly given as being at St John Zachary on Feb 14 1779.

Image from Ancestry.co. uk

This 1883 street map of the St John Zachary area shows it labelled as a parish but with the site of the church rather than a church building.

Using the http://www.british-history.ac.uk references, there are two courts that seem to be in the vague area that might be served by St John Zachary. Black Swan Alley (described as South out of St. Paul’s Churchyard at No. 21 to 7 Little Carter Lane, first mentioned in Horwood’s map of 1799 but given an earlier reference as being formerly Black Swan Court) and one called Black Swan Court which was south of Cannon Street and west of Lawrence Pountney Lane. Just to add confusion, this Court was previously (1720) known as an alley! www.british-history.ac.uk goes on to say that ‘The site has been rebuilt and is now occupied by warehouses and offices, etc.’

Maps taken from https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side-by-side using 1892 map

Earlier maps, from https://www.theundergroundmap.com/map.html?id=70&mode=fullscreen show the same areas in 1750. In neither case can Black Swan Court or Alley be identified but they may simply have been too small or insignificant to be marked on the map.

When Sibella was admitted to the School, she was referred to as ’a very proper object’. This peculiar shorthand is inexact in meaning but as a rule of thumb a ‘proper object’ was a girl who had lost one parent and a ‘very proper object’ was a girl who had lost both parents. There is a reference to a Joseph Procter being buried Aug 20 1784 in St John Zachary which could be her father. There is also a marriage reference for 1767 at St Dunstan in the West, between Joseph Procter and Mary Wilkinson which might be her parents (or might not!) but further than this is difficult to trace. As for the girl herself, the School records state she was apprenticed to Mr Simons of Jermyn St, Soho Square. However, the 1818 Book of Governors lists her as apprenticed to Mrs Gonne, Champion Hill. Possibly she did both, moving from one to the other. Both could have been as domestic servants although there is a fleeting reference to Mrs Gonne running a school. In 1841, we find a Sibella Procter in Camberwell, aged 60, given as a schoolmistress. The 1841 census rounded ages up and down, so the computed birthdate of 1781 is within accepted parameters. It seems likely that this Sibella Procter (whether the one from School or not) died in 1845 and was buried at St Giles Camberwell.

Our last candidate for the Court Report is Ann Martin whose address was given as No 3 Flower-de-luce-court, Fleet St. The spelling of Flower de Luce varied enormously (Flower de lys, flower de lyz or fleur de lys) and all were corruptions of fleur de lis anyway, from the quartering of the French arms with the English.

The history of the fleur de lis armorially can be read at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleur-de-lis from where the image is taken.

The likeliest candidate for the court that housed the Martins is Fleur de lis Court described as East out of Fetter Lane at No. 9, and north to Trinity Church Passage.

 

https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side-by-side/#zoom=19&lat=51.5150&lon=-0.1094&layers=163&right=BingHyb

In the 17th and 18th centuries this was a long court extending south to Fleet Street, but when the southern end of Fetter Lane was widened, this southern portion was absorbed into Fetter Lane, as shown above.

https://londonist.com/2017/12/londonists_back_passage_53_crane_co

 

 

In Lockie, 1810, it is described as at 179 Fleet Street, behind the houses Nos. 1-16 on the east side of Fetter Lane. The name of the court may well have come from a house formerly in Fleet St called ‘flowerdeluce’. It does not seem to have been a particularly salubrious area as Strype describes it as ‘of some note for the Mousetrap House, a receptacle for lewd persons (ed. 1720, I. iii. 277)’. http://london.enacademic.com/2316/Fleur_de_lis_Court

 

 

by John Michael Wright, oil on canvas, circa 1668

However, let us restore its reputation a little by stating that John Dryden lived at No 16 Flower de luce court [no date given for this but as he died in 1700 we can assume it was well before the Martins were there]. Image in the National Portrait Gallery

Nearby Fleet St is still synonymous with newspapers even though many prominent national newspapers have moved away. At one point, it was also a place for tanning which declined once the River Fleet was re-routed underground in 1766. Ann Martin’s father, Reeve Martin, is described as a glover which would fit with this. Given that the presiding rule for a girl to become eligible for the School was that of indigence, we should note that in 1784, Prime Minister Pitt imposed a tax on gloves. His calculation of the number of gloves that would be sold each year (9 million pairs) gave rise to a tiered taxation.

“One penny duty should be added to all gloves up to the value of ten pence

Two pence to gloves costing between ten pence and fifteen pence

Three pence for all gloves costing over fifteen pence”

https://georgianera.wordpress.com/2016/05/24/18th-century-tax-on-gloves/

The tax was payable by the retailer and in July 1785, The Stamp Office declared that: “Anyone selling gloves without this tax would be liable for a fine of £20.” (ibid). To ensure that duty was paid, every retailer had to be licensed. Unfortunately for Pitt, his careful calculations were somewhat over optimistic. By 1785, it was realised that it was raising less than an eighth of the revenue anticipated.

Given the timing of this, it may well have been a contributory factor in Reeve Martin’s indigence and his daughter was elected nem. con. In 1788. The Minutes Book records that he was ‘Formerly in good Circumstances, now in great distress with a Wife and four Children’. It is possible that he is the person recorded in Newgate Prison, London: ‘Lists Of Felons (Prisoners) On The Common Side (Debtors)’ in 1786.

Perhaps our sympathy for the Martins’ plight is somewhat diluted by the fact that the Minutes Book records that in 1793 occurred an incident that should have resulted in Ann’s dismissal from the School. As is the way with this instrument, it fails to give further details, perhaps on the basis of ‘them that knows, knows …’ but it appears to have been the behaviour of the father rather than that of the child. The 1818 Book of Governors records that Ann was returned to her parents ‘for improper conduct on their part.’ Of her life story nothing more can be ascertained. Like Fleur de lis court, it gradually disappears. Even the date of that disappearance is uncertain. https://london19.com/streets1832/FleurdeLiscourtFleet.shtml states that it disappears about 1842 when Fetter St was widened but a map of 1895 still shows it so it can’t have done. It was still there in a 1914 map albeit not named. So perhaps, like this Court Report,