Insurance grew in popularity during the eighteenth century and was taken out by people from all social classes from labourers to the Duke of York. There are probably over a hundred policies taken out by men and women in the gun making trades in Whitechapel.
At present the Sun Fire Office policies (LMA, Ms 11936) are covered by two indexes: LMA, Ms 24172 covers 1775-1787 – the 1970s University project, The Place in the Sun project has so far covered on line 1782 to 1841.
For anyone who wants to follow up gunmakers or any other trade in Whitechapel before 1784 (the current earliest date of the SUN online) should be aware of the vast index on cards of over 600 trades held by the library of the Museum of London, which is only open to very serious researchers. This, probably the most under-used archive because of its very low profile, is the indexing project that started in 1986 and finished in 2009.
In about 1986, Francis Collard, then head of the Furniture Department at the V&A museum in South Kensington, asked Stuart Turner, a fellow NADFAS [National Association of Decorative and Fine Art Societies] member for help in compiling information about cabinet makers and joiners ca. 1730 for a nationwide index of such trades for publication. His input was derived from the policy registers of the Sun Insurance Office held in the Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library. As his work became known, other curators and interested parties asked for the trades with which they were particularly involved to be added to this list. Eventually over 600 trades were indexed.
NADFAS quickly dropped out of the project but a dedicated team led by the late Miss Myrtle Mumford continued the work until 2009. The group worked at Guildhall Library and copied the full details of policies from the registers and transferred them on to 8” by 5” cards for filing, which have been copied to the Museum of London, the V and A, the National Maritime Museum and the Tower of London. Access to these cards is by appointment only but they very useful for research into a wide variety of topics the emphasis being on trades.
Myrtle and her team undertook a massive task as they went through all the Sun policy registers, covering the years 1710-1863, a total of 1262 volumes (GL Ms 11936 and 11937). Of the trades researched, some are covered countrywide, others are only included if they relate to London. The cards contain financial information not available in the SUN on-line index. These cards fill over 50 large drawers and are organized by trade not location. For London trades the contact is the librarian at the Museum of London.
One advantage of their index is that if you have identified a fore bear as say as a piano tuner or barometer maker, you can quickly see if their name appears in the index, and more particularly, if other members of the family appear in the index. It will be some years before the Sun indexing project makes the policies in Ms 11936 available on-line but will not be tackling Ms 11937: the index to areas outside London and the Home counties.
James Yeomans is an interesting example of a gun maker who was profiting during the war with the French (1793-1802) and began to invest in local property. He was also operating from two places in Chambers Street and Great Prescot Street. It also looks like he was using both 45 and 46 Chamber Street. I have found many examples of this practice; it was clearly more efficient to buy or rent the next door property than look for a larger property in the area. We frequently find wash rooms, kitchens and sheds built in back yards.
Refs for Yeomans:
29/3/1792 of 45 Chamber Street insured for £100 his utensils and stock in a shed behind 5 Great Prescot Street (LMA, Ms 11936, 385, 598225).
21/4/1794 of 46 Chamber Street insured for £300 his household goods and stock for £300 (LMA, Ms 11936, 397, 626956).
13/4/1803 of 46 Chamber Street now insured a number of properties: 40 and 41 Charles Street for £480, a wash house behind for £20, 5 Leman Row, Leman Street for £100 (LMA, Ms 11936, 426, 747098).
13/4/1803 of 45 Chamber Street now insured a number of properties: 1 Gowers Row, Leman Street occupied by Siser for £300, a house in Wells Yard for £100 (LMA, Ms 11936, 426, 747097)
Other gun makers operating on Chamber Street include:
Joseph Loder, gun stock maker - 29/2/1779 of Chamber Street, Goodmans Fields, insured his utensils and stock in a timber warehouse behind Greenfield Street for £1,000. An example of one of the larger merchants, with property across the Whitechapel area (LMA, Ms 11936, 273/410290)
Edward Elliott and Elizabeth Barnett, gun stock makers - 12/10/1780 of 25 Chamber Street, Goodmans Fields, insured their household goods for £200 and stock for £400. Interesting example of a woman involved in gun making. It might be possible that she was a member of the important Barnett family in the Minories (LMA, Ms 11936, 287/433948).
Robert Alexander, gun stock maker - 27/3/1779 of Lambeth Street, Goodmans Fields, insured his household goods for £100 and stock for £200 (LMA, Ms 11936, 273/411652).
Other gun makers of Whitechapel include:
Ezekial Baker, gun barrel maker - 3 May 1790 of 8 Field Gate Street, Whitechapel (a brick house) insured his household goods and stock for £300 (LMA, Ms 11936, 368, 567945).
Edward Pursell, gunmaker - 28/10/1780 of 12 Little Prescot Street, insured his household goods for £100 and stock for £700 (LMA, Ms 11936, 287/434949).
John Pratt, gunmaker - 7/6/1782 of 39 Mansell Street, insured his brick warehouse behind his house for £200 and his stock for £2,100, so he was clearly important in this trade (LMA, Ms 11936, 303/460666).
Joshua Bryant, wheelwright, gun carriage maker, dealer in timber - 3/12/1788 of 27 Whitechapel Road insured his household goods for £400 (LMA, Ms 11936, 357, 551079). He was preceded in this property by Messrs Arundel and in 1790 and 1800 the land tax is £90, so a sizeable operation.
William Gameson, founder - 5/4/1803 of Chamber Street in the 1790s insured his household goods and stock for £200 (LMA, Ms 11936, 426, 745788).
Thomas Tucker, gun stock maker - 9/12/1789 of 20 Somerset Street insured his household goods for £600 and stock in his timber shed in the yard for £600 (LMA, Ms 11936, 364, 563644y).
Thomas Squire, gunmaker - 2/2/1814 of 12 Castle Street insured household goods for £250 and stock for £450. He also insured for £1100 property in Stratford and in Tenters Street, Whites Row (LMA, Ms 11936, 462/889913). On 17/11/1814 he increased the insurance to £2000 (LMA, Ms 11936, 462/899621). After 1814 Squire increased his property holdings: 12/2/1821 of 12 Castle Street insured household goods for £250 and stock for £750 and property: 34, 35 Shepherd Street and 13 Butler Street, White Row insured for £400 4 and 5 Butler Street for £300 7 Tenter Street for £150 3 Freeman Street for £150 4 houses Stratford for £400 (LMA, Ms 11936, 487/981420).
Ann Fearnley, gunmaker - 9/2/1815 of 6 Union Street, Whitechapel, insured her house for £700, her household goods for £600 and her workshops and stock for the considerable sum of £1,600, a total of £3,100 (LMA, Ms 11936, 464/904086). 11/5/1815 of 6 Union Street, Whitechapel, she increased the total insured to £4,100 (LMA, Ms 11936, 468/906843). On 15/4/1816 she reduced the total insurance to £2,900 (LMA, Ms 11936, 467/917669). A good demonstration of short-term changes in the quantity of stock in her workshops, but still a sizeable business.
John Stinton/Stenton gunmaker - 5/4/1813 of 108 Chamber Street insured his household goods for £300 and his workshop and stock for £300 (LMA, Ms 11936, 462/881162).
Edward Payton, gunmaker - 15/3/1815 of 44 Leman Street insured for £100 his tools in the workshop of Stenton, gunmaker 108 Chamber Street (LMA, Ms 11936, 466/904914). An interesting example of a sub-contractor?
Henry Dersh, gun stock maker - 8/7/1813 of 11 Gow[ers] Walk was lodging in the house of a dress maker and insured his household goods for £100 (LMA, Ms 11936, 464/883704).
Edward Bowstead, gunmaker - 24/3/1814 of 43 Chamber Street insured his household goods for £200, his stock for £300 and a house in Bethnal Green for £100 (LMA, Ms 11936, 464/891842). 5/1/1815 of 43 Chamber Street increased his insurance to £2400 (LMA, Ms 11936, 464/901456).
Samuel Lowe, gun stock maker - 24/3/1814 of 30 Buckle Street insured for £500 his stock in a workshop and yard behind the house of Egg, gunmaker, at 35 Mansell Street (LMA, Ms 11936, 464/891852). 25/9/1815 now of 20 Somerset Street, Whitechapel, insured for £300 15 Mulberry Street, Whitechapel and 12 Dawson Place, Chicksand Street (LMA, Ms 11936,466/909948).
William Frazer, gun stock maker - 28/2/1816 of 1 Goodmans Court, Minories, a brick and timber house, insured his household goods for £200 (LMA, Ms 11936, 466/915884).
William Dodd, gunmaker - 4/7/1816 of 24 Rosemary Lane, insured his household goods for £110 and his stock for £240 (LMA, Ms 11936, 468/921018).
David Keeley, gun maker - 1/12/1824 of 8 Woodford Place, Little Prescot Street insured his household goods for £100 (LMA, Ms 11936, 502/1023516).
William Barnett, gun maker - 15/7/1824 of Charles Court, 1 Chamber Street insured his house for £120, household goods for £120, stock for £110 and a house in Bethnal Green for £450 (LMA, Ms 11936, 494/1017983).
John Edward Barnett, gun maker - 22/10/1817 of 67 Great Prescot Street, insured his household goods, pictures and jewels for £1,050 (LMA, Ms 11936, 474/934700). 1/12/1825, now at 134 Minories insured his house in Stoke Newington for £1,000 and his household goods for £1350 (LMA, Ms 11936, 501/1039374, and 501/1039373). John Edward Barnett's insurance indicates a house with high value contents, reflecting his higher status.
Thomas Barnett and son, were important gunmakers at 134 Minories. 15/5/1809 insured house, warehouse and stock for £8,000 (LMA, Ms 11936, 444/830741). 12/4/1821 insured his stock for £1,000 (LMA, Ms 11936, 487/978836). 18/5/1825, stock and property insured for £8,300 (LMA, Ms 11936, 502/1031112).
William Hegley, gun maker - 24/12/1817 of 4 Chamber Street insured his household goods for £200 and his stock for £100 (LMA, Ms 11936, 473/936793). In 1824 Hegley's address is the Workhouse, Whitechapel Road, but I think his insurance policies show he was still active as a gun maker, owned property, so perhaps he was the Warden of the Workhouse and not a poor resident. 23/9/1824 he insured the stock in his manufactory behind 5 Old Montague Street for £500, a house 14 Chamber Street for £200, a house 5 Spencer Street, Commercial Road for £200 House and offices at Funning Hill [?], Berkshire for £300 (LMA, Ms 11936, 500/1021152). Then with John Furze and Charles Francis on 31/8/1825 he insured 1 and 2 Providence Street, Commercial Road for £200 (LMA, Ms 11936, 500, 1035379).
John Leigh, gun maker - 27/1/1825 of 46 Lemon Street insured his household goods £150, and a house in Essex Street, Globe Fields for £150 in 13/2/1822 (LMA, Ms 11936, 501/1026769, Ms 11936, 491/989406).
Samuel Lowe, gun stock maker - 12/2/1810 of 30 Buckle Street insured his house for £150, household good £100, stock for £100 and insured 4, 7, 29 Buckle Street for £450 (LMA, Ms 11936, 449/891071). Moved by 1821 to 35 Mansell Street (LMA, Ms 11936,466/909948).
John Bayley, gun smith - 19/3/1779, of 9 Crown Court, Cartwright Street, Rosemary Lane, insured his household goods and apparel for £100 and stock for £100 (LMA, Ms 11936, 272/411336).
Daniel Goff, gun maker - 30/10/1782, of 39 Mansell Street, insured his household goods and apparel for £300, stock for £400 and two houses in Victualling Office Square for £400 (LMA, Ms 11936, 304/466268)
Another example of a successful gun maker diversifying into investing in property. Goff was living and working in the house of John Pratt, gunmaker, 39 Mansell Street, who in 1782 insured for £3000, his household goods, workshop and stock; SUN 303/460666, 1782. It is not yet known if Goff had been apprenticed to Pratt, was a business partner or was related in some way.
Ambrose Pardoe, gun maker - 8/10/1777, of 19 Chamber Street, insured his household goods for £170 and stock for £30 (LMA, Ms 11936, 261/389438).
Cornelius Radley, gun maker, gun smith, chandler - 15/12/1777, of 25 Peter Court, Rosemary Lane, insured his household goods for £70 and stock for £130 (LMA, Ms 11936, 263/392416). 23/9/1778, of 25 Peter Court, Rosemary Lane, insured his utensils in a shop in a dwelling house in Swallow Gardens, Rosemary Lane for £100 (LMA, Ms 11936, 269/402890). 20/12/1779, of Swallow Gardens, Rosemary Lane, insured his utensils in a “house let in tenements” for £80 and his stock in the yard of Bailey, victualler, 12 Chamber Street for £220 (LMA, Ms 11936, 278/422245).
This is a very interesting set of policies, which demonstrate that although Radley was a modest tradesman, whose situation changed from year to year, he was very carefully insuring every year his modest household goods and stock. The 1781 land tax has a Henry Bailey in Chamber Street, but no evidence yet that he was a victualler. It also demonstrates how the yards of taverns were used for a great variety of purposes, including allowing tradesmen to store goods, either in the open or possibly in small sheds or warehouses.
Evan Andrew Touse, gun maker - 21/8/1778, of Swallow Gardens, Chambers Street, insured his household goods and apparel for £150, stock for £610 and a workshop for £40 (LMA, Ms 11936, 267/401872). £40 represents a sizeable workshop: reflected also by the value of his stock. The land tax has an Andrew Touse/Towse in Swallow Street between 1770 and 1781 [and possibly longer] with “2 houses, shop and yard”.
The north side of Royal Mint Street was clear in the 1970s save for car parking and the survival next to Mansell Street of a hydraulic accumulator tower of 1894 and 1913 from the Midland Railway Company’s depot. With the formation through this site of the Docklands Light Railway in the 1980s, the British Rail Property Board, as landowner, planned to develop the remaining ground, which widened to the west, employing Watkins Gray International (Ivor Berresford) as architects, working with Ove Arup & Partners, and contemplating air rights over the railways. The Royal Fine Art Commission judged an office scheme, which rose to ten storeys at its west end, unacceptably bulky in 1989. Revised plans from Oxford Real Estates Ltd and the same architects up to 1996 were consistently rejected by the Commission, whose Deputy Secretary, Richard Coleman, noted ‘The site requires the skills of an architect of immense ingenuity and a developer with deep pockets and considerable nerve.’1
Even so, the ten-storey office and retail scheme gained planning permission in 1998. It was amended in 2003–4, but again deferred. From 2008 the project and planning consents were taken forward by Zog Brownfield Ventures Ltd, a joint venture between the Zog Group, a consortium of property companies, and HBOS (Halifax Bank of Scotland) that had been incorporated in 2007, employing GML Architects Ltd. Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd, which had inherited the freehold, granted ZBV (RMS) Ltd an option on a 999-year lease on the 2.7 acre site and air rights. In 2011–12 this was assigned to IJM Land, a major Malaysian construction and property company, which had formed another joint venture, IJM Land Berhad/RMS (England) Ltd. This new developer employed Broadway Malyan to design a new and differently purposed complex. This proposed a twelve-storey block to the west for a 236-room hotel with 33 apart- hotel spaces and 79 flats, and, further east beyond open ground connecting Royal Mint Street and Chamber Street, three fifteen-storey blocks for 266 flats above shops and offices, all cantilevered over the railways as far as Chamber Street, where use would be made of the London and Blackwall Railway viaduct’s arches. This huge project, which can only be described as bulky, was deemed acceptable. Farrells (London) LLP were engaged as architects, working with AKT II as structural engineers, and Chris Blandford Associates as landscape designer. Reworked plans for what was named Royal Mint Gardens were advanced and agreed in 2014–15. The eastern section was taken forward first, revised as 254 mixed-tenure flats in fourteen-storey blocks, incorporating ground-floor shops and first- and second-floor offices, with central gardens at third- and fifth-floor levels, and is being built in 2018–19 by the JRL Group’s Midgard Ltd. The western hotel block is set to follow.2