William ORCHARD, one of my x4 great grandfathers, married Elizabeth HUNT on the 27th March 1780 at St Michael’s Church in Bath. The parish clerk recorded William’s surname with an ‘O’ but the groom signed firmly with an ‘A’ and so my family were thereafter known as ARCHARDs.
William and Elizabeth had at least nine children but, of these, I only know about my direct ancestor Charles (bp. 1790) and his brother Thomas (bp. 1786) in any detail. Thinking back to the last three blogs about Isaac and Abraham Orchard, their branch seemed to have had a family tradition of giving any boy called George a second name of no clear derivation e.g. not the mother’s or grandmother’s maiden names &c. In my family, this tradition appears to have been applied to boys called Thomas hence Charles’s older brother was baptised Thomas Wyate (or possibly ‘Wyatt’ since both forms have been recorded).
Charles and Thomas Wyate Archard: coachmakers
Charles Archard died on the 11th November 1839 aged forty-eight years and so, unfortunately for me, he was naturally missing from the first useful English census in 1841. He did not appear in the few available early trade directories either. Curious as to his occupation and the reason for his early death, I bought a copy of his death certificate which rewarded me with both facts: he had died of consumption (tuberculosis) and had been a coachmaker.
As a young chap, Charles had met a local lady with a wonderfully exotic name: Isabella STRANGE. They were married in the parish church of Lyncombe and Widcombe in October 1814 and baptised eight children there over a twenty year period; most of them survived to adulthood. Four sons, Charles, Thomas, Henry and William Strange (and some of their sons too) became coachmakers or coachsmiths. Incidentally, I discovered that the difference between a coachmaker (sometimes called a coachbuilder) and a coachsmith is that the former made the wooden parts, like the main frame and mouldings whilst the smith worked in metals, making the iron springs for example.
Reluctantly, I have to leave Charles’s story at this point as I know very little of interest about him. He and his wife flitted about the Widcombe area over the years, fetching up in some quite insalubrious addresses in Holloway or the Dolemeads. However, in 1852, Charles’s daughter Laura Ann married Edwin Ridout and my immediate family came into being, but going back to Thomas Wyate…
Thomas Wyate Archard: coachmaker and non-conformist
The Bath Corporation (property) deeds archived at Somerset Record Office have been indexed and details can be found on their website. On the 21st May 1823, two plots of land and a messuage in The Dolemeads were transferred from James and Stephen BIGGS, yeomen from Lyncombe & Widcombe and an upholsterer, Alexander PRICHARD of Bath, to Thomas Wyate Archard of Bath, coachmaker. In the Bath Directory of 1826, ‘Thos Orchard, coachmaker’ was listed at 20 Monmouth Place. This may well be the same man, despite the apparent surname ‘relapse’. Perhaps there was an Archard coach-building business at some point but so far I’ve found no evidence of this in the local newspapers or other records.
Again, from the Bath Corporation Deeds on the 2nd April 1830, there was an assignment for the remainder of an 81 year lease, subject to rent, of the York Street Chapel by Samuel Wearing of the parish of Walcot Somerset, grocer, to:
• James SALTER of the parish of Walcot Somerset, nurseryman
• James EDWARDS of Bath, pawnbroker
• Humphrey SAMUEL of the parish of Lyncombe and Widcombe Somerset, carpenter and builder
• Adam LEWIS of Bath, broker
• George EVILL of the parish of Bathwick Somerset, common brewer
• Thomas ARCHARD of Bath, coach builder
• Isaac AMOR of Bath, tailor
• Ebenezer SMITH of Bath, printer
• Henry GAUNTLETT of Bath, baker
• James PITT of Bath, cabinet maker
• Thomas PIKE of Bath, shoe maker
• Thomas BRIDGEMAN of Bath, tailor
• John THOMAS of Bath, cabinet maker
• Thomas LOVELL of Bath, carpenter
• George LOVELL of Bath, carpenter
Thomas had first married in 1809 to Sarah ALFORD who, in 1811, gave him possibly his only child, Thomas Dobney Archard. The boy’s birth, at his maternal grandparents’ home in Bruton, Somerset, was registered twenty-six years later at Dr William’s (Protestant non-conformist) Library in London. The father signed the register in July 1837 which, interestingly, was the very month when civil registration of births had been made compulsory in England and Wales. Thomas wrote that the child’s mother Sarah was ‘deceased’. I don’t know when she had died but in the 1841 census, Thomas was with a woman called Mary and they were both middle aged. Thomas’s occupation was entered as ‘retired pawnbroker’ and so he had evidently changed professions. The earliest relevant Bath directory listing I could find reflecting the change was in 1837: ‘Archard, Thomas, pawnbroker – 2 New Orchard Street.’
James Edwards, a pawnbroker, was another of the fifteen lessees in the 1830 deed. The Somerset directory of that year shows that his business was at 14 Ladymead (Walcot Street). The births of his four children were recorded at Somerset Street Baptist Chapel. Thomas Wyate’s son, Thomas Dobney Archard, married James’s daughter Emma in 1836. Perhaps this is when Thomas became a pawnbroker and maybe even when he embraced non-conformism. In the 1841 census, Thomas Dobney was a coachman in London but by 1851, he too was in Bath and working with his father as a pawnbroker’s assistant, at which point the business became ‘Archard & Son’.
Thomas Wyate’s wife Mary died at the age of sixty-eight in 1852 and then, rather surprisingly perhaps at the age of seventy-three, he married another of James Edward’s daughters, widow Eliza BLACKWELL, who was twenty-four years his junior. More bizarrely, had Thomas Dobney Archard’s wife Emma not also died in 1852, she would have become her older sister’s daughter-in-law!
To recap: Thomas Wyate Archard started off as a coachmaker but moved into pawnbroking in about 1836-7, perhaps having married into the business as a young man. He had three wives but apparently only one child, a son Thomas Dobney Archard, who followed him into the pawnbroking business. The Archard and Edwards families would appear to be protestant non-conformists.
Thomas Wyate Archard: the Victorian pawnbrokerAlthough coachmaking was probably quite a skilled trade, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it was a particularly lucrative one; Charles’s addresses in the poorer areas of Bath seem to reflect this I think. Pawnbroking, on the other hand, seemed to make a man rich because when customers redeemed their pledges, they paid back what they had been lent plus interest, so pawnbrokers were a little like bankers. Charles Dickens was particularly scathing about the trade plied in London but did go so far as to acknowledge that there were two classes of pawnshop and so I hope Thomas Archard kept a more respectable business as it would be distinctly uncomfortable to imagine my family profiteering from the poorer people of Bath!
Thomas moved his establishment to 15 Bath Street in ~1848. This is a large building in a very prominent part of the city, perhaps surprising because some historians have suggested that such shops were poky little affairs secreted away in the back streets. Number 15, seen in the postcard below, was an exception.
According to Dickens, the public area of a pawnbroker’s shop consisted of a wooden counter with some partitioned booths or boxes, presumably to afford customers a degree of privacy, if desired. One can imagine that people who’d fallen on hard times must have found a visit to the pawnbrokers a very embarrassing process and so it is also possible that Archard’s had a back entrance to spare the blushes of these poor unfortunates.
James Greenwood, in his 1873 publication ‘In strange company’ described the non-public area of a London pawnshop: “In the warehouses on the floors above the shop there must have been thousands of bundles of all sorts and sizes, closely wedged into square wooden receptacles that covered the walls from floor to ceiling on every side, and in racks that extended across and across the rooms, with alleys no more than two feet wide between. Each bundle had its ticket hanging out, like a tale-telling tongue, revealing what was inside, together with particulars of the month and the day it was brought to pawn, who pawned it, and what was lent on it.”
The Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette occasionally advertised articles offered for sale by Archard’s shop, or there might be a public auction of unredeemed pledges. There are also reports of court cases when stolen goods were traced back to the pawn shop or thieves were caught with pawn tickets in their possession. From these newspaper articles it’s possible to gain an idea of what the Victorian Bathonian pawned, including telescopes, gold and silver watches, jewellery, blankets, quilts, bed and table linen, music cabinets, guns, phonographs, carriage clocks and musical instruments. A list of these and other Archard newspaper articles can be found on my Home Page, under the tab ‘Ancestors’
Thomas Wyate Archard: the Victorian local politician
Thomas was apparently a successful businessman and, on 4th February 1847, with 212 votes, he was elected as a local councillor for the ward of Lyncombe and Widcombe. He had taken part in council meetings before this time, the earliest report that I could find being in February 1841 when he spoke in favour of repealing the infamous Corn Laws. Rather usefully, the many newspaper reports of council proceedings give a flavour as to Thomas’s politics. For example, he was described as a Radical; he thought the Window Tax immoral, canvassed for affordable burials for the poor, was an abolitionist and believed in religious freedom. Interestingly, he helped to establish a public library in Bath which, until fairly recent times, was still in The Guildhall. The minutes of some council proceedings suggest that Thomas had quite a sharp wit which caused the members to laugh or applaud him on occasion. On the other hand, when Thomas Dobney also entered the political arena as a committee clerk, his father was accused of nepotism and the nature of their pawnbroking business unfortunately attracted criticism of their morals in some quarters! Nonetheless, Thomas had been elected an Alderman by 1862.
One rather touching, if slightly amusing, article briefly reported on 12th March 1868, that ‘Alderman Archard, whilst on his velocipede, rode on the wrong side of the road and was run down by a laundry van. He was seriously cut to the head and rendered unconscious for fifteen minutes.’ I love the thought that, at the age of eighty-two, this old ancestor of mine was still riding out on his bicycle, albeit on the wrong side of the road! Not long after this incident and after decades of council service, Thomas retired and died at home, aged eighty-seven in 1874. I have grown rather fond of this outspoken, witty, non-conformist, sprightly, liberal minded man who was evidently still good marriage material in his seventies! I think he may have been rather nice and, I like to imagine, nothing like Dickens’s portrayal of the mean spirited, grasping pawnbroker.
The demise of Archard’s the pawnbrokers
Thomas Dobney Archard followed in his father’s footsteps both as a pawnbroker and as a local councillor for Lyncombe and Widcombe. He was a Baptist and became very involved as an examiner for Bath Sunday Schools and was active in the Baptist Missionary Service. He married twice and had several children; his son Alfred continued the business after Thomas’s death in 1891 and expanded it to include tailoring, gentlemen’s outfitting and the sale of jewellery and children’s clothing. However, in 1905, Bath Street’s gigantic neighbour, the Grand Pump Room Hotel, proposed an extension to their premises that would swallow up many of the houses thereabouts, including number 15. Although the residents fought back, the plans went forward and by 1907 Archard’s was no more.
Thomas George Archard: to Australia!
Thomas George Archard, a son of Thomas Dobney Archard (1811-1891) and Emma Edwards (1814-1852), was born on the 12th January 1837 at 9 Sussex Street, Tottenham Court Road in London. However, the birth was recorded at the Somerset Street Baptist Chapel in Bath (Thomas’s ancestral home). Thomas was variously a civil engineer, surveyor and iron merchant. He became the manager of Hawke’s Bros, Hardware Company in Beaufort, Victoria, Australia in 1882, having emigrated in about 1862. Thomas married Margaret REID (from Scotland) on the 3rd June 1863 in Melbourne.
They had the following children:
• Thomas Alfred Archard (1866-1929). His son Lisle Archard was born in Ballarat. In WWI he enlisted, on the 12th July 1915, at Melbourne, Victoria and served at Suez, Belgium and France, returning to Australia on the 10th March 1919
• Charles Archard (1868-1950). Charles was born in 1868 in Collingwood, Victoria, Australia. He died in 1950 in Melbourne
• Frank Edward Archard (1870-1959). Frank was born in 1870 in Dunolly, Victoria, Australia. He died in 1959 in Kerang, Victoria, Australia
• Edwin James Archard (1872-1893). Edwin was born in 1872 in Dunolly. He died in 1893 in Victoria
• Elizabeth Stuart Archard (1879-1966). Elizabeth was born in 1879 in Tarnagulla, Victoria, Australia. She died in 1966 in Yarrawonga, Victoria, Australia
• Emma Harriet Schofield Archard (1881-1919). Emma was born in 1881 in Starvation Creek, Warburton, Victoria, Australia. She died in 1919 in East Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
• Jessie Catherine Archard (1883- ). Jessie was born in 1883 in Beaufort, Victoria, Australia
• Hettie Sarah Archard (1886-1969). Hettie was born in 1886 in Beaufort. She died in 1969 in Prahran, Victoria, Australia.
Thomas George Archard died on the 5th February 1892 in Victoria, Australia. Administration was granted in London to John STONE and Benjamin Hicks WATTS solicitors the attorney of Margaret (widow) Effects: £625 5s 1d.
Thomas was my second cousin (four times removed). I imagine that he has living descendants in Victoria today. If any one of them reads this, I would really love to hear from you!