From Orchards to Archards: coachmakers, pawnbrokers, local councillors and… Australians!

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 Archard signs his name

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

York Street Chapel in 2012

The Chapel on York Street dates back to about 1818 and was built on land originally owned by the Rt. Hon. Charles Herbert Pierrepoint, Earl Manvers. It is a lovely building, very near Bath Abbey, standing on what was originally the garden of Ralph Allen’s House. Commissioned as a Freemasons’ Hall, by the 1830’s it was allegedly a non-conformist chapel, although perhaps retaining its Masonic links. The 1830 Pigot’s Directory for Somerset briefly says that: ‘The Freemasons Hall is situated in York Street, near the Orange Grove, and is esteemed an elegant piece of Grecian architecture.’ In 1842, the building was used as a Baptist’s Bethesda Chapel and then was finally bought by the Quakers and used as a Friend’s Meeting House from 1866 to the present day. Possibly, Thomas Wyate Archard was a non-conformist and/or a Mason.

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 pawnbroker

'The Pawnbroker's Shop' by George Cruikshank

Although 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.”

A postcard of the mineral water fountain with Archard's shop in the background

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.

The Grand Pump Room Hotel

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!

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22 Responses to From Orchards to Archards: coachmakers, pawnbrokers, local councillors and… Australians!

  1. Luke Archard says:

    My great great grand father George Henry Archard, Son of George Archard and Sarah Tibble, was born in Bath 24th june 1860. He came to Australia and married Ellen Hughes 1863-1930 and had 14 children. If you thikink there may be a link you can contact me.

    • Prevaricat says:


      Thanks for writing. I looked for your chap in the census and Bath BMD’s but couldn’t find him as a son of George and Sarah. I don’t recognise the names in my family – strange that he isn’t the Bath records – do you have any further details about your x2 ggfather? Happy to find out what I can… Regards, Karen

  2. Barb Hogan says:

    Iam am the great great grand daughter of Thomas George Archard. Great grand daughter of Frank Edward. Grand daughter of Norman. Please feel free to contact me.

    • Prevaricat says:

      Hi Barb… guess we must be sort of cousins in a roundabout sort of way but I’d have to work it out on paper; my brain’s not big enough 🙂 Hopefully, you have found this post interesting then? I have traced the Archards/Orchards back a few hundred years; not so difficult as early on they stayed in Bath. Thank you for saying hello 🙂 Karen

      • David Herlihy says:

        Karen, My question is about an “Alderman Archer” who, according to Bristol papers, was involved in a serious accident on March 9 1868 (a laundry cart crashed into his “velocipede.”) Can you confirm that this individual would have been Thomas Downey Archer? I am particularly interested in the vehicle. Do you have any idea what his “velocipede” was? if it was a bicycle (as opposed to a trickle or 4-wheeler) it is a very early example of a bicycle on the road. Many thanks for any clarification.

      • Prevaricat says:

        Hi… I took ‘velocipede’ to mean ‘bicycle’ in modern parlance, yes. I think it was quite a craze in the 1860’s and Thomas D was evidently a game old chap to give such a revolutionary idea a go! I suppose, with an early family history of coachmaking this venerable, elderly fellow was probably interested in any vehicles that ran on wheels. I would guess that the velocipede in question would have been a ‘boneshaker’?… clearly, accurate steering was an issue 😁

  3. Linda Dack says:

    I’m the grandaughter of Elizabeth Stuart Archard, (Bessie) who was Thomas George Archard’s dughter. She married Henry Ness and they had 3 daughters, Maggie, Nellie and Dorothy, my mother. I’ve traced the family tree back to Thomas Wyate and knew that he was a pawnbroker/outfitter but didn’t have all the details your blog has given me. I was fascinated to learn about his activities in Bath. He must have been an interesting man. I grew up in Melbourne but have lived in Canberra for the last 45 years. I thought Nan (Bessie) died in Melbourne although her daughter Nellie was living in Yarrawonga. My cousin Beryl (Nellie’s daughter ) still lives there. Thank you for the fascinating information about my forebears.

    • Barb Hogan says:

      Hi Linda I am the great grand daughter of Frank Edward Archard your mother’s brother, my family came from Koroop which is just out of Kerang Victoria. I live in St Arnaud and all of my mother’s siblings still live in the Kerang area although my mum lives in Melbourne. Just recently my huband and I went to Beaufort and found Thomas George Archard’s grave along with one of his sons they were unmarked but the historical society found the grave sites for us. Did you now that Thomas George designed and built schools in the gold fields around St Arnaud & Tarnagulla and designed two churches at Beaufort, which still stand today. If you would like to give me your email address I would be happy to fill you in on what I know

      Barb Hogan

      • Peter Archard says:

        HI Barb, i would like to know where the grave site is, walked around Beaufort 12 years ago, no luck, assumed it wasn’t marked, found his brothers in Melbourne, Henry is not marked,
        I have another 2xGrandfather buried there also.
        My Email
        Peter Archard

      • Prevaricat says:

        Hi Peter… I am very happy that you, Linda and Barb are communicating with one another. I always hoped that my blog might lead to something of the sort or that I myself might find relatives, living descendents of our mutual ancestors. It would be great if you could all swap interesting stories 🙂 Cheers, Karen

      • Sally says:

        Hi Barb,
        Thomas George Archard is my 3 x great grandfather (via his son Thomas Alfred’s daughter, Doris Robina). I have recently been researching this branch of my family as part of my university studies. I went to Beaufort a few weeks ago but couldn’t find the graves of Thomas, Margaret and Edwin – I would love to know where to look next time I go. Also could you share any info on the churches designed by Thomas George? I did find the school which was relocated from Waanyarra to Long Gully in Bendigo, and the old Hawkes Bros store where he worked and Thomas Alfred was married. Would love to know of any other sites of interest I could visit on my next trip.
        Sally Pfeiffer

      • Barb Hogan says:

        Hi Sally
        The graves are there we found them through the historical Society as they are not marked. They are over at the back left hand corner of the cemetery. The Christmas shop is one of the churches that Thomas build and there is another that is another just out of Beaufort which is now a private home. I found a book in the library with building of Beaufort in it for sale which had these two in it. I’m sorry but at the moment this book is packed away as we have been renovating our house and I can’t remember the name of it. You must of drove through the town were I live to get to Bendigo as I live in St Arnaud, Thomas also worked here for a short time in St Arnaud too and the the store is still here as well.

    • Prevaricat says:

      Hi Linda…. hello! I’m sure that we must be (very) distantly related but can’t think how many times removed &c 🙂 Thanks for dropping by – I’m glad that you found the Archard/Orchard story of interest and by now you know just how far back the family’s history in Bath extends. I was very lucky to find so much interesting material!

  4. Anna says:

    Hi My mother was an Archard from Hasting on the Hudson. My grandfather as well Most important Thomas Archard d, 1580 North Nibley England, was married to Margery Selwyne d 1595 was wondering if any one has information on them?
    Await your reply,

    • Prevaricat says:

      Hi Anna… Apologies for keeping you waiting for a reply; I was on holiday 🙂 I’m also sorry but I cannot help you with your enquiry… ‘my’ Archards were exclusively from Bath, right back to the early 1500’s; I don’t know any other branches I’m afraid. Cheers, Karen

    • Jackie says:

      Hi I have a tree on Archard of North Nibley perhaps you would like to contact me.


  5. Rebecca Bundy says:

    I have found this blog very interesting. I have been trying to find more information on a deed I have been given. It is a land or building deed. My mother when my father passed. The land deed is between a Thomas Dobney Archard of Bath pawnbroker and Joseph Hill of same place and John Stone and John Giles Pilcher and Henry John Brown and Frederick Sanderson. My father purchased this in London to hang in his office as a decoration since he was a lawyer and thought it very interesting. This is a bit difficult to read but what I gather there are two dates mentioned in the deed March 5, 1870 and the August 6, 1867. A few places mention in the deed are Surry, Bath and N-11 Bellefields Terrace, Bellefields Road, V 85 Gracechurch Street, London. This deed appears to have the stamp Witherby Co, London with wax seals and signatures of those mentioned above. Any info would be great. Thank you!

    • Prevaricat says:

      Hi Rebecca
      Thanks for dropping by and I’m glad that you found the blog of interest; unfortunately I cannot help you in your quest as none of the names, other than Thomas D of course, rings a bell with me. The address in London is unfamiliar too although I know that Thomas did spend some time living in the city before returning to Bath. I’m sorry not to be of any help 😦
      Kind Regards

  6. Peter Archard says:

    Hi Karen
    awaiting DNA results, please note new email address
    regards Peter Archard

  7. Maureen Green says:

    Thank you so much for publishing this. Sarah Alford the wife of Thomas Wyate Orchard was my 4x great aunt.

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