Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tea and Sparrows

The Sparrows were a Tea family, part of the regency and Victorian shopping landscape. The enterprise was started by three brothers; Robert, Frederick and Henry. A consanguineous branch also started in tea and turned into small coffee merchants.

Robert Sparrow was born in about 1782 and was the "R" in "F & R. Sparrow" and retired or died fairly early on as he disappears early on in the tea dynasty story, as did his brother Henry (1794-1820) who did die at age twenty at the shop premises in Ludgate Hill. The man engine seems to have been Frederick (1778-?) who sired several children, one of whom was a Frederick II, another tea merchant, and a grandson, Frederick Hartley Sparrow, also in Tea, taking the house of Sparrow all the way to the end of the Victorian age.

The three brothers had another brother, Francis, of whom I know little, but his daughter Beatrice married Thomas Phythian (born 1804), a Welsh based wine merchant who started Phythian's, another well known Grand Store in London. Francis also had a son Owen, whose own son, another Owen II tried the wine and tea business but died early and hadn't done as well, but Owen II's children, Thomas, George, Henry and even a Fanny Sparrow, all went into small businesses in Wine, Tea, and Henry was particularly well known for Sparrows Continental coffee.

How this family came to start in the business or raise the capital is not known but they came from a Cheshire family, sired from a family of Sparrows in whom the name Ambrose occurs several times over the course of the Jacobean period through to the Restoration. I am assuming this is an indication of some achievement that left a long legacy.  The three big Sparrow brothers had an Uncle Thomas who was the lawyer for the Wedgewood Company.

Ludgate Hill was the epicenter of the Tea Warehouse 'franchise' for the Sparrow brothers, being at 6 and 8 Ludgate Hill, separated by George Smith, Haberdasher at 8 Ludgate Hill. Soon after this George Smith, haberdasher disappears but at No. 10 there was Everington and Graham's Indian Shawl Warehouse for which he became a buyer, often going to the continent for business and buying trips. In 1846 George opens his own Shawl Warehouse at 32 Ludgate Hill, just across the road from No's 8, 9 and 10. But George's success was short lived and he ended up back in the victualler business, ending his days as a grocer.

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