A Tobacco Story – K.Hart8th May 2014 by webspinner
I can remember talking to Dennis the gardener, one day in 1983, he would come to mow our lawns each week and would pop into the kitchen for a cup of tea, a biscuit and a chat. I mentioned that I was going to look for the Taddy snuff-mills on the river Wandle. He said that he knew where they were and would take me there. I jumped into his car and off we went. I didn’t know until that moment that Dennis had worked on the estate, providing flowers for Morden Cottage. I can still remember being excited at seeing the mills, Morden Hall and Morden Cottage. Workmen were at Mill Cottage; this had been the hpme of the mill foreman a Mr Groves, his daughter Emma was allowed to stay on at the cottage until her death in 1982. They were also working on Morden Cottage (now used as a Registrar’s Office) that was next door to one of the snuff-mills.
The workmen thought that there was woodworm in the old house, it being a weather boarded 18th Century cottage. Instead it was snuff that had got between the wooden boards. Dennis had a word with the registrar and he came back with a small pot with some snuff in it. I was so excited; I couldn’t have been more pleased. “Real Taddy Snuff”. This encouraged me to find out more about this company. The one thing that I haven’t been able to find is the established date; there are so many conflicting dates. Guildhall Library in London have checked their business directories from 1738, the first James Taddy was listed in 1784. I know that James went to London in 1765 to learn the trade. I can only think that he went to a family business, not in his name, his father or grandfather may have had money connections. I have only written what I know; in the hope it may interest a few.
It was the 1914-18 war that had lost Taddy and Company a lot of skilled workers; they disliked and opposed the unions but owing to the scarcity of labour had employed union members,
I was in 1920 in the Minories in London that a strike had taken place over wages and union representation. John Collins, a packer, was charged with a violent assault on a Francis Lloyd, a foreman who had continued to work, Mr Collins was sent to prison for two months with hard labour. Taddy and Company had said that if there was a strike, they would close the business, this they did, I think burning all papers. Hence the difficulty in finding information. It was on the 25th June 1920 the company closed their doors, and a circular was given out.
“We beg to inform you that we have decided to close our business as from the above date, and we desire to express our thanks to you all for the orders you have favoured us with in the past.
James Taddy and Company”
We must go back in to 1664. Three generations with the same name James Taddy. The first Baptist was in 1664 then the next was in 1710, both it the Parish of St. John the Baptist in Margate, Kent. The 2nd James Taddy met a Sarah Mussered and they were married in 1736. Over the years they had eleven children. The seventh child they named James, he was born on the 3rd April 1747, then Susanna was born the following year, then Edward in 1750, Anne in 1751 and Mary in 1753.
The family lived at Street Farm near Margate. At this time in history Margate was a small town with a tiny harbour. Its industries then were malting, brewing, fishing, corn growing and coastal shipping. When their father died in 1764 he was buried in the Parish Church of St John the Baptist, where you can see the Hatchments, the large painted shields of arms and you will find some information on the Taddy family. The following year, 1765, James the son was eighteen, he went to London to a firm of merchants dealing in tobacco, spices and cocoa. He started in the lowest ranks learning the trade. Then in 1784 James Taddy is listed as a tobacconist at “Old Swan” this was probably Old Swan Lane, a turning off Thames Street, London. Then in 1785 Taddy was a tobacconist and snuff maker at 109, Fenchurch Street, London, having partners and being known as “Taddy, Tomlin and Hatfeild” later a Mr Friend joined them.
James Taddy married a Judith Flesher a widow, her husband had been a Tea Dealer at 69, Fenchurch Street. James’s brother Edward married Mary Friend, they lived at the Dane, Kent. He was reputed to own land stretching almost from Northdown to Reculver. His sister Susanna Taddy married William Tomlin of Birchington, Anne Taddy married John Hatfeild, a banker from Norwich and Mary Taddy married John Friend from Birchington, Kent. The families became closely interlinked through marriage and business.
Then in 1813 the company moved to 45, Minories, London. Some old tenements were pulled down, a coach house and stables was built, with workshops and machinery put in for the manufacture of tobacco and snuff. The company was called “Taddy, Tomlin, Hatfeild and Friend”. Years later they acquired more frontage on the Minories, the address was then No. 42-45, Minories, London. James Taddy and his wife Judith had bought a house and estate called “Hartsdown”, this was in Margate, Kent. It was said by Captain A.C. Hatfeild J.P. that in the closing years of the eighteenth century, James Taddy gave the land on which the “Sea Bathing Hospital” was built in Margate. He also became the first London Treasurer to the hospital.
It was possible to travel in those days from Margate to London by coach and horses. Three coaches left daily at 4 o’clock in the morning, the price was one pound four shillings, or you could go by Hoy (boat) for five shillings. Early in the 1820s the Steam Boats would leave Margate weekly, going up the river Thames to London at the cost of twelve shillings. Although James Taddy being wealthy must have had his own coach and horses. It was in 1815 that James Taddy welcomed John Gilliat into his family circle. John’s daughter Elizabeth Gilliat married Alexander Hatfeild, he was the son of John Hatfeild and Anne (Taddy). John Gilliat was an eminent tobacco merchant and the largest London importer. When John was a young man he inherited money from his father and decided to go to Virginia, America. He was joined by his brother Thomas. They established an interest in tobacco and cotton, most of their business was in Richmond, Virginia, but they also had an interest with others in Norfolk, Virginia, a “Wholesale Merchants Establishment”.
In 1796 land was acquired by Thomas Gilliat, an area of over 15,000 acres in Amherst County. I have made enquiries at the library in Virginia and researches have found that there was a plantation on this land, and that area was likely to have been used for growing tobacco. It was said that the Gilliats also had an interest in the West Indies. I think this may have been tobacco and sugar, my researches have also found that a Charles and George Banks were “Sugar Refiners” and they were also related to the Tomlins and Taddy families by marriage. It appears that every business had to be kept in the family. I have had in the past Taddy snuff jars, which were recovered from a “dig” in the West Indies. James Taddy may have traded there through the Gilliats.
An interesting item in the book called “The History of the Royal Sea Bathing Hospital” by E.G. St. Clair Strange, it tells us on page 108 that the Trinidad Planters gave unexpected funds to the hospital. I think that James Taddy being the Treasurer to the hospital, may have asked for a donation. It was decided that Thomas Gilliat would remain in America and John should be based permanently in England. He opened offices in London, an old tobacco label gives an address of 1, Throgmorton Street, and a later address was 123, Fenchurch Street, London. John Gilliat lived at Clapham, London. When he died on the 19th April 1819 he was buried in the family vault at St. Paul’s Church, Rectory Grove, Clapham. (The old spelling is Gilliatt with a double t). His eldest son, John Kirton Gilliat took over the family business in London and his younger brother William Henry managed the Liverpool office. Alexander Hatfeild and Elizabeth (Gilliat) had a son in 1826 they named him Gilliat Hatfeild, keeping the name Gilliat in the family. Two years later on the 27th June 1828 James Taddy died aged 82, he was buried in the same church as his father.
James didn’t have any children so the business was in the hands of Alexander Hatfeild. In 1831 the Company had taken a lease for land and a snuff-mill on the river Wandle at Morden in Surrey. This mill had been in the hands of the Polhills. Nathaniel, Edward and Robert had been well known for their Black Rappee snuff and they had an address in High Street, Boro’ London, where they had sold snuff for over 70 years. A fresh lease was granted to Alexander Hatfeild, George Friend and William Tomlin being partners. The business was then known as Taddy and Company. The Minories were close by the London Docks and warehouses. Most of the tobacco came from Virginia and was taken to the tobacco warehouse. It was considered to be in bond, under the care of the state and could not be removed until the duty was paid. A small rent was paid during the time it remained in the warehouse.
In various parts of the building were scales for weighing the hogsheads of tobacco each one averaging twelve hundred pounds of tobacco. A supervising officer would examine the quality, some being damaged by seawater or bad packaging. This would be cut away, then burned in a large kiln, the ashes were then sold for manure. Some hogsheads were taken by Taddy and Company opened ready for preparation, the plant was dug out by the aid of an iron instrument. The leaves were so compressed they became almost impossible to separate. The heaps were sprinkled with water, technically termed “liquoring” so the leaves could be separated. The stripping or taking off the stalk was work carried out by the women, for one of threeforms in which it was used, cigar, tobacco or snuff. Most of the snuff at Morden was brown, but they made one very dark snuff, a perfumed variety made with the addition of the Tonka bean, the seed of a tree of Central America, which was ground in with the snuff. Once a week a carter using a four-horse dray conveyed the filled barrels to the Minories in London.
The snuff was put into stone jars and sealed with a cork. The carter would return to Morden with barrels of leaf waste and stalks for grinding. The Hatfeilds lived at Morden Cottage. Alexander’s son Gilliat had grown up and married Jesse Ellen Davis, they had a son in 1864, they named him Gilliat Edward Hatfeild. Alexander died in 1865, his son Gilliat was left in control. By 1873 Taddy and Company had agreed to buy the freehold of two snuff-mills on the river Wandle also Morden Hall a lovely house, Morden Cottage, Mill Cottage and other land and property. The fmal portion of the Morden Estate was handed over to the Hatfeilds in 1884.
It was said that the mills produced 6,000 pounds of snuff each month. Most of Taddy’s business had been snuff and pipe tobacco. Then cigarettes came into vogue. Taddy’s cigarettes were being handmade by skilled cigarette makers. A lot were sold by weight and the Company gave away Counter Cabinets to hold the cigarettes. A few brands that were sold this way were, Egyptian Blend, El-Majdat, Golden Hinde, Gridle and No.4 Turkish. Then paper packets and cardboard packets were produced for such brands as Myrtle Grove, Mild and Medium, Premier and Premier Navy cut, Picaroon, Sampan, Imperial, Gold Flaked– Leaf and Red Ray. By 1897 cigarette cards were being put into their packets. That year the Company produced “Actresses Collotype” and a five card set called “English Royalty”. Then the next year came a set called “Royalty, Actresses and Soldiers”. 1899 brought us “Natives of the World”. In 1900 a set of twenty cards called “Clown and Circus Artistes”, these cards were produced but didn’t go out on general release. Only a few sets got out of the factory.
It was on the 29th July 1987 at Phillips Auctioneers, that they sold a set for k15,500.–plus 10% premium making a total of J,17,050. This was a breathtaking price as Murray’s catalogue price at the time was only k6,500.00. I have never seen the packet only an illustration of one with a date of 21st December 1900, this was in a copy of “Tobacco Journal”. Taddy and Company had asked Harry Payne a military artist, being a man of accuracy of uniform detail, to do the drawings and paintings for the cigarette cards for V.C. Heroes 1-20 and 21-40. From his papers left to his family, this was confirmed. One set of cards that was popular at the time was a set called Dogs, this was in 1900. Collecting as I did in the 1970s Actresses and Beauties and Military were popular, now today in 2003 it has changed to Cricket and Football. The Company had its own club called “The Myrtle Grove Athletic Club” I know little about the club except they had a music concert once a year.
The Company produced other sets of cigarette cards but too many to mention. They can be found in a good catalogue with a price guide. Taddy produced some interesting items to promote their brands, one was a circular waistcoat pocket mirror pincushion with a calendar back for 1897. Another item for that year was a light aluminium coin called “Four Generations of the British Royal Family”. This was Queen Victoria holding her great-grandson, known later as Edward VIII, on her left her son Edward VII and on her right her grandson George V. On the reverse side of the coin was Taddy & Co., Myrtle Grove Tobacco and Cigarettes, this is a very rare item. Then in 1899 a metal hinged calendar and ruler, for Taddy’s ORBIT tobacco and Myrtle Grove cigarettes. I will mention a few show cards, one black and white card for 1885 was advertising their tobacco, snuffs and cigarettes as the Company had won a prize medal at the Antwerp Exhibition that year. One large show card was of Sir Walter Raleigh’s head coming through a large tobacco leaf.
Another show card of Sir Walter Raleigh was him soothing his mind with tobacco he had brought back from Virginia, when his Irish servant thinking his master was on fire – dashed water over him. Another card was of an old veteran of the Crimean War (1854-1856) puffing his clay pipe (filled with Imperial Tobacco), his memories depicted in the puffs of smoke are, going to war, being injured, and being decorated by Queen Victoria. In 1892 a representative of Taddy and Co., a Mr. H. Atkins spent twelve months in South Africa visiting all principal towns and ports and said that there was hardly any club, hotel or general store in South Africa in which Myrtle Grove or Fort cigarettes were not kept, all cigarettes were being hand-made by skilled workers and were being manufactured in England. In 1900 Taddy produced for the South African market M.L.A. cigarettes, representing “Leading Members of the Legislative Assembly” with cigarette cards, having six different backs. Advertising either Myrtle Grove, M.L.A.Vali or Picaroon cigarettes or Premier Navy cut tobacco or Royal Charter mixture, also a show card was produced for M.L.A.
On the 17th Ocfober 1900 the Company did an advertisement procession through the streets of Port Elizabeth advertising Fan-Tan cigarettes and Myrtle Grove the latter in packets of 12 cigarettes, the English market was only 10. I mention this for packet collectors. Back to the home market,Taddy produced an interesting tin in 1882 for the brand Myrtle Grove, it showed a picture of the house by that name. The house had been built in 1588 for Sir Walter Raleigh in Youghal in the County of Cork, Ireland, where he was Mayor in 1588-89. In the garden some of the Myrtles exceeded 20 feet in height, it was the shade that gave the place the name “Myrtle Grove”. One pretty cigar box called “Myrtle Belle” was of a lady’s head and shoulders, she was wearing a hat with flowers, this was produced in 1892. The same lady was used on an enamel advert, a small flat cigarette tin and paper bags for loose cigarettes, with the head in blue or red, the latter being very scarce. I have only mentioned some of the items produced by the Company, that I hope will be of interest. Morden Hall was the family home for the Hatfeilds, they also had Morden Cottage that was smaller which they preferred. Gilliat Hatfeild died in 1906, it was said that his son Gilliat Edward was away on tobacco business, he returned taking control of the Company.
Gilliat Edward lived at Morden Cottage during the first World War 1914-18. Morden Hall was fitted out at his expense and was known as the convalescent annexe to the London Hospital. This was used as a centre for wounded soldiers. Behind the stable yard, some soldiers were able to have plots of land to help in their rehabilitation. Gilliat Edward Hatfeild never married, he lived on at the cottage. In 1920 when he closed the Minories in London, he laid off all staff in London, but offered the mill staff at Morden other positions on his estate. The Morden Hall estate was over 120 acres, having a large deer park and dairy cattle that grazed by the water meadows. It was said that he was a man who loved nature, it must have been a very peaceful life away from London. On Sunday 9th February 1941 he died, leaving Morden Hall and the grounds to the National Trust.
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