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Posts Tagged ‘Elizabeth (Gurney) Fry’

Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Joseph Fry (Tea Merchant)
21 April 1777 – 28 August 1861

Joseph Fry (Tea Merchant) was born in London 21 April 1777, the youngest of the three sons, (one of whom died aged 27) and three daughters of William Storrs Fry and Elizabeth Fry (born Lambert), who were “plain” Quakers. His father had moved from Wiltshire to London and established a company dealing in tea and banking services, later called W. S. Fry & Sons.

W.S. Fry’s brother Joseph Fry founded the chocolate factory that was later to become J. S. Fry & Sons and a type-founding works in Bristol, for which the Fry family is famous.

The brothers Joseph and William Fry joined the family business. However, their mother is credited with “the financial acumen which had enabled money both to be acquired and prudently managed: it was a quality which perhaps neither of the sons inherited”.

On 19 August 1800 at the Norwich Quaker Meeting House, Goats Lane, Norwich, Joseph married Elizabeth Gurney, daughter of John Gurney and Catherine Gurney. The bride’s family were proverbially wealthy bankers, originally based in Norwich.

There were five sons and six daughters (one of whom died in infancy):

  • Katharine (Kitty) Fry born 22 August 1801, unmarried
  • Rachel Elizabeth Fry born 25 March 1803 died 1888, married Francis Cresswell
  • John Fry born 1804 died 1872, married Rachel Reynolds
  • William Storrs Fry born 1 June 1806, died 1844, married Juliana Pelly
  • Richenda Fry born 18 February 1808, died 1884 married Foster Reynolds
  • Joseph Fry born 20 September 1809, died 1896, married Alice Partridge
  • Elizabeth (Betsy) Fry born February 1811, died 1815
  • Hannah Fry born 12 September 1812, died 10 March 1895, married William Champion Streatfeild of Chart’s Edge, Westerham, Kent
  • Louisa Fry born 1814, died 1896, married Raymond Pelly
  • Samuel Fry born 1816 (known as “Gurney”), married Sophia Pinkerton
  • Daniel Fry, known as “Henry” or “Harry”, born October 1822 died 1892, married Lucy Sheppard

During the 1812 financial panic in the City of London, William Fry precipitated a crisis, by lending a large amount of the bank’s money to his wife’s family, undermining its solvency. It was Joseph’s wife, with her Gurney financial grasp and her connections, who pulled things through; her brother John Gurney , brother-in-law Samuel Hoare III and cousin Hudson Gurney came to inspect the firm’s accounts and, left her in no doubt that they would do “what is needful for us” which, meant a large investment in the W.S. Fry & Sons bank.

During the 1825 City financial crisis, Elizabeth Fry’s relations saved the firm from bankruptcy. When the same problems recurred in 1828, no further Gurney support was offered and on 21 November, W.S. Fry closed.

The Gurneys acted as receivers and saved the tea merchant business, placing it under their control with Joseph Fry on a salary of £600 per year.

Bankruptcy was not tolerated by the Religious Society of Friends. Joseph Fry was disowned by Ratcliff & Barking Monthly Meeting in May 1829: however he was re-instated, with much admonition in 1838.

When they were first married, they lived “over the shop” in St. Mildred Court, Poultry, City of London. After his father’s death in 1808, they moved to the grander Plashet House, East Ham. In 1829, they needed to reduce their expenditure and moved to a smaller house in “The Cedars”, Upton Lane. After the death of Joseph’s sister, Elizabeth Fry, they moved to her home, Plashet Cottage, East Ham. He lived there until his death on 28 August 1861.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Samuel Hoare Jr.
9 August 1751 – 14 July 1825

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Samuel Hoare Jr.

Samuel Hoare Jr. was a wealthy British Quaker merchant and abolitionist born in Stoke Newington, the north of London. He was one of the twelve founding members of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade.

His parents were Samuel Hoare (1716-1796), a London merchant from an Irish background, and Grizell Gurnell (1722? – 1802), of Ealing. It was a numerous family, although the eldest son, Joseph, died at 25. His only surviving brother Jonathan, merchant of Throgmorton Street, partner in Gurnell, Hoare & Co, built a mansion in what became Clissold Park, across Stoke Newington Church Street from the family home in Paradise Row. Jonathan ran into financial difficulties, which led Samuel Jr to attempt to assist him. One of their sisters married Thomas Bradshaw, a linen manufacturer in Ireland. Another, Mary, married the abolitionist Joseph Woods and bore the more famous botanist and architect son of the same name. The youngest sister Grizell (1757-1835) married Wilson Birkbeck in 1801, having stayed at home as nurse and companion to her father; as a wealthy 72 year old widow, she married William Allen, another notable Quaker abolitionist, with whom she founded Newington Academy for Girls in 1824. Their elderly marriage was greeted by a satirical cartoon entitled “Sweet William & Grizzell-or- Newington nunnery in an uproar!!!” by Robert Cruikshank.

Samuel Jr was sent away to school when he was five years old, returning home only once a year. The school was in Penketh, between Warrington and Widnes on the Irwell, and was run by Gilbert Thompson. In his mid teens he became apprenticed to Henry Gurney in Norwich, a woolen manufacturer. He had some connection with the Freshfield family there; James William Freshfield lived in Fleetwood House on Stoke Newington Church Street. He followed several branches of the Hoare family in pursuing a career in banking.

He married Sarah (1757–1783), the eldest daughter of Samuel Gurney (1723–1770) of the Gurney family (Norwich), and 90 friends and relatives witnessed their marriage. They lived first in Old Broad Street and could afford four servants without scrimping. Their children were Sarah (b. 1777), Hannah (b. 1779), and Grizell (known as Sophia or Sophy) (1781), and a son.

Hannah died ten days later, and was buried at Winchmore Hill. The widower moved his family back to Stoke Newington, in the same street as his father, so that his sisters, particularly Grizell, could help raise the children.

His main interest at this time was the abolition of the slave trade and the establishment of Sunday schools across the country. He was also involved in a plan to establish a free black colony in Sierra Leone. Many of his neighbours were abolitionists. From 1774 James Stephen spent his summers in Stoke Newington at the Summerhouse next to Fleetwood House.

In 1772 he became a junior partner in the Lombard Street bank of Bland and Barnett, which became Barnett, Hoare & Co. The bank traded under the sign of the black horse. Further mergers followed, to form Barnetts, Hoares, Hanbury & Lloyd and unlimately in 1884, Lloyds Banking Company took over Barnetts, Hoares, Hanbury & Lloyd in a bid to gain a foothold in London and acquired the black horse sign which continues in use as the Lloyd’s TSB logo. The leading partner in Barnetts, Hoares, Hanbury & Lloyd, Edward Broadie Hoare, joined the Lloyds board of directors and became Deputy Chairman.

In 1788 he married the nineteen-year-old daughter of Henry and Mary Sterry, of Bush Hill, Enfield and Hatton Garden. The family holidayed in Cromer, and kept up the connections with his first wife’s relatives. Later his illness drove him to take the family to Bath, where a medical man advised him that the New River, running so close to Stoke Newington Church Street and Clissold Park, might be harming his health. In 1790 they moved to higher ground: Heath House, a prominent mansion in Hampstead.

In 1794 they became friends with Anna Laetitia Barbauld, and through her met Joseph Priestley. They knew Amelia Alderson, later Mrs Opie, Mary Knowles, the intimate of Samuel Johnson, and William Savory, a Philadelphia minister. In Bath in a later year he conversed with Hannah More.

In 1802 his daughter Hannah married Thomas Marlborough Pryor. His son Samuel (1783–1847) learned banking in Lombard Street from 1803, and in 1806 he married Louisa Gurney (1784 – 1836) of Earlham Hall near Norwich. This connected the family to (Gurney’s Bank), and also to Louisa’s siblings Elizabeth Fry, prison reformer, Joseph John Gurney and Samuel Gurney, philanthropists, and Daniel Gurney, banker and antiquary. The marriage was strongly supported by Samuel Hoare Jr. According to his daughter Sarah, “I know of no event which gave my father more pleasure than the engagement of his son to the daughter of his old friend. With perfect confidence in her principles, and a persuasion that she would make my brother happy, he was pleased with her being, like my mother, a Norfolk woman, and interested himself much in procuring for them an house at Hampstead that they might be established near him.”

His descendants included Sir Samuel Hoare, M.P., and Viscount Templewood.

His banking firm later merged with those of Joseph John Gurney and Barclays to form part of Barclays Bank

The historian Peter Brock notes that Hoare wasn’t wholly convinced by Quaker pacifism and quotes him as saying that he “looked upon [war] in the present state of society as a necessary evil” and that it “is the duty of a man to defend his country”.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Elizabeth (Gurney) Fry
21 May 1780 – 12 October 1845
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Elizabeth Fry

Elizabeth (Betsy) Gurney was born in Gurney Court, off Magdalen Street, Norwich, Norfolk, England to the Quaker family of the Gurneys. Her family home as a child was Earlham Hall, which is now part of the University of East Anglia. Her father, John Gurney, was a partner in Gurney’s bank. Her mother, Catherine, was a part of the Barclay family, who were among the founders of Barclays Bank. Her mother died when Elizabeth was only twelve years old. As one of the oldest girls in the family, Elizabeth was partly responsible for the care and training of the younger children, including her brother Joseph John Gurney, a philanthropist. One of her sisters was Louisa Gurney Hoare, a writer on education.

At the age of 18, young Elizabeth was deeply moved by the preaching of William Savery, an American Quaker. Motivated by his words, she took an interest in the poor, the sick, and the prisoners. She collected old clothes for the poor, visited those who were sick in her neighbourhood, and started a Sunday school in the summer house to teach children to read.

She met Joseph Fry (1777–1861), a banker and also a Quaker, when she was twenty years old. They married on 19 August 1800 at the Norwich Goat Lane Friends Meeting House and moved to St Mildred’s Court in the City of London. Elizabeth Fry was recorded as a Minister of the Religious Society of Friends in 1811.

Joseph and Elizabeth Fry lived in Plashet House in East Ham between 1809 and 1829, then moved to Upton Lane in Forest Gate. They had eleven children, five sons and six daughters:

  1. Katharine (Kitty) Fry
  2. Rachel Elizabeth Fry, married Francis Cresswell
  3. John Gurney Fry of Warley Lodge, married Rachel Reynolds
  4. William Storrs Fry, married Juliana Pelly
  5. Richenda Fry, married Foster Reynolds
  6. Joseph Fry, married Alice Partridge
  7. Elizabeth (Betsy) Fry
  8. Hannah Fry, married William Champion Streatfeild
  9. Louisa Fry, married Raymond Pelly (brother of Juliana, William’s wife)
  10. Samuel Fry born, married Sophia Pinkerton aunt to poet & translator Percy Edward Pinkerton
  11. Daniel Fry, known as “Henry” or “Harry”, married Lucy Sheppard

Prompted by a family friend, Stephen Grellet, Fry visited Newgate prison. The conditions she saw there horrified her. The women’s section was overcrowded with women and children, some of whom had not even received a trial. They did their own cooking and washing in the small cells in which they slept on straw. Elizabeth Fry wrote in the book Prisons in Scotland and the North of England that she actually stayed the nights in some of the prisons and invited nobility to come and stay and see for themselves the conditions prisoners lived in. Her kindness helped her gain the friendship of the prisoners and they began to try to improve their conditions for themselves.

She returned the following day with food and clothes for some of the prisoners. She was unable to further her work for nearly four years because of difficulties within the Fry family, including financial difficulties in the Fry bank. Fry returned in 1816 and was eventually able to found a prison school for the children who were imprisoned with their parents. She began a system of supervision and required the women to sew and to read the Bible. In 1817 she helped found the Association for the Reformation of the Female Prisoners in Newgate. This led to the eventual creation of the British Ladies’ Society for Promoting the Reformation of Female Prisoners, widely described by biographers and historians as constituting the first “nationwide” women’s organisation in Britain.

Thomas Fowell Buxton, Fry’s brother-in-law, was elected to Parliament for Weymouth and began to promote her work among his fellow MPs. In 1818 Fry gave evidence to a House of Commons committee on the conditions prevalent in British prisons, becoming the first woman to present evidence in Parliament.

Elizabeth Fry also helped the homeless, establishing a “nightly shelter” in London after seeing the body of a young boy in the winter of 1819/1820. In 1824, during a visit to Brighton, she instituted the Brighton District Visiting Society. The society arranged for volunteers to visit the homes of the poor and provide help and comfort to them. The plan was successful and was duplicated in other districts and towns across Britain.

After her husband went bankrupt in 1828, Fry’s brother became her business manager and benefactor. Thanks to him, her work went on and expanded.

In 1840 Fry opened a training school for nurses. Her programme inspired Florence Nightingale, who took a team of Fry’s nurses to assist wounded soldiers in the Crimean War.

In 1842, Frederick William IV of Prussia went to see Fry in Newgate Prison during an official visit to Great Britain. The King of Prussia, who had met the social reformer during her previous tours of the continent promoting welfare change and humanitarianism, was so impressed by her work that he told his reluctant courtiers that he would personally visit the gaol when he was in London.

Fry became well known in society. Some people praised her for having such an influential role as a woman. Others alleged that she was neglecting her duties as a wife and mother in order to conduct her humanitarian work. One admirer was Queen Victoria, who granted her an audience a few times and contributed money to her cause. Another admirer was Robert Peel who passed several acts to further her cause including the Gaols Act 1823. The act was largely ineffective, because there were no inspectors to make sure that it was being followed.

Following her death in 1845, a meeting chaired by the Lord Mayor of London, resolved that it would be fitting “to found an asylum to perpetuate the memory of Mrs Fry and further the benevolent objects to which her life had been devoted.” * A fine 18th-century town house was purchased at 195 Mare Street, in the London Borough of Hackney and the first Elizabeth Fry refuge opened its doors in 1849. Funding came via subscriptions from various city companies and private individuals, supplemented by income from the inmates’ laundry and needlework. Such training was an important part of the refuge’s work. In 1924, the refuge merged with the Manor House Refuge for the Destitute, in Dalston in Hackney, becoming a hostel for girls on probation for minor offences. The hostel soon moved to larger premises in Highbury, Islington and then, in 1958, to Reading, where it remains today. The original building in Hackney became the CIU New Lansdowne Club but became vacant in 2000 and has fallen into disrepair. Hackney Council, in 2009, was leading efforts to restore the building and bring it back into use. The building did undergo substantial refurbishment work in 2012 but as of July 2013, the entire building is for sale. The building and Elizabeth Fry are commemorated by a plaque at the entrance gateway.

Elizabeth Fry died from a stroke in Ramsgate, England, on 12 October 1845. Her remains were buried in the Friends’ burial ground at Barking. Seamen of the Ramsgate Coast Guard flew their flag at half mast in respect of Mrs Fry; a practice that until this occasion had been officially reserved for the death of a ruling monarch. More than a thousand people stood in silence during the burial.

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