While searching through census records on the Ansteds, I noted that both Thomas Ansted (my great-great-great-great-great grandfather) and John Ansted (my great-great-great-great grandfather) were listed as brokers. In one census, John was listed as a fruit broker. Once I had that detail, I decided to search Google for <Ansted and fruit broker> and, lo and behold, up popped Clark & Ansted, fruit brokers. So, I kept digging and this is what I have come up with on the company to date.
The first mention I have found of the company was a notice of auction published in the Times of London on Friday, February 22, 1793. At that time the company was operating as Fielder, Clark and Ansted:
At Garraway’s Coffee-house, ‘Change-alley, Cornhill, THIS DAY,
the 22d Instant, at Twelve o’Clock,
A PARCEL of the most superior new FRUIT
just landed from MALAGA, consisting of
738 Boxes Bloom }
200 Muscatel } Raisins
Now to be viewed at the place of landing, Ralph’s Quay, and
until the time of Sale, where Catalogues may be had, at the Place
of Sale, and of FIELDER, CLARK and ANSTED, Brokers,
No. 2, Idol-lane, Tower-street.
The company appears to have dealt exclusively in dried fruit such as raisins and currants. Most of the auctions I found records for involved shipments from Malaga in Spain.
The company is listed in the 1794 Kent’s Directory as Fielder, Clark & Ansted, Fruit brokers, 2, Idol la. Tower str.
The data for that directory must have been collected the year prior or early in 1794 because by April 1794 the company is named Clark and Ansted.
From the Times of London, April 12, 1794:
At Garraway’s, on Tuesday, the 15th Instant, at 5 o’Clock, for Benefit of Salvage,
THE FOLLOWING GOODS, being
the Cargo of the Emanuel Picolo, Capt. Ragusin, Strand-
ed off New Haven, viz.
95 Butts Currants | 8 Small Casks ditto
33 Hogsheads ditto | 32 Carrotee’s ditto
19 Pipes ditto | Part damaged
To be viewed on Monday and Tuesday, till the time of Sale,
at Smart’s Quay, near Billingsgate, where Catalogues may be
had, at the Place of Sale and of
CLARK and ANSTED, Brokers
No. 40 Philpot-lane, Fenchurch-Street
The company has also moved and is now located in Philpot-lane. The company remains in that location until approximately 1811.
Many of the early auctions were held at Garraway’s Coffee House. Coffee houses were centres for business through much of the 18th and 19th centuries. Garraway’s was opened in 1669 by Thomas Garraway, the first person to import tea into England. It was a four-storey brick building with mahogany boxes and seats on the main floor. Businessmen would go there, and to other coffee houses, to eat, drink and transact business. The building was ultimately torn down in 1873. Clark and Ansted also transacted business at Hambro’ Coffee House, as evidenced by ads in the Times in 1800. (For a more indepth look into coffee houses this article is worth a read.)
In 1811, the London Commerical Sale Rooms were built in Mincing-Lane to provide offices and a market place. The Sale Rooms eventually became the London Commodity Exchange in 1954. Clark and Ansted appear to have moved into offices in that building by 1820, the year Thomas’ eldest son John was married. His marriage announcement gave Mincing Lane as his business address. After Thomas’ death in 1846, the following advertisement appeared in the Times of London on November 23:
LONDON COMMERCIAL SALE ROOMS: —
Notice is hereby given, that a SPECIAL GENERAL MEETING of Proprietors will be held a the Institution, in Mincing-lane, on Monday, the 30th day of November inst., for the purpose of electing two Trustees of the said Institution, in the place of Robert Humphrey Marten and Thomas Ansted, Esquires, deceased. The chair will be taken and business commence at 12 o`clock at noon precisely.
By order of the Directors,
GEORGE MARTEN, Chief Clerk and Solicitor.
Chief Clerk`s Office, Mincing-lane, Nov 23, 1846.
It appears that Thomas was a Trustee of the commercial sale rooms.
It is evident from Thomas’ will that following Thomas’ death his son John took over the Ansted half of the company. In an issue of the London Gazette in 1853, an announcement was posted to note the dissolution of the partnership between Clark and the Ansteds:
39, Mincing-lane, London, September 12, 1853.
Notice is hereby given, that the Partnership hitherto existing between John Nassau Clark, John Ansted and John Ansted, junr., under the firm of Clark, Ansted, and Co., has this day been dissolved by mutual consent; and that the business will in future be carried out by John Ansted and John Ansted, junr., under the firm of Clark, Ansted, and Co.
John Nassau Clark.
John Ansted, junr.
Beyond this notice, I have yet to find much evidence of the company’s doings from 1846 until the late 1850s. In this post, I outline the company’s business in Australia. Since the company had expanded its business overseas, I am assuming that it was doing quite well.
In 1876 both John Sr. and John Jr. are on a List of Brokers in the Times of London (published January 14, 1876):
The company appears to have moved back into premises in Philpot-lane some time between 1846 and 1877. It appears John Sr. and John Jr. were working together up until John Jr. passed away in 1876. John Sr. died the following year and it looks like Clark and Anstead was taken over by John Jr.’s two sons. The January 13, 1883 list of Brokers in the Times of London, shows that control of the company has passed to Alfred and Edward Ansted:
The company has also moved again – this time to 40 St. Mary-at-hill.
The next reference I have found for the company is from 1914. The Whitakers Red Book, 1914, includes a listing for Clark, Ansted and Co. under Fruit (Dried and Preserved).
That is the last reference I have found for the company. It is no longer in existence today. I suspect it may have closed its doors some time between Edward Ansted’s death in 1917 and Alfred’s in 1936.
While 1793 is the first documented evidence I have of the company’s existence, I have recently uncovered an interesting clipping that suggests they had been in business considerably longer than that. In the August 9, 1878 Times of London, the company responded to a previous story with a letter to the editor. The original story, published in the Times on August 8, 1878, read:
THE DISRAELI FAMILY AND THE CITY – Lord Beaconsfield’s grandfather was connected with, if not a parter in, the house now Messers. Clark, Ansted & Co., fruit brokers, Mincing-lane. The name of Disraeli may still be seen on the books of the firm. The father of Earl Beaconsfield bought a life annuityof the Corporation, which he received until his death. The balance due to his estate was paid to the present Lord Beaconsfield, whose signature, together with that of his father, can still be seen on the books of the Chamberlain’s office, Guildhall. — City Press.
The letter to the editor stated:
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.
Sir, –It is true that we have the name of Benjamin D’Israeli on our books as far back as 1763, but the con-nexion with that gentleman was merely that of principal and brokers. We are, respectfully, yours,
London, Aug. 8 CLARK, ANSTED AND CO.
The company, in some form, was apparently in existence from at least the early 1760s. And the fact it was connected, in any fashion, with a name like Disraeli* is quite impressive to me.
I will leave Clark, Ansted and Co. here for now, though I have not given up hope of discovering yet more information on the company or the family.
*Benjamin D’Israeli was born in Cento, Italy in 1730. He came to England in 1748 and settled there as a merchant. He died in 1816. His son, Issac (1766-1848), was a writer and scholar. Issac’s son Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, (1804-1881) was Prime Minister of England from 1871 and 1877. (Disraeli information from Wikipedia.)