London Clay Pipe Studies

The clay tobacco pipe industry in the parishes of St Margaret and St John the Evangelist, Westminster

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11 Greycoat Place (18336)

Greycoat Place (the west end of which was known, from 1847, as Old Rochester Row) originally formed the western end of Great Peter Street. It was named after Grey Coat school (established in 1701, in the former parish workhouse) which stood on the south side of the road. In the first part of the 19th century this was one of the less-heavily developed parts of Westminster, lying between the former Artillery Ground, to the north, and Tothill Fields, to the south. On Horwood's map of 1892–99 a discontinuous row of houses and courts line the north side of the road; Union Court and Bond's Court are named, and these must have been built in the latter part of the 18th century, since they do not appear on Rocque's map of 1747. Other buildings to the east of Bond's Court appear to be shown on the earlier map.

William Monks

The first pipe maker who is known to have worked at this address was William Monks. The only known reference to this maker is in an indenture of 22 August 1833, whereby he took Henry May, a poor boy of the parish of Hornsey, as an apprentice for the term of seven years. The document, which is typical of its type, is reproduced in full as Appendix 6.


Fig 17  Fragment of a pipe probably made by William Monks, from the Thames foreshore at Westminster (drawing by Colin Tatman)

John Joseph Wolfe

Monks was succeeded by John Joseph Wolfe, who advertised in Pigot’s directory for 1836 at Carnadine Buildings, 11 Greycoat Place. It has not been possible to locate the address precisely, but it is thought to have been on the north side of the road, opposite Grey Coat School and between Bond Court and Strutton Ground. The site is occupied now by Westminster Fire Station, built in 1906.  Curiously, Greycoat Place was not mentioned in the parish rate books for 1836 or 1837, although it was recorded in the 1841 census, when it comprised (from west to east) Bond Court, Carnadine Buildings and Mills Buildings. 

John Joseph Wolfe was born on 28 December 1809, the son of Joseph and Mary. He was baptised on 4 March 1810 at St George the Martyr, Southwark. On 30 May 1833 he married Mary Isabella Clarke at St Pancras Old Church. The register states that they were both of that parish. Mary was the daughter of Samuel Clarke, a pipe maker. She was baptised in St Marylebone on 21 June 1813, at which time her father was working as a labourer.

It has proved difficult to establish the movements of the Wolfe family over the next few years. John and Mary's first child, Elizabeth, was born in 1834, although it is not known where they were living at that time. On 12 June 1836 their second daughter Isabella was baptised at St Margaret's Westminster, and Wolfe’s address was given as Rochester Row, Westminster, which was close to Greycoat Place. Their third child, John Joseph, was baptised in the north London parish of St Leonard, Shoreditch on 11 September 1837 and at that time the family’s address was given as Union Place - possibly on the City Road, in the neighbouring parish of St Luke. John Joseph, Junior died in September 1838, at the age of 13 months, and was buried in the churchyard of St John’s, Westminster. According to the register the family were then living at 5 Carnadine Buildings.

No record of John Joseph Wolfe has been found after this date. He must have died soon after his son, but the place and date of his death have not been discovered. There is no record of his burial in the parishes of St John the Evangelist or St Margaret, Westminster.

Another pipe maker, Thomas Nightingale, is known to have been living in Carnadine Buildings in December 1837, when his daughter Jane Ann was baptised at St Margaret's. He might have been an employee of John Joseph Wolfe.

4 Old Rochester Row (183699)

Thomas Stavely Longstaff

On 7 October 1839 (probably less that a year after the death of her first husband) Mary Isabella Wolfe married another pipe maker, Thomas Stavely Longstaff, at the church of St Matthew, Bethnal Green, London. He belonged to a pipe-making family from Spalding, Lincolnshire and was then living at 57 Elizabeth Street, Bethnal Green. His father Henry and other members of the Longstaff family are recorded in Spalding and elsewhere in Lincolnshire (Oswald 1975, 182). At the time of her marriage Mary Isabella was living at 6 Clare Street, Bethnal Green. It is possible that she moved there after her husband’s death to be close to his family, for a Henry and Jonah Wolfe (both painters) were recorded in Elizabeth Street in the 1841 census. Henry Wolfe was almost certainly John Joseph's brother, who was born 19 October 1811 and baptised 29 April 1812 at St Botolph Without Aldgate, London (International Genealogical Index). He had been one of the witnesses to the marriage of Mary Isabella and John Joseph in 1833. The other witness  was Charles Stevenson, a porter, who was living in Clare Street in 1841.

After their marriage Thomas and Mary Isabella Longstaff moved to Westminster, close to where she had lived with her first husband. According to the 1841 census, they lived in Rochester Row (north). This name does not appear on any 19th century maps, and it is difficult to locate the address precisely. However, it is thought to have been at the west end of Greycoat Place, known subsequently as Old Rochester Row. The 1841 census reveals that their family consisted of Thomas and Isabella, and her two daughters from her previous marriage: Elizabeth (aged 7) and Isabella (aged 5). They were all (including the children) described as pipe makers. Also living at the house was John Orgar, a journeyman pipe maker aged 65 and George Joys, an apprentice pipe maker, aged 10 years.

By 1847 Thomas Longstaff’s address was given as 4 Old Rochester Row. This was the first year that the street name appeared in the records and also the first time that Thomas Longstaff was listed as a ratepayer. However, there is no evidence to suggest that the family had moved house since 1841. There were only five houses in Old Rochester Row, all owned by a John Brown. Longstaff’s house was probably the middle one of three on the south side of the street and can be identified on the Ordnance Survey map of 1869 (Fig 17). The Longstaff family probably occupied the ground floor of the house and sub-let the first floor. In later years records show that the house was usually occupied by two families.

Fig 18  Extract from the Ordnance Survey map of 1869 showing the probable location of 4 Old Rochester Row

In 1851 the Census return for 4 Old Rochester Row recorded Thomas and Mary Longstaff and their daughter Elizabeth, all pipe makers. Living with them was an employee, Jonathan Clambtree, aged 18. He might have been related to the Clamtree family of pipe makers recorded elsewhere in London during the 18th and 19th centuries (Oswald 1975, 133–4). James Crisp and his wife Maria occupied the other part of the house. They were both pipe makers in their early twenties, and were presumably employed by Longstaff. They shared the accommodation with George Bell (a horse keeper), his wife and child. James and Maria Crisp lived at 4 Old Rochester Row until at least April 1852, when their son James was baptised.

Fig 19  Fragment of a pipe made by Thomas Stavely Longstaff, from the Thames foreshore at Westminster (drawing by Colin Tatman)

The Longstaff family moved out of 4 Old Rochester Row in 1857/8, but their destination is unknown. In 1859, at the time of her marriage, their daughter Elizabeth Wolfe was living in nearby Rochester Terrace, where she worked as a servant.

William Smith

4 Old Rochester Row was taken over by William Smith, a pipe maker who (according to the 1861 census) was born in Cockfield, County Durham. He and his wife Mary Ann had a three-year-old daughter Mary Ann G. who had been born in St Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster. Soon after moving to Old Rochester Row they baptised a son, Richard (4 April 1858) and later another daughter, Elizabeth (1 September 1861). In 1865 Smith advertised in a trade directory (Atkinson and Oswald 1969, 64). He moved out of Old Rochester Row in 1866/7. A pipe maker of that name was listed in directories at Greek Street, Soho in 1892–9 (Atkinson and Oswald 1969, 64), but it is by no means certain that that was the same man.

Fig 20  Fragment of a pipe made by William Smith at 4 Old Rochester Row, from the Thames foreshore at Westminster (drawing by Colin Tatman)

George Payne

The next occupant was George Payne, but there is some doubt about when he took over the premises. He was listed at the address in Kelly’s directories for the period 1866–87, but did not start paying the rates until 1868. According to the rate assessor the house was empty in 1867.

George’s father, George Payne, Senior, was also a pipe maker but nothing else is known of him. Directories record a George Payne at 1 Castle Street, Saffron Hill (1852–4), 7a Northampton Road, Clerkenwell (1854) and at 46 Parker Street, Drury Lane (1859–60). This could have been father or son. George, Junior married Mary Ann Yelf on 7 December 1840 at St Anne's, Soho. At that time they were both living in Wardour Street. Mary Ann’s father was James Yelf, a shoemaker.

Payne was about 56 years old when he moved into 4 Old Rochester Row. His wife Mary Ann worked with him as a pipe trimmer. The 1881 Census shows that they had a lodger, James Yelf. He was a shopman, aged 65, and was presumably Mary Ann’s brother. The pipe maker John Henry Adams, a Scotsman aged 48, lodged with the Mercer family upstairs.

George Payne remained at 4 Old Rochester Row until at least 1888, when he was listed in the electoral register.

George J Shepherd

The last pipe makers to occupy the house (and also the last pipe makers known to have been working in this part of Westminster) were George J Shepherd and his wife Emma, who worked as his assistant. They were recorded there in the 1891 census, occupying two rooms. They were Londoners, from Stepney and Shoreditch, in their late twenties. George advertised at Old Rochester Row in Kelly’s directory from 1892 until 1899, when the street was demolished. The site of the pipe-makers' house and workshop is occupied now by Townsend House, an office building constructed in the 1920s or 1930s, which in latter years became the headquarters of London Regional Transport. It is unlikely that any remains of the earlier buildings will have survived.

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