The footman and the wharfinger

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This story came about after researching William Thompson, the father of my great grandfathers second wife. In researching William I came to learn about John Humphrey and his family and I wanted to record what I found.

John was born in St Olave’s Southwark in 1825. On the 1851 census, aged 24, he is living at 5, Cavendish Terrace, Clapham, Wandsworth, London and Surrey, England with his wife Emma. His occupation is given as Wharfinger (the term means keeper or owner of a wharf and is pronounced wor-fin-jer). Ten years later on the 1861, John and Emma can be found at the same address, now with eight children (Edmund, Mary, Henry, Ernest, Francis, Herbert, Stanley and Constance) and five servants, including a William Thompson, born in Dallington, Northamptonshire, (who I believe is possibly the father of my great grandfathers first wife), employed as a footman.

John Humphery and William Thompson on the 1861 census.

Baptised on 6 January 1826, in Bermondsey, St Olave, Southwark, John was the son of John and Mary Humphery who were living at Dean Street. On the baptism certificate the occupation of John’s father is given as Wharfinger too.

Baptism certificate of John Humphery.

On 5 October 1847
John married Emma Cubitt at St Leonard, Streatham, Lambeth, England. John’s profession is given as Squire, John’s father is named as John Humphrey, Alderman of London and Emma’s father is named as William Cubitt, Sheriff of London.
Marriage certificate for John Humphrey to Emma Cubbit.
After John’s death, it is possible to continue tracing Emma’s life via census returns. The 1871 census shows her aged 41, now the head of the family, living in Kensington with eight children. The 1881 census shows her living  in the Borough of Westminster at 63 Princes Gate with six children and nine servants and her living arrangements with a large number of servants remain similar in 1891 and 1901 too.

The Tallow Chandlers Association

On learning about John Humphery I contacted the Tallow Chandlers Association to see what more I could learn and they advised me as follows.

Between around 1760 and 1938 there were at least four John Humphery’s two of whom were Alderman. The first was John Humphery, a soap boiler from Shadwell and the first of the Humphery’s to become a member of the Tallow Chandlers’ Company – his father, William Humphery, was also in the tallow trade importing oil and fats to Hay’s Wharf in the 1960s.

The second John Humphery was the famous Alderman Sir John Humphery (1794 – 1863) who was MP for Southwark from 1832 to 1852, Sheriff of London and Middlesex in 1832, and Alderman for Aldgate in 1836. He was also Master of the Tallow Chandlers’ Company in 1838 and 1858. This John was in control of Hay’s Wharf from 1840 and commissioned William Cubitt (the father-in-law of two of his sons – John Humphery and Sir William Henry Humphery), to design and build new warehouses in 1856.

The third John Humphery (1825 – 1868) was one of six sons (that are have listed on the database) of Alderman Sir John Humphery and was known as John Humphery the younger on our records.

The fourth John was Lt. Col. Alderman Sir John Humphery (1872 – 1938). He was born to James Arthur Humphery (son of Alderman Sir John Humphery (1794 -1863) and brother of John Humphery the younger (1825 – 1868). Among his many accomplishments, this John was Sheriff of London in 1913, Alderman for Tower Ward and Master of the Tallow Chandlers’ Company in 1919 and 1926. He fought in the First World War and according to a comment on his record – was temporarily appointed Town-Mayor of Ypres when his regiment was divided into several independent squadrons and had no one left to command. He was also awarded various medals as a result of his service

British History Online

John Humphery and William Cubbitt are both recorded on the British History Online website as  aldermen in an entry about 1851 which reads: 
‘William Cubitt. An eminent builder and contractor, younger brother of Thomas Cubitt, the builder of South Belgravia. He was re-elected to the Mayoralty at the close of his first year of office, partly as a consolation for his defeat in the contest for the parliamentary representation of the City on the retirement of Lord John Russell. He started the Mansion House Lancashire Relief Fund while Lord Mayor. His son-in-law, Sir William Humphery (son of John Humphery, Lord Mayor 1842-3) succeeded him as M.P. for Andover. His re-election to the Presidency of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital after his resignation of his Aldermanry gave rise to litigation, which was not judicially decided till after his death, the office having hitherto been regarded as tenable only by an Alderman of London.’

Port of London Study Group

An article about Hay’s Wharf by Gillian Barton on the Port of London Study Group website writes about the the Humphery and Cubitt families too, stating:

In 1840 the wharf came under the control of John Humphrey Junior, an Alderman for the City of London, Master of the Tallow Chandler’s Company, Lord Mayor of London in 1842, MP for Southwark 1832-52 and proprietor of Hay’s wharf from 1838 – 1862. In 1856 he commissioned William Cubitt to design and build new warehouse accommodation. He created a small inland dock so barges could gain access from the river, with a five storey warehouse on each side of the new dock. Business was good, until the Great Fire of Tooley Street in 1861. Described as ‘the greatest spectacle since the Great Fire of 1666’, it destroyed the “best warehouses in the kingdom”. The fire started at Cotton’s Wharf, destroying 11 acres of land. London Bridge railway station also caught fire in the blaze. Most of the wharves were rebuilt in the late 1800s as a result of Humphrey’s partnership with Smith and Magniac (whose company later became Jardine Matheson).’

Other information

On 17 July 1846 John Humphery was awarded The Freedom of the City.  
Freedom of City document.
Freedom of the City Admission document for John Humphery.
John Clark from the group Historic Southwark: Camberwell, Southwark and Bermondsey explained ‘Originally you couldn’t carry on a trade or business in the City of London unless you were a ‘freeman’ of the City – that is, a ‘citizen’. Three main ways of becoming a freeman – apprenticeship (through one of the livery companies/trade guilds) (not very common these days); ‘redemption’ (paying a fee); or ‘patrimony’ (if your father was already a freeman when you were born).’
‘John’s freedom certificate shows it was by patrimony. His father the MP was ‘citizen and tallow chandler’ and the witnesses confirm that John Junior was his legitimate son.  A few hundred years earlier this would have meant that John Senior was a tallow chandler by trade, making candles out of tallow – but by the 19th century many of the livery companies had lost their links with the actual crafts and trades. But to become a freeman/citizen of London you had first to be a member (freeman) of one of the companies – so no obvious reason why John Senior opted for the tallow chandlers when making his first step to power and influence’.
The graves of two John Humphery’s can be found in Battersea Rise Cemetery and photos of these can be found on the Find a Grave website below.

The will of the second John Humphery recorded by the Tallow Chandlers Association was proved on 11 December 1868.

Will of John Humphrey.