Three Canterbury shopkeepers in 1792

In the year 1792, three Canterbury shopkeepers had advertising bills printed announcing the goods they were offering for sale: a draper, a grocer, and a soap merchant. The survival of printed ephemera of this sort is very patchy. Just think of all the advertising leaflets which you throw away after they drop through your letterbox, instead of filing them for future reference! These three items were previously unknown apart from a brief entry on the Canterbury Cathedral Archives catalogue. They have now been recorded on the British Library’s English Short-Title Catalogue (ESTC) of English printing up to the year 1800 which has very little of this sort of material.

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According to the Cathedral Archives catalogue (reference CCA-CC/W/28/11), these documents were ‘Sent to Canterbury Library by W H Fisher of Chilham in 1956. Found with Chilham parish papers.’ They all have an ink stamp on the verso reading ‘Canterbury Public Library Reference Dept.’ and are now part of the City of Canterbury deposit at the Cathedral Archives. Each sheet has a date noted on the verso ‘Bills. March 1792’ (and ‘July 1792’, ‘August 1792’, ‘September 1792’ and ‘December 1792’) suggesting that someone in the Canterbury area at date time was keeping a systematic record of printed ephemera of this sort, possibly one of the newspaper proprietors. Each piece measures approximately 25 x 19 cm and will have been printed as a quarter of a fairly large sheet of printing paper (super-median or crown paper, measuring around 50 x 38 cm).

The advertisements dated March, July and August 1792 were both printed in Canterbury by the firm of Simmons, Kirkby and Jones.  

Giraud, (late Elwyn and Giraud,) grocer, tea-dealer, wax, spermaceti and tallow chandler, Canterbury, sells the undermentioned articles wholesale and retail.
[List of items sold in 3 columns].
[Canterbury] : Printed by Simmons, Kirkby, and Jones, 1792. [1] p., ¼°.
ESTC T507395.

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CCA-CC/W/28/11/2

It lists a range of nine types of tea, four types of coffee, six types of sugar, also figs, prunes, raisins, and much more. He also stocked soap, vinegar, sealing wax, cheese and butter, and snuff and tobacco. The Universal British directory of trade, commerce, and manufacture of about the same date records a Richard Giraud as ‘grocer, tallow-chandler and teaman’ and a freeman of Canterbury. He can be identified as Richard Herve Giraud (1769–1849), a member of a local Huguenot family, born in Preston, Faversham, Kent, son of the Rev. Francis Frederick Giraud, vicar of Preston next Faversham. He was married in 1791 and presumably felt the need to advertise his shop on starting up in trade.

In July 1792 our anonymous collector of trade bills received an advertisement for the soap warehouse of William Ansell, also printed in Canterbury by the firm of Simmons, Kirkby and Jones. There is a second copy of this document with dated ‘August 1792. These premises were situated in Palace Street ‘opposite the Red Pump’, apparently a building on the corner of Palace Street and Orange Street. An advertisement in the Kentish Gazette for Friday 5 October 1787 suggests that Ansell had set up an independent business at that address.  

Wm. Ansell, at his soap, candle, tea and grocery warehouse, &c. opposite the red pump, Palace Street, Canterbury, most respectfully informs his customers and the public, that they may be supplied with soap, &c. wholesale and retail, at the following prices, for ready money.
[Canterbury] : Printed by Simmons, Kirkby and Jones, 1792. [1] p., ¼°.
ESTC T507396

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Ansell sold soap and also candles and butter, wholesale and retail. A hundredweight of mottled soap could be purchased for 60 shillings wholesale, or 7 (old) pence a pound retail. He also offered to buy ‘melted tallow, kitchen stuff, and foul grease, on liberal terms’. In today’s world he would probably also be dealing in chip shop fat for conversion to fuel for public transport vehicles. He is listed in the Universal British directory of trade, commerce, and manufacture simply as a grocer.

In September 1792, H. Croasdill also issued a trade advertisement. He was a draper at the Linen Drapery Warehouse in the High Street, opposite the Red Lion Inn. This inn was demolished in the early nineteenth century when the new Guildhall Street was created to ease the traffic flow to the north of Canterbury. The warehouse was situated across the road from the inn, in the building now occupied by either Holland and Barrett, Vision Express Opticians or Pizza Hut.

Cheap and fashionable printed cottons, muslins, irishes, &c. at Croasdill’s Linen Drapery Warehouse, opposite the Red Lion Inn, High-Street, Canterbury.
[Canterbury, 1792]. [1] p., 1/4°
ESTC T507394

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CCA-CC/W/28/11/1

The main text starts: ‘H. Croasdill returns his thanks to his customers for the flattering encouragement he has received, and assures them it will always be his study to merit their future approbation.’ The top section of the page was re-issued iwith the manuscript date ‘December 1792’.

This is a less modern-looking advert than the other two, with a large block of continuous text below the display heading. It was probably printed by one of the other local firms, as it does not resemble the two adverts printed by Simmons, Kirkby and Jones.

Who was H[enry] Croasdill? It is a very unusual name and I have been unable to find another contemporary reference to him. There was a John Furley Croasdill at the King’s School in 1833, and members of the family are recorded in the Westgate area later in the nineteenth century. The name appears to be a variant of Croasdell or Croasdale, a place name in the Bowland Forest in Lancashire. It is possible that Henry Croasdill’s business career in Canterbury was short-lived.

David Shaw

Images: courtesy of the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury.

References