Following on from the last post: I think I’ve discovered the identity of my great great grandfather William Robb’s employer – or one of his employers, at least. William is described in a number of census records as a law stationer’s clerk, but until now I haven’t known where he worked.

The death certificate for George William Robb in December 1847 states that the death was registered by his brother William, my 2 x great grandfather. The latter’s address is given as 49 Parliament Street, a fact that has intrigued me since I discovered it. In 1843 William was living at 33 Old Compton Street, Soho, and this was also the address given when his son Charles Edward, my great grandfather, was born in  January 1851.

horwood parliament street

I’ve managed to find the 1851 census record for 49 Parliament Street, which perhaps offers a clue as to why William gave this as his address. The record reveals that the address was occupied by the following:

Walter Blanford Waterlow, Law stationer Master, employing 12 men

Rebecca Waterlow, 27, law stationer’s wife

Ann Cook, 22, servant, housemaid

Lucy Blake, 26, servant, cook

Was William one of the 12 men employed by Walter Waterlow?  The latter was one of a number of brothers in the stationery and printing business, the most notable being his brother Sidney, who was instrumental in bringing the telegraph to London, and who would become Lord Mayor of the city (Waterlow Park in north London is named after him).  Walter himself (below) would later serve as mayor of Redhill in Surrey.

walter blanford waterlow

One source describes Waterlow & Sons as ‘a large firm of law stationers, letterpress and lithographic printers with government contracts,’ with premises at London Wall in the City of London, as well as the office at 49 Parliament Street.

Given that only Waterlow, his wife and two servants were living at the Parliament Street address in 1851, and the fact that other sources describe the premises as an office, it’s probably safe to assume that William was not lodging with his employer in 1847. Why, then, did he choose to give his place of work as his address in 1847?. Was this usual practice and, if not, does it signify anything of interest? I’ve mentioned before the family legends that William was a gambler and a drinker: does this evidence, added to the fact that he and his wife Fanny were also at separate addresses at the time of the 1841 census, reflect difficulties in the marriage? Or was giving this address another sign of the possible social pretension that we see in William’s occasional use of the middle name ‘Monteith’ (suggesting possible aristocratic Scottish origins)?

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