Saturday, 10 March 2018

From Stockbroker to Peasant: the Kings and the Sings

It is reported that Joseph King's grandfather founded the Liverpool Stock Exchange, The Provincial Stock Exchange (Thomas, William Arthur, Routledge, 2012) explains "Sing, White and Company was formed in 1825 by Joseph King, one of the first brokers in Liverpool, and Chairman of the Stock Exchange from 1840-44.  In 1877 the business was continued by his nephew Alexander Millington Synge, and since then a member of the family has held a connection with the firm."  Sing, White and Company merged with Tilney, Parr and Rae in 1966.

Liverpool Stock Exchange building,
situated in the East Wing, on the right
from The Liverpool Picture Book
Thomas explains that "The leading movers in the establishment of the Association were probably the nine sharebrokers given in the 1835 Liverpool Directory.  Richard Dawson entered the stockbroking profession in 1827 having been a "gunpowder agent" and one time agent to Norwich Union Fire and Life office.  Thomas Barber, Thomas Harris and Thomas Read became brokers in 1834, John Fletcher in 1835, as also did Jonathon Flounders who gave up his previous profession of being a "Gentleman".  Joseph King described as an accountant in 1825 took to share dealing around 1827, as did William O'Kill, also an accountant.  Thomas Coglan was certainly active in share dealing in 1827 and was also the proprietor of the Floating Bath in the Mersey.  In addition to the twenty-one at the first meeting, ten new members joined in April, and a further fifteen during the remaining months of 1836.  ...At subsequent meetings held at the Mersey Coffee House and "Mr King's office" the admission fee was fixed at 10 gns" 

It seems strange that King did not include his name in the company Sing, White and Company, if he formed the company himself.  However looking at the family tree it would appear that the 'Sing' is Joshua Sing, who was King's brother-in-law.   According to The family of Synge or Sing online here Joshua was a Justice of the Peace.  Alexander Millington Synge who continued the business was Joshua's second son.  Alexander's second child was Mary Florentia Synge, she is marked "Of Haslemere" in The family Synge or Sing and therefore I feel confident in identifying her as Flora Synge.  It was Flora's weaving that was used to unveil the Blue Plaque at Green Bushes Weaving House a few years ago, see here for more details.   And so in two generations the stockbroker became a peasant, in what the movement would have called the third group of the future peasantry "These are the men and women whom a surfeit a civilisation has left healthily dissatisfied, and who will be peasants by choice, not by birth" (The Vineyard, New Series, Christmas 1918).

'Miss Flora Synge at her spinning wheel at Kings Road, Haslemere in 1917' 
from  Janaway, John,  Surrey: A Photographic Record 1850-1920, Countryside Books, 1984

Alexander lived in Dawstone, Windermere.  This was a notable Arts and Crafts house designed by Dan Gibson in 1903. It features in The Arts and Crafts Houses of the Lake District (Hyde, Matthew and Whittaker, Esme, Frances Lincoln, 2014) "built high above the town of Windermere on the outskirts of Heathwaite, is typical of the arts and Crafts houses occupying elevated sites.  The distance of the site from Lake Windermere, in comparison to the properties which line the lake's banks, would have been compensated for by the views that were afforded from this position.  As the writer Lawrence Weaver observed in the magazine Country Life, it is 'perched on the hill like an eyrie from which the vision sweeps round a complete panorama from Helvellyn to Morecombe Bay'.  The owner of Dawstone, the Liverpool stock and share broker Alexander Millington Sing, had purchased the site, known as Undermillbeck Common, from G.H.Pattinson." The house is now called Gillthwaite Rigg, a part of which is now a B&B.  Interestingly there is a photograph that purports to be a "ventilation grille incorporating the initials of the house owner at Dawstone", see below, although I am puzzled by the sequence ASM and not AMS if this is the case.  Joseph King, Alexander's cousin, also liked to put his initials on his buildings, and perhaps this was a family trait.

from The Arts and Crafts Houses of the Lake District,(Hyde, Matthew and Whittaker, Esme, Frances Lincoln, 2014)

Dawstone ground floor plan from
Built from Below: British Architecture and the Vernacular,
(Guillery, Peter, Routledge, 2011)

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