Monday, January 9, 2012

So what was the rest of the family up to?

Take time out to read about another branch of the Bevan family.

The Anchor Brewery once stood on what is now the site of the reconstructed Globe Theatre. With its closure in 1981 a 365 year history of brewing was brought to an end. Courage, the then owners, transferred their operations to a new brewery at Worton Grange, Reading.

The brewery was established by James Monger the elder in 1616, and by 1666 his successor Josiah Child was supplying the navy with beer and had thus adopted the familiar sign of the Anchor as an early trade mark.

But it was under the ownership of Ralph Thrale, Member of Parliament for Southwark between 1741 and 1747 that the brewery expanded, producing 46,100 barrels in 1750 and with net assets of £72,000. Upon his death Ralph's son Henry inherited the brewery and continued its expansion and redevelopment. He built Borough House within the nine acre brewery site at Southwark with the less than salubrious address Deadman's Place. Samuel Johnson, the 17th century lexicographer and family friend of the Thrales, occupied an appartment at Borough House.

The Anchor Brewery survived declining fortunes during times of war and only narrowly avoided being burnt down by the anti-papists revolutionaries in the Gordon Riots of 1780 but with Henry Thrale's death in 1781 and no sons to follow him into the business his widow Hester had no option but to sell the brewery. Barclay Quaker family and former manager John Perkins, whose wife Amelia Bevan was the widow of Timothy Bevan, bought the business for £135,000. Silvanus (married to Louisa Kendall Bevan) became a sleeping partner in the firm, paying a quarter of the total purchase price. Samuel Johnson was the executor of his old friend Henry Thrale's will and upon the sale of the brewery to Barclay & Perkins, commented: "We are not to sell a parcel of boilers and vats, but the potentiality of growing rich beyond the dream of avarice."

Barclay, Perkins & Co., became something of a national institution. Dickens referred to the establishment in his novel David Copperfield first published in monthly instalments during 1849-50. The irrepressibly optimistic Micawber family consider the brewery trade to be ideal employment for Mr. Micawber - 'I will not conceal from you, my dear Mr. Copperfield,' said Mrs. Micawber, 'that I have long felt the Brewing business to be particularly adapted to Mr. Micawber. Look at Barclay and Perkins! Look at Truman, Hanbury, and Buxton! It is on that extensive footing that Mr. Micawber, I know from my own knowledge of him, is calculated to shine; and the profits, I am told, are e-NOR-MOUS! But if Mr. Micawber cannot get into those firms - which decline to answer his letters, when he offers his services even in an inferior capacity - what is the use of dwelling upon that idea? None. I may have a conviction that Mr. Micawber's manners -'

Barclay, Perkins & Co., became the best known brewer of export stout with one of their regular customers being the Empress of Russia and at the beginning of the 19th century they were rated as one of the principle porter breweries, producing 264,405 barrels in 1810-11 and 270,259 in 1811-12.

By 1815 Barclay, Perkins & Co had become the leading brewery in London, receiving visitors from both home and abroad, including a German prince who in the summer of 1827 was recorded as saying about the building 'the vastness of its dimensions renders almost romantic' Peter Ackroyd - London - The Biography.

Image of the Anchor brewery dated 1850

Silvanus Bevan 1743-1830, banker and brewer

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