Quaker Tickells and The King’s Arms Brewery

Among the Tickells I have come across during my recent research into London records was Henry Tickell, a Quaker from Cumberland. He and his sons ran a successful brewery in London during the late 18th and early 19th century.

This post may be of particular interest to my brothers – on two counts. Firstly, they are both fond of a beer, and secondly, they received some of their education at Sibford, a Quaker school.

Quaker Businesses in the 19th Century

In 1800, only 0.2% of the country were Quakers, but they played an important role in the transformation of Britain into an industrial nation in the 19th century. Many companies that are well known in Britain today had Quaker origins. They include the main British chocolate businesses – Cadbury, Fry, Rowntree and Terry. Quaker biscuit companies included Huntley & Palmers, and Carr’s Biscuits.

Quakers owned Pease’s of Darlington, who ran the first train from Stockton to Darlington in 1825 on what became known as the Quaker Line. To know which train to catch, you consulted Bradshaw’s – he was another Quaker. Shoe companies such as Clark’s of Street, K of Kendal and Morlands of Glastonbury were Quaker owned, as were Bryant and May, who produced matches. Banking was dominated by Quakers. The founding fathers of Lloyds and Barclays were Quakers and the majority of the country’s banks were Quaker owned and run.  They were also involved in iron, steel, and engineering, among other industries.

While Quakers were strongly opposed to the cheap spirits sold at the time, that caused many problems in the poorer areas, brewing beer was seen as acceptable. Few people in the cities had access to fresh water and beer was considered a healthier option.

Why were they so predominant in business?

Quakers were well-educated. They ran their own schools, as being able to read and write was essential to spreading the word. However, they were barred from many traditional opportunities for advancement due to their religious beliefs. They refused to swear oaths, which meant they would not take the Oath of Allegiance to the Crown. This could be interpreted as disloyalty, if not treason. 

They were not allowed to go to university, to join most professions, or to hold official positions. Their beliefs precluded military careers. Business and commerce provided the best chances for energetic and educated young men to make their mark on the world.

Henry Tickell (1753-1803)

Henry Tickell was born in Cumberland. I have found a probable baptism record for him on 16 July 1753 in Crosthwaite, Cumberland. There were a number of Quaker Tickells in Cumberland, including Hugh Tickell, who built the first Meeting House about 1665, after being imprisoned for confronting the Vicar of Crosthwaite. I don’t yet know whether Henry Tickell was related to Hugh Tickell but I will investigate this at a future date.

Henry moved to London and married Dorothy Whiting, also a Quaker, in 1778. Dorothy was a true Cockney, born in St Mary le Bow, the church with the Bow Bells. I believe that Henry had a small brewery at that time. Two years later, when he was 27 years old, he and a partner, Joseph Williams, acquired the King’s Arms brewery in Old Castle Street, Whitechapel.. Henry and Dorothy had fourteen children, several of whom died in infancy, as was common at that time. The birth records for the children refer to Devonshire House, which was a Quaker record house.

The King’s Arms Brewery

The King’s Arms Brewery was established in 1747. It produced porter, which was first brewed in London from the early 18th century.  Porter was very popular. In one year, from mid 1786 to mid 1787 the 24 chief porter brewers in London, which included the King’s Arms Brewery, produced 1,176,856 barrels between them.

Like many industries, brewing underwent major innovations during the 18th and 19th centuries as brewers took advantage of new machinery and experimented with methods of enhancing their product. The introduction of thermometers and hydrometers led to major improvements in the brewing process. Most of the larger London breweries had installed steam engines by the end of the 18th century. Larger breweries took over adjoining buildings as they expanded.

Henry’s Refrigerator

Historically, brewing was a seasonal operation, with a gap in production over the summer months from May until September. During this period it was normally too warm to brew successfully. The wort (the unfermented liquid) had to cool down after being boiled, before it was left to ferment. In summer it took longer to cool down,, leaving it susceptible to becoming infected. Even if it survived this stage, the heat could cause it to ferment too violently, spoiling the beer.

Henry Tickell is noteworthy for patenting a method for chilling the wort. In 1801 he invented a ‘refrigerator’ that worked by passing the wort through pipes surrounded by circulating cold water, or under water sprays. Other breweries followed by also inventing systems to cool the wort, which led to an extended brewing season. Eventually, brewers were able to brew all year round, with much less likelihood of infected or unpalatable beers.

Short Lives

Unfortunately, Henry and several other members of his family were not long-lived. Henry himself died in 1803, aged 50, only two years after his invention.

His sons, Joseph b.1783 and Samuel b.1784, were each apprenticed to their father at the age of 14. The indenture was for seven years and so may not have completed when Henry died. Joseph and Samuel continued the business in partnership with their mother, Dorothy, but she died in 1812, aged 56.

Samuel Tickell withdrew from the business due to ill health in 1818 and passed away the following year, aged just 35.

All three – Henry, Dorothy, and Samuel are recorded in Quaker death records. Henry and his wife were buried in the Quaker graveyard adjacent to Bunhill Fields, now called Quaker Gardens. Samuel is recorded as having been buried in Exeter, Devon.

Joseph Tickell (1783 – 1829?)

Joseph Tickell, Henry’s oldest surviving son, went on to become Master of the Worshipful Company of Brewers in 1822. At that point, Tickell & Co. were the eleventh-largest brewers of porter in London, producing 24,000 barrels that year.

There is something of a mystery surrounding when Joseph died. The burial of his wife, Ann Pulsford, is recorded in the Quaker records, with a note that she was ‘not a member’ (presumably of the Society of Friends). Ann was buried in Bunhill Fields, but Joseph’s own burial is not in the Quaker records.

Joseph remarried five years after Ann’s death. His second wife was Caroline Hollick, from Cambridgeshire, whom he wed in 1817. Joseph and Caroline had at least three children, including a son, Joseph Hollick Tickell.

In the Parish Records of St Mary’s, Whitechapel, there is a burial, clearly recorded, on 30 Dec 1829 of Joseph Tickell, aged 45, of the Brewery, Old Castle Street. This would appear to be conclusive evidence of his death that year.

However, Joseph Tickell continues to appear for several more years on electoral registers at that address, and in notices in the London Gazette. I have also found an account that Joseph remained in business on Old Castle Street until 1837, by which time the brewery occupied a 200ft frontage and a large yard, stretching to the houses at the back in Goulston Street. He then sold to Arthur Manners, John A. Furze and Charles Marshall, partners who allegedly paid more than £64,000 for the heavily mortgaged property.

There is another potential death record for Joseph Tickell in Linton, Cambridgeshire in 1841. This is the area where his wife, Caroline, was born and where some of his children lived. I need to investigate further to try to solve this mystery.

One of Joseph and Caroline’s grandsons was a clergyman, Sydney Spencer Claude Tickell. He died in Wiltshire in 1949, but an obituary appeared in a Cheltenham newspaper in which it referred to him as being of the same family as the Tickells who lived in Cheltenham at the turn of the century. These were descendants of the Tickells of Carnalway. If the report is accurate, I hope to eventually find the connection between these families.

As always, if any of these Tickells are your ancestors, I would love to hear from you.

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