Samuel Beachcroft, Clothworker (1673 – 1733)

Samuel was baptised on 13 August 1673 in Lavenham, Suffolk, the son of the Reverend Samuel Beachcroft and his wife Susanna.  His father was the Rector of Semer and Great Cornard in Suffolk and his mother was the daughter of well-known Puritan Minister William Gurnall of Lavenham.  William Gurnall was the author of a popular Puritan tract called The Christian in Complete Armour, dedicated to his Lavenham flock. [Gurnall has a Dictionary of National Biography entry].

Samuel’s mother died in 1685 when he was 12 and his father died a year later.  He and his two surviving siblings, came to live in London at the house of their Clothworker uncle, Robert Beachcroft.

From his father he inherited a house in St James’s Lane, Derby, “all my houses and lands in Great Cornard” and “two small tenements in Ash Street, Semer”.  He also inherited monies due back from a mortgage loaned to Philip Pank (Gent) and Richard Goodall, and £90 at the age of 21 (1694).

He was apprenticed to his uncle Robert Beachcroft on 4 February 1690 and made free of the Clothworker’s Company in September 1697.  He worked from Mark Lane in All Hallows by the Tower.  On 5 February 1701 he took on an apprentice, Nathaniel Platt, son of Citizen and Clothworker Samuel Platt, and is then described as ‘Packer’ of Marke Lane.

On his marriage allegation he is also described as a ‘Packer’.  He married heiress Mary Mathews, daughter of Richard Matthews of London and Cirencester on 30 October 1701 at St Giles, Cripplegate.

In 1702 Samuel and Mary’s first child was baptised Robert at All Hallows, however little Robert died shortly after his 2nd birthday and is buried at St Michael Bassishaw.  Their second child, Mathews was born 10 September 1704, also baptised at All Hallows.  Mathews was named in honour of Mary’s father.  Their third child, Samuel, was born and lived for only a few days in summer 1706.  The fourth child, another boy, was baptised Robert in September 1707 and their final (known) child was a girl, Mary, baptised in April 1714 at All Hallows.  Land Tax records show him in “Angell Precinct” then “Mark Lane Precinct” 1703 – 1729, However analysis of the records show this is the same house.

On 14 November 1707, he took on a second apprentice, Maurice Barrop, son of Citizen and Clothworker Edward Barrop.

Following the death of his parents-in-law, (1707) Samuel had a half share in the Manor of High Laver in Essex, in the right of his wife Mary.

In 1713 Samuel Beachcroft appears in the London Poll Book as a Whig voter.

In 1716, Samuel Beachcroft and Francis Porten (Samuel’s son Matthews married Elizabeth Porten) appear in a list of Whig Councilmen for Tower, entitled Political inclinations of Common Council, 1716

Gloucester Record Office has letters written by Samuel to William Loveday of Painswick in 1717 and Thomas Loveday junior about his efforts to sell their cloth.  The Lovedays are described as kinsmen of Samuel.  This relationship has yet to be investigated, although it would be surprising if the Beachcrofts did not have many relatives in the cloth trade given that their connections to clothmaking and dying go back into the 16th century.  Gloucester Archives D5035/16.  There is also an account of monies owed by Samuel to the Lovedays. 1716-18. D5035/15.

In June 1721 following his uncle Robert’s death Samuel inherited the manorial estates of Preston Hall, and Kettlebaston, Suffolk and was residuary legatee of Sir Robert’s wealth.  He may also have taken on aspects of his uncle’s business.  Later the same year he was able to apprentice his son Mathews to Francis Porten, Mercer, on 9 October 1721.  Three years later Francis Porten was Master of the Mercer’s Company and therefore in a good position to see Matthews Beachcroft very well placed with the best kind of connections.  This was to prove the case, and Mathews later went on to become a Director of the Bank of England.

Samuel appears in a poll list of voters in 1722, for High Laver in Essex (in right of his wife).  His address is given as Mark Lane, however in a ‘List of Liverymen who did not Poll’ in 1727, his address is given as Wandsworth.

In 1724 he subscribed to ‘Sixty Sermons preach’d on several occasions. Publish’d from the originals’, 1724, SMALRIDGE, George, with his address given as Wandsworth.

His youngest son, Robert attended Baliol College, Oxford in 1727 and later become Rector of St Swithin’s London.

In 1731, he married his daughter Mary to his widowed first cousin, Joseph Beachcroft and according to the Daily Post, settled £10,000 on her:

“On Thursday last Mr Beachcroft late of Cheapside, Goldsmith (a Gentleman of a great estate) was married to Miss Beachcroft of Wandsworth, a Young Lady of Great Merit and £10,000 fortune” – Daily Post 18 Dec, 1731.

In July 1732, Samuel was a Director of the Million Bank along with his cousin and son-in-law Joseph Beachcroft the Goldsmith.

Samuel and Mary Beachcroft thus lived in Mark Lane for many years, transferring in about 1723/4 to retirement in Wandsworth, where they both died, Mary first in 1732, followed by Samuel on 22 November 1733 (The Gentleman’s Magazine).  They were both buried at St Michael Bassishaw. 

Samuel’s will was proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury on 14 December 1733. He left £50 to the workhouse in Lavenham, £5 to the poor of Bassishaw parish, and the rest of his fortune divided between his children, Matthews, Robert and Mary.

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