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  • A September birthday - Zachariah Foxall Darby, 1750-1832

A September birthday - Zachariah Foxall Darby, 1750-1832

Zachariah Foxall Darby was born on 25th September 1750 and was baptised on 9th October in Christ Church Blackfriars. His parents were John Darby, a Citizen of London and a Joiner, and Sarah Darby.

Nothing is known about Zachariah’s childhood except that his name appears on a list of taxes paid for apprentices indentures in 1765. He had been apprenticed to a Peter Robinson of St Botolph Aldersgate, a chaser.  Then in 1781 Zachariah was admitted to the Freedom of the Worshipful Company of Joiners by Patrimony. However there is no record of Zachariah being admitted to the Freedom of the City of London

Previously Zachariah had married Sarah Saunders on 30th October 1779 at All Hallows Lombard Street. The parish register describes him as a bachelor of that parish and Sarah a spinster from Hampstead. They had a total of 8 children, the oldest Thomas, born 23 Nov 1780, was the only boy. He seems not to have survived as there is no further record of him. Thomas and the next child Sarah Elizabeth Darby were both baptised in All Hallows the same church wherein their parents were married. The third child and all subsequent children were baptised in St Bride’s Fleet Street, which suggest that the family moved to this parish between 1782 and 1785.

In 1790 we find the first mention of him in partnership with John Walkden, stationer, ink maker and quill manufacturer who ran his business from 5 Shoe Lane, Fleet Street, close to St Bride’s Church. A directory published in 1790 states that the business was known as “Walkden and Darby” of 5 Shoe Lane Fleet Street.

Walkden’s Ink

John Walkden’s main business was this ink; a very successful and very good blue black oak-gall ink which had been manufactured since at least the early part of the C.18th. John Walkden’s grandfather Charles Walkden seems to have started the business on London Bridge. The first reference I can find to this is in the burial record of Charles’ daughter Elizabeth in 1709 which states “Eliz. D. of Charles Walkden Stationer from London Bridge”.

Charles died in 1721 and his wife Elizabeth continued the business. In 1724 Richard Walkden, Charles’ son, was apprenticed to his mother Elizabeth, who was described as “Citizen and Stationer” on the Indenture. Elizabeth died in 1736 and is buried at St Magnus the Martyr, the church at the entrance to London Bridge.

Richard continued the business. By 1761 he had moved from London Bridge to Lower Thames Street. Then in 1780 Richard died and his son, John, took on the business. By 1772 it was trading from Shoe Lane.

After 1790

Life seemed to continue successfully for Zachariah after this date, albeit with some personal tragedies. Two of his young daughters died and are buried at St Bride’s Fleet Street; Elizabeth Foxall Darby, aged 7 months, in 1791, and Louisa Darby, aged 4, in 1794.

John Walkden died in 1808 and according to his will all his shares in the business, stock etc should be offered to Zachariah for the sum of £4,000. He must have raised this sum as he continues trading from Shoe Lane. Until 1819 he continues to use the business name of “Walkden and Darby”; perhaps because Walkden was such a strong brand name.

In 1819 he brought in a young partner, Charles Terry, 1791-1859, and they trade as “Walkden Darby and Terry”.

One daughter married in 1809 and another in 1812, both in St John at Hampstead. By 1816 he was paying land taxes in Hampstead Heath which possible explains why both daughters were married in the parish church there.

At the age of 72, in 1822, he made his will. His freehold house and premises in Fleet Street, probably 5 Shoe Lane, was to be sold for the best price. He also mentioned property in Hampstead, Bridge Street Blackfriars, Histon, and East Molesly.

In 1826 he retired to Hampstead Heath. There is a notice in the London Gazette stating that the business partnership between himself and Charles Terry was now dissolved and that Charles Terry would continue the business. Charles Terry must have bought him out of the property in Shoe Lane as he continued there.

By 1831 he was paying land taxes on property in Woburn Place. His youngest daughter married on 26th April 1832 in St George Bloomsbury. Some three and half months later, on 11th August 1832, Zachariah died of apoplexy after a few hours illness.

The Gentleman’s Magazine recorded his death – “Aged 81, Zachariah Foxall Darby, Esq. of Woburn Place and Hampstead Heath. He acquired a considerable fortune in the firm of Walkden and Darby, writing ink-makers and pen-makers, Shoe Lane”

He was buried in a vault at St John at Hampstead on 18th August 1832  – see photo top left. His dedication states – “Sacred to the memory of Zachariah Foxall Darby, who departed his life on the 11th of August 1832 in his 82nd year of his life. Beloved and respected by all who knew him”. The vault is next to that of the painter John Constable and his family.

After 1832

Zachariah’s wife Sarah died in 1840 and she is buried alongside her husband. Also buried in this vault are two of his daughters, one son-in-law and two grand-children.

Charles continues the Walkden Ink business until he disappeared circa 1839/40. By the 1841 census David Cooper, Charles Terry’s brother-in-law, is living at Shoe Lane and is described as an ink manufacturer. The business remained in the Cooper family until the C.20th. In 1901 the employees gave the owner, Philip Cooper, and his wife an engraved silver bowl on the occasion of their silver wedding – see photo bottom right. It mentions the name “Cooper, Dennison and Walkden Ltd.”

Finally, now, when I am handling old documents, especially those from the C.18th, I wonder if they were written using Walkden’s Ink!


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