Wednesday 11 March 2020

Enderby family notes

Barbara Ludlow

Enderby Wharf on the Greenwich Peninsula - and the activities of the family who made rope and canvass there, and built Enderby House (the only listed building on the Peninsula) - are of great interest to industrial historians. I have acquired a mass of material over the years about the Enderbys and their business - therefore I am dealing with only a few specific points but would be pleased to expand on, and answer, more if approached.

Samuel Enderby.1640-1723. Samuel and family owned a tannery in Bermondsey. The Enderbys were granted forfeited estates in Lismore, County Waterford, Ireland. In l660 these were sold and the money was invested in the oil and Russia trade.

Daniel Enderby, 1681-1766. Several researchers have stated that Daniel married Mary Cook, the sister of Captain Cook. During Daniel’s lifetime the firm of Buxton, Sims and Enderby, Oil Merchants, was established at Paul's Wharf, Thames Street. Daniel's son, Samuel, married Hannah Buxton (1st wife). Samuel was a barrel maker at first. It was through marriage that the business became dominated by the Enderby family.

Samuel Enderby, 1719-1797. His second wife was Elizabeth. Enderby ships were registered in London and Boston in America. They transported goods to the colonists and brought whale oil back to the UK. In 1773 the Boston 'Tea Party' took place and it has been said that an Enderby ship carried the tea. However, Dan Byrnes of Australia has stated that there was no direct involvement of Enderby ships in the event. By 1775 The War of Independence had cut off American whale oil so British ship-owners, and Samuel Enderby in particular, decided to go whaling in the South Atlantic. In about 10 years the whales in the South Atlantic were nearly extinct. The Enderbys then concentrated on the seas around New Zealand with The Bay of Islands as a main base. In 1789 after much pleading with the government the Enderbys won the right to go into the South Seas and were then bitten by the exploring bug. This was the start of a drain on their profits.

Samuel Enderby, 1756-1829. Son of Samuel described above. Samuel and all his brothers and sisters were baptised and entered in the Protestant and Non Conformist Register for London, now kept at the Dr. Williams’ Library. Money was left to the preachers at Sailors Hall. It is just possible that the forfeited lands in Ireland were given to the Enderbys for their allegiance to the Non-Conformists during the English Civil War in the 17th century. No proof as yet, just a thought. Samuel got his Captains to go to the Antarctic - thus Enderby Land. Mount Gordon - his daughter Elizabeth married Henry Gordon and so General Gordon was his grandson. By the time of Samuel's death the British whaling industry was in trouble and his son Charles Enderby thought of ways to expand the firm. He was interested in the new 'technology' that was emerging and he was a founder member of the Royal Geographical Society.

Charles, Henry and George Enderby were Samuel's sons. In 1841 Charles was living in Enderby House at Enderby Wharf, while George and Henry were living with their mother in Old Charlton. Previously the family had moved from Greenwich/Blackheath to Eltham. By 1846 Mary Enderby was dead and Charles tried to save the firm by setting up the South Seas Whaling Company with others. As he sailed out of Plymouth to go to the Auckland Islands, NZ, a notice to the effect that the Enderbys were unable to meet all their financial commitments appeared in a London newspaper. There is an excellent book on the ill-fated settlement.

George Enderby. It is unlikely that George lived on Greenwich Marsh. The Enderby Rope Works and other buildings were destroyed or badly damaged by fire in March 1845. Enderby House was eventually repaired.In 1849 Charles moved away, never to return to Greenwich. I had a letter from a Gravesend historian who found George Enderby living in the 1850s and 1860s at Orme House in Northfleet, Kent. The 1861 census listed him as unmarried, age 58; a retired ship owner. His housekeeper Mary Nunn called him ‘Captain Enderby’ and when George moved to Dover Road, Mary moved with him. I have no death date for him.

Henry Enderby. After leaving the Charlton area at some date, he went to live with a male opera singer in West London.

William Enderby. Born 1805. William had money in the firm but does not appear to have been that involved. He married a Mary Howls in 1830 and they had 8 children, e.g. Baptism entry from St. Luke's Church, Charlton, May 23rd 1837:- Charles, son of William and Mary Enderby. Abode Eltham. Father’s profession - Gentleman. Later William Enderby is listed as a ratepayer in Shooters Hill Road. Other information is taken from a notebook of H.H.Enderby of Kai Iwi Beach, Nr.Wanganui, NZ. - H.H. Enderby was William and Mary's grandson. After the firm crashed it is quite likely that William went to Australia or New Zealand. I have no death date for him.
One whaling historian described the Enderbys as "Clogs to clogs in three generations".

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