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34, High Street.

This is the shop at the High Street / New Conduit Street corner. Although it commands a prominent position on the street, the accommodation inside is rather limited. For very many years this was a draper’s shop.

c1836 (Phebe Harpham)

White’s Directory for 1836 lists Mrs Harpham a boot and shoe maker at this address. In 1830 (Pigot) she was at 14, Queen Street.

Born in about 1790 in Withern, Lincolnshire, Phebe Kemp, married Daniel Harpham in Lynn on 2nd February, 1815. Daniel and Phebe had three children who were baptised at the Stepney Baptist Chapel in Lynn:-

1) Anne (b. 29/03/1816). 2) Eliza (b. 18/11/1817). 3) Susan (b. 06/06/1819).

It may be that Daniel Harpham died in about 1819 because no further records have been found for him.

By 1846 Phoebe had moved to Alford in Lincolnshire, where she stayed until her death in 1876, aged 85. Anne (or Anna) married Job Whiteman (see No. 38).

c1846 (James Watson)

James Watson, a watchmaker and jeweller was listed here in the directory for 1846 (Kelly’s Nine Counties).

c1851 – c1857 (James Currie Woods)

In 1851, the watch and clock maker James Currie Woods (born Lynn c1822) was living here with his wife Mary (born Horncastle c1824) and their son George James Currie (born Lynn 1847). Also staying there on census night was James’s 17-year-old sister, Mary Currie Woods (see No. 99, High Street).

James’s father was William Currie Woods (b. c1794 in Lynn – d. 1857, aged about 63), a fishmonger and herring curer, who had premises in Norfolk Street in 1851. William Currie Woods married Mary Pull at St. Nicholas Church, Lynn on 27th September, 1818. They had at least nine children, all born in Lynn (note: dates are uncertain in several cases):-

1) William Currie, an agricultural labourer in 1871 (b. 1820). 2) James Currie, – see below – (b. c1822 – m. 1846 to Mary Clayton – d. 1866, aged about 44). 3) Joseph Currie, a watchmaker (b. 1824 – d. 1900, aged 70). 4) Margaret Currie (b. 1825). 5) Thomas Currie (bap. 16/09/1826 – d. 12/03/1890, aged 73 – birth 1817?). 6) George Currie, a fish merchant (b. c1826 – m. Elizabeth Bainbridge in 1864 – d. 1896, aged 70). 7) Mary Currie – see No. 99, High Street – (bap. 30/05/1831 – d. 1913, aged 82). 8) Henry Currie (bap. 14/04/1834 – d. 1858, aged about 24). 9) Sarah Currie – see No. 99, High Street – (b. c1844 – d. 1895/6, aged 52).

In 1841 James was working as an apprentice to a watchmaker in the town. This could have been Edward Sims of No. 93, High Street, where James later worked (see No. 93) but no corroboration for this has been found.

In 1846 James married Mary Clayton (b. c1824 in Horncastle, Lincs.).

James was still at No. 93 in 1850 (Slater) but had moved to No. 34 by 1851.

In December, 1851, James was declared bankrupt. He later joined the Army, and died in Bangalore on 16th July, 1866.

1854 – 1874 (Thomas Robert Girling)

In 1871, this was a draper’s shop run by Thomas Robert Girling who employed six assistants. He lived on the premises with his wife, Mary, who was a milliner. Thomas Girling had married Mary Ann Atto on 9th October, 1850, and his parents-in-law provided him with accommodation for his first shop in their premises at No. 113, High Street. He did not stay at No. 113 for very long, and moved here in the Spring of 1854, placing the following notice in the Lynn Advertiser on 24th December. 1853:-


In consequence of his removal in the spring, to 34, HIGH STREET,

R. GIRLING Offers His Entire Stock at Greatly Reduced Prices: consisting of Llama, Cobourg, Alpaca, Tartan, Delaine, Silk. Fancy Dresses. Paisley. Cashmere. Barege. Norwich. Vigonia. Cloth. Other Shawls. Cloaks, Mantles. Furs. Millinery, Straw Bonnets. Ribbons. Velvets. Calicos. Long Cloths. Flannels. Linens. Ticks. Damasks, and Hosiery.

Those Ladies who have not yet purchased their Winter Apparel, will find this a most advantageous opportunity.

OBSERVE: 113, High Street, Lynn.’

He later announced that his new shop at No. 34 would be opening on Tuesday, 27th April, 1854.

Mary Girling continued her business interests after her marriage to Thomas Girling and shared showroom space at No. 34.

Thomas Girling expanded his business fairly quickly, purchasing the remainder of the stock of Robert King, of No. 6, High Street, in 1854.

Following the death of Mrs Atto, Mary’s mother in 1865, one of Mary’s sisters took over the business for a short time, however Mary Girling announced in October 1868 that she had succeeded to he mother’s business.

Mr. Girling gave up his business in March, 1874, advertising the whole of his drapery and millinery stock for disposal “by Lady Day” (25th March).

The Girlings moved to Brighton where they became lodging house keepers.

Thomas Robert Girling died in 1886, aged 63, and Mary Ann died in 1903, aged 76.

1874 (Jones & Vergette)

In May, 1874, Messrs. Jones & Vergette took over the premises, placing this notice in the Lynn Advertiser:-

‘JONES & VERGETTE, having taken the premises lately occupied by Mr. T. R. Girling, beg most respectfully to invite an early inspection of their entire Stock of Silk, Felt, and Straw Hats, Hosiery, Gloves, Shirts, Ties, Scarves, Portmanteaus, etc., from the leading markets. Practical Men are employed on the premises for the manufacture of Special Shapes, Hat Dressing, etc. Denton House, 34, High Street, and 1 & 2, New Conduit Street.’

The business partnership was very short-lived and had gone within two months. Consequently, there are no entries for Jones & Vergette in the trade directories. However, the dissolution notice in the Lynn Advertiser on 18th July, 1874 gives some details of the partnership:-


THE Partnership between Richard Ransome Jones and Henry Vergette, of King’s Lynn, in the county of Norfolk, Hatters and Men’ Mercers, was dissolved on the 15th day of July inst., and the business will be carried on by the said Henry Vergette.’

Richard Ransom Jones

Richard Ransom Jones (b. 1839 in Lynn – m. Priscilla Margaret Gamble in 1863) was the son of Robert Jones, the hatter and gents’ outfitters who had the shop on the corner of Tuesday Market Place and High Street. The shop address was 26 & 27, Tuesday Market Place, but it extended into No. 65, High Street, where further details of Robert Jones will be found.

Richard Jones served an apprenticeship with his father and worked as one of his assistants for a few years.

He married Priscilla Margaret Gamble in late 1863 before entering into the partnership with Henry Vergette. It is not known why the partnership was dissolved after such a short time, but Richard took to the road as a commercial traveller in the hat trade, moving to live at Peterborough. Richard and Priscilla had eight children, all but two being born in Peterborough:-

1) Richard Ernest (b. 1864). 2) Edith Elizabeth Gamble (b. 1866). 3) William Gamble (b. 1867). 4) Ethel Maude (b. 1868). 5) Minnie Gertrude (b. 1870). 6) Robert Charles (b. 1871). 7) Helen Margaret (b. 1872 in Lynn). 8) Florence Mary (b. 1878 in March).

No records have been found for the family in England after 1878, and they may have emigrated.


Henry was the son of a Peterborough draper and outfitter, Edward Vergette, who for many years had a shop on the Market Place. Edward was born at Borough Fen, Northamptonshire in about 1809. His parents were Robert Vergette (1770-1837) and Lydia Griffin (b. 1784).

Edward married Sarah Burnham from Whittlesey (formerly Whittlesea) on 25th June, 1839. They had four children, all born in Peterborough:-

1) Sarah (b. 1840 – m. Edwin Hill 1869 – d. 1927, aged 86). 2) Robert Edward (b. 1841/2– m. Mary Catherine Jones in 1876 – d. 1894/5, aged 53). 3) John Burnham, a publisher’s clerk (b. 1843– m. Eliza Wright in 1868 – d. 1906, aged 63). 4) Henry, see below (b. 1845- m. Elizabeth Ellen Robinson in 1873 – d. 1905, aged 60).

Henry Vergette started out as an assistant in his father’s business, and was working for him as a draper’s outfitter in 1871. At that same date, Richard Jones was living in Peterborough and working as a traveller in the hat trade, and this may be how their paths crossed. In 1873, Henry married Elizabeth Ellen Robinson (b. c1845 in Sleaford, Lincs.). They did not have any children.

Henry attempted to continue running the King’s Lynn shop after Richard Jones left, but had given up within seven months (see below).

Henry worked as a tailor’s commission agent after leaving Lynn for Nottingham. He died in 1905, aged 60, and Elizabeth died in 1931, aged 84.

1874 – 1875 Henry Vergette

Following the dissolution of the Jones and Vergette partnership, Henry advertised in the Lynn Advertiser on 29th August, 1874:-

‘HENRY VERGETTE (Late Jones & Vergette) has the largest and best assorted stock of Silk and Felt Hats, Caps, Ties, Scarfs, Shirts, Hosiery, Gloves, Portmanteaus, Waterproof Coats, Leggings, Rugs, Mauds, etc., etc.

A GREAT VARIETY of SHOOTING HATS, to which he invites special attention.

VERGETTE’S HAT and CAP DEPOT, 34, High Street, 1 & 2, New Conduit Street, King’s Lynn,’

However, within seven months, he announced in the local newspapers that he was giving up and that his successor was to be Mr. John R. Cossons.

1875 – 1878 (John Richardson Cossons)

John Richardson Cossons bought Henry Vergette’s stock-in-trade in February, 1875 and started to sell it off on 20th of that month. In early March he again advertised the sale, and stated that he had been working in Lynn for eighteen years, first for Henry Ryley, then for John Thorley, and most recently for Alfred Jermyn (see No. 12 – 13 etc.). Indeed, he must have been very well known to the people of Lynn, having been John Thorley’s store manager when Alfred Jermyn took over in 1872.

John Cossons placed the following advertisement in the Lynn Advertiser on 31st July, 1875:-

‘34, High Street. JOHN R.  COSSONS, Hatter, Hosier, and Outfitter, Invites Attention to his Entirely NEW STOCK OF Paris Silk and Felt Hats, Clothing, Hosiery, Gloves, and Umbrellas, Juvenile Clothing, and Summer Overcoats. Agents for Wheeler & Wilson’s Sewing Machines.’

In Kelly’s Directory for 1875, John Cossons is listed as the publisher of the “KING’S LYNN MESSENGER”, produced monthly. Neither John Cossons nor the King’s Lynn Messenger are listed in later directories.

John Cossons was born in about 1834 in Wiggenhall St. Germans. His parents were John (born c 1801 – a shoe maker) and Maria. He married Elizabeth Ormiston (born South Lopham c1834) in 1855. They had five children:-

1) Lissie Harriett (b.1856 King’s Lynn – m. Louis Edwin Broadbent 1873). 2) John Thorley, a hatter & hosier (b.1857 in E.Dereham – m. Elizabeth Jaggard 1889). 3) Ellen Maria (b.1859 in E.Dereham). 4) Sarah Bertha (b.1860 in E.Dereham). 5) Willie Keble (b.1861/2 – m. Kate Helen Steele in 1887 – d. 1936, 1ged 74).

By 1851 John Cossons had arrived in Lynn and was working as an apprentice draper to Henry Ryley (see No. 12 High Street). The following year the business was taken over by John Thorley and John Cossons completed his apprenticeship under his supervision. He clearly admired his mentor, naming his first son John Thorley Cossons.

John Cossons left Lynn in about 1857 and established his own draper’s shop in the Market Place at East Dereham. By 1861, he was employing six assistants. He was also a local Wesleyan Methodist preacher.

In 1862, his wife Elizabeth died, and he married again, on 16th July, 1867, to Elizabeth Mace Marler, the daughter of Charles Marler, a blacksmith from Massingham, Norfolk. John was working as a draper in Great Yarmouth at that time, and their two children were born there:-

1) Walter Ernest (b.1866 – m. Florence Emily Botten 1911/12). 2) Edith Kate (b.1868 – m. Harry Leonard Potter 1892 – d.1948).

By 1871 he had moved back to Lynn to manage John Thorley’s drapery store at 12 to 13, High Street. In 1872, Alfred Jermyn took over John Thorley’s business but John Cossons may have stayed on as a departmental manager for a short time.

In February, 1875, John Cossons came here to No. 34, High Street, where he ran his own drapery business for four years. He then moved back to East Dereham and was running a shop in Theatre Street in the town in 1881.

At some point during the following ten years, John Cossons retired from the drapery business and became a Wesleyan Pastor. In 1901 he and Elizabeth were living in Burnage, Lancashire, where he was the minister. In 1911 they were living in retirement at Felixstowe. John died in 1913, aged 80. Elizabeth died in 1927, aged 84.

c1879 – 1883 (Robert Francis)

Following an announcement from John Cossons, dated 11th Jan. 1879, that he was leaving Lynn, another draper, Robert Francis, took over the business. He was listed in Kelly’s Post Office Directory for that year, and he was living on the premises in 1881 with his family.

Robert Francis was a 28 year-old hatter and hosier from Greenwich in Kent and had moved from being a labourer in Woolwich in 1861. In 1881 he had a 22 year-old assistant, who was boarding with him and his wife, Catherine, and their one-year-old daughter, Mary Annie (later more usually known as Annie).

Robert was the son of James and Amelia Francis. James Francis (b. 23/03/1819 in London – d.10/03/1868 in Ipswich) was a tailor who married Amelia Hayward, in 1839/40. Amelia was born in Woodbridge, Suffolk in about 1817, and she died in Ipswich within six months of her husband on 1st September, 1868. James and Amelia had four children, all born in Greenwich:-

1) James (b. c1841). 2) Amelia (b. c1846). 3) Arthur (b. 1851). 4) Robert (b. c1853).

Robert Francis married Catherine Holmes Grimmer (b. 1848 in Stockton in south Norfolk) in 1879.  They had three children:-

1) (Mary) Annie (b. 1880 in King’s Lynn – m. Harold Charles Rands in 1902). 2) William Robert (b. 1884 – d. 1896, aged 12). 3) Edward James (b. 1885/6 – d. 1895, aged 9).

Robert kept his business for only about four years before changing jobs and moving away from Lynn. In 1891, the family was living at 23, Thorpe Road, Norwich, and Robert was working as a brewer’s agent. They were still in the city in 1901 but had moved to 54, Regent Road, Great Yarmouth by 1911, where Robert was still working for a local brewery.

Robert Francis died in 1942, aged 89.

1883 – c1901 (Samuel Wright) (Wright & Son)

By 1883, a branch of Wright & Son, hatters, clothiers, outfitters & boot & shoe makers had opened here, and was listed in Kelly’s directory for that year, with other branches at Market Place and Post Office Street, Fakenham, and at  High Street, East Dereham. In Kelly’s Directory of 1892, the listing is for “Wright & Son, hatters, clothiers & outfitters 34, High Street and 1 & 2 New Conduit Street.”

Samuel (Samuel Wright II), born on 11th December, 1857, in Bridge Street, Fakenham, came from a large family of shoe makers from that area of Norfolk. His grandfather was Thomas Wright I and his father was Samuel Wright I.

In 1841, Thomas Wright I (b. c1801) and Elizabeth / Betsy (b. c1801) were living in Hempton, where he worked as a cordwainer. Their children included Maria (b. c1817), Thomas II (b. c1818), and Samuel I (b. c1828).

Samuel Wright I married Ann Rudland in 1847/8 in King’s Lynn, and their son Thomas Wright III was born in the town in 1848. At the start of their marriage, Samuel and Ann lodged with his parents in Hempton, where their second son, John, was born in 1851.

By 1861, Samuel Wright I had established his business as a cordwainer in Bridge Street, Fakenham, and the family had grown by the addition of two daughters and two sons; Elizabeth (b. 1853), Ann (b. c1856), Samuel II (b.1857/8), and Edward (b. c1860). Elizabeth had been born in Hempton, the other three children in Fakenham.

The business expanded and moved to the Market Place in Fakenham, where it was listed as that of a draper, clothier and boot manufacturer in 1871. Two more daughters and a son had swelled the family still further; Rosina (b. 1861 – m. James Malta Gilham 1889 – d.1941/2), Clara (b. 1863/4), and Ernest (b. c1870).

Ann Wright died in 1872 and Samuel Wright I married again the following year, to Elizabeth Maria Seppings, and they had at least five children:-

1) Frances Edith S (b. c1874). 2) Horace Edmund S. (b. 1878). 3) Herbert Seppings (b.1879). 4) Ethel May Seppings (1881). 5) Bertie Stanley (1884/5).

Fourteen children fathered by Samuel Wright I have been identified. However, the names and initials in the censuses do not all equate to those in the birth registers and there may have been more children from both marriages who died when young.

Samuel Wright I died between 1884 and 1891, and Elizabeth Maria died in 1900, aged 53.

Samuel I had expanded the business, which became known as Wright & Son, by opening other branches in Fakenham, East Dereham and King’s Lynn. These were run by his sons Thomas III (who ran an East Dereham branch for over 30 years), John and Samuel II.

Samuel Wright II started out in business as an assistant to his elder brother John at his drapery and clothing shop in Fakenham Market Place, where their sister Rosina worked, too (1881). At the same date, their father, Samuel Wright I, was trading as a boot and shoe maker from premises in the Market Place and had already established at least one other branch, at East Dereham.

John continued to run the Fakenham shop for several years, and his young half-sister Edith was working there as a milliner in 1891. John also had an East Dereham branch, in Quebec Street, listed in Kelly’s directory for 1892, but by 1911 he had moved to Chiswick.

Samuel Wright II, meanwhile, had moved to Lynn to run the Wright & Son branch at 34, High Street. In 1891 Samuel and his wife Mary were living here with three children. They had at least six children:-

1) Maud Annie (b. 1885). 2) Samuel Seppings (b. 1886/7). 3) Edmund Leonard (b. 1888/9). 4) Cecil Conrad (b. 1891/2). 5) Gladys Ida (b. 1895/6 – m. Glen M. Wright). 6) Doris Evlyn (b. 1897/8). 7) Gwendoline Sybil (b.1900).

Wright & Son’s business is listed in the directories for 1883, 1890 and 1892, but there is no entry for No. 34 in 1900 (Kelly). It may be, however, that the business was closed in about 1901, because Samuel had retired by census date that year, (31st March). He was living as a ‘gentleman’ in South Wootton, and had four more children.

What happened to Samuel Wright II after 1901 has not been discovered. In 1911, his son Edmund, by then a professional skater, was living with his wife Olive May and their young daughter Gwendoline Olive May (b. c1910) at Ipswich. Staying with them were his sisters Gladys Ida and Gwendoline Sybil. It is most probable that the family emigrated to the U.S.A., because records have been found there relating to Cecil Conrad and Gladys Ida.

c1901 – c1912 (Frank Archibald Fisher)

Frank Archibald Fisher, a clothier, is listed here in Kelly’s directories for 1904 and 1912.

Born in Norwich in 1870, Frank was the son of Francis (b. 1845/6, Corby) and Martha (b. c1838, Norwich) and the grandson of Daniel and Elizabeth Fisher.

Daniel, born c1816 in St. Margaret, Suffolk, was a schoolmaster who spent much of his teaching career in Corby, Northamptonshire and, latterly, Norwich. His wife Elizabeth was born in about 1820 in Blackwood Green, Hertfordshire, and they had married before 1841 when their first child, a girl who died in infancy, was born. Their next six children were all born in Corby, and they had a further three born in Norwich:-

1) Elizabeth (b. 1844). 2) Francis (b. 1845/6). 3) John (b. 1847). 4) George (1848/9). 5) Daniel (b. 1851). 6) Harriet Maria (1854). 7) Maria Emma (1856). 8) Caroline (1859). 9) Lydia (b.1861/2).

Francis Fisher, Frank’s father, was a commercial traveller. He married Martha Hood in Norwich in 1868. They had at least five children, all born in Norwich:-

1) Frank Archibald (b. 1870). 2) Ethel Mary (b. 1872/3). 3) Jessie Dora (b. 1875/6). 4) Harry Charles (b. 1876/7). 5) May Gertrude (b. 1878).

Both of the boys were sent away to Upton School, Upton-cum- Chalvey, in Berkshire, under the tutelage of their uncle, George Parkins Fisher. Frank then went to London to learn about the drapery business and was working as a clothier’s assistant in Holborn in 1891.

In 1901/2, Frank married Alice Crotch (b. 1872/3 in Norwich) and they moved to Lynn. They were at 16, Roseberry Avenue, Gaywood, in 1901. Alice died in 1903/4, aged 32, and Frank had moved to 8, Whitefriars Road, Lynn by 1911.

Frank Fisher had ceased trading here by 1916. He died in Norwich in 1921, aged 51.

c1916 – 1933 (George Ernest Street)

The clothier George Ernest Street had taken over the business here by 1916 and is listed in Kelly’s directories until 1928.

Born in Bury St. Edmunds on 31st March 1887, George was the son of Samuel and Ellen Street, and the grandson of Joseph Street and Mary Swain (b. c1838 in Derbyshire). (His name is recorded as George Edward in the civil register and at St. James church, Bury St. Edmunds.)

George’s father Samuel Street was born in Manchester in about 1857. He married Ellen Maud Davey (b. 1858 in Woodbridge) in 1879/80, and established himself as a clothier and hatter in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk.

Samuel and Ellen had eight children:-

1) Alice Maude B. (1882). 2) Samuel Archibald (b. 1883 – d. 1961/2, aged 78). 3) Frederick William (b. 1884/5 – d. 1961, aged 76). 4) Walter Frank (b. 1885/6 – d. 1955, aged 69). 5) George Ernest (b. 31/03/1887 – d. 1970, aged about 83). 6) Reginald Claud (b. 13/08/1888 – d. 1973). 7) Dorothy Elsie (b. 1889/90). 8) Bernard Owen (b. 05/07/1894 – m. Kathleen M. Smith 1927 – d. 1970).

There is little record of George Street after 1911 and it is not clear whether he married and had a family or what happened to him after he gave up the business at No. 34.

1933 – c1980 (Foster Brothers Clothing Co. Ltd.)

Foster Brothers Clothing Co. Ltd., moved here from No. 36, High Street on Friday 26th May, 1933.

They were still here in 1868 but may have moved out by 1980, although they remained in the town until March 1998, when they closed after the company went into receivership.