Thomas Cornish & John Fowler

Wine Merchants.


    John Fowler was the son of Robert Fowler, Wine Merchant of Melksham, and his wife Rachel. He was born at Melksham, the birth was recorded as 16th Aug. 1792 by the Quaker's monthly meeting for Wiltshire, at Slaughterford.

    Robert Fowler, John's father, was born in Melksham on 24th May 1755, son of Thomas (1729-1783) and Catherine Fowler. "LOST - on Weyhill - A bag of Farnham hops, marked R. Trimmer, No. 48. Whoever will give intelligence, ſo the ſame may be had again, to Thomas Fowler, of Melkſham, ſhall be handſomely rewarded." (Salisbury and Winchester Journal - Monday 07 November 1768). In 1764 Thomas was an agent for "Dicey & Okell's Pectoral Drops". Thomas was from a strong Quaker family with many links to other Quaker families in the area.

    From the Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 02 September 1790 - "Thurſday ſe'nninght was married at the Quaker's meeting-houſe in Coalbrook-Dale, Salop, Robert Fowler, eſq; of Melkſham, to Miſs Rachael Barnard, of Coalbrook-Dale." The marriage date was the 19th August 1790.

    John, Robert's son, married Rebecca Hull, daughter of William Hull, mealman of Uxbridge, Middx. and his wife Jenny, at the Quaker's monthly meeting in Maidenhead, 10th Aug. 1822.

    From the Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 05 May 1825: "Wednesday died at Melksham, aged 69, Robert Fowler, esq; a member of the Society of Friends, of which he was a bright ornament. To the most enlarged philanthropy Mr. Fowler united a simplicity, a kindness, and an affability of deportment, that shed lustre on his Christian profession. in him the poor, the erring, and the indigent always found a ready councellor and willing friend. is benevolence was as extensive as his knowledge of distress and misery. He twice visited Ireland - blessing the peasant, and cheering the cabin, to the utmost of his ability; and in a late visit of mercy to the continent of Europe, his exertions induced that illness which has deprived the world of his services and example. Consistency was a distinguishing trait in his character; and in his profession and practice, in his life and in his death, all who knew him are called to 'mark the perfect man, and to behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace.'" Robert died on 27th April and was buried 3rd May 1825 at the Quaker burial ground, Melksham.

    The partnership of John Fowler and Charles Mallinson was dissolved in January 1846. Mallinson (or Malleson) continued with the wholesale Tea and Coffee business and Hop Merchandise in Bank Street, whilst Fowler & Co. did likewise and continued the Wine & Spirit trade to the early 1850's. John & Henry Fowler appeared to be in trade together. Fowler & Co were still in the 1852/53 directory.

    John Fowler died suddenly at Elm Grove, Chapel Knapp in Corsham, Wilts. on 24th Nov. 1861, his late parent's house, where he had lived since before the marriage of his sister Mary on the 18th July 1827. John's wife Rebecca died at Elm Grove on 12th August 1842, "after an illness of several years, borne with much patience and Christian submission."

    In January 1863 the entire furnishings of Elm Grove House were sold off, including a library of over 3000 books.

    John Fowler had a son, also called John, who was an agricultural engineer, and invented a subsoil draining plough in 1850, manufactured by Stratton's of Bristol and exhibited at the Royal Agricultural Society in Exeter, and to the public in Uxbridge in November 1850. More info on him can be found on the Melksham OPC website here.

1 Gallon Saltglaze Stone Jar Fowler1.jpg Fowler3.jpgFowler4.jpgFowler5.jpg
Impressed: John Fowler / Melksham.




Potter: ?
Image second right courtesy Michael Squires.

2 Gallon Saltglaze Stone Jar Fowler2.jpg
Impressed: No.462 / J. Fowler & Co./ Melksham.





Potter: ?


    There was a Thomas Cornish, wine merchant of 47 Great Marlborough Street, St. James, Westminster, London declared bankrupt on 29th Oct. 1842.

    In the Salisbury and Winchester Journal - Saturday 14 April 1855, all the "valuable business with stock-in-trade of Thomas Cornish of Melksham, Wine & Spirit Merchant," was offered for sale by tender. "The Stock and Plant will be under 1000. The connexion is of the very highest respectability; the Premises are exceedingly commodious, with good vaultage Cellars, and situated in the centre of the town. The whole will be on view, with inventories and conditions, on Wednesday, the 18th inst., on which day, at four o'clock, the Tenders will be opened on the premises, and the purchaser declared." On April 4th 1855, Thomas Cornish was published as an "Assignee", which indicated insolvency.He was in business for only a very brief period in Melksham.

    The purchaser, Mr. J. G. Foley, auctioned the stock on the Monday 21st May 1855. It included "sale of rare old port, Madeira, sherry, and claret wines; 300 gallons of brandy, whiskey, gin, Hollands, etc. ; Allsopp's and Burton ales, Guiness's porter, bitter and Scotch ales, in bottle and cask; Patent Bottling Machine, Corking ditto, Spring Trade Cart, & c."

    "The Auctioneer begs most respectfully to call the attention of purchasers requiring first-class Wines and Spirits to this important sale, and assures them that the Wines, which are of the first vintage, were originally laid down by Mr. John Fowler, and are such as will be found worthy the attention of connoisseurs. The Spirits, as sold by Mr. Cornish, have obtained a first-class name for their purity and quality."

    A Thomas Cornish set up business at the Gate-House, Chepstow, in May 1860. He was Hon. Sec. & Clerk of the racecourse by March 1861. This may not be the same man but I put the info here for comparison. I can find no Thomas Cornish in all the census that exactly fits this man, he is very elusive. He may have been a con man, traveller and serial bankrupt, but these may all be different men. There is a travelling salesman in 1851 in Eglwysilan, Pentrebach, Glamorgan, claiming birth in Yeovil in 1829, that is a possible match, yet he vanishes other years.

    In court on 30th July 1861 at County Hall, Lewes, Sussex: Insolvent debtor "Thomas Cornish, formerly of Wellington, Somerset, and afterwards of Welsh Street, Chepstow, aforesaid, Wine & Spirit Merchant, agent for the sale of Artificial Manures, Dealer in Cigars, and Commision Agent, and late of The New Ship Hotel, Ship Street, Brighton, Sussex, out of business and employment."

    However little we know about Thomas Cornish, his short time in Melksham dates this type of jar and potter's mark quite precisely to 1854/55.

2 Gallon Stone Jar Cornish1.jpg
Impressed: 2 / Thomas Cornish / Successor to John Fowler / Wine & Spirit Merchant / Melksham .



Potter: Price & Sons Stoneware Bristol (diamond mark). 2 versions, the other has no "2" or potters mark.


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