Samuel Combridge was not the first in his family to run a shop, by any means. It turns out that his father, Daniel Thomas Combridge, was a butcher, as was his father before him.
He was, it seems, a reluctant butcher. How do we know that? Well, from an unusual source: a book found at The Keep last week entitled ‘Further History of The Gospel Standard Baptists’, by S F Paul. It was already known that Daniel Thomas had been a key member of the Galeed Chapel in Gloucester Road, Brighton. This book has a large section on his contribution to the church and some invaluable biographical information.
The family moved to Brighton from Southborough, near Tunbridge Wells, in 1842, as the sea air was beneficial to Daniel’s mother’s health. They took a shop in Western Road, Hove, for Daniel’s father Thomas to continue his butcher’s trade but, we are told, “ [Daniel] had an aversion to the butcher’s trade in which his father was engaged; but after trying other occupations for some months, he was sent for to assist in the office of another butcher in the town, and continued there nearly five years”. He eventually became a partner in his father’s business, at which time we are told that “his mind was rather set upon youthful pleasures”. However, he came to develop a strong Christian faith, which saw him through his father’s death, business difficulties and his first wife dying at the age of 30. In 1862 Daniel Thomas married for a second time, to Sarah Pattison, who would be the mother of Samuel.
Around the time of Samuel’s birth Daniel Thomas became one of the founding members of the new Galeed Chapel. The book tells of further family bereavements, including the death of his eldest daughter at the age of 15. However, in 1875 Daniel Thomas was in a position to buy a house in Leopold Road, Brighton, quite near to the chapel and soon after he was able to sell his business and devote himself to church matters full time.
Daniel Thomas’ second wife died in 1895. The book describes a visit to “his eldest son in Edgbaston”, who we know to be Cornelius Combridge, son of his first wife Miriam Funnel. The following year he married his third wife, Rhoda Gardiner. Following two heart attacks, Daniel Thomas died in September 1915. Rhoda, who was 30 years younger than him, lived until 1938.
In my trawl through the Brighton trade directories at The Keep the earliest entry I found for Thomas Combridge was in 1846 at 26 Western Road, Hove. Eventually in 1861 the entry is for ‘Combridge and Son, butchers’, which bears out what is mentioned in the book, and then just ‘D.T. Combridge’ from 1867.
By 1884 the Western Road butcher’s has been taken on by John Martin Combridge. I’m not exactly sure of the relationship, but in the 1871 census a John Martin was described as a nephew of Esther Combridge, the sister of Daniel Thomas, so it looks as though this was a relation who was somehow adopted as a Combridge. Business seems to have gone very well for John Martin, as by 1892 he had expanded into 27 Western Road as well as opening another store at 79 and 80 North Road. The 1906 Towner’s Directory was the last reference I could find to him.
The Combridge empire was further enhanced by Daniel Thomas’ older brother Caleb also having a butcher’s business, continued by his son Frederick at Terminus Road.
We feel another trip to Brighton coming on, to visit all these various locations!