Monday, January 3, 2011

A Tailor's Tale

In the mid 19th Century  the evolution of clothing English Tailors, particularly those in London, dominated the male fashion scene. The male style was a clever combination the sporting attire preferred by the gentry and the business clothing of the newly rich industrialists. The fit now rather than decoration became the fundamental rule for male clothing. English Tailors experts at their craft and trained to use woollen cloth over time developed the art of "molding" cloth close to the body without duplicating the exact body form of the wearer. The keywords for the gentlemen of the nineteenth century were discretion, simplicity, and the perfection of cut. It was at this point that modern Tailoring as we know it had it arrived.

My great grandfather Samuel John Allery and his brother William Adrian Allery were both Master Tailors and William had his own tailoring business at 63 Oxford Street, London. Not much has been recorded of Samuel John's exploits, other than his two marriages and a tribe of children, - or at least none that I have uncovered so far.


However what I can tell you is the story of the Allery claim to the Angell Estate in Brixton, a tale of mystery, intrigue, missing documents and an illegitimate child. It is a story within a story - how William Adrian tells of another Samuel in our ancestry, and his marriage to the heir to the Angell Estate. This has become quite a famous story in our family, snippetts of William's exploits in 'genealogy detective work' and 'claims to the estate' being handed down by generation of his kin. The story also made the newspapers of the time and add a little more intrigue to this tale.


William Adrian Allery had become quite well known in the town of Clapham for his eccentricities and his claim to the Angell Estate.

The Evening Standard of March 1928
“Mr William Adrian Allery an old-age pensioner, who is in his 84th year has seized two houses in Brixton – and declares he intends to seize many more – in an attempt to make good his claim to the Angell Estate…Behind the door he had pinned the parchment showing his family tree…some friends in the city advanced him the money to go to Devonshire, which is his family home. There he found in Townstall Church Dartmouth, what he claimed was the missing link for which he had been searching. This was the marriage certificate of Elizabeth Benedict Angell who married Samuel Allery in 1711…He used to bring out the document containing his whole pedigree. The parchment would cover this large drawing room table.”

The old gentleman would regale his own children, nephews, and grandchildren, those who would take the time to listen, with his stories of searching in the parish records and countless visits to the old cemeteries in and around Brixton and Dartmouth. William’s decades of searching had taken him back in time, reviewing the Allery Family heritage, in the counties of Devon and Surrey, England as they were recorded from 1600 to 1900.

William Adrian did not live to enjoy his ‘entitlement’ - he died on the 12 March 1929, just one year later after his bold attempt to claim it.

The full history of the Angell Estate can be located here:


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