Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Mysterious Alderman Pickett

William Pickett, Esq has been the biggest puzzle in our family history for, dare I say, centuries!

Family tradition tells us that my 4th great-grandfather George Piggot's father was the Lord Mayor of London, and was disowned by his father for marrying a quaker girl. This has been very hard to prove.

Just last week I discovered new information about him which only leads to more questions!

William, a Liveryman of "The Goldsmiths' Company" was proprietor of a shop located at No. 32 Ludgate Hill, London. The business which operated under the sign Golden salmon, was founded about 1745 by Henry Hurt, a goldsmith and toyman. In 1759 it was known as Theed and Pickett, goldsmiths and jewelers when William partnered with William Theed. After Theed's death in 1772 William Pickett took on "Phillip Rundell" as a partner and the firm became Pickett & Rundell. William eventually retired from business leaving his property under the management of Mr. Rundell.
He was elected to the office of Alderman for Cornhill Ward and served from 1782 until near his death in 1796. During this time he served as High Sheriff in 1784, and as Lord Mayor of the City in 1789. He also contested for a seat in Parliament in 1790 and 1796, but was unsuccessful.

I found several articles about his professional life, some mentioning what they thought they knew about his personal life, but boy were they clueless! He left some money to two illegitimate children in his will (We'll talk about that in the next post). Well, he was a politician.  Too bad there wasn't paparazzi back then; I could have found some good stuff!  
Most articles said that he had married into William Theed's family, some assuming that Mrs. Pickett was the daughter of Mr. Theed. I found his obituary in The Monthly Magazine, Volume 2 by Sir Richard Phillips and it said that he married "Miss Pratten, niece of Mr. Prentice, an opulent seedsman in Thames-Street".

The Monthly Magazine, Volume 2 by Sir Richard Phillips, pg 909

The Monthly Magazine, Volume 2 by Sir Richard Phillips, pg 910

So you know I had to go to Ancestry and do a search on Elizabeth Pratten. Low and behold I found their marriage certificate and none other than William Theed was a witness!

Guildhall, St Sepulchre Holborn, Register of marriages, 1754 - 1764, P69/SEP/A/01/Ms 7222/1

Stay tuned for the will and other discoveries.

Silver Society Journal, Winter 1991, pages 94-96
Nineteenth-century silver, by John Culme, pages 57-58
Gentlemen's Quarterly Vol 79, 1796, page 1062

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