- Bryan Mawer

Harman Samler
Harman Samler

Harman Samler was an important figure in the late 1700s. Hutcheson mentions him (1781), and he was instrumental in the formation and success of the Phoenix Insurance Co in 1784 (Trebilcock).

Samler & Son of St Andrews Hill, Blackfriars, and Samler & Ferrers of Angel Alley, Whitechapel, are both listed by Kent in his Directory of 1794. The St Andrews Hill refinery continued under the name of W & R Samler (1817), and as Wm Samler (1823-4) - these were Harman's sons, William & Richard.

PRO HO4 shows Harman received a grant of denization in 1767, with an address at St Ann, Blackfriars, however an earlier reference I have to him, found surprisingly at the NRO (Ref. BrW221), is in the form of an Indenture between himself and Mrs Ann Sikes, widow of Robert Sikes, and her son John of Epsom, Surrey, for a property in Water Lane, Blackfriars in 1758. (Water Lane ran almost parallel to, and just to the east of, the Fleet Ditch, the foul open-sewer which ran southwards past the Fleet Prison, under Fleet St, past the Bridewell, and into the River Thames next to Blackfriars Stairs. Some years later, Blackfriars Bridge was built across the river at this point, with the Fleet Ditch being covered by a roadway which is now New Bridge St.)
This Indenture is interesting in that it describes in detail the property that Harman Samler was to lease for the next seven years at an annual rent of 40. It comprised a messuage (dwelling house), timber yard, sugar millhouse, and stables.......

"In the room two pairs of stairs forward - one closet with shelves round it with a door and two iron hinges a wood chimney piece set with black and white tiles and five old marble squares. The dining up one pair of stairs forward - a wood chimney piece with a stone hearth set with galley tiles five grey marble squares edged with black marble a Beaufort(1) painted and guilt compleat with doors hinges and proper fastenings a cupboard under the same with a shelf and double doors with iron hinges and locks and keys to two doors. In the little room forwards up one pair of stairs - a fireplace set with galley tiles a fire stone and marble slab piers. In the little room forwards up one pair of stairs - a lock and key to the door. In the little parlour on the ground floor - a stone chimney piece hearth and fire stone and set with galley tiles two small cupboards with shelves doors hinges locks. In the scullery - a wood sink compleat lined with lead with an oak stand fixed in the wall for water tub two shelves. In the kitchen an open deal dresser complete with three shelves over it a dark closet with a door and iron hinges a fireplace with stone slab a wooden chimney piece with one shelf and two racks a cupboard with one shelf a dresser over the door with four shelves round it. In the cellar - the water laid into the cellar and up into the scullery with brass cocks and leaden pipe and leaden waste pipe from the scullery into the sink in the cellar a door to the cellar stairs with two iron hinges an iron latch and two iron bolts. In the yard next Fleet Ditch - the stable complete with roof covered with pantiles and painted a rack and manger and hay loft a door to the Ditch side with an iron bolt and staples and one pair of iron hinges the stable paved with cobbles and a door and stout lock and a pair of iron hinges dimensions of the stable and hay loft thirty seven foot five inches long out to out fourteen foot wide nineteen foot high the back front and fifteen foot high the fore front. A sugar millhouse next Water Lane in the front fifteen foot eight inches wide twenty two foot seven inches deep and twelve foot high the front part weather boarded and two folding doors with two pair of hinges and proper fastenings and the back front weather boarded and covered with pantiles and painted a girder and joysts and part boarded on the raising plates an open door to the passage next Water Lane with iron hinges and a stout lock and key. The front of the yard next Fleet Ditch inclosed twenty nine foot wide ten foot high with a large bressummer and seven posts and two close doors and three open doors with iron hinges and proper fastenings. A necessary house complete with a door iron hinges and proper fastenings. The foot way in the yard paved with free stone and lead pipe from the top of the house to the first floor to run away the water from there."

[ (1) abt 1485, three strong, iron-bound, chests attributed to Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII ... so in this case, probably a secure cupboard. ]

Harman Samler was married to Ann Starr. Their children.....
John Harman, b. 1752.
Elizabeth, b. 1752, m. to Samuel Hadley.
Mary, m. 1781 to John Eamer, became Lady Mary Eamer.
Ann, b. 1754, m. 1773 to George Shum.
Richard, b. 1756, m. 1793 to Sarah Shaw.
William, b. 1762, m. 1792 to Frances Shaw.

Harman Samler died in 1792. The notice in The Times reads ...
"On Saturday morning, after a few hours illness, died at his house on Clapham Common, HARMAN SAMLER, Esq., an eminent Sugar Refiner of this City, and one of the Directors of the Phoenix Fire Office. His exemplary life and character, which obtained the esteem and affection of all who knew him, deserve particular mention at this time; by the most exact probity and unwearied application, he aquired a large fortune; he was pious, charitable, unassuming, a kind husband, a fond father, and a warm friend.
(The Times, 6 August 1792)

William Samler
Frances Samler

[Our thanks go to Paul Steinmetz for the family portraits, and for further Samler/Steinmetz family detail held on file.]