One of the visitors to the recent AGM of the Surrey Local History Council at Bourne Hall was Mr. Rowland G.M. Baker, Vice Chairman of the Esher District Local History Society. Whilst on the conducted tour of Ewell he made a note of the Royal Exchange Fire Mark policy number on the wall at No. 4 Church Street, Ewell, and has since looked it up in the Company’s Fire Insurance Registers which have been deposited in the Guildhall Library, and has sent us the following extract:
Royal Exchange Policy No. 149551
Lady Day Quarter 1796
Edmd. Pitts Capper of Ewell in the Co. of Surrey, Surgeon and
On Furniture in his Dwelling House Timber & tiled sit:
in the London Road in Ewell afs. 250
On Apparel in the same 50
On Printed Books in the same 100
On Plate in the same 30
On Pictures Etc. in the same 12
On Surgeons Instruments in the same 15
On Musical Instruments etc. in the same 90
On Utensils & Trade in his Shop Brick and tiled 100
On Utensils & Stock in his Stable Timber & tiled 38
(Guildhall Library, MS7253/30, fo. 203)
We are grateful to Mr. Baker for obtaining this information for us which we hadn’t previously got on file. John Edwards, in his survey of Ewell in 1790, mentions only one surgeon in Church Street, a Mr. John Lambs, so it is possible that Mr. Gapper did not move into Ewell until 1796, hence the insurance policy. Phyllis Davies has provided the following information concerning the Gapper family from the Parish Registers.
EDMUND GAPPER, son of John Pitts Gapper, and of Inchie Tumaning of Bencollin, in the Island of Sumatra, formerly of Mere, Wilts. Born 19 April 1788, Baptised 28 April 1796.
HARRIET PITTS GAPPER, Married Samuel Fisher (Widower) of St. Edmunds, Salisbury, 19 May 1807.
MRS. ANN GAPPER (widow) Buried 4 May 1809.
In 1830 the house was still owned by Sir George Glyn and described as House, shop and garden, and covered by a further insurance policy in 1810 (Enclosure Award and Glyn Papers No. 377).
The fact that this comparatively wealthy family waited until 1796 for the baptism of Edmund, then aged 8, tends to confirm our theory that the family moved to Ewell in 1795 or 1796. The reference to Sumatra suggests an interesting background, possibly of army or diplomatic service and, if we had the time, it might be worth digging around in the colonial and diplomatic records of this period. The collection of books worth £100 is another feature, possibly these were to read whilst in Sumatra? Later in the nineteenth century the surgeon’s shop became a butcher’s shop owned by the Charman family. Much of Church Street must have been the same as it is today, except for the condition of the roads, churned up by the coaches. It was a turnpike road with a dozen or more stage coaches a day calling at the King’s Head, near the old church which was still in use, and negotiating the dangerous corner from Church Street into the High Street.