Marine Store Dealers
Samuel Hindley & Michael Collins & Paddy Magee at various times described themselves as Marine Store Dealers.
But what were Marine Store Dealers?
Google reveals all ...
"Marine Store Dealer, was originally the proprietor of a store selling equipment to Mariners, perhaps components of old ships such as sails, cordage, ironwork, and other provisions found on a ship. For sure there were those who aspired to that ... but later most were, more often than not, junk dealers ... dealers in scrap materials ... the type of work often done by gypsies? They operated as the hub of a barter economy which enabled them to develop quite large businesses in crockery ware, hardware of every kind, fur, wool, and every conceivable article of trade and commerce".
"In my wife's family tree we have a marine store dealer living near Newmarket, Suffolk, it was down in the census as that, Newmarket is miles from the sea? We went to the village where he was living and a little old shop sold a book about the village. We looked through the book and found out that the business he called a marine store dealer, was in fact a scrap business. So we had a good laugh about it!"
"It was in the 1851 census that he was a marine store keeper and then he went on to be a coal merchant which must have been a good business as it lasted at least 50 years, carried on by his son in tandem with farming. Maybe he started using his cart for collecting scrap metal first and then moved on to coal as the term marine store dealer is commonly used to refer to people of Romany origin. It's a fascinating history, but people who travel are often fiendishly difficult to locate in the census information."
"The man who I think could be my 3xg-grandfather is described in 1891 as a
marine store rag collector.
Would this have been like a rag & bone man, as I thought marine store dealers dealt in old metal?"
"A Marine Store Dealer was a licensed broker who bought and sold used
cordage, bunting, rags, timber, metal and other general waste materials. He
usually sorted the purchased waste by kind & grade. He also repaired, mended
Marine Store Dealers were governed by an Act of Parliament 1st. Geo. IV. sec.16 cap.75. Which enacted that every marine store dealer shall have his name inserted in legible characters over his shop door and shall also keep a book in which he shall insert the name and address of any person from whom he shall buy any article."
"A search of the 'Times' archive brings up many references to them and nearly all were in relation to police courts."
"Travellers did sometimes settle and call themselves metal brokers. My family, all Romany people, can be traced back to the 1700s, and two of them were down as iron brokers and metal brokers. Marine stores also took rags & bits."
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
The characters include - Joe, a marine store dealer and receiver of stolen goods.
"They left the busy scene, and went into an obscure part of the town, where Scrooge had never penetrated before, although he recognised its situation and its bad repute. The ways were foul and narrow; the shop and houses wretched; the people half naked, drunken, slipshod, ugly. Alleys and archways, like so many cesspools, disgorged their offences of smell and dirt, and life upon the straggling streets; and the whole quarter reeked with crime, with filth, and misery.
Far in this den of infamous resort, there was a low-browed, beetling shop, below a penthouse roof, where iron, old rags, bottles, bones, and greasy offal were bought. Upon the floor within were piled up heaps of rusty keys, nails, chains, hinges, files, scales, weights, and refuse iron of all kinds. Secrets that few would like to scrutinise were bred and hidden in mountains of unseemly rags, masses of corrupted fat, and sepulchres of bones. Sitting in among the wares he dealt in, by a charcoal stove made of old bricks, was a grey-haired rascal, nearly seventy years of age, who had screened himself from the cold air without by a frouzy curtaining of miscellaneous tatters hung upon a line and smoked his pipe in all the luxury of calm retirement.
Scrooge and the Phantom came into the presence of this man, just as a woman with a heavy bundle slunk into the shop. But she had scarcely entered, when another woman, similarly laden, came in too; and she was closely followed by a man in faded black, who was no less startled by the sight of them than they had been upon the recognition of each other.
After a short period of blank astonishment, in which the old man with the pipe had joined them, they all three burst into a laugh.
'Let the charwoman alone to be the first!' cried she who had entered first.
'Let the laundress alone to be the second; and let the undertaker's man alone to be the third. Look here, old Joe, here's a chance! If we haven't all three met here without meaning it!'
'You couldn't have met in a better place,' said old Joe, removing his pipe from his mouth. 'Come into the parlour. You were made free of it long ago, you know; and the other two an't strangers. Stop till I shut
the door of the shop. Ah! how it skreeks! There an't such a rusty bit of metal in the place as its own hinges, I believe; and I'm sure there's no such old bones here as mine. Ha! ha! We're all suitable to our calling, we're well matched. Come into the parlour. Come into the parlour.'
The parlour was the space behind the screen of rags. The old man raked the fire together with an old stair-rod, and having trimmed his smoky lamp (for it was night) with the stem of his pipe, put it into his mouth again.
While he did this, the woman who had already spoken threw her bundle on the floor, and sat down in a flaunting manner on a stool, crossing her elbows on her knees, and looking with a bold defiance at the other two.
'What odds, then? What odds, Mrs Dilber?' said the woman. 'Every person has a right to take care of themselves. 'He' always did!'
'That's true, indeed!' said the laundress. 'No man more so.'
'Why, then, don't stand staring as if you was afraid, woman! Who's the wiser? We're not going to pick holes in each other's coats, I suppose?'
'No, indeed!' said Mrs Dilber and the man together. 'We should hope not.'
'Very well then!' cried the woman. 'That's enough. Who's the worse for the loss of a few things like these? Not a dead man, I suppose?'
'No, indeed,' said Mrs Dilber, laughing.
'If he wanted to keep 'em after he was dead, a wicked old screw,' pursued the woman, 'why wasn't he natural in his lifetime? If he had been, he'd have had somebody to look after him when he was struck with
Death, instead of lying gasping out his last there, alone by himself.'
'It's the truest word that ever was spoke,' said Mrs Dilber. 'It's a judgment on him.'
'I wish it was a little heavier judgment,' replied the woman: 'and it should have been, you may depend upon it, if I could have laid my hands on anything else. Open that bundle, old Joe, and let me know the value of it. Speak out plain. I'm not afraid to be the first, nor afraid for them to see it. We knew pretty well that we were helping ourselves before we met here, I believe. It's no sin. Open the bundle, Joe.'
But the gallantry of her friends would not allow of this; and the man in faded black, mounting the breach first, produced 'his' plunder. It was not extensive. A seal or two, a pencil-case, a pair of sleeve-buttons, and a brooch of no great value, were all. They were severally examined and appraised by old Joe, who chalked the sums he was disposed to give for each upon the wall, and added them up into a total when he found that there was nothing more to come.
'That's your account,' said Joe, 'and I wouldn't give another sixpence, if I was to be boiled for not doing it. Who's next?'
[Illustration: _"What do you call this?" said Joe. "Bed-curtains."_]
Mrs. Dilber was next. Sheets and towels, a little wearing apparel, two old fashioned silver teaspoons, a pair of sugar-tongs, and a few boots. Her account was stated on the wall in the same manner.
'I always give too much to ladies. It's a weakness of mine, and that's the way I ruin myself,' said old Joe. 'That's your account. If you asked me for another penny, and made it an open question, I'd repent of being
so liberal, and knock off half-a-crown.'
'And now undo 'my' bundle, Joe,' said the first woman.
Joe went down on his knees for the greater convenience of opening it, and, having unfastened a great many knots, dragged out a large heavy roll of some dark stuff.
'What do you call this?' said Joe. 'Bed-curtains?'
'Ah!' returned the woman, laughing and leaning forward on her crossed arms. 'Bed-curtains!'
'You don't mean to say you took 'em down, rings and all, with him lying there?' said Joe.
'Yes, I do,' replied the woman. 'Why not?'
'You were born to make your fortune,' said Joe, 'and you'll certainly do it.'
'I certainly shan't hold my hand, when I can get anything in it by reaching it out, for the sake of such a man as he was, I promise you, Joe,' returned the woman coolly. 'Don't drop that oil upon the blankets, now.'
'His blankets?' asked Joe.
'Whose else's do you think?' replied the woman. 'He isn't likely to take cold without 'em, I dare say.'
'I hope he didn't die of anything catching? Eh?' said old Joe, stopping in his work, and looking up.
'Don't you be afraid of that,' returned the woman. 'I an't so fond of his company that I'd loiter about him for such things, if he did. Ah! you may look through that shirt till your eyes ache, but you won't find a hole in it, nor a threadbare place. It's the best he had, and a fine one too. They'd have wasted it, if it hadn't been for me.'
'What do you call wasting of it?' asked old Joe.
'Putting it on him to be buried in, to be sure,' replied the woman, with a laugh. 'Somebody was fool enough to do it, but I took it off again. If calico an't good enough for such a purpose, it isn't good enough for anything. It's quite as becoming to the body. He can't look uglier than he did in that one.'
'Ha, ha!' laughed the same woman when old Joe producing a flannel bag with money in it, told out their several gains upon the ground. 'This is the end of it, you see! He frightened every one away from him when he
was alive, to profit us when he was dead! Ha, ha, ha!'
Scrooge listened to this dialogue in horror. As they sat grouped about their
spoil, in the scanty light afforded by the old man's lamp, he viewed them
with a detestation and disgust which could hardly have been
greater, though they had been obscene demons marketing the corpse itself.
'Spirit!' said Scrooge, shuddering from head to foot. 'I see, I see. The case of this unhappy man might be my own. My life tends that way now." ...
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