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The Boyd Brothers... and son... in Liverpool.
Provision Merchants, Mathew Street
Mid 1800s - early 1900s

I'd known... or thought I knew... for many years that in the later 1800s my family had a business presence in Liverpool.

In May 2017, the touring production of the musical Billy Elliot was going to be in Liverpool. It has been an important element in my (sad) life for a while, and so I decided to make the trip, see the show, and revisit local archives, to see if I could glean more information about the family.

Everything fell into place beautifully. The library is a splendid facility. I really enjoyed working there. The staff were very friendly and helpful. The computers and microfilm machines and archives: Excellent. AND the library was close to the theatre and my hotel!

What can be gleaned from the trade directories

In the 1800s, several people published "directories" for towns and districts. They were like "telephone books"... from the days before there were telephones! Life before Google... hard to comprehend.

The following information was gleaned from Gore's directories of Liverpool, years indicated. Often the entry comes from the "by street" listings, other times, from the alphabetical lists of people and businesses. (The directories are on microfilm, at the Liverpool Central Library.)

In some instances, I have "tidied up" capitalizations, etc... but mostly, these are as they appear in the directories.

The following may not seem like much... and not very exciting... but it distills many, many hours of work, in chronological order. Some bits I discovered early on, others, much later. Building the "picture" below was an adventure!

Boyds, provision merchants, Liverpool...

1868-1874, 22 Mathew St, Liverpool... not every year checked, but many: Straham, Robt & Co, Produce Brokers"

1875, 22 Mathew St, Liverpool: "Boyd Brothers & Co, prov merchants"
First time they are shown at this address. Not sure they existed previously. Came into money, I presume, not long before... from the death of their father, (1869... London.. but they, Thomas Lunham and John James, the presumed "brothers", had been written out of a partnership, in Liverpool, in 1873.. and... conjecture... came into money. Also conjecture: Their standing in the partnership was an inheritance, and the other partners were glad (willing to pay) to be rid of the very young men.)

1880, 22 Mathew St, Liverpool: "Boyd Brothers & Co, prov merchants"
Found this entry in the directories very early in my 5/17 visit to Liverpool.

... then, sometime between 1880 and 1890, the entry became...

Eureka!! I write this material about the 1890 entry in Gore's directory on the evening of 29 May 17. In Liverpool, I've recently worked out, I spent eight hours (and a quarter!) in the library on this and related matters. I'd gone to Liverpool tired. The trip, even without the family history part was well worth doing, but further tiring... and a serious dental problem arose (and continues). I've spent about three hours on this page and related work, today, 29 May. I was wrapping up.

I'd notice a gap in my chronology. Before I found my notes from 1890, we "jumped" from 1880, "Boyd Brothers" to 1899, "Boyd, Thomas L.". I was sure that I'd tried to find the "boundaries", i.e. the transition of tenant at 20 Mathew Street between 1874 and 1875, and started sorting my printouts from the microfilms into order. And found the 1890 sheet. Good! "That will help determine when Boyd Brothers became Boyd, Thomas L", I said to myself... And then I LOOKED AT WHAT I'D COLLECTED FROM THE LIBRARY.... AND saw FOR THE FIRST TIME....

20 & 22 [Mathew St] Boyd & Grant provision merchants
   Lunham Bros. provision merchants

(I'd remembered the move from 20 to 22, and vaguely remembered, I thought, a directory entry where the business was at both.) But I'd completely, until the evening of the 29th, overlooked the other valuable material in the 1890 entry!

Who was "Grant"?? I don't recall every coming across that name in the family history before! The Lunhams I know of... my great-grandfather's mother was a Lunham... hence Thomas Lunham Boyd. They were also "in food". They are our connection to Cork, Ireland, where TLB was born, among other things. I knew from various indications... some hazy... of connections between the Boyds and Lunhams. Here, nearly overlooked, a good, solid connection which can be followed up! (The logical inference... always risky in family history research... is that the Lunhams and Boyds had operations in Liverpool in connection with moving food grown in Ireland to markets in the UK. But the Lunhams are from Berwickshire.... I guess more research is still needed! Not to mention the need to find the boundaries between 1880 (Boyd Brothers) and 1890 (see above) and 1890 and 1889 (Boyd, Thomas L)!

(The 1865 directory had: "Lunham, Robert A, provision merchant at 14 Knowsley Lane Walton, office 20 N. John St". (N. John near Mathew.))

1899: Boyd, Thomas L. 20 Mathew St.
Finding this was an enormous, and hard won pleasure. Years ago, I'd "found" "my" Boyds in Liverpool. On this visit, I had spent hours finding references to "Boyd Brothers", but was beginning to worry that I'd jumped to a false conclusion, those years ago... when I was even less proficient in family history research. Here was the proof that "Boyd Brothers" were MY Boyds.

1912: Boyd, Thomas L. 20 Mathew St.
(Last thus... next year became....)

1913: T.L.Boyd and Son Ltd
The son would almost without a doubt have been T. Kenneth Boyd, about 28 at the time.

1914: T.L. Boyd and Son Ltd, Provision merchants,
20 Mathew St W TA "Magnet, Liverpool" (("TA": "trading as"?))
TN 3911 Bank

1923: T.L.Boyd and Son Ltd, Provn mers,
20 Mathew St

1927: Boyds gone from Mathew St. TLB was born in 1849, and may just have decided to cut back his business activities. He died in 1931. Family tradition has it that TLB double-crossed his son, tearing up the partnership agreement between them when the son's endeavors led to him (the son) beginning to take, under the agreement's terms, more than 50% of a very large pie. And that the son broke off his work with his father when he could.

That's it for this, for now....

Thank you for taking the time to read what I've put together. I hope that some of the excitement and pleasure this quest has given me has come across. I hope that relatives will be interested.

The Great Mystery at this time is how my Boyds were connected with sugar. TLB and JJB, in the 1871 census are listed as employing scores of men. They were young men. If memory serves, "sugar" is mentioned. Their father died just a few years earlier, and his death certificate says "sugar refiner". But can I connect our Boyds, for sure, to any specific firm or refinery? No!

I hope you, Gentle Reader, can help? If so, I will be delighted to hear from you! You can contact me by email, or by an internet "feedback form".

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