The Barcham Family

Shopkeepers and shop assistants

In the 19th century there were a number of ‘Barchams’ who owned shops or were shop assistants. Most owners and their families lived above their shops, and often their unmarried assistants lived there too. In large establishments it was common for unmarried shop assistants to live on the premises or in nearby lodging houses. This page focuses mainly on grocery, drapery and millinery businesses.

Village economies were closely integrated. Farmers supplied their grain to millers who then supplied local general stores and bakeries; farmers supplied meat to butchers and vegetables to greengrocers: and farmers delivered fresh milk and dairy products directly to their customers or sold them at the local market. Fish was sold by fishmongers. Other shops were shoe and boot makers, blacksmiths and ironmongers.

Village general stores stocked a variety of groceries, draperies and some stocked earthenware; and were often the post office. The range and diversity of goods was much less than in today’s ‘one-stop’ supermarkets.

There were department stores and food emporiums in the large towns and cities. The famous department stores were established in London before the 1850s: Swan and Edgar, on Regent Street, was established before 1846; Marshall and Snelgrove, on Oxford Street, opened in 1848; Harrods, on Knightsbridge, started when Charles Harrod took over an existing grocery shop on Knightsbridge in 1849.

Working and living conditions are described in Victorian London by Liza Picard.

Barchams were retailers of food, wines and spirits and clothing in many of the towns and villages where they lived. Read about Barchams from all three branches of the family who were shop workers.

One of the many Barchams who were shopkeepers was Helen Jane Barcham (b. 1837), the daughter of Ann (née Edwards) and William Ayres Barcham. Helen married Augustus T  Jackson (b. 1835), the son of Elizabeth and Francis Tregarthen Jackson, a tailor and mercer on the High Street in Hugh Town, St Mary’s, in the Isles of Scilly. Augustus worked for his father and inherited the business when his father died some time between 1861 and 1871. In 1871, Augustus, Helen Jane, their son Frank (b. 1866) and their nephew Herbert Barcham were living in High Street, Hugh Town. Augustus was then a grocer and general dealer, employing two assistants, who did not reside with the family. Augustus died before 1891, and Helen continued to run the shop with the help of her son.

Helen Jane Barcham