Isaac Tarratt

1701 - 1789
Linen draper, sometime resident on Church Street, Epsom, and fortune teller

On 29 December 1719, Isaac Tarratt, son of Thomas Taratt, was apprenticed to Thomas Adkinson, Taylor [Tailor], of Alfreton.

An Isaac Tarrat appears in the Fleet Registers as having married on 26 January 1730. Children were born to Isaac and Mary - Jacobus Maria, baptised 11 August 1731 at Maidstone, Kent, Isaac, 28 June 1741, christened 5 July 1741, and Elizabeth , 27 December 1743, christened 31 December 1743, the latter two baptisms in St Sepulchre, London.

Having been charged Land Tax for Farringdon Within from 1739, Isaac was listed in 1744 as a Merchant at 'Smithfield Bars' [Smithfield Bars, a wooden barrier on the north side of Smithfield, had been set up to separate the City Liberty from that of the County].

He was admitted a Freeman of the City of London 'by redemption of the Company of Glovers' on payment of 46 shillings and 8 pence, 6 September 1747. From 7 October 1747 he took on Richard Taylor, son of William Taylor from Basildon, Essex, as an apprentice for 7 years.

About 1751, he came to Epsom to take up a tenancy of what became known as The Stone House - 'John Manlev of Lincoln's Inn Fields, Middx. Esq had on 16 December 1751 obtained a licence to let for 21 years all that messuage wherein Sarah Parker, widow now deceased lately dwelled, with the storerooms, yards and garden adjoining, now in the tenure of Isaac Tarrat...' These premises lie on the east side of Church Street, near St Martin of Tours parish church, abutting the Brewery which had been conducted by Robert Parker. The National Archives hold, under reference C11/1666/31, a Bill and answer in the case of Thomas v Tarratt - Plaintiffs: William Thomas, brewer late of Epsom, Surrey, and Defendants: Isaac Tarratt and Robert Parker - dated to 1752.

By 1753, he had taken Richard Taylor into partnership but the Cheapside business fell into insolvency and both members were declared bankrupt. Nevertheless, Isaac evidently resumed business as a linen draper in Epsom.

In the Town Plate at Epsom on 25 May 1754 Aaron won 50, give-and-take, beating, at three heats, Mr. Lamego's Driver. The second heat was so near run, that it could not be determined which had won it and after a third heat, the person who stood as Judge gave in favour of Aaron. A paragraph appeared in the London Evening Post published in the middle of the following September, including the affidavit of the judge in this matter: -
"Isaac Tarratt of Epsom,in the county of Surrey, linen draper, maketh oath, and saith that in the month of May last past, he, this Deponent, was requested to observe and give his judgement concerning a certain Horse-Race run on Epsom Downs, in the said month of May, between a horse, the property of Mr. Aaron Lamego, known by the name of Little Driver, and another horse, the property of Mr. Benjamin Rogers, known by the name of Aaron. And this Deponent further maketh oath, and saith, that, according to his, this Deponent's strict observance and belief, Mr. Rogers's said horse, Aaron, clearly won the third heat against Mr. Lamego's said horse, Little Driver. And this Deponent further maketh oath, and saith, that he, this Deponent, had no bets depending, and was no ways interested in, nor could he receive any benefit or advantage whatsoever from the decision or event of the said Horse-Race.

Sworn at Epsom in Surrey, the 6th of Sept. 1754, before me, Edw. Northey.

I do hereby declare my full consent to the above determination, Sept. 14, 1754, Aaron Lamego."
Isaac subscribed to Penmanship in 1731 and frequently posed, or offered solutions to, mathematical questions and philosophical queries in the Gentleman's Magazine and The Ladies' Diary. An example from the latter, set in 1766 with an answer published in 1767, appears below: -

Tarratt's mathematical question
Tarratt's mathematical question.
Image source The Ladies' Diary

Mrs Tarratt was buried in St Martin of Tours' churchyard on 30 September 1767. Her headstone is inscribed: -
'In Memory of MARY TARRATT Wife of ISAAC TARRATT who dyed 28th of Sept. 1767 aged 6(6) Years.'
Mary Tarratt's Headstone
Mary Tarratt's Headstone in St Martin's Graveyard c1970s.

Isaac Tarratt, formerly of Bewley in the County of Southampton, late of Epsom in the County of Surrey, Dealer and Chapman, was again bankrupt and languishing in the King's Bench prison in the County of Surrey during the summer of 1774.

Obituary from The Gentleman's Magazine, Volume 65 by John Nichols: -
"In the Charterhouse, to which asylum for decayed tradesmen he was presented by the present Lord Chancellor [Edward Thurlow, 1st Baron Thurlow] in 1780, aged 88, Isaac Tarrat. He was originally a linen draper at the corner of Charterhouse Lane, St. John's Street, where he was very successful in business, and realised a very considerable sum of money; but, like many more, not thinking it came fast enough, he removed to a large shop in Cheapside, where he soon lost all he had gained in his former situation. He then removed to Epsom, where he had no better success so that at the age of 70, or upwards, he found himself without a shilling, and his bread to seek. He had always a turn for literature; was a contributor to The Ladies Diary in 1728 or 9, and continued to be a pretty constant one from that time till near that of his death. His name occurs repeatedly in our Magazine, and also in most other periodical publications of repute which have been set on foot within the last 60 years. To this turn his failure in business had often been imputed by his friends; and this circumstance, joined, perhaps, to a consciousness within himself that it was in some measure true, operated so on his mind, when he was obliged to quit Epsom, that, instead of applying to his friends for assistance, he withdrew himself entirely from them, and it was not known, fur some years what was become of him. During this interval he earned a scanty subsistence by officiating as clerk in various lottery-offices; but this employment was very precarious, as his employers were sometimes obliged to decamp, and others died: so that at last, to avoid starving, he was obliged to hire himself to a woman who lived in one of the streets near the Middlesex Hospital, and kept a doctor to tell fortunes, at a shilling a day, lodging and board. Here his business was to sit above stairs, in a fur-cap, a large white heard, and a worsted damask nightgown, to invent schemes, and give answers to all who enquired of him; while the woman sat below, and took the money of the customers as they came in He allowed that his principal always used him well, maintained him comfortably, and always treated him with a small bowl of punch alter supper; and he owned he could have been well content to end his days in her service, if he could have reconciled his conscience to his calling; but as he could not, he left her as soon as he had scraped together a small sum to support himself while he looked out for other employment: and it was well he did so, for the terriers of justice laid hands on his successor to the cap and beard in less than a month after he quitted them. He often declared that he was amazed at the number of his customers, and still more at the rank which some of them, by their appearance, held in society. Soon after he quitted this woman, the writer of this article, who had known him in his better days, met him by chance, and, by furnishing him with some employment, learned, by degrees, the situation he was in. He put him upon applying for the charity, which he afterwards obtained principally through the interest of the late P Prevost, Efq."*
Isaac died in what has become Sutton's Hospital in Charterhouse, an almshouse constituted to afford a home for eighty male pensioners - gentlemen by descent and in poverty, soldiers that have borne arms by sea or land, merchants decayed by piracy or shipwreck, or servants in household to the King or Queen's Majesty.

* Peter Prevost, Steward of Epsom Manor, died 30 January 1789.

Brian Bouchard © 2015.



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