Skip to main content  
 
 

 
Shop front of Fribourg and Treyer, 34 Haymarket, Westminster, 1908

​Shop front of Fribourg and Treyer, 34 Haymarket, Westminster, 1908

​Illuminated by The Sun: Messrs Fribourg and Treyer (and Evans), snuff merchants 

We continue our series of articles inspired by A Place in the Sun, the long-running and continuing project to index the Sun Insurance Office fire policy registers. There are now 183 registers indexed online, representing more than 316,000 policies, ranging in date from 1787 to 1840. 

Isobel Watson

The shop front, formerly of the firm Fribourg and Treyer, at 34 Haymarket, must be among the most recognisable of London‛s smaller buildings, though the snuff and tobacco business with which it was associated for more than two hundred years closed more than 30 years ago.

It was, according to tradition, founded in the mid-18th century, very possibly much earlier than its surviving business records, which date from the 1760s, and possibly even earlier than the building, dated by the Survey of London to the 1740s. Its earliest known proprietor was Peter Fribourg, who by tradition was of Swiss origin. When he retired in 1780 it was taken over by Gotlieb Augustus Treyer, who had previously worked in Amsterdam, though he may have originated in Bremen, Germany (this Fribourg and Treyer were never in business together, and there is some evidence that Peter Fribourg took exception to the retention of his surname). It was Treyer who appears to have established the much-vaunted connection with royalty, notably the Prince Regent. He married Martha Evans, through whose family the business subsequently descended. It is probably her signature on the receipt (shown below) which survives in the City of London‛s collection of business ephemera.

From 1789, if not earlier, G. A. Treyer was insuring his stock with the Sun (at nearly £2,500 it was valued at ten times more than his personal possessions). From a succession of the subsequent policies taken out not on the Haymarket building but on his successive homes, and those of one of his heirs, their increase in personal wealth, and by inference the growth of the business, can be gauged. The first Gotlieb Augustus had a relatively modest house in Kilburn, though large enough to have a stable and outhouses and to be valued at £550, twice the value of its contents. When he retired, to his final residence at a house called Tattersalls in Great East Street, Brighton, near his royal client’s Pavilion, both these valuations were roughly doubled for the new premises.

Fribourg and Treyer receipt, 1792

​Fribourg and Treyer receipt, 1792

G. A. Treyer’s eventual successors were his widow’s nephews, George (who may have succeeded to the house in Brighton) and Gotlieb Augustus Treyer Evans. It is the latter who continued the upwards trajectory of the Sun insurance valuations. As well as his town house in Jermyn Street, G. A. T. Evans had a country house at Hanwell ‘opposite the Old Hats’ (an inn), worth in total a thousand pounds. By 1826 he had given both of these up in favour of 21 Kensington Gore (nearly opposite the later Albert Memorial), at twice the valuation plus outhouses, not to mention (in a separate insurance) the same amount again in fixtures and movable belongings, plus an adjoining house worth £350. Here the association with the Sun appears to end, though according to the business’s memorialist he ended his days at Notting Hill.

Records of the business over two centuries survive at Westminster Archives Centre. As well as the expected accounts, banking records and property ledgers, there are order books detailing the business’s early clients - the Bishop of Rochester, the Master of the Rolls, Mrs Fitzherbert, and various Oxbridge dons, as well as innumerable army captains and citizens of town and country. (Many clients, especially ladies, would order something they had sampled from a friend, the record specifying the supply of a commodity ‘the same as Mrs So-and-So’s’.) There are even some stray copies of gentlemen’s club rules from the late Victorian period, and, in one of the order books, a handwritten recipe for a remedy for gout.

Further information

  • You can find out more about LMA’s business holdings on our collections pages.
  • You can discover more about volunteering opportunities at LMA on our volunteer page.

Sources used

LMA

Westminster Archives Centre

  • Acc. 391, 1204
Published:
01 July 2014
Last Modified:
29 September 2017

Notifications