The Brewer: Charles Arkcoll (1853-1912)

Family Background

I expected it to be relatively easy to trace the ancestry of the first owner of Stephanotis Charles Arkcoll, given his unusual family name, but investigation was made more difficult by their being several branches of the family and their tendency to use the same forenames.

The pedigree chart below shows Charles Arkcoll with his name highlighted.

Arkcoll Pedigree
Charles Arkcoll Family pedigree chart [78]
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Charles Arkcoll's Paternal Grandfather: John Arkcoll (1751-1823)

Charles Arkcoll's paternal grandfather John Arcoll was born in 1786 in Herstmonceaux in Sussex and baptised at All Saints Church - parts of which date back to the 12th Century. Herstmonceaux is a beautiful village that became home to the Royal Observatory after WW2. It was transferred there from Greenwich because of the air and light pollution was much less. Herstmonceaux is about 3 miles from the sea and about equidistant from Hastings and Eastbourne.

Charles married Sarah Smith in 1781 at nearby Wartling; they had 5 sons and possibly more that I have not discovered. John Arkcoll died before the first census in 1941 so I can find no confirmation of his occupation; he was buried at All Saints Church.

The chart below shows John Arkcoll, his sons and their respective spouses.

Arkcoll Pedigree
Chart showing John Arkcoll's son's and their spouses [78]
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Arkcoll Family
Gravestone of John Arkcoll and his wife Sarah at Herstmonceaux [79]

Children of John Arkcoll

Thomas Arkcoll (1783-1860)

Thomas Arkcoll was recorded as a 'Yeoman' in the 1841 census and a 'Farmer of 300 acres employing 13 labourers' in the 1851 census. He had no children of his own but married a widow Winifred Stone (neé Farncomb). As a farmer, he may well have been a supplier of dairy products and/or vegetables to the family business but there is no evidence he took a direct part in it. When Thomas died in 1860 he left an estate valued at around £40,000 (about £4.9 Million at 2019 values).

John Arkcoll (1785-1857)

John Arkcoll was described as a grocer when he married Louisa Attwood in 1822; they had no children - well at least no surviving children. Although they seem to have spent most of their lives in Maidstone, he died at Herstmanceaux in 1857. The image below shows his listing in Pigot's Directory of 1824. John and his younger brother Charles seem to have been at the heart of the family grocery business.

Arkcoll Family
Pigot's Directory of Kent 1824 listing of grocers in Maidstone. [17]

By the time of the 1851 census, Louisa had died, John's address was recorded as 71 Tonbridge Street Maidstone and he was described as a "Wholesale Grocer". Living with him were his niece Fanny Arkcoll (the daughter of his brother Isaac) and two servants.

1851 census entry for John Arkcoll. [12]
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He died in 1857 and the first part of his will, written in "copperplate" writing is shown below. Having no children, he left most of his estate to his brothers, nephews and nieces with several bequests being to the value of £1,000 - (about £111,000 in 2019 values). He also made large bequests to the West Street Infirmary and Dispensary at Maidstone and Maidstone Hospital, made provision for a number of his servants, and declared his wish to be buried with his late wife at the family vault at Herstmonceaux. Unfortunately the documents available online do not record the total value of his estate. The executors were his brother Isaac and Isaac's son Charles.

This is the first part of John Arkcoll's will [23]
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Arkcoll Family
Gravestone of John Arkcoll Jnr. at Herstmonceaux [79]
Arkcoll Family
Gravestone of Louisa Attwood (wife of John Arkcoll Jnr.) at Herstmonceaux [79]
Isaac Arkcoll (1787-1868)

Isaac was recorded as a 'Farmer of 550 acres employing 32 Labourers' on the 1851 census. He married Cordelia Dendney (or possibly Dueurdeny) in Hastings in 1814 and they had three children. He owned Fishponds Farm at Fairlight near Hastings near the present day Ecclesbourne Reservoir. The farm still exists but holiday chalets are gradually encroaching on it. Again there is no evidence of his direct involvement in the grocery business but he could well have been a supplier. The family ties were certainly there as on the 1841 census, Isaac's daughter Fanny was living with his brother Charles in Maidstone and her occupation was recorded as Grocer. When Isaac died in 1868 he left an estate valued at around £9,000 (about £1 Million at 2019 values).

William Arkcoll (1796-1861)

William was particularly difficult to track down as the census enumerators came up with a huge range of incorrect spellings of his name. He married Frances Sampson Gibbs in 1823 and had at least 2 children. In 1842 he was a farmer at Battle but by 1851 had moved to Westham near Pevensey and he is described on the 1851 census as a 'Farmer of 1,000 acres employing 42 labourers'. When William died in 1861 his left an estate valued at around £12,000 (about £1.4 Million at 2019 values).

Charles Arkcoll (1814-1879)

See next section.

Charles Arkcoll's Father: Charles Arkcoll (1814-1879)

Charles was the youngest of John Arkcoll's sons and married Jane Parton at Maidstone in 1841. They had eight children - two sons and six daughters.

Arkcoll Pedigree
Chart showing Charles Arkcoll Jnr's children created by Brian Watson [78]
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Of the daughters, Sarah died aged 11, Lucy married Henry Weekes a GP and surgeon, Jeannette married William Stevens an editor, publisher and author, Fanny married William Lendon a solicitor, Kate was unmarried and Alice married Russell Oliver who died very young.

The sons John and Charles carried on the family business with John outliving Charles by many years and dying in 1940 aged 92 and leaving an estate valued at £140,653 (about £7.9 Million at 2019 values).

Charles Arkcoll appears on the 1841 census living at Stone Street, Maidstone as a 25 year-old. Also in the household were Jane Arkcoll his wife and Fanny Arkcoll his niece - all having the occupation of Grocer - plus an assortment of what appear to be grocer's assistants and servants - quite a house full!

Census Census
Copy of the 1841 census entry for Charles Arkcoll Snr. [12]
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Although the Arkcoll family business was growing profitably, others were doing less well. In 1847, John and Charles Arkcoll took over the estate of one Thomas Crispe of Cranbrook. I know little of 19th Century legal processes but it seems that Mr.Crispe had been unable to pay his debts and the Arkcolls took responsibility for apportioning what was available to his creditors.

Arkcoll Family
Legal notice relating to the takeover of the business of Thomas Crispe, [12]

Charles Arkcoll appears in the 1851 census living at London Road Maidstone. He is described as being aged 36 and a Wholesale Grocer. Jane is recorded as his wife and there are already four children, Sarah, John, Lucy and Jeannette, plus two servants, a nurse and an under-nurse.

Copy of the 1851 census entry for Charles Arkcoll Snr. [12]
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The business continued to flourish and by 1858 Charles Arkcoll is described in Melville's Directory as a "Wholesale grocer and Cheesemonger" with premises in Eastcheap London as well as Maidstone. Eastcheap is a main thoroughfare running from near The Monument and towards Tower Hill and had been there since before the Great Fire of London in 1666 when its buildings had been totally destroyed. The name derives from cheap the Old English word for market.

Arkcoll Family
Melville & Co's Directory of Kent 1858 entry for Maidstone grocers. [18]

Just around the corner from Eastcheap in Philpot Lane is what is believed to be London's smallest sculpture showing two mice eating a piece of cheese.

Philpot Lane Mice
Philpot Lane mice [49]

The 1861 census finds Charles Arkcoll at 125 Sydenham Road Battersea visiting Thomas Turner, another Wholesale Grocer. His wife is there with him but no children. It is difficult to make out his occupation but it appears to be "Merchant/Sugar".

Copy of the 1861 census entry for Charles Arkcoll Snr. [12]
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The reference to sugar in the 1861 census could help explain why the Arkcoll grocery business became so profitable as according to an address given by Professor Sidney Mintz of John Hopkins University in 2007:

Britain's annual per capita consumption of sugar was 4lbs in 1704, 18lbs in 1800, 90lbs in 1901 - a 22-fold increase to the point where Britons had the highest sugar intake in Europe. And while slavery had been abolished (lastly in Cuba, in 1884), cheapness was sustained by new flows of indentured labour from India, Africa and China.

The sugar connection is interesting as it also formed the basis for part of the fortune of the family of Norman Clark Neill - a later owner of Stephanotis.

It seems that cheese was also an important part of the Arkcoll family business. Bill Thompson gave a talk to the Probus Club in Maidstone in 1999 in which he said:

I was born in Maidstone on 15th February 1924. Both my parents were also born in Maidstone, with their knowledge of the town from their early days I grew up knowing a lot about what had happened in Maidstone since the turn of the century. My father had been educated at the Blue Coat School for Boys in Knightrider Street, Maidstone. At the time, his father (my grandfather) had a haulage business in Mote Road, Maidstone. In the time of no motor vehicles, goods had to be transported by horse and cart over long distances. Edam cheese from Holland was one of the commodities that was carried from London Docks to Charles Arkcoll in Stone Street, Maidstone, Arkcoll's being the number one importer of cheese from Holland at that time. I don't think Percy Akers, the Managing Director of Arkcoll’s, knew that.

Maybe the Arkcoll family should have extended their business interests to include Dentistry?

The 1871 census entry for Charles Arkcoll was hard to find as the enumerator not only had appalling handwriting but spelled the name incorrectly as Arckoll. His address at this time was 15 London Road Maidstone and his occupation is recorded as Wholesale Grocer employing 56 hands. His wife Jane is in the household with three daughters Fanny, Kate and Alice plus a cook and another servant. Charles junior does not appear in the household - the reason for this will be found in the section about him below.

Copy of the 1871 census entry for Charles Arkcoll Snr. [12]
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Death and Probate

Rich or poor, the Grim Reaper comes for us all eventually and Charles Arkcoll died on 27 December 1879 at Maidstone. His will (which contained four codicils and which was hopefully more readable than that of John Arkcoll) was proved by Thomas Arkcoll his brother of Lime Park Hurstmonceaux, and Daniel Prince Loe. Charles left an estate valued at around £180,000 (about £22.5 Million at 2019 values) so it looks like there was a good living to be had from sugar and cheese in those days.

National Probate Calendar entry for Charles Arkcoll Snr. [12]
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It would be interesting to know more about the disposal of Charles Arkcoll Snr.'s estate. Presumably provision was made for his wife Jane and the surviving children John, Lucy, Jeannette, Fanny, Kate, Alice, and of course Charles Junior; Sarah had died very young in 1857.

Charles Arkcoll's Maternal Grandfather: John Parton (1791-1874)

John Parton, the yacht owner's maternal grandfather, was born in Tenterden in Kent and married Ann Kingsnorth at Ospringe near Faversham in 1812. John is recorded as a miller on the 1841 census and in 1861 as a retired corn merchant so he probably fulfilled both roles during his working life. John and Ann had 12 children - astonishing even by Victorian standards. When John died at Boughton Monchelsea near Maidstone in 1874 he left an estate valued at around £25,000 (about £2.8 Million at 2019 values).

John Parton Descendents John Parton Descendents
John Parton Descendents - split into two images due to the number [78]
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I have no information about how John Parton's inheritance was disposed of but his children had very different fortunes judging by the estates that they left in their turn.

Children of John Parton

William Parton (1813-1870)

William was John Parton's eldest son and married Sarah King in 1844. They had six children. He is described as a corn merchant on his marriage certificate, a miller on the 1851 census and a farmer of 300 acres on the 1861 census. When William died at Gravesend in 1870 he left an estate of under £300.

John Parton (1814-1841 )

I have discovered nothing about John other than that he died in Tenterden in 1841.

Ann Parton (1815-1845)

Ann married a grocer and draper named William Price Waghorn and they had at least one child. Ann died before Waghorn; when he died in 1861 he left an estate valued at under £300.

Susannah Parton (1817- )

Susannah was living in the household of Charles Arkcoll at Maidstone in 1841 and apparently working in the family grocery business. I have found no information about her after that date.

Peter Parton (1818-1904)

Peter married Augusta Matilda Walker in 1858. As far as I know they had no children. He was described as a miller on the 1841 census, then apparently moved to London where, according to the 1871 census he was a Master Carman. A carman was a goods vehicle carrier - his business would have delivered goods using horse-drawn vehicles. He appears on later census returns as a visitor to various relatives. There is no information about him leaving an estate.

Jane Parton (1819-1906)

See below

Henry Parton (1821-1887 ) and Stephen Parton (1824 - )

Henry was living with his father when the 1841 census was taken and presumably working in the family business. He was shown as a miller, then a retired miller on later censuses. He married Susan Hudson on 5 December 1850 and died on 26 July 1887 leaving an estate valued at £13,078 - about £1.7 Million at 2019 values.

Stephen Parton (1824 - )

Stephen, who was three years younger than Henry is not with the family in 1841 and may have died by then but I can find no record of his death.

Elizabeth Parton (1825-1839)

Elizabeth died at the age of 14.

Joseph Kingsnorth Parton (1827-1884

Joseph married a Jane Parton at St. Bride's Church in Fleet Street in 1870; she was possibly a distant relative. I have visited this beautiful church which was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren after its predecessor was gutted in the Great Fire of London. It was severely damaged again during WW2 and archeologists investigating the site in 1953 during rebuilding work found traces of six previous churches. St. Bride's has long been associated with the Press - even since the newspapers moved away from Fleet Street in the 1980s.

St Bride's
St Bride's Church - Photo by David Iliff. Licence CC By SA 3.0 [49]

Joseph seems to have been the son that went seriously into the milling business. He was recorded on the 1851 census living in Maidstone and occupied as a 'miller and employer of 9 men' when he was only 24 years old. His workforce had increased to 16 men in the 1871 census and in 1881 he is recorded as a 'farmer of 16 acres with 4 labourers. When he died in 1884 he left an estate valued at £73,611 10s (about £9.2 Million at 2019 values).

Ellen Parton (1829-1870)

Ellen married John Dawson, a farmer in 1855 and they had three children. She died at just 41 and nothing more is known about her.

Alfred Parton (1830-1894)

Alfred was John Parton's final child and seems to have been the 'black sheep' of the family. He appears on the 1851 census working at Faversham as a grocer's apprentice and married Elizabeth Caroline Shave in 1859 at Marylebone. On the 1861 census he is recorded as being employed at Islington as a rent collector. In 1870 Elizabeth petitioned for, and was granted, a divorce on the grounds that Alfred had bigamously married another woman and was living with her adulterously; divorce was pretty rare in those days. He presumably married the 'other woman' - Alice Louisa as he appears living with her and three children in Tottenham in the 1891 census. When he died in 1894 he left an estate valued at £6,318 (about £0.8 Million at 2019 values).

Charles Arkcoll's Mother: Jane Parton (1819-1906)

Jane married Charles Arkcoll Snr. and they had six children including Charles. When she died in 1907 she left an estate valued at £34,703 19s 11d (about £4.2 Million at 2019 values). It is not known how much of this was her own inheritance from the Parton family and how much came from her husband's estate.

Life of Charles Arkcoll (1853-1912)

And so at last we come to the Charles Arkcoll we are really interested in - the man who placed the order for Stephanotis with the shipyard. Given his ancestry and the wealth accumulated on both sides of the family it is no surprise that he was well off. But he deserves credit for his own achievements.

Birth and Christening

Charles Arkcoll's birth was registered in Q3 of 1853 at Maidstone in Kent and he was christened on 11 April 1853 at Hastings in Sussex. His mother Jane Parton seems to have preferred to be known as Anne.

Charles' father had carefully planned his son's future by educating him as a 'gentleman' followed by an apprenticeship to a brewer - presumably with a view to expand the already successful grocery business into new areas. Charles' elder brother John had been dispatched to Chatham Street school in Ramsgate - a school whose later alumnii would include Sir Edward Heath - sailor and Prime Minister.


The 1861 census finds Charles at age 7 living as a member of the household of one William Rason at 13 Cornfield Terrace, Eastbourne. Mr Rason's occupation is described as "Resident Agent Lewes Old Bank". The other members of the household were Anna Rason (William's daughter), Louise Burr - a governess, two servants and 5 children (including Charles) described in the census as "pupils". Anna's occupation is described as "Proprietess of Establishment for Young Gents" presumably assisted in that role by Louise Burr. It would be interesting to know exactly what form the teaching took and what subjects were included. Presumably a lot of rote learning and the "Three Rs".

Arkcoll Family
1861 Census entries for Charles Arkcoll Jnr. [12]
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In her Eastbourne memories of the Victorian period, 1845-1901 [98], Louise, Duchess of Devonshire describes the setting up of the first bank in the town by the Lewes firm Molineux, Whitfield & Co. Banking facilities started with a local tradesman acting as an agent. This did not meet demand so Mr Rason was appointed to run a branch part-time at 1 Cornfield Terrace. Gradually this built up into a 6 days a week job and larger premises were found at Terminus Road. (By the time of the Duchess' memoires it had become a branch of Barclays Bank).

Apprenticeship to a Brewer

At the time of the 1871 census, Charles at age 17 was living as a member of the household of William H. Corke, Vicar of St Saviours, at 226 Foundry Road, Thorpe, Norwich. The household consisted of the Vicar, his wife, son, sister-in-law and two boarders. The boarders were Charles, recorded in the census as an Appprentice Brewer, and Robert Mills a scholar. Despite its name, Foundry Road must have been fairly 'up-market' as the neighbours included a Silk Merchant, a Landowner and two Accountants.

So young Charles was in Norwich learning the basics of his future brewing business. St Saviours Church (and I can only find reference to there ever being one church with this dedication in Norwich) was on the corner of Magdalene Street and St Saviour's Lane Norwich. There were at least two breweries in Magdalene Street - Hope Brewery with licence holder John Laws was on the corner of St Saviours Lane, and Phoenix brewery - licence holder George Stannard, at 94-96 Magdalen Street. There were several other breweries in Norwich for good measure. It seems a little odd that Charles would be sent to Norfolk for his apprenticeship rather than somewhere in Kent given the family connections.

Arkcoll Family
1871 Census entry showing Charles Arkcoll Jnr. at Thorpe. [12]
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Chatham House - Chatham Intra

As stated earlier, Charles' father had died in 1879 and it seems likely that he inherited a signficant amount of money and a share in the family Wholesale Grocery business. One way or another, by the time of the 1881 census we find him living at Chatham House in the High Street at Chatham Intra - an area lying between Chatham and Rochester that had once had a dubious reputation. He was by then 27, his occupation was recorded as Brewer, and he was head of a household which also included Louisa Smith age 47 born at Leeds (Housekeeper), and Agnes C. Brooke age 24 born at Gravesend Kent (Housemaid/Domestic Servant).

Arkcoll Family
1881 Census entry showing Charles Arkcoll Jnr. at Chatham Intra. [12]
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The census for 1881 shows that neighbours included George Walker - Brewery Manager (presumably of Lion Brewery), Henry Dunn - Butcher, John Dunstall - Coal and Lime Merchant, Joseph Brown - Draper, George Gill - Ship Builder, and Charles Reynolds - Mariner. Clearly Chatham Intra was then a busy and industrious area.

Brewing and Public House Interests

Charles Arkcoll owned, or at least partly owned, Arkcoll's Brewery of Chatham Intra. Beer was produced at the Lion Brewery and the company's bottles had a lion as a trademark. Lion Brewery was adjacent to Chatham House being just along Hulkes Lane which runs at the side of it. Both buildings still exist and there is more information about them below.

Charles Arkcoll & Co., Lion Brewery, Chatham is recorded as the owners of The Shipwrights Arms in Westcourt Street Brompton in 1880 and it seems likely that they owned The Ship public house two doors away from Chatham House, and that there were many other outlets for their beer. I was advised by another researcher that he thought there was evidence of advertising signs for Lion beer in Gravesend and elsewhere but I have not found confirmation of this. I suspect that Arkcoll's beer was sold over a fairly large area of Kent and maybe beyond.

Arkcoll Family
Map of Chatham Intra with the site of Chatham House marked in blue and the Lion Brewery in red. [10]
Arkcoll Family Arkcoll Family
This is a bottle and stopper from the Lion Brewery which clearly show the Arkcoll name and the Lion Brewery emblem. [15]

The building known as Lion Brewery certainly existed before Charles Arkcoll had completed his apprenticeship. In fact both it and Chatham House appear on a map from 1866-67. It is possible that the brewery was previously owned by James Hulkes, a brewer and banker who had been MP for Rochester from 1802-1806 and also sometime Mayor of Rochester and who had died in 1821. Hulkes Lane next to Chatham House had been named after him.

Arkcoll Family
This map shows the building that become Lion Brewery on the 1866-67 map. The location of Chatham House and The Ship tavern are also clearly shown. [10]

Pigot's Directory of Kent 1824 [17] shows four breweries in Chatham High Street. Charles Arkcoll certainly didn't take over the Best brewery but beyond that I have discovered no further information as to the previous owner.

Arkcoll Family
Pigot's Directory for Kent 1824 entry for Brewers in Chatham. [10]
Chatham House and the Lion Brewery

Chatham House and the Lion Brewery still exist but are now in a delapidated state. Both properties and the area around them is understood to be owned by the Featherstone Family - the Featherstone business being started in 1901 by John Thomas Featherstone M.B.E. I do not know when they acquired the Arkcoll property.

Lyn L - a member of the Kent Historical Forum [99] contacted me to say that she had worked for the Featherstones when Chatham House was used to sell carpets - the Lion Brewery was being used to store carpet rolls. She added that she had once been taken upstairs in the Chatham House building and shown the private chapel there.

Another member of the same forum stated in 2010:

Most of the Lion Brewery is empty and in a fairly sorry state of repair, having stood empty for the most part since Featherstone's closed in 1980. The Featherstone family still own the entire site and Chatham House (the imposing Georgian building that stands at the end of Hulkes Lane next to the Ship Inn) is supposed to be incredible inside, still with the original range and toilet.
Arkcoll Family
Front view of Chatham House photographed in 2014 [16]
Arkcoll Family
Rear view of Chatham House photographed in 2014 [16]
Arkcoll Family
Entrance to Lion Brewery as it appeared in 2014. The brewery itself is the yellow brick building behind it. [16]

The Arkcoll Grocery Business in London

By 1887 the company had a warehouse at 28 St Thomas Street opposite Guys Hospital and very near to the site of The Shard building. It was close to London Bridge station and used to store cheese before it was transported to Maidstone and was presumably distributed to other businesses.

Arkcoll Family
An invoice dated July 4 1889 with the Arkcoll addresses and telegraphic addresses at the top. [15]

The Arkcoll family grocery business continued until at least 1957 as there is an entry in the BT phone book for the company at 29 Lower Stone Street Maidstone.

Further Business Development

The 1891 census records Charles Arkcoll aged 36 and still living at Chatham House. He is described as a "Licenced Common Brewer" and has another elderly widow as his housekeeper and a single domestic servant making up the household.

Arkcoll Family
1891 census entry with Charles Arkcoll Chatham Intra. [12]
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In 1891 Charles warranted three entries in Kelly's Directory of Kent, Surrey & Sussex - a personal one in what is described as the "Court Section", and two in the Trades section under Brewers and Grocers - Wholesale.

Arkcoll Family Arkcoll Family Arkcoll Family
1891 Kelly's Directory entries for Charles Arkcoll [19]

In 1900 an application was made by the Company for permission to build a landing stage or wharf for the Lion Brewery - details are held in the Medway Council Archive [100]; it is not known whether this went ahead but there is certainly a jetty in the position you would expect to find one.

The 1901 census entry for Charles is virtually the same in previous years. He is in the same house but the street number has changed (the address is now 351 High Street) and the address is listed under Rochester instead of Chatham - presumably due to a boundary change. Charles has yet another elderly housekeeper and a new maid looking after him.

Arkcoll Family
1901 census entry with Charles Arkcoll Chatham Intra. [12]
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Charles appears in the 1903 edition of Kelly's Directory for Kent. The Brewery Trade entry now shows two addresses - Lion Brewery in Chatham and another in Maidstone. It is interesting to note that in this edition of the directory the publishers had altered the organisation of private resident data to show the whole County in alphabetical order by name rather than alphabetically within town. This must have made the Directory a lot easier to use.

Arkcoll Family
1903 Kelly's Directory entries for Charles Arkcoll [12]

Charles was an early adopter of mechanical transport and the image below shows a 1911 Foden steam wagon in Arkcoll livery.

Foden steam truck
Foden steam truck in Arkcoll livery [45]

Other Work and Interests

Land Tax Commissioner

In 1881, Charles Arkcoll extended his activities when he was appointed as a 'Commissioner for executing the Acts for granting a Land Tax and other Rates and Taxes'

Arkcoll Family Arkcoll Family
These are cuttings from London Gazette 5 July 1881 noting the appointment. [11]

The Rochester County Club

The Medway CityArk archive contains the following record of the Rochester County Club for whom it appears that Charles Arkcoll was the principle benefactor:

Item DE85/2 appears to be the only surviving record of the County Club on whose activities it throws some light.

The club was founded in March 1882 by A.A. Arnold, Rev. W.M. Bottome, E. Woodgate and C. Arkcoll, who was the principal benefactor of the clubhouse built 1883-1884. The club initially met at 67 High Street, Rochester and served to provide the leading citizens of the area, chiefly the local magistrates, gentry, local authority officials, dockyard administrators, high ranking naval and army officers, clergy and members of the Indian and colonial services who were on furlough in the area with social and clubhouse facilities on a level with those provided in London. The club was of a non-political nature.

The new clubhouse was built by George Friend who was an early member of the club, at a total cost of £6,000. The formal opening was performed by Lord Darnley, also a member, in June 1884. The facilities included reading, dining, billiard, card and smoking rooms, balconies and a fully equipped kitchen.

Other early members included T.L. Aveling, H.M. Cobb, Apsley Kennette and several members of the Prall and Winch families.

According to local trade directory entries, the club seems to have lapsed by c.1928.

Mercantile Assessor to Kent County Court

In 1890 the London Gazette reported that Charles Arkcoll had been appointed as a Mercantile Assessor to the County Court of Kent. My understanding of the role of Assessors (thanks to information provided by Rex Cooper and George Robinson) is that in certain cases related to salvage, towage or collision, a judge can be assisted by Assessors with specialist knowledge.

Nautical Assessors provide advice on matters of seamanship, navigation, rule of the road and weather etc. (The blame business) and the Mercantile Assessors provide advice on commercial aspects and losses, costs and damage to property and cargoes, and other costs and losses arising from a dispute or accident (The claim business). The former are usually master mariners or senior naval officers, Elder Brothers etc., whereas the latter are appointed from the ranks of experts in commerce, insurance, shipowning and chartering business.

Arkcoll Family
Cutting from The London Gazette of 23 December 1890 noting the appointment of Charles Arkcoll as a Mercantile Assessor to the County Court of Kent [11]

The importance of this appointment can be judged by the calibre of the other appointees:

  • Thomas Lake Aveling, the person on the list after Arkcoll, was the son of Thomas Aveling - one of the founding partners of Aveling and Porter which became the biggest manufacturer of steam rollers in the world. Thomas Aveling was a member of various Institutions and became Mayor of Rochester amongst many other accomplishments. His son was born in 1856 and became Managing Director of the company when his father died in 1882, was a prominent local businessman, a member of various institutions, chairman of the Medway Conservancy, on the board of the Rochester Bridge wardens etc. etc. Thomas Lake Aveling like Charles Arkcoll also had a steam yacht. It was called Rosita and was built in 1901 by Ramage & Ferguson at Leith who built many high quality yachts and training ships. Aveling was a keen yachtsman linked to the Royal Victoria and the Royal Cinque Ports Clubs. Another customer who had a steam yacht built by Ramage & Ferguson was Joseph Pulitzer, the founder of the prize for achievements in journalism. His 300 ft yacht Liberty was named in 1907 and cost $1.5 Million.
  • Francis Flint Belsey (later Sir Francis), who appears after Aveling on the list, was described in an obituary in the New York Times on May 26 1914 as a prominent politician outside parliament who married Mrs. Kate Morrison Foster of New York in 1897. He was president of the world's first Sunday School Convention in 1889. Born in Rochester he was 87 years old when he died, was Mayor of Rochester for two terms, a member of the School Board for 27 years, a member of the Committee of the Liberal Club and published several works on Sunday school teaching.

Seagoing Interests

The first reference I can find to Charles's interest in seagoing matters comes from his donation of a lifeboat. As to sailing, it seems highly likely that he was involved long before investing in Stephanotis but I have found no documentation of this.

Donation of a Lifeboat and Lifeboat House to Hastings

In 1881 Charles provided funds to pay for a Lifeboat and Lifeboat House in Hastings in memory of his father. The gift was reported in the local newspaper the Hastings News [22]:

7 January 1881: The new Hastings lifeboat the Charles Arkcoll arrived on Friday 31 December, and the old boat, the Ellen Goodman, was taken to London the same day.

1881 (exact date not known): The architect of the RNLI visited Hastings and discussed with the borough how to improve the site of the new lifeboat house. It was to be built in East Parade, partly on the site of the former Custom House, the lessees of which gave up possession on 27 May 1881 (the House had since then washed away in a gale “owing to the defective character of its foundations”). The sea wall would be extended 50 feet for the new building. It was expected that work on the wall would be finished on October, and then construction of the lifeboat (house) would begin.

7 July 1882: The new lifeboat house was opened on Monday 3 July, and the new lifeboat, the Charles Arkcoll, was christened. Both had been provided as a monument of esteem and honour to the late Mr Charles Arkcoll of Maidstone, who was born in the neighbourhood of Hastings, and who always looked upon the town with a great deal of favour. The Corporation of Hastings granted the site of the old Custom House in East Parade, opposite the Lower Lighthouse, and Charles Arkcoll Jnr. paid for the new building and boat in memory of his father, of the same name. Until then, the lifeboat house was at the east end of Rock-a-Nore Road. The new very commodious and imposing stone building had a tower with a light in it. This was to replace the Lower Light, which it was obscuring. A procession, with the new boat pulled by six large horses, went along George Street and then along the seafront, round Warrior Square and back to East Parade. A large crowd witnessed the hand over of the building and boat at 11.30. The boat was then taken back to the slipway at the Queens Hotel, where Miss Kittie Arkcoll carried out the christening, and the vessel was launched, with the help of Sir Thomas Brassey. This was followed by a banquet in the hotel.

The 'Kittie' referred to was presumably Charles' sister Kate Arkcoll who would have been about 27 years old at the time. According to the Hastings RNLI, the Charles Arkcoll lifeboat cost £363 and served at Hastings for 20 years from 1881 to 1901.

Arkcoll Family
Old postcard showing the original Charles Arkcoll lifeboat. [22]
Arkcoll Family Arkcoll Family
Old postcards showing the original Charles Arkcoll lifeboat and the Lifeboat House. [24]

Charles must have made longer term provision to Hastings as the Hastings Chronicle [22] reports on 11 October 1901:

The new Hastings lifeboat, the Charles Arkcoll II, took over from the 20 year-old Charles Arkcoll. She was an open rowing boat with sails, but no engine, and 35 Feet long, with a beam of 8 feet 6 inches. The cost for her was paid from the remainder of the £2,000 legacy from Charles Arkcoll. Her normal crew was 13. She was replaced by the engine-driven Cyril and Lilian Bishop in April 1931, having been launched 25 times, saving 28 lives.

Racing and Regattas

It goes without saying that Charles was a keen yacht enthusiast - he would hardly have commissioned the building of a vessel such as Stephanotis if he were not. He is listed as a subscriber to the Lloyd's Yacht Register of 1903. His yacht Stephanotis is listed but it is frustrating that the details are not included in the Google online scan of the document. In the absence of other information, I assume he named the vessel after the genus of flowering plants of that name - they are evergreen, woody-stemmed climbers from tropical woodland in Africa.

Arkcoll Family
Lloyd's Yacht Register 1903 entry for Charles Arkcoll Jnr. [12]

The membership codes mean his membership listed in the Yacht Register covered the Royal Cinque Ports (C.Pts.), Royal Corinthian (Cor), New Thames (N.Tms.) and Royal Thames (Tms).

On 31 July 1903 the Dartmouth & South Hams Chronicle reported that Charles Arkcoll was racing Stephanotis.

Cutting from Dartmouth & South Hams Chronicle 31 July 1903 [26]

On 12 February 1904 the Globe announced that Charles Arkcoll has been elected Commodore of the New Thames Yacht Club.

Cutting from The Globe 12 February 1904 [27]

On 2 September 1904 the Dartmouth & South Hams Chronicle reported some success for Stephanotis in the Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta.

Cutting from Dartmouth & South Hams Chronicle 2 September 1904 [26]

On 1 September 1905 the Torquay Times and South Devon Advertiser noted that Stephanotis was one of the entrants of the Torquay Regatta.

Cutting from Torquay Times, and South Devon Advertiser 1 September 1905 . [28]

At some point Charles donated a racing cup to the Royal Thames Yacht Club as can be seen from the report in The Scotsman below from 8 Jun 1914:

Arkcoll Cup
Results of RTYC Race 1914 [25]

Last Years and Death

The 1911 Census

I have searched to find a census return for Charles Arkcoll Jnr. for 1911 without success. It could be that he was out of the country at the time or that the census taker had writing so atrocious that none of the many variations on spelling that I tried produced a hit.

Death of Charles Arkcoll Jnr.

Charles Arkcoll Jnr. died on 25 May 1912 - apparently at Southampton at the age of 59. He left an estate valued at £172,441 (about £19.8 Million at 2019 values).

Arkcoll Family
National Probate Calendar entry for Charles Arkcoll (Jnr). [14]

As far as I have been able to discover, Charles never married and died childless like John Arkoll before him. It would be interesting to see his will to find out how his estate was distributed.


Charles Arkcoll was the product of two Kent families who had been businessmen and farmers for many generations but after all the digging, what do we actually know about him? Well we have learned quite a lot about his background, where his money came from, that he liked yachts and that he built up the family business but that is about as far as it goes. He appears not to have married or have had children, and spent most of his life in a rather large house with a succession of elderly housekeepers and a single servant.

I would really like to know what Charles looked like, whether he was a happy or miserable person, whether boastful or modest, whether the sort of chap you would like to have a pint with, or someone you would go out of your way to avoid. His donation of a lifeboat to Hastings suggests he was not ungenerous but apart from that, as to the man himself I am not a lot wiser than when I started this research and probably never will be.

We don't know why Charles remained single and childless. Was he thwarted in love? Did he lose the love of his life to a fatal illness? Was he a misogynist? Did he have a string of mistresses and not want to be tied down? Was he celibate for religious reasons or a homosexual? I have no idea - and of course anyone who researches their own family history faces the same problem - most people of the generations before ours left very little personal information about themselves.

Maybe this will change with the massive explosion in recorded information. But you have to ask yourself how much of the information we can access on the internet now will have been discarded by the time our successors take an interest in what their ancestors from the 2nd Elizabethan period were like? Will things like "Tweets" and Facebook "Posts" be retained for the future? It seems pretty unlikely to me. If they are, I feel sorry for whoever in the future tries to find the grain of wheat in a barnful of chaff...

After Charles Arckoll died in 1912 the ownership of Stephanotis passed to Douglas William Graham.