The Firm of a Merchant Prince

 George Moore's Business

After serving a four year apprenticeship as a draper to Messenger in Wigton, George Moore left Cumbria to seek employment in London. He was engaged by Mr Ray, a Cumberland man, of  Flint, Ray & Co., Grafton House, Soho Square at a salary of £30 per annum. It was Mr Ray who procured a situation for George Moore with Mr Fisher, another Cumberland man and so in early 1846 he moved to Fisher, Stroud & Robinson, Lace Wholesalers in Watling Street at an initial salary of £40 per annum and where he progressed to become town traveller on a annual salary of £150.  Whilst travelling in Ireland he met Mr Groucock who was a partner in the recently established competitor firm, Groucock & Copestake. Mr Groucock tried to recruit George Moore offering a salary of £500 a year but George Moore declined this offer, saying he would not leave Fisher's unless he was offered a partnership. So, in June 1830, aged just twenty-three, George Moore became a partner in Groucock, Copestake and Moore. He paid in to the firm £670, £500 of which was provided by his father who had mortgaged his Mealsgate property to raise the funds. The partnership was for an initial three year term with George Moore taking 25% of the profits but George Moore soon became indispensible, becoming an equal partner and taking one third of the profits. George Moore worked long hours travelling throughout Britain as well as in France and Belgium and the firm grew with the increasing popularity of lace goods. By 1841, a year after his marriage to Liza Flint Ray, daughter of his former employer, we was travelling less himself and was based at the firm's headquarters in Bow Churchyard where he spent time recruiting and training new staff in the art of the commercial traveller. In 1844 he went on a trip, combining business with pleasure, to USA and Canada  and on his return in 1845 established a large factory and warehouse in Nottingham where he employed a total of around 390 people. The Head of the Nottingham house of the firm from the late 1840s until his tragic death in 1878 was Mr W. G. Ward. The lace manufactured varied in type and quality from 2d per doz. yds. to 15 shillings per yard. They also made lace edgings and curtains as well as silk and cotton nets. The firm also marketed sewing and needlework accoutrements such as needlework cases.  According to the 1865 Commercial directory they were warehousemen for "lace and sewed muslins, scotch and Manchester goods, cambrics and lawns, crapes, gossamers, velvets, stays, artificial flowers, millinery, baby linen, mantles, outfitting, shawl and haberdashery, umbrellas and parasols." The original partners, Mr Groucock and Mr Copestake died in 1853 and 1874 respectively and another partner who had joined the firm was Mr Osborne who died in 1875. Mr Crampton, a Yorkshire man, who had known George Moore since his time at Fisher's and who too became a partner survived George Moore, as did another partner, Mr James Hughes who succeeded George Moore as Treasurer of The Commercial Travellers' School in 1876. In 1877 a short time after George Moore's death the firm became known as Copestake, Crampton and Hughes and at some other time (still to be ascertained) they were called Copestake, Lindsay, Crampton & Co.   

As a large employer, the firm had to consider measures to counter dishonesty amongst its employees. One measure was the use of underprinting and perforating stamps, used in those days not only for mailing but also for mail order payments and to give legality to receipts and contracts. In 1867 the Firm was involved in negotiations with the Post Office and Joseph Sloper who had patented a stamp perforation machine to identify postage stamps. Earlier in 1858 Sloper had been granted Letters Patent for a perforation process to be used as a security measure on company cheques.

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