Hertfordshire Genealogy

Guide to Old Hertfordshire



Some Local Shops

Simkins & Sons





Joseph Thorley, Animal Food Manufacturer


Life is full of ephemera - everyday things we take for granted and throw away when we have finished with them. As such they rarely survive but if they do they can fill in details of your ancestors everyday life.

This advert comes from a pre-printed envelope, which S. D. Simkins would have used to mail customers.

This item probably dates from about 1910



1882 -


1886  S D Simkins, corn & coal merchant, Great Northern Yard


1895 S D Simkins, corn & coal merchant, Great Northern Yard


1899 Samuel David Simkins, Bancroft


1899 Samuel David Simkins, corn, cake, seed & manure merchant & agent for Thorley's Food &c, Bancroft House; warehouses, Great Northern Station,


1902 Samuel David Simkins, Bancroft

1902  Samuel David Simkins, corn & manure merchant, 24 Bancroft House; Great Northern Station; Shillington & Shefford


1908 Mrs Simkins, Bancroft House, Bancroft

1908  Samuel David Simkins & Sons, corn & coal merchants, 26 Bancroft & Great Northern Station


1912 Frederick Marsh Simkins, Bancroft House, Bancroft

1912 Samuel David Simkins & Sons, corn, seed, cake & coal merchants, 26 Bancroft (T.N. 27) & Great Northern Station


1922 Frederick Marsh Simkins, Bancroft House, 24 Bancroft

1922 Samuel David Simkins & Sons, corn merchants, 26 Bancroft


1926 Frederick Marsh Simkins, Bancroft House, 24 Bancroft

1926 Samuel David Simkins & Sons, corn merchants, 26 Bancroft (T.N. 27) & L&NE Station Yard


1929 Harry David Simkins, 24 Bancroft

1929 Samuel David Simkins & Sons, corn merchants, 26 Bancroft (T.N. 27) & L&NE Station Yard


1933 Samuel David Simkins & Sons, corn merchants, 35 Bancroft (T.N. 27) & L&NE Station Yard


1937 Samuel David Simkins & Sons, corn merchants, 35 Bancroft (T.N. 27) & L&NE Station Yard

Extracts from Trade Directories

[only limited dates available for Beds]


Shillington, Beds


1862 S D Simkins, grocer, Church Street

1876 Samuel D Simkins, postmaster

1876 William Simkins, coal merchant

1890 S D Simkins. miller (water) & corn merchant

1890 William Simkins, farmer & coal merchant, Bury Farm

1903 Samuel D Simkins & Sons, miller (water) & coal, corn & seed merchants

1914 Samuel D Simkins & Sons, corn merchants


Henlow, Beds


1903 Samual David Simkins &  Sons, coal, cake & corn merchants, Henlow Station

1910 Samual David Simkins &  Sons, corn merchants, Henlow Station

Additional Links

Shillington History Society

Shillington (Wikipedia)

Samuel's Marriage


Samuel David Simkins (1842-1905) was born in Shillington, Beds, the son of  David (1815-1869) & Wilhelmna (1811-1859) Simkins, of Church Street, Shillington.

In 1851 his father was described as a grocer, and in 1861 as a grocer & farmer employing 5 men and 1 boy, with Samuel being described as a farmer's son. It would seem that Samuel took on the grocer's side of the business by 1862 and was described as a master grocer in the 1871 census, and village postmaster in 1876. Meanwhile his younger brother William succeeded his father as a farmer at Shillington.

In 1872 Samuel married Mary Ann Sharman and they had Frederick March Simkins (1875-1929), Harry David Simkins (1876-1939) and Beatrice Emma Simkins (1881) at Church Street, Shillington, where the family continued to live until at least 1891.

At the time of the 1881 census Samuel had built up a significant business as a corn merchant and (water) miller employing 6 men and 3 boys, and by 1886 was also trading as a corn and coal merchant at the Great Northern Railway Yard at Hitchin. Between 1895 an 1899 the family moved to a house in Bancroft, Hitchin where Samuel was described as "cake, seed & manure merchant & agent for Thorley's Food &c" with warehouses at the Great Northern Station. Samuel continued trading at Shillington, and started trading at Henlow, Beds.

 In 1901 Frederick (grain merchant) and Harry (coal merchant) were living with their parents at Bancroft House. Following their father's death in 1905 the firm started trading as S D Simkins & Sons and continued trading from Bancroft and Hitchin station yard until at least 1937.

In 1911 Frederick was described as a corn merchant at 3 Bancroft Lodge, Hitchin, while his brother Harry was described as a corn merchant living at Shillington.

Frederick (Fred) died in 1929 and Harry in 1939. It is not known if the firm continued to trade after the death of the brothers.


 Joseph Thorley


After the above had appeared Antony drew my attention to a relevant Hertfordshire entry in the 1911 census and a 1939 will So I decided to explore the relationship between the Joseph Thorley who  made the feed - and the Joseph Thorley who was living in Radlet in 1911. Anthony later provided some additional information.

Ovum - Thorley's Poultry Spice  

In 1850 Joseph Thorley (born Hull in 1827)  married Hannah Penrose Read (born Epworth, Lincolnshire in 1830) in the Thorne registration district. The following year Joseph (a corn & seed broker) and Hannah were living with Hannah's sister, Mary Read, at  7 Colonial Street, Holy Trinity, Kingston upon Hull. It is reported [The Agrarian history of England and Wales, by H.P.R. Finberg] that Joseph Thorley was one of the most successful manufacturers of compound foodstuffs, beginning with "Thorley's Food for Cattle" in Hull before moving to London in 1857.

The business was clearly successful as in 1861 Joseph was a manufacturer of food for cattle employing 22men, 2 boys and 15 women at Martins Villas, 17 Lower Hill, Islington. With him were his wife, two daughters (Ann born 1858 at Hull & Flora M born 1859 at Dulwich, Surrey), and his sister Theodosia (born 1836 at Hull). Living nearby was his brother Josiah Watson Thorley, a traveller in food for cattle (born 1835 at Hull) and his wife (Sarah born 1836 at Lynn, Norfolk)

In the 1860's Victoria Wharf, Kings Cross was constructed with Thorley's Cattle Food Mill on the st

In 1871 Joseph is recorded as a manufacturer of food for cattle employing 17 men, 10 boys, 6 women and 70 girls, living in Selina Villa, Ballard's Lane, Finchley, with his sister Clara Clark, a commercial traveller's wife (born 1842 at Hull). There was no sign of his wife (although he is described as married) and his two daughters (Ann & Flora) were at boarding school at Church End, Finchley. His brother J W Thorley was still in London working as foreman of the Archil Works and living with his family at Corbet's Court, Christ Church, Spitalfields. The works would appear to be those of  Archil & Cudbear, Manufacturers & Manufacturing Chemists at No 13 Corbet's Court and No 32 Chicksand Street, Spitalfields. London Gazette January 7, 1862. This suggests that Josiah was no longer working with the family firm.

Between July and September 1872  the birth was registered at St George, Hanover Square, of Joseph Thorley (who turns up in Watford in 1911).

 In 1881 J(osiah) W(atson) Thorley is a reed crusher (at Mill?) at 30 Poole Road, Hackney, with a large family, and his death is recorded at Hackney in 1889.  Searches in the 1881 census for Joseph Thorley (senior or Junior), Hannah, Ann and Flora drew a blank but backing tracking showed that:

  • Hannah Penrose Thorley's death was registered at Islington in 1866 The Lincolnshire Chronicle records that she died in London, "wife of Mr. Joseph Thorley, aged 36 years, and fourth daughter of Mr. Wm. Read, spirit-merchant, of Epworth."  (So who was Joseph married to in 1871?)

  • Joseph Thorley death (aged 50) was registered at Barnet in 1876 and the probate index records he died 22 November 1876 late of Finchley. There were death notices in several farming papers confirming that the death was that of the "cattle feed" Thorley.

  • Annie Thorley married John Frederick Shrimpton in Islington district in 1878

  • Flora Thorley married Gustav Ebgert in Islington district in 1879

Interestingly a newspaper search showed there was a dispute in 1877 involving the executors of Joseph's estate and Josiah. I have not looked at the full texts, but it seems Josiah may have tried to set up a rival firm using the family name claiming he knew the "secret formula" for the feed.

This cutting came from the Ann Arbor Argus (Michigan, USA) on 16th January 1894 but similar news items appeared worldwide, with many in Australia.

Joseph junior has proved hard to track down but in the 1911 census he turns up at Wood Hall Radlet:






Cattle Food Manufacturers




5 years










Nurse Domestic

Madras India






Housemaid Domestic







Cook Domestic







Parlourmaid Domestic







Housemaid Domestic







Kitchenmaid Domestic


?, Kathleen Mary






Barnet Herts

From 1926 Joseph Thorley appears at Doraventi, Battlefield Road, St Albans. He died in late 1938 leaving a substantial estate, and his will was proved in 1939. It would seem his wife was Lillian Marian Tipper, who  he married at St George, Hanover Square in 1905. She was the daughter of George and Marian Tipper and baptized on 2 July 1876. Mrs Thorley was living at 10 Battlefield Road, St Albans in 1947 and she died at St Albans aged 78 in 1955. The company Joseph Thorley Limited was dissolved in 1957

While I have not proved that Joseph Thorley junior was Joseph Thorley senior's son it looks extremely likely - and purchasing the birth certificate and wills should confirm the situation. What seems clear is that a significant animal food manufacturer was living in Hertfordshire in the early 20th century.

Thorley's Food for Pigs  
Thorley's Food for Horses  
Thorley's Food - A Condiment for all stocks  
Lactifer for Calves - Thorley - Kings Cross  
Thorley Cake for all Stock - Kings Cross  
March 2012   Page created