Thursday, 18 April 2019

Notes on Schiff Papers

At long last I have had a couple of days to scan through the mass of documents that have been placed with me. Sir Ernest's will and the related Nöhring affair now have a much better clarity in my mind. I suspect that the wartime law was never repealed that caused all the problems, and in fact the members of the family come out of it all rather well. People were indeed generous in attempting to help the German side of the family, who suffered terribly in the inter-war period, and they acted magnanimously when they could have ignored all cries for help. I have scanned all the very complex legal papers, which as always is hard work but fascinating. It was so good to see how eventually it all fizzled out and most people had comfort and satisfaction from the attempts to deliver the spirit of Sir Ernest's will, even Richard Nohring, who it seems was rather ill-treated by life. starting with his own father. I wonder why he was described as a blackguard.
One special delight was the 'Anna Schiff Fund 1931' folder. I was puzzled at the mention of her name in the earlier folders, but surmised correctly who she was. I already knew a great deal about her husband Wilhelm Schiff, the half brother of my gt gt grandfather Friedrich, as my half-great uncle Cavaliere Umberto Schiff was acquainted with Anna and Wilhelm's daughters, and he shared several family documents with me concerning them. It was touching to see how the English branch of the family continued to support this lady, widow of Charles Schiff's cousin, right up until the outbreak of war between Italy and Britain in 1940. I suspect Anna died during the war, and probably her daughter Sofia too.
I was interested to to see that family links with the Tallow Chandlers' Company go back quite a way. Do you know how and when they started?
Thank you so much for this fascinating material, which is giving me huge pleasure. There's almost enough for another book in its own right, a Schiff version of 'Bleak House'.
I'm still hanging on in, though am having to live increasingly as a recluse to avoid infections, so this material is especially welcome.

I'm delighted you enjoyed, and were able to appreciate too, the Schiff papers. I must say I too thought of Bleak House; certainly the parallel that the lawyers seems to be the main beneficiaries!

I think the first formal connection with the Tallow Chandlers was my uncle Martin Burch joining the Company; I think in the post WW ll years. The law firm of Monier Williams was the family's solicitors ever since acting for my grandfather Charles Schiff Burch in the purchase (funded by his uncle Ernest ) of the Halesowen Steel Foundry in 1905, and Randall Monier-Williams was Clerk to the Tallow Chandlers for some 50 years (!) up until 1979. In fact the TC's timed Matin's ascending to be Master in 1978/9 to coincide with handling Randall M-W's retirement. However, this was thrown off course by Martin dying in 1978 suddenly, only three weeks before he would have become Master.
There is a portrait by Cuneo in Tallow Chandlers' Hall of the Master, Wardens (including Martin) and Randall M-W.
Martin's eldest son Christopher (sadly dec'd last year) was a Freeman of the TC's (although not an active one); his brother Anthony (Dr) is a current liveryman and has been on the Court but passed up the opportunity to progress to Master; and Thomas Kelen, married to Rosemary, their sister, is an active liveryman. Now of course we give equal prominence to men and women so in modern times it would have been Rosemary not Thomas who would have joined. The fourth sibling, Charles, is not involved. I am the only other Schiff member and was Master in 2015/16. Maybe my son Felix (currently 27) might take an interest one day.
Post rationalising, one could argue that Martin joined as his mother's family (Job, of Newfoundland) were whalers in the North Atlantic and that whale oil is close to Tallow, but I think the truth is that Randall M-W recruited Martin to the Company as they were short of members.

As you are house bound and knowing that you have the Lowndes Square inventory I am attaching (I hope) photographs of what I believe to be my share of the Lowndes Sq chattels. Maybe you can reconcile them to the inventory. I do know for certain that each of these objects came from my grandfather Charles's house.

A French striking clock

A later French striking clock with two candlesticks ensemble

A pair of two branch candlesticks

Painting by Filippo Indoni (1800-1884) of Artist's Studio

Three porcelain tazze bearing the initials of Carl Gotleib Schiff (CS)

Watercolour of Ernest Schiff's horse winning the Lincoln Handicap in 1910 by Isaac Cullin

Small portraits of Carl Gotleib and his wife Mary Ballard Burch painted from photographs.

No comments:

Post a comment