Portrait of Thomas Lee drawn by the artist Henry Charles Heath

Portrait of Thomas Lea (1807-1874) drawn by the artist Henry Charles Heath

On the back of the picture is written: 'Thomas Lea born 1808 died 1874.  Built Park Villa (21 Hampstead Lane 1842)'. 

Thomas Lea was a wealthy coal merchant.  He was was born in St Pancras, London on July 23rd, 1807, the fourth child of Charles and Lydia Lea.  At some point in the 1820's his father became a coal merchant and Thomas was to follow him into the family business.  Thomas married Ann Healey in 1836 at St Georges Hanover Square.  Ann was either 17 or 18 at the time of the marriage and was considered to be a minor (Thomas was 11 years her senior).  The marriage took place with the consent of her father George Healey.

Around the time of the wedding his father Charles, now in his 60s,  was winding up his partnership with his three sons, Charles, John and Thomas.  The London Gazette reported on 28 June 1836 that:  "Notice is hereby given that the Partnership lately existing between us the undersigned Charles Lea the elder, Charles lea the younger, John Lea, and Thomas Lea, of Northumberland Wharfs Regent's-Park Basin and Beauvoir Wharf, Kingsland-Road both in the County of Middlesex, Coal-Merchants, carrying on business under the name of Lea and Sons was this day dissolved by mutual consent. All debts due to and owing from the said concern are to be received and paid by the said Charles Lea the elder: As witness our hands this 24th day of June 1836.  Charles Lea, sen; Charles Lea, jun; John Lea; Thomas Lea"

Each of the sons and then later their brother George, were to set themselves up as coal merchants.  In 1841 the London Post Office Directory listed the business address of "Thomas Lea & Co" coal merchants as Northumberland Wharf Augustus St Regent Park Basin.

A publication "The Streets of Highgate" by the Camden History Society noted that "further towards the Heath we are told that Fitzroy Park was home in 1842 to Thomas Lea, a wealthy coal merchant. Lea would drive to London with two loaded pistols, which he would leave behind the bar at the Duke of St Albans pub each morning, and then collect on his way back, because he feared he would be robbed in the wilds of Highgate West Hill. Highgate still had the reputation for highway robberies."

Thomas was in partnership with his younger brother George for some period.  The London Gazette announced on 19 March 1844 that “Notice is hereby given, that the partnership heretofore subsisting between us the undersigned, Thomas Lea and George Lea, as Coal and Coal Merchants, at Northumberland-wharf, Augustus-street, Regent's-park, in the county of Middlesex, under the firm of Thomas and George Lea, was on this day dissolved by mutual consent. All debts due to and owing by the said partnership will be received
and paid by the said Thomas Lea : As witness our hand the 15th day of March 1844.  Thomas Lea; George Lea.” 

The records of Thomas' residences are as follows:
1841 - Regents Park, St Pancras, Marylebone, Middlesex
1851 - Park Villa, Highgate - Coal Merchant
1861 - Hampstead Lane, Highgate - Coal Merchant
1871 - Park Villa, Hampstead Lane, Highgate - Merchant
1874 - Park Villa, Highgate

Thomas died at his home at Park Villa, Highgate on 6 April 1874.

The above information supplied by Brian Robert Lea Evans.  Thomas Lea was his Great Great Great Grandfather. 

If you have any information to add to what is listed please contact me on jj@jjhc.info

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