The chocolatier of York

The chocolatier of York

Nick Thorne delves into the records to explre the history of the Terry family and their business

Nick Thorne, Writer at TheGenealogist

Nick Thorne

Writer at TheGenealogist

Bootham Bar, York
Bootham Bar, York where the business began Image Archive on TheGenealogist

In my family, as I was growing up, Easter Sunday brought the prospect of a chocolate feast to look forward to, as well as attending church. Later on, as a teenager, I remember that Chocolate Oranges became an alternative favourite for both my dad and myself, especially if we were away from the home on holiday as these particular confectionery delights were so much more easily packed in our luggage than a breakable Easter egg.

1841 census of York
Joseph and Harriet Terry in the 1841 census of York on TheGenealogist

At that time Chocolate Oranges were made by Terry’s of York in England. While nowadays the Terry’s brand is owned by a French company, and its chocolate is manufactured in Strasbourg, the original family behind this iconic brand can be traced in a whole selection of online records.

The company was founded in 1767 by Robert Berry and William Bayldon at a shop close to Bootham Bar, before it then moved to St Helen’s Square by 1818. The marriage of a chemist called Joseph Terry to a member of the wider Berry family first connected the business to the name that would go on to become part of its famous brand. Terry entered into a partnership with Robert Berry, William Bayldon having retired, and so the business of Terry & Berry was created.

Joseph Terry was the son of a Yorkshire baker and came into the world in 1793. A search for him in the census collection at TheGenealogist reveals Joseph and his wife Harriet in the 1841 census of York. In this document we can see that by this time Joseph is listed as a confectioner.

Moving our search for the Terrys forward by ten years, to locate them in the next census in 1851, Joseph is not to be found. Harriet, we see, is recorded as a widow and as the head of the household. This points us to the fact that her husband has died in the intervening period and so if we search the death indexes on TheGenealogist a record returned in the second quarter of 1850 confirms the register of his death. Their 23-year-old son, also named Joseph, has stepped into his father’s shoes at the business and is listed in the census as ‘employing 127 hands’. Having found Joseph Terry Junior in the 1851 census raises a question about where he was on the night of the 1841 census. The answer becomes obvious when, by expanding the search across Yorkshire, we find a record in the census for a school in Hessle called The Grange, attended by Joseph Terry Jr and his 10-year-old brother Robert.

Directory of the City of York 1822
Chemists and druggists in the Directory of the City of York 1822

Sweet chemistry
Joseph Terry Senior and his wife Harriet had wed in 1823 and at the time he had been a chemist and druggist in York’s Walmgate. To establish this fact, we need only to consult the Directory of the City of York from 1822, the year before the marriage. Here we find him listed at Walmgate under chemists and druggists.

Browsing within the pages of this same Directory will also allow us to see that, in the City of York in that particular year, his future partner, Robert Berry the confectioner, was in business at St Helen’s Square. Joseph Terry’s background as the son of a baker and having become a chemist himself must have been put to good use when he joined with Robert Berry in the confectionery business. Steadily the firm increased its chocolate products, sweetmeats, candied peel, marmalades and medicated lozenges. When Robert Berry died in 1825, Joseph then formed a new partnership with Berry’s son George.

1851 will
1851 will of Joseph Terry of York

In family history research it is always worth looking to see if there is a record of a will for a person that has died. In this case, searching the wills collections on TheGenealogist allows us to discover an 1826 will for Robert Berry entered into the records at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC). It had been a requirement up until January 1858 that to receive probate all wills needed to be proved in either an archdeacon’s court, a bishop’s court, or one of the prerogative courts that proved the will depending where your ancestor’s property was located. There were two prerogative courts, those of Canterbury and of York, and in the same way as the Archdiocese of Canterbury takes precedence over York, their respective courts were similar in priority. The PCC would also deal with the wills of people who had assets in both provinces, or those individuals who were relatively wealthy. Examining the image of the will on TheGenealogist reveals that, although Berry’s will was proved at London, the fourth line tells us that it was ‘Extracted from the Registry of the Prerogative Court of York’ and then entered in the PCC registers.

In 1851 there was a similar extract in the PCC ledgers; this time it was recording the will for Joseph Terry, after his death had occurred in York.

The will points to Joseph Terry leaving to his son the responsibility of the confectionery business. From the census of the same year, which we have seen earlier, this was a company employing 127 hands and so was no small enterprise. Joseph Jr, along with his brothers Robert and John, continued the path that their father had already set out for the business towards it becoming a nationally recognised confectionery business.

 History Gazetteer and Directory of the East and North Ridings of Yorkshire 1840
History Gazetteer and Directory of the East and North Ridings of Yorkshire 1840 reveals the growing rail links in Yorkshire in the mid 1800s

Joseph Terry Sr had already taken advantage of the new ability to transport goods to other parts of the country made possible from 1839 when the railways had first come to York. A look at the History Gazetteer and Directory of the East and North Ridings of Yorkshire 1840 in the Trade, Residential and Telephone Directory collection on TheGenealogist allows us to understand more about these links. With Terry’s confectionery reaching a wider public than just those customers in York, his sons now continued to expand the business by also using the Humber estuary for the importation of raw materials needed.

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The Mount in York
Map Explorer identifies location of The Mount in York

Lord Mayor
While Joseph Terry Jr was a successful businessman, he also put time in to serve the municipality. A search for him in the Occupational records on TheGenealogist finds him in Who’s Who, published in 1897, under the Biographies subsection of these records. We note that by this time he had been knighted, was a justice of the peace and that in 1887 he had been the Lord Mayor of York. We also are given his address at Hawthorne Villa, The Mount, York. To find out where this is we can turn to TheGenealogist’s Map Explorer which allows us to consult historical and modern georeferenced maps overlaid on each other.

Who’s Who 1897
Who’s Who 1897 on TheGenealogist

Newspapers are often another useful resource to use when researching our ancestors’ family stories. An entry in the Illustrated London News for 14 November 1874, from TheGenealogist’s Newspaper and Magazine collection, has a list of new mayors from the time, including Joseph Terry as the Lord Mayor of York. This gives us 1874 as the date that he first became the Lord Mayor, though he would serve his city in that role a further three times.

The Who’s Who from 1897 had informed us that his wife was named Margaret and that this was his second marriage. A look at the 1861 census reveals that his first wife was called Frances and had been born in London. There are two sons at home, Thomas W.L. Terry and Samuel S. Terry, who were aged five and two respectively. Researching the family forward in the census collection to the 1871 census and we see that by this year Joseph Terry had now become a widower. To find when Frances Terry’s death occurred we can turn to the death records on TheGenealogist and see that this is recorded in the Civil Death Indexes for York in 1866.

1871 Yorkshire census
1871 Dringhouse Yorkshire census

We can see in the 1871 census that Joseph Terry’s father-in-law, a retired iron founder, born in St James, London and named Joseph Goddard also lives at the Dringhouse address. This would appear to be Frances’ father and he is a widower. He makes another appearance at the same address in the next census, adding weight to him living permanently in Yorkshire with his successful son-in-law and his grandchildren. Also part of the household is Joseph Terry’s new wife, Margaret, and the children of this second marriage. One of these, a girl, has poignantly been given the name Frances – while a boy has been called Francis.

In the 1881 census Joseph Terry now gives his occupation as an alderman and merchant. We know, from finding him in the Illustrated London News, that he had already served his first term as Lord Mayor. We can deduce that he had married his second wife, Margaret Thorpe, sometime between 1866 and 1881 and by searching the marriage records on TheGenealogist we are able to find that it was in the second quarter of 1871. To fill in some more date details in our research, we turn to the Knights of England 1127-1904 in the Peerage, Gentry & Royalty collection on TheGenealogist. This reveals that it was in 1887 that Joseph Terry Jr was honoured with his knighthood and that the ceremony had been at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.

Knights of England 1127-1904
Knights of England 1127-1904 from the Peerage, Gentry & Royalty records on TheGenealogist

Joseph was not the only one of the family to be knighted as Francis, his son by second wife Margaret, would also receive this honour and would take a prominent position in Yorkshire society by being appointed the High Sheriff of Yorkshire from 1945-1946. Francis had joined his elder half-brother Thomas in the family firm – though there was a 23-year age difference between the two of them.

All Gold and the Chocolate Orange
A broader date search of the Occupational records on TheGenealogist reveals the members of the Terry family in a 1936 edition of the Directory of Directors. In this era, just before the Second World War, Sir Francis William Terry had become the chairman of the company as well as being the joint managing director with his nephew Noel, the son of Thomas. On the death of his father in 1910 it was Thomas and his uncle who then took the company forward and under their stewardship the well-loved Terry’s All Gold chocolates and also the Chocolate Orange were added to the product line. The Directory of Directors also gives us the name of another member of the family to be involved in the family firm – Mr J.E. Harold Terry, who it transpires is another son of Thomas Terry.

The month including Easter is perhaps a good time to remember the Terrys of York. This case study has done that by using a broad range of record sets available at TheGenealogist to find members of the famous chocolatiers. We have seen them recorded in various documents that have provided names, dates and facts for our research. Interpreting some of these facts has allowed us to build more of a story when we noted such points as Sir Joseph’s first father-in-law continuing to live with him, even after Sir Joseph had married for a second time to Margaret. Also notable was that children of the second union bore the names Frances and Francis and that the descendents of both the wives were able to share in the leadership of the company into the 20th century. It is, however, sad that this family’s products are no longer made in this country.

The Directory of Directors 1936
The Directory of Directors 1936 from the Occupational records on TheGenealogist

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