Robert Davis continued to ply his trade as a Hatter in St. James’s and had a son named Charles who succeeded in the business sometime before 1719. In 1732 he married a Mary Hall and in 1735 their only child Mary was born.
Meanwhile James Lock, the son of George James Lock, who had been born in St James’s Street in 1700, had married one year earlier. In the same year his wife Elizabeth gave birth to a son who was also named James.
In 1747 the seven houses under lease to the Lock family were under threat of demolition to make way for a new development. In that year James Lock, the young grandson of George James Lock, became apprenticed at the age of 16 for seven years to Charles Davis.
As Charles Davis had no male heir he needed to find a suitable young man for his daughter to marry and to learn his trade. Obviously James Lock, although he appeared to have been a second choice as there had been a previous apprentice, must have fitted the bill and less than three years after he was out of his indentures he married Mary Davis. The two local families whose roots went back almost to the establishment of St. James's Street were now united.
When Charles Davis died in 1759 James Lock inherited his former master’s business
At this time the west side of St. James’s Street, where the hatters was situated, was becoming more residential with the benefits of backing on to Green Park. Most of the trading was being conducted on the east side of the street and James Lock was keen to move so that he could benefit from this trade and also he needed more space, as he now had four children.
No 6. St. James’s Street had been used for some time as an Alehouse known as ‘The Feathers’. From 1747 it had been occupied by a watchmaker called John Sneddon, who was the son of George Sneddon – one of George James Lock’s original tenants.
When John Sneddon died in 1752 Peter Vanina, a celebrated maker of figurines, took over the lease and was allowed to install a kiln to carry out his trade. To this day part of the premises at No. 6 is known as ‘The Kiln’.
James Lock had his eye on No. 6 and in 1764 he made Peter Vanina an offer for the lease which was accepted with the proviso that he could stay on until the summer of 1765 while he searched for new premises. On the 24th June 1765 James Lock, his wife Mary, their four children and his trimmers, journeymen and counter-assistants, laden with boxes of fine beaver hats, cockades and various trims, crossed the street to No. 6.
Business had been good for James Lock prior to his move to No. 6. In 1756 The Seven Years War had begun and he became known as a military ‘hatter and cap-maker’. Many of his customers were colonels in regiments for whose equipment they were personally responsible for out of their own pocket.
An extract from the order book of the Coldstream Guards, dated 1st June 1771, testified to the success with which he pursued his new line.
Field Marshall Lord Tyrawley Desires that such officers of the Coldstream Regt. Whose full Regiments are not Good a nough to appear before his Majesty at the Review Do Immedeadley make up new, and also that the officers be very exact in having Laced Regtl Hatts in every Prectilor uneyform with the Pattern Hatt wich is to be Seen at Mr Lock’s Hatter in St. James’s Street.
After the end of The Seven Years War in 1763 imperial and industrial expansion together, with improved communications, reflected in the wealth of James Lock and his turnover peaked in 1782 during the time of The War of American Independence.
While his business life had proved to be very successful, tragedy stalked his family life. His three sons Charles, Thomas and James all died before they had reached their teens and his wife Mary passed away not long afterwards. Only his daughter Mary remained and James Lock was concerned for her future and the succession of his business.
James Lock deposited his money with Coutts and drew on it for his ordinary business expenses. He also bought and sold bills or simply provided loans, at greater profit but higher risk. One of his debtors was Thomas Panton the younger, who was a customer at No. 6 and a popular sportsman, gambler and racehorse owner who won the Derby in 1786 with his horse Noble. James Lock lent him £1,000 to pay off his gambling debts and when Thomas Panton could not settle the debt he signed over to James Lock the tenancy of a manor in Shenleybury, near Radlett in Hertfordshire, which had a peppercorn rent.
It was here that James Lock took his nine year old daughter to escape the unhygienic conditions of London and where he employed a housekeeper to look after the child and the manor.
In 1773, the year of the Boston Tea Party, James Lock became, at the age of 43, the father of what was called in the language of the day ‘a natural child.’ Although James Lock did not acknowledge publicly his paternity of the child the boy was named George James. The mother of George James remained at the manor in Shenleybury and continued to look after the manor and both children.
In 1776 Samuel Yew Griffith became an apprentice to James Lock and he felt that this was the right man to wed Mary and become the heir to the business. Samuel prepared a home for them in Brompton Road in the village off Kensington as James Lock was still living at No. 6.
Unfortunately Samuel became unwell and at the advice of his apothecary he made his will. On his death in 1785 he bequeathed all his personal wealth to Mary. Mary was now nearly £1,000 wealthier but she had no husband and James Lock had no successor for the business.
James Lock had invested some of his money in clothing manufacturers in Nottingham which was run by a family called Nixon. In 1793 Mary Lock married Thomas Nixon, who was the second son of Thomas and Peggy Nixon, and was a surgeon in the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards. In the same year she bore him a son, James Lock Nixon, and died.
James Lock Nixon was the apple of his grandfather’s eye but James Lock realised that he was too young to succeed him in the business and there was a strong chance that he would follow his father and have a career in the army. James Lock Nixon was left in Nottingham, to be brought up by his grandmother Peggy, while James Lock turned his attention to his illegitimate heir in Shenleybury.
Young George James was introduced to No. 6 and there were some raised eyebrows. However in 1794 James Lock went into co-partnership with his son and the sign above the shop door was changed to ‘Lock & James’. Eventually James Lock moved out of No. 6 and went to live in Oxford Street.
The sign above the shop was changed back to James Lock as George James moved in and assumed his father’s persona and for convenience will be referred to as James Lock II.