Jarvis – A Family of Brewers

Jarvis  - A Family of Brewers

Thomas Jarvis was the son of Sarah and Thomas Jarvis and was born in 1803. His christening was held at St. Mary the Virgin Church at Eaton Socon on 23rd October 1803. (At that time, Eaton Socon was in the boundaries of Bedfordshire). At some point, he moved to Bedford and married Ann Wainright on 7th July 1826 at St. Paul’s Church. They had one child, Samuel Wainright Jarvis, who was born on 1st February 1828 at Bushmead in Bedfordshire. Sadly, Ann died aged 44 years on 31st December 1843, at 10 Gwyn Street. Her burial took place in St. Peter’s Churchyard, Bedford.

By 1841, Thomas Jarvis had set up his brewery in Gwyn Street. At that time, there were eight breweries in Bedford. Weak or “small” beer was cheaper and safer to drink than water and both adults and children drank beer in preference to water. Due to the nutrients contained in beer, monks used to brew it especially to live on through Lent and some workhouses brewed their own beer and served it to the inmates as part of their regular diet.

Thomas married Eliza Page on 30th July 1844 at St. Peter’s Church, Bedford. Eliza was born on 15th April 1820 at St. Briavels, Gloucestershire and was 17 years younger than Thomas was. Before her marriage, Eliza lived at the Moravian Girls College, 34 St. Peter’s Street, Bedford. It is unknown if her role there was as a teacher or as a servant. The Moravian College was founded in 1801 and closed in 1911. Until the arrival of the Harpur Trust Girls School in 1882 it was the best school in the County.

By 1851, Thomas had two men in his employ. He was living at 185 Gwyn Street with Eliza and their three children, Lewis, Robert, and, Mary Ann. They went on to have five more children, three girls, and two boys. Sadly, two of their daughters died in infancy. Eliza died aged 2 months on 11th November 1855 and Charlotte, died aged 16 months on 7th February 1860. Their burials took place in the Moravian Churchyard in St. Peters Street, Bedford.

Over the years, the brewery went from strength to strength and outgrew its site. In 1866 Thomas purchased a piece of land in Midland Road upon which he built a larger brewery. This comprised of a brew house, engine house, beer store, hop room, offices, and his home. In 1867, he closed the Gwyn Street brewery and moved in to 71 Midland Road. He called it the ‘Phoenix Brewery’. He lived next door at 73. Four years later, he was employing six men, and trading as Thomas Jarvis & Co., brewers, wine and spirit merchants.

Thomas was the victim of theft by one of his servant’s, Emma Green, who had been in his employ for about ten weeks. On Monday 31st May 1869, Emma Green appeared before the Borough Petty Sessions. ‘The Bedfordshire Times and Bedfordshire Independent,’ of Saturday 5th June 1869, reported, “Emma Green, aged about 21, a domestic servant, lately in the employ of Mr. Thomas Jarvis, brewer, was charged with stealing a cheque belonging to her late master, on the 26th May, and pleaded guilty. She was sentenced to two months’ imprisonment with hard labour. It appeared that the girl presented a cheque, drawn for £5, at Messrs Barnard’s Bank, on the 26th May., and stated that she had been sent with it by a Mr. Burridge, of Adelaide Square (a fictitious name). Suspicion having been excited, an investigation took place at the bank, and Mr. Alger, chief clerk, discovered that the cheque thus presented belonged to the cheque book held by Mr. Jarvis. The latter was then communicated with, and it was ascertained that five cheques had been taken away. The book had been left out of the bureau on one occasion, when Mr. Jarvis had been out to pay some money. Mr. Jabez Payne for barley, and on another occasion, the lock of the bureau had been forced.

Police Constable Haynes said that on apprehending the accused she expressed her sorrow for what she had done. With many tears, Emma Green said she was very sorry she did not think what she was doing at the time. She did not take more than one cheque.”

Emma Green had lived with her parents and three siblings at Maldons Yard, Bedford. Her time in prison appeared to have taught her a lesson. Emma was able to turn her life around after her release from prison, she moved to Luton where she worked as a cook for a solicitor and his family.

On the 16th July 1873, Thomas purchased the St. Paul’s Brewery and 35 public houses for the sum of £34,200. He merged it with the Phoenix Brewery. In 1876 he sold the St. Paul’s site to the Harpur Trust to extend its Grammar School. In 1883 Thomas retired and his three sons, Lewis, Robert, and Walter ran the brewery, trading as Jarvis & Company.

On the 14th October 1886 Thomas died aged 83 years, at his home at 73 Midland Road. His burial took place in the secluded graveyard behind the Moravian Chapel at St. Peter’s Street, Bedford.

Lewis Page Jarvis was born on the 9th May 1845 and was the eldest son of Thomas and Eliza. He attended the Bedford Modern School and he was one of the top pupils at free hand drawing. He was quiet and was fond of literature and an expert on art. If he had not gone in to the brewing industry, he may well have been a designer. Lewis married Ada Maud Dawson on the 5th October 1876, at St. Mary Abbots Church, Kensington. They moved in to ‘Barley Craft’ at Sharnbrook in Bedfordshire. All their eleven children were born there.

Lewis retired on 13th May 1897. His brothers Robert and Walter then ran the firm of Jarvis & Co. On the 9th June 1900, Lewis died aged 55 years at his home, Elstow Lodge. The cause of death was pleurisy and pneumonia. His funeral service at St. Mary and St. Helena Church, Elstow, preceded the burial in the Churchyard.

Robert Page Jarvis was born on the 24th June 1847. He attended the Bedford Modern School. Like his parents, he was a strong supporter of the Moravian Church. For a few years, he was the commanding officer of the Bedford Company of the 3rd Bedfordshire Regiment, formerly known as the old Rifle Volunteer Corps. After a while he rose to Colonel. He lived at Castle Lodge, 62 Castle Hill in Bedford. On Saturday afternoons, he would step out of his front door to find his company in their scarlet tunics, gleaming helmets, and pipe-clayed belts drawn outside the ancient armoury of the Militia, ready for his inspection. He was also one of the original members of the Bedford Volunteer Fire Brigade.

From 1887 to 1905, Robert was a councillor for the West Ward of Bedford and a Governor of the Harpur Trust. He helped with the many local charitable organisations, as well as games and sports. He was a member of the Conservative Club and Vice-President of the Bedford Conservative and Unionist Association. In 1875 Robert was initiated into the Stuart Lodge. In 1886 he served a term of one year as Worshipful Master. He was one of the founders of the Sir William Harpur Lodge in 1889 and of the Ampthill Lodge in 1894. In 1867 Robert became a member of the Bedford Amateur Music Society.

Robert married Mary Childe Oates on the 28th September 1871 at the Moravian Chapel in St. Peter’s, Bedford. Mary was the daughter of the late Rev. W. H. Oates, of Jamaica. They had three children, Talbot, born in 1872 and Hilda, born in 1874. Sadly, Mary died aged 31 years following the birth of her third child, Miriam, on the 10th January 1876.

Three years later, Robert married Louisa Henny on the 19th February 1879 at St. Mark’s Church, Notting Hill in London. Louisa was born in 1845 at Gloucestershire. From the age of 6 years, she had been a boarder at the ‘Moravian Girls Boarding School’ at Ockbrook in Derbyshire. After she left school, she moved to Paddington, London, as a live-in lady’s companion. Robert may have known Louisa for some years before they were married, as his younger sister, Mary Anne (born in 1850), and Louisa had both been pupils at the Moravian Boarding Girls’ School at the same time. Robert and Louisa had three sons, Harold born in 1880, Robert born in 1882, and Basil Andrew born in 1886.

On Friday the 9th February 1912, Robert died aged 64 at his home Castle Lodge, Castle Hill, Bedford. The cause of death was pneumonia. The funeral service at the Moravian Chapel preceded his burial at Foster Hill Road Cemetery. The following year, on the 16th October 1913, Louisa died aged 69 years. She was buried alongside Robert.

Robert’s youngest son, Major Basil Andrew Jarvis died in 1931 in India following an operation for appendicitis. He attended the Bedford School from 1893 to 1902. He joined the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, serving in India and Egypt. During the war, he saw service in France, Salonika, and Egypt, and was in Germany during the occupation. He is commemorated on his parents’ memorial at Foster Hill Road Cemetery. Grave Ref:  I4.258

Walter Jarvis was born 21st September 1856 and he was the last surviving partner of the firm of Jarvis & Co. He took no part in public affairs and spent much of his time in the business. In 1910, Walter married Mary Ann Halland at Sheffield. They lived with his mother, Eliza, at 73 Midland Road. Eliza died aged 69 years on the 19th October 1913. She was buried alongside Thomas in the Moravian Graveyard in St. Peter’s Street, Bedford.

Walter died aged 58 years on the 1st January 1915. The funeral service took place in Holy Trinity Church followed by burial at Foster Hill Road Cemetery. Grave Ref: F6.224

In 1917, Charles Wells purchased the Phoenix Brewery for the sum of £79,000. It came with two maltings and 69 pubs and off-licences. In 1918, brewing ceased on the Midland Road site.

Robert and Louisa’s son Lieut. Colonel Talbot Mcleavy Jarvis, D.S.O. returned from the war in 1920, he joined Charles Wells to manage their pub estate. He died aged 75 years on the 3rd June 1949 at his home at 19a Waterloo Road, Bedford.

The brewery buildings were subsequently used by Baker & Munton, who had been trading in malt and grain in London since the 19th century. It was later known as Munton & Fison. The site was redeveloped for new shops in 1963.


Pigots Directory 1840. Kelly’s Directory 1847.
Voter’ List 1847-8.
Craven Directory 1853.
Family Search Records.
Bedfordshire Times and Independent 11th December 1866.
Bedfordshire Times & Independent Tuesday 22nd January 1867.
Bedfordshire Times & Independent 5th June 1869
Bedfordshire Times and Independent 15th June 1900.
Bedfordshire Times & Independent 8th January 1915.
Bedfordshire Times & Independent Friday 13th May 1931.
Bedfordshire Times & Independent 16th December 1949.
The Guardian 22nd March 2013
Census 1841-1911