A potted history of Georgiana Marian Kirkman the last custodian of the famous Kirkman piano business.



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Kirkman Family



Georgiana Marian Kirkman was the daughter of Joseph Kirkman (1790-1877) and his wife Louisa.



They had six children:
Frederick Augustus
Joseph
Alexander Henry
Louisa
Henry John and
Georgiana Marian


Georgiana Marian Kirkman 1828-1898

Georgiana Kirkman, who died 1898, was the last person to be custodian of the famous Kirkman piano makers business.



From a book entitled 'A short history of a great house' by Edward Lamburn (London 1938) page 24 gives a brief summary of the transfer of the Kirkman business to John Clementi Collard, rival piano makers (later to become Collard and Collard).



The Kirkman male line having ceased Georgiana was having difficulty maintaining the size and standard of the house she approached John Clementi Collard. She explained her position and indicated that the business was available for disposal. Ha asked her the terms. She answered "That you take the business as it stands, at certified cost." He asked about the name and goodwill, she replied "An undertaking that you will not dispose of it, and thatyou will continue to regard it on the same traditions as your own." He agreed, "Yes, I am willing to do that; but the price?" "That is the price." She replied. So over a hundred years of good will changed hands under such unique conditions.



A later reference in the book to the estimated worth and date of death of Joseph Kirkman are inaccurate. Joseph, the father of Georgiana actually died in 1877 not 1778 as shown. Also the 'personal fortune' of over £200,000.00 has also been attributed to Abraham Kirkman who died in 1792.



Readers must consider the accuracy of these statements. As yet there is no verification to either the value of the estate or the quoted conversation between "JCC" and Georgiana. However, it is recorded elsewhere that Georgiana did indeed dispose of the business to Collard at almost no cost.



Probate records show she died 13/2/1898 at 10 Ladbroke Square, Notting Hill, London. Admin was granted to Louisa Reece (widow). Effects £2841 5/17/1 resworn July 1898 £2844 9/2/5.




Henry John Kirkman 1827-1874


A watercolour “East Side Soho Square looking South” by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd.



Prior to Georgiana, ownership of the Kirkman business was vested in Henry John Kirkman.In 1841 he was living at 3 Soho Square according to the census record for Joseph his fatherIn 1851 census he was recorded as head of household, unmarried aged 25, grand pianoforte maker employing 20 men. Also living at same address was his sister Georgiana, unmarried aged 21 and two servants, a cook and a housemaid.



Henry John died on the 9th day of February 1874 at No 10 Ladbroke Square, Bayswater a Batchelor and intestate. His estate had been left unadmininstered by Joseph Kirkman his natural and lawful father and next of kin who died on the 18th day of October 1877. Letters of Administration were granted by Her Majesty's high Court of Justice at the Principal Registry of the Probate Division thereof to Eleanor Sarah Kirkman of No 2 Barry Road Peckham in the County of Surrey Widow the sole Executrix of the Will with a codicil of the said Joseph Kirkman deceased she having been first sworn well and faithfully to administer the same.dated the 31st day of January 1887.



Joseph Kirkman 1790-1877

Joseph Kirkman was the second son of Abraham Kirkman.Joined the firm in 1789 and managed it from 1794 onwards.



The 1841 census records him living at 3 Soho Square aged 50 with the following:



Louisa aged 40
Joseph aged 20
Louisa aged 15
Henry aged 15
Georgiana aged 12
and servants

In 1871 he was living at 10 Ladbroke Square, Bayswater, with his son Henry and daughter Georgiana - His occupation shown as retired pianomaker.



The last will and testament of Joseph, of 3 Soho Square and Sunnyside Villa, Goldhawk Road, Shepherds Bush, was proved with a codicil 28th November 1877 by the Oath of Eleanor Sarah Kirkman, the relict the sole executrix to whom admon was granted. She was his second wife. His first was Louisa (as per the 1841 census).



Transcript of the will;

"This is the Last Will & Testament of me Joseph Kirkman of No 3 Soho Square and Sunnyside Goldhawk Road Shepherds Bush in the County of Middlesex Esquire.I give and bequeath my leasehold house and premises known as No 7 Marine Parade at Eastbourne in the County of Sussex with the furniture plate linen china glass books prints wines liquors fuel consumable provisions and other household effects which at the time of my decease shall be in and about the same messuage and premises unto my daughters Louisa Reece and Georgiana Kirkman and their respective executors and administrators in equal shares for their respective sole and separate use my said two daughters respectively paying the yearly rent reserved by and performing the several Covenants contained in the Indenture of Lease under which I now hold the same messuage and premises and indemnifying my Executors hereinafter named from the payment of such rent and the performance of the Covenants in such Lease contained I also give and bequeath to my said two daughters in equal shares and for their respective separate use All the furniture plate china glass books prints wines liquors fuel consumable provisions and other household effects which at the time of my decease shall be in and about my messuage and premises No 10 Ladbroke Square in the County of Middlesex I give and bequeath all the paintings drawings prints engravings bronzes medals sculptures and statuary which at the time of my decease shall be in and about all or any of my messuages and manufactories at Soho and Hammersmith in the County of Middlesex unto the persons or person who at the time of my death shall be a trustee or trustees of a certain Indenture of Settlement dated the Sixth day of April One thousand eight hundred and seventy seven made by me of my said messuages and manufactories and the Capital and assets of the business carried on therein Upon trust that they or he shall during so long as the business by the said Settlement directed to be carried on shall be actually carried on by him or them at Soho or Hammersmith respectively permit the said paintings and drawings and other articles hereinbefore enumerated to remain in such business premises respectively they and he insuring the same out of the profits of the said business but in the case the said business shall cease to be carried on at both or either of such premises shall during the life of my son Joseph Kirkman permit the said paintings drawings and other articles in both of the business premises or in such one of the same in which the said business shall cease to be carried on as the case may be to be enjoyed by my son Joseph Kirkman during his life he insuring the same against loss or damage by fire And after his decease shall during the life of my daughter Louisa Reece permit the same to be enjoyed by her during her life for her separate use she insuring the same against loss or damage by fire and after her decease shall during the life of my daughter Georgiana Kirkman permit the same to be enjoyed by her during her life for her separate use she insuring the same against loss or damage by fire And after the decease of the survivor of them the said Joseph Kirkman Loisa Reece and Georgiana Kirkman shall stand possessed of the said chattels hereinbefore enumerated upon such trusts as shall as nearly as the rules of law and equity will permit correspond with limitations of real estate to the effect following that is to say To the use of the first and other Sons of my son Joseph Kirkman successively according to priority of birth in tail with remainder To the use of the daughter or daughters of my first son in tail and if more than one as tenants in common with cross remainder in tail between or among them with remainder To the use of my first or other Sons of my said daughter Louisa Reece successively according to priority of birth in tail with remainder To the use of the first and other Sons of my daughter Georgiana Kirkman with remainder to the use of my said right heirs but I declare that the chattels lastly hereinbefore bequeathed shall be subject to an Executory limitation over on the death of any person who under the limitations aforesaid of real estate would be tenant in tail thereof in purchase under the age of twenty one years without having issue in tail living at his or her death to or in favour of the person or persons who would as aforesaid be entitled under the subsequent limitations according to the tenor of the same limitations I direct that the Oak furniture in my private Room in Soho Square shall be allowed to remain there and shall be considered as part of the assets of the said business I give and bequeath to my wife Eleanor Sarah Kirkman her heirs and executors and administrators my two freehold houses in Princes Street Barbican in the City of London and all the rest and residue of my real and personal Estate whatsoever and wheresoever for her separate use in addition to the provisions which I have made for her by two Indentures of Settlement dated respectively the Sixth day of May One thousand eight hundred and seventy four and the Eleventh day of June One thousand eight hundred and seventy four and by five indentures of Settlement dated respectively in February last I appoint my said wife sole Executrix of this my Will In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand this Sixth day of July One thousand eight hundred and seventy seven. Joseph Kirkman.Signed published and declared by the said Joseph Kirkman in the presence of us who in his presence at his request and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses. J Henry Jonas 2 Mitre Court temple Solicitor H May 14 Golden Square St James's West Solicitor"



"I the within named Joseph Kirkman do hereby declare this to be a codicil to my within written Will Whereas the said Will contains an express Gift to my wife of "two" freehold houses in Princes Street and I possess "three" freehold houses in the said Street and the said word "two" was by mistake substituted for the word "three" I do hereby give and devise to my said Wife her heirs and assigns to her separate use All those freehold houses No 3, 4 and 5 Princes Street Barbican And I do freely direct that the devise and bequest within contained of all my residuary real and personal Estate to my said wife shall be in addition to all provisions made for her by any Deeds of Settlement whatsoever executed by me in her favour And in all other respects I confirm my said Will As witness my hand this 22nd day of September 1877 Joseph Kirkman Signed and declared by the testator the said Joseph Kirkman as a codicil to his said within written Will in the presence of us both being present at the same time who at his request and in his presence and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as Witnesses Elizabeth Niblet Field Henry E May Proved at London with a codicil 28th November 1877 by the Oath of Eleanor Sarah Kirkman Widow the Sole Executrix to whom admon was granted."



Other relatives



Brother Abraham 1704-1792 of Bischweiler.
Nephew Jacob - died 1812 (Organist at St Georges Hanover Square)
Nephew Abraham born Bischweiler 1737 died London 1794 (son of Abraham 1704-1792) (Came into partnership in the harpsichord making business 1773)

Conrad Kirchmann

Conrad lived in Burgdorf, Canton of Berne, and is referred to as the Great Grandfather of Jacob Kirkman (Jacob was born Bischweiler 1710 - died Greenwich, May 1792).#



The Illustrated London News for 20 August 1853 contains an article on the “Destruction by fire of Messrs. Kirkman’s pianoforte manufactory” at Dufour’s Place, Broad Street, Golden Square”. Apart from the total destruction of the manufactory which, being a timber building and containing mostly wooden materials, was completely consumed by the flames nine other houses and a chapel were also destroyed.



Many historical relics were destroyed also. These included a curious clarickord once belonging to Handel and from which the idea of making the square pianoforte was originally taken. Also lost were the Harp used by the Court Bard of Charles II with the head beautifully carved by Grindling Gibbons; a small Japanned harpsichord, by Andreas Ruckers of Antwerp, made in 1634 and once used by George III; the celebrated harpsichord, formerly the property of Joah Bates, who for many years conducted the Antient Concerts and another larger harpsichord made for Mr. Greatorex who had succeeded him. Among the items saved was a miniature Grand Pianoforte (the smallest ever to have been played upon) which had caused great excitement at the Great Exhibition of 1851.



The fire had been so great that fire engines were called from King Street, Golden Square, Wells Street, Chandos Street and other stations. The glow of the fire could be seen as far away as Harrow on the Hill. Other fire engines were called from the West of England office and four or five from the London Establishment. Two or three of The Royal Society’s engines also attended.



During their time The Kirkman business, rivaled only by Broadwood, had provided instruments to many a noted person including Queen Charlotte, wife to King George III and to Thomas Jefferson, for his daughters.



Thomas Jefferson had once declared that music “is the favourite passion of my soul, and fortune has cast my lot in a country where it is in a state of deplorable barbarism”. This love of music was passed through his generations. Jefferson advised his daughter “Do not neglect your music. It will be a companion which will sweeten many hours of life to you”. While in France, he purchased a Kirkman harpsichord, one of the instruments of its time, for his daughter, Martha. Pleased with the quality, he later ordered another for his daughter, Maria.



Copy of pages from The Illustrated London News August 20th 1853 reporting on the “Destruction by fire of Messrs. Kirkman’s Pianoforte manufactory”



The Kirkman business was only partially insured and the Illustrated London News reported “we are happy to learn, for the sake of the numerous hands thus suddenly thrown out of employment, that this sad accident will cause but a temporary interruption to Messrs. Kirkman’s business”.



How prophetic those words were, for the business continued to flourish until around 1896 when Georgiana finally severed the family links and the business was transferred to Collard.



Stephen Kirkman ©2000

Email: stephen.kirkman@btinternet.com




Source: Page 104 of "Makers of the Harpsichord and Clavichord 1440-1840)" - Donald H Boalch.