(c1712 - 1765)
Since Victorian times Herbert & Sons claims to have been founded by John Wood in 1760 but it now appears that it is more likely to have been started around 1740, a date which does indeed appear on a catalogue of c1866. In addition, the records of the Cirencester Society in London show that John took John Chandler, son of Nathaniel Chandler of Cirencester as an apprentice in 1749. So the company may actually be 270 years old!
What of Herbert's founder? John Wood was born in Cirencester the son of a woolcomber. He began work as a blacksmith and was apprenticed to a well known London scalemaker Timothy Roberts on 1st September 1726. In the 18th century, an apprentice would be 'free' of his master after seven years - this would have been in 1733.
The records show that on the 2nd February 1742 John Wood was admitted as a member of The Cirencester Society in London, an organisation ‘Established earlier than 1701’ whose purpose was twofold. Firstly the promotion of ‘harmony, good fellowship, and conviviality among Cirencester men living in London’, and secondly the ‘apprenticing of poor Cirencester boys to useful handicraft trades’. This year also saw him for the first time entered in the Land Tax Assessment Records at 15 Queen Street, Cheapside, in the City of London.
John married Mary, and they had two daughters, the eldest Ann born about 1744 christened at St Antholin in Watling Street. Unusually for the time, Mary had a business in her own right, that of a bead and necklace maker with premises in Shire Lane (also spelt Sheer Lane or Shear Lane) near Temple Bar.
The labels in his scales describe him as ‘Jno Wood at ye Angel & Scales ye corner of Queen Street in Watling Street, London’ who ‘makes and sells all sorts of scales & weights steellards & cocks’. In the print on the right hand side of the screen, the former Wood premises are the third shop from the left, and in the background can be seen the church of St. Antholin in Watling Street.
John was a member of the Blacksmith’s Company, and during his time took many apprentices, including Thomas Goulding (1757) and his nephew Richard (1761), whose father, also Richard, was a leather breeches maker in Cirencester.
John Wood died on 28th March 1765 around the age of 50. His death was reported in the London Evening Post of 30th March.