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Miscellanies: Sir Solomon de Medina's Textile Warehouse

Diana de Marly

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Sir Solomon de Medina's Textile Warehouse DIANA DE MARLY After his move to London from Amsterdam in 16 72 Solomon de Medina engaged in several business activities. As Oskar Rabinowicz has already shown in his biography, Medina was an Adventurer of the East India Company, a coal merchant and a silver merchant.1 There was, however, another enter? prise run by Medina which has hitherto escaped attention, his textile warehouse. While it is known that Medina was purchasing cotton goods in 16 74, the earliest reference to a warehouse for fabrics so far discovered is in a bill from Solomon de Medina to the Duchess of Somerset in 1686.2 The duchess was an extremely important cus? tomer to have, for as sole descendant of the Earls of Northumberland she inherited all the Percy estates in 1670. In 1682 she married Charles Seymour, sixth Duke of Somerset, and in 1688 the couple embarked on remodelling their seat at Petworth House in West Sussex. As a very wealthy woman the duchess could afford the best materials, and de Medina supplied her with such luxurious fabrics as flowered Persian silk at ?4 a yard, and white Atlas silk at ?10 a yard. Humbler items included flowered muslin and crepe. The duchess also appears to have borrowed money from Medina, as the bill refers to the sums of 5s. and 7s. 6d. which the merchant added to the total. Not very many clothing bills of the duchess have survived, and no other examples of a bill from Medina survive in that collection. Nevertheless, the fact that Medina did sell goods to the Duchess of Somerset suggests that his ware? house was well patronized. The fortunes of the warehouse continued to improve, for it gained royal patronage. Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough and Mistress of the Robes to Queen Anne, states that Solomon de Medina's textile warehouse sold material to Queen Mary II in 1689-90.3 This is confirmed by an entry in The Calendar of Treasury Books, where Elizabeth Stanley Countess of Derby, Lady of the Robes to Mary II, made a payment to Medina of ?5 4.4 Unfortunately, no details of the goods are listed, but they were bought for the royal wardrobe. Sarah Churchill does not mention Medina as a supplier to Queen Anne, and the archives at Blenheim say that his name is not recorded there. It could be that Medina had disposed of his textile warehouse by then, for he became increasingly involved in sup? plying bread and lending money to the British government, and he may have transferred the business to his son-in-law Moses de Medina. Cer? tainly Moses is recorded as importing satin and calico in 169 3, and he did take over Medina's other business activities,5 so the textile warehouse was probably included. One thing is certain, Sir Solomon de Medina's textile warehouse was a leading establishment of its kind, specializing in luxury goods for the most wealthy people in English society.6 NOTES 1 O. K. Rabinowicz, Sir Solomon de Medina (JHSE 1974) p.23. 2 Petworth House Archives ms 652, collection of the Earl of Egremont. 3 Sarah Churchill, An Account of the Conduct of the Dowager Duchess of Marlborough, from her first coming to Court, to the Year 1710 (1742) pp.222-4. 4 Calendar of Treasury Books X part 3 (hmso 1935) p. 1076. 5 0. K. Rabinowicz op. cit. pp.2 3-4. 6 See also Diana de Marly, 'Fashionable Suppliers 1660-1700: Leading Tailors and Clothing Tradesmen of the Restoration Period', The Antiquaries Journal LVIII part 2 (1978) pp.333-51. 155</page></plain_text>