The Pemberton Family – A Famous Toymaking Family

Photo Courtesy ‘Matthew Boulton & The Toymakers’

‘There were several well established families of toy makers, whose work was of a consistently high quality, who contributed most to the continued success and expansion of the toy trade in Birmingham in the late 18th and early 19th C. One of these families was ‘The Pembertons’.

An old Birmingham family the Pembertons were descended, with one exception, from Roger Pemberton, Mayor of Walsall in 1509. Samuel Pemberton (1738-1803) was made a Guardian of the Assay Office in 1793. He had learnt his trade from his father Samuel (1704-84), a jeweller and toymaker in Snow Hill. Seven various punches with initials SP were registered at the Assay Office but were undated and so fall between the years 1773-1801.

Samuel Pemberton died in 1803 at the age of 65.

Later in 1812, another Samuel Pemberton (1771-1836) registered on October 14th two oval punches with SP under the name Sam Pemberton Son & Mitchell, the new firm, necessitating re-registration of the mark, rather than the death of a relative.

The partnership included Robert Mitchell, a former apprentice who had tried business on his own.

There is an interesting cross-reference in this entry to a PM mark registered in 1816 on December 18th by Pemberton & Mitchell for watch cases. This refers to Thomas Pemberton (1776-1830) who had previously entered an incuse mark, TP, usual for watchcase makers, on September 9th, 1803.

However, on February 28th, 1821 a new firm S. Pemberton & Son (late Pemberton, Son & Mitchell) registered 5 marks, including an incuse SP mark as well as TP in a rectangular shield.

It would appear that the partnership between Thomas Pemberton and Roger Mitchell had come to an end, as on May 23rd of the same year, Robert Mitchell entered 4 independent marks, including an incuse mark and is described as a silversmith at St. Paul ‘s Square, later moving on March 27th, 1822 to Bishopsgate Street.

Thomas Pemberton was appointed a Guardian of the Assay Office in 1824, but with his death in 1830 and Samuel Pemberton’s in 1836 the Pemberton involvement with the goldsmiths’ trade ceased.’

It is most likely that Pemberton Street was named after this family.


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