An Intangible Legacy: The Scarth Family of London and Ilford
The Scarths of London and Ilford were a family with two generations of trade connections with the East India Company during the first half of the eighteenth century. The Scarths were not nabobs; they were wealthy Quaker merchants. They left no surviving grand country house or any other trinkets or treasures. In fact, they left no material evidence of their lives or their connections with the East India Company, but both the family and its East India Company connections can be traced through historical documents which allow us to create a Scarth family portrait. This case study shows the economic, social, and domestic history of this family and how three generations of Scarths were affected by the family’s connection with the East India Company. One generation bought goods from the East India Company and traded them westward across the Atlantic, and the next engaged in trade for the East India Company in the East. Partly as a result of his connections with the East India Company, the elder Jonathan amassed a family fortune, including a country house in Ilford, Essex, now gone. His son Jonathan’s deeper connection with the East India Company disrupted his family life so that at the age of forty-one he left his daughter an orphan after being away on company voyages for years at a time. With risk can come great reward, but also calamity. This family experienced both as a result of their connection with the East India Company. The Scarth family represents the thousands of nameless English families whose homes were touched by this grand enterprise. To read Doreen Skala’s case study, click here.