1. Origins and early life to 1849
What is known a Samuel's early life comes from Joan Bird,
whose husband, Noel Bird, is a direct descendant of his brother Thomas.
Samuel’s father, also Samuel, married Joice Mills in West Bromwich in 1810.
But all of their children were born in Bilston. Either their parents already
lived there or they moved there on or soon after their marriage. Their nine
children were: Isaiah (1811), Samuel (1814), Mary (1816), Thomas
(1818), Joseph (1820), David (1822), Catherine (1824), John (1826), Hepzibah
Samuel married at some time and had at least one child, a son, Herbert,
who took over the London Iron Trade Exchange on his father's death on the 24th
May 1881. But nothing else is currently known about his family life.
W. K. V. Gale says that "in his early days was in business as a chemist
and druggist in the neighbouring town of Wolverhampton. The term ‘chemist’
was used loosely at the time, and chemists were often drysalters as well.
From this it is but a short step to the trade of oil merchant, and it is not
surprising to find that in 1851 (White’s Directory of Staffordshire)
Griffiths was a ‘merchant and factor’ in Wolverhampton, with a trade in oil,
tallow and grease".
Of this period in his life, W. H. Jones says:
Samuel Griffiths was a native of Bilston, and at one time established
works there for the manufacture of oil and grease for colliery
proprietors and ironmasters, who used the oil to lubricate their
machinery. Not content with this, he became a metal broker on the
Exchange, and an ironmaster, employing a large number of hands. It was
in this capacity he made his talents felt, and, pushing himself forward,
formed a ring among fellows like himself, and to "raise the wind," as he
said, he dealt largely in accommodation bills. By these means he
surrounded himself with every luxury. He built a large house, called the
Whitmoreans Hall, where he lived for some few years."
His early career as a druggist and chemist, and his ability as a
publicist, is evidenced by his remarkable pamphlet The Public & The
Medical Men, which was produced in 1849.
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