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 (1828).

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.

Read about the pamphlet   Proceed to the next page