Edward Rainbow – silk dyer and receiver of stolen goods

In trying to push the known family genealogy further into the past, I found the story of Edward Rainbow. Edward is the 4 times great grand father of Geoff Arnold. Edward (b 1745) had a son who was also named Edward (b 1772), who was the father of Elisha Rainbow.

We have his apprenticeship document

Edward Rainbow Apprenticeship

1762 – Edward Rainbow Apprenticeship Papers – Click to enlarge

which is dated 1762. He was apprenticed to Higgins Eden in London as a dyer. His father was described as “Edward Rainbow, of Turnham Green, Maltman, Deceased”. I have not yet included his father in the genealogy, as I haven’t yet found any records that can be matched.

Edward Rainbow had a business located 32 Queen’s St, Cheapside, as a silk dyer, and possibly a silk merchant. There are directory listings for him from 1782-1800 in that location. And he appeared in several court proceedings at the Old Bailey. In one he was the victim of theft. In the other proceeding in 1800, he and his son William Thomas Rainbow were accused of receiving a large quantity of stolen silk, valued at over 480 pounds (in 1800-era pounds).

Here is an excerpt. The full transcript is here.

Q. Did you go, and when was it, to the house of the Rainbows? – A. It was on Monday morning the 14th of July, about ten o’clock; I found Tipper and both the Mr. Rainbows together; immediately that I entered, old Mr. Rainbow asked me how I did, and acknowledged he had bought the silk; I asked him who he had bought it of; he said he had bought it of a man of the name of Burdett; but that he had not yet got the silk; he said that Burdett had asked him two hundred pounds for it; he said his reply was, that he had not the money by him, but he would procure it; and that he had borrowed two hundred pounds, by which he had paid for the silk; the officers interrogated him very much to let them know where the silk was; after much interrogation, he said it was at his son’s house; his son was by at the time; and immediately that he had made that reply, the officers desired young Mr. Rainbow to walk out with them; while the officers were gone out with young Mr. Rainbow, I asked old Mr. Rainbow who this Burdett was; he told me he knew but little of him, that he had seen him two or three times before…

Edward was convicted, while his son William Thomas was deemed innocent because he was following his father’s instructions. The actual thieves were condemned to execution, and Edward was given 14 years of transportation. In 1801, he was pardoned. He later moved to Chelsea, where his sons, Edward and William Thomas, also lived. He died there in 1828.

There is a connection between Edward Rainbow and the parish of to St Garlickhythe. Several of his children were baptized there, and several descendants are buried there.

For more family information, see the Family tab on this site.



Filed under Memoirs

2 responses to “Edward Rainbow – silk dyer and receiver of stolen goods

  1. I’d love to know the reason for the pardon. If the silk was worth £480 and he bought it for £200, as a man in the trade he must have known it was wildly underpriced.

  2. Kate Stout

    During the defence portion he claims that he thought the goods were smuggled (and hence no duty paid). A sort of mediocre defence, but my guess is that the penalties were lesser than if he were convicted of receiving stolen goods.

    Back in the day the trades groups were very strong – he may have had a friend in the Dyers Guild who was able to influence a judge, or perhaps some money changed hands. He was about 55 at the time, so perhaps some sort of plea was made that he was too old to be transported (presumably to Australia).