Hardham, John (DNB00)
HARDHAM, JOHN (d. 1772), tobacconist and benefactor of Chichester, born at Chichester, was the son of a wholesale provision merchant there. He probably belonged to the old West Sussex family of Hardham. Hardham was taught the business of a lapidary or diamond-cutter. One account says that he began life as a servant. He came to London, and was a constant frequenter of Drury Lane Theatre, where he attracted the notice of Garrick, who made him 'numberer' (counter of the pit) and under-treasurer at Drury Lane. In 1765 his salary as numberer was 15s. a week (Notes and Queries, 6th ser. xi. 462). At one time Garrick was his security for 100l. At this period (or perhaps as early as 1744) Hardham had a small business as a tobacconist and snuff-merchant at the sign of the 'Red Lion' (now No. 106) in Fleet Street. Garrick, probably on more than one occasion, alluded when acting to Hardham's No. '37' snuff. The mixture is said to have become famous by this means, and Hardham's shop was thronged by fashionable people, and his fortune was made. Colton (Hypocrisy, 1812, p. 25) has the lines —
A name is all from Garrick's breath a puff
Of praise gave immortality to snuff;
Since which each connoisseur a transient heaven
Finds in each pinch of Hardham's Thirty-seven.
(cp. 'The Praise of Snuff-taking' in the European Magazine for 1807, quoted in Fairholt's 'Tobacco'). According to Fairholt (p. 281) the '37' was a mixture of Dutch and rappee. It was probably so named from the number of the shop-drawer which held it, though more mysterious derivations have been suggested (see Thornbury and Walford, Old and New London, p. 69). This was the snuff which Sir Joshua Reynolds took so profusely. Hardham, under the pseudonym of Abel Drugger (Brit. Mus. Cat.), wrote a worthless play in prose called 'The Fortune-Tellers, or the World Unmasked : a medley, London, n.d. He used to teach acting in the back-parlour of his shop. William Collins the poet (also a native of Chichester),. coming to London about 1744 with letters of recommendation to the bishop, is stated (Hay, Hist. of Chichester) to have been 'dissuaded from the clerical office by Mr. Hardham.' Hardham kept his shop till his death, which took place in September 1772. He had amassed, no doubt by careful saving and investing, about 20,000l. Of this, 15,000l. was at the time of his death invested in the Reduced Three per Cent. Bank Annuities. By his will, dated 6 Feb. 1772, he left the interest of his money to his housekeeper, Mary, wife of W. D. Binmore, and after her death to John Condell, boxkeeper at Covent Garden Theatre. After the expiration of these claims the principal was to go to Chichester, 'to ease the inhabitants' in their poors rate. A decree as to the will was made by Lord Bathurst on 27 July 1773. The bequest became available to Chichester in 1786. In 1811 the interest amounted to 586l. 15s. 1d. At present Hardham's trust, invested in a sum of 22,735l. 13s. 9d. Reduced Three per Cent. Consols, brings in sufficient to pay three ordinary rates (at 6d. or 5d. in the pound) in two years. These are locally known as 'dumb' rates. Houses outside the city walls (except those in the parish of St. Pancras, Chichester) and in the Cathedral Close are excluded from the benefit. In consequence of the bequest rents are now rather higher within than without the city walls. Hardham set apart 10l. for his own funeral, only 'vain fools,' he said, spending more. He left ten guineas to Garrick, some small legacies to Chichester friends, and five guineas each, to buy mourning, to his nieces, the four daughters of W. Drinkwater. Hardham was a benevolent man. He was 'often resorted to by his wealthy patrons as trustee for the payment of their bounties.' Sometimes, when the donor died, he himself continued the annuities. Hardham was married, and his wife died before him.
[Dallaway's Hist. of Western Division of Sussex, i. 205,206; Hay's Chichester; Horsfield's Hist, of Sussex, ii. 19; Thornbury and Walford's Old and New London, i. 69; Baker's Biog. Dram. i. 310, 311; Notes and Queries. 6th ser. xi. 328, 398, 462, xii. 184, 311; Crocker's Visitors' Guide to Chichester, ed. Hayden, 1874, p. 8; Walcott's Memorials of Chichester, p. 11; Hardham's will, printed by W. Andrews, Chichester, 1787; information kindly given by Mr. T. B. Wilmshurst, Mr. Eugene E. Street, and Mr. George Smith of Chichester, and by Mr. J. P. Murrough, a descendant of Hardham.]