Tailors and Family History

A plethora of tailors and dressmakers in our own family trees made us stop and think about the role of the tailor in the community and how they went about their everyday work and we will get to that but first

Many in our families were tailors in Hampshire between Portsmouth and Hambledon.

    • It just so happens that the history of one of London’s most famous tailors, ‘Gieves’ had their beginnings in Portsmouth.
    • The Story begins with ‘Old Mel’ Melchisedek Meredith’ who owned a tailors shop in Portsmouth.
    • Portsmouth was a vibrant port and Old Mel tailored for naval clientele and became one of the cities most skilled uniform makers.
    • Meredith made many historical uniforms including that of Admiral Lord Nelson which he wore when killed in action aboard HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.
    • In 1841 Meredith died and the business was sold to one Joseph Galt
    • James Gieve joined as a partner in 1852.
    • When the Crimean War began the pair sail to provide uniforms to the officers stationed abroad.
    • Galt and Gieve equipped supply ships & serviced troops during the war.
    • James Gieve bought out Galt in 1887 to establish Gieves & Co which became a family business

In 1900, at a time where 52% of the worlds shipping was controlled by Britain, Gieves became tailor by appointment to the Royal Navy.

The merger of the ‘Hawkes’ company did not happen until 1974 and that is another post….

Intriguing Connections

    • Many private businesses hold archives and some are kind enough to allow access and offer help if you contact them and make an appointment, find out more about the ‘Gieves and Hawkes’  archive follow the link
    • Find out more about tailors in our Business and Industry theme
    • Sign up to discover more historical connections to your family history


%d bloggers like this: