Charles Dibdin (1745-1814) was one of the most celebrated songwriters in Britain during his lifetime and for a few decades thereafter. The 18th son of a poor Southampton family, he received some musical training from a church organist and joined one of his older brothers in London at age 15. When he was 17, he was hired as a chorus singer at Covent Garden and began composing and performing in operettas. For several years he produced music for local theatres, including Drury Lane. While he had his financial ups and downs in his business ventures, he consistently toured and performed musical entertainments to great acclaim and success throughout the British Isles. He composed well over a 1,000 songs, which were popular throughout the English-speaking world, including North America. His nautical songs were especially beloved, such as “Tom Bowling,” which is still sung in England today. He also composed over 30 theatrical works and a few novels.
Robert Laurie (1755-1836) and James Whittle (1757-1818) were London map, chart and printsellers active from 1794 to 1812 trading variously as Laurie and Whittle or Whittle and Laurie. Laurie began his career as a fine mezzotint engraver and exhibited at the Society of Artists from 1770 to 1776. With Whittle, they took over the large map and print business of Robert Sayer. Laurie & Whittle published many atlases and maps and products used for jigsaw puzzles. Robert’s son, Richard Holmes Laurie, succeeded him upon his retirement in 1812, and after Whittle’s death in 1818 carried on the business alone until at least 1840. The firm still exists as Imray, Laurie, Norie and Wilson Ltd., which has long specialized in marine charts.
Fashioned after a famous 18th century inn and tavern in Edinburgh, Scotland, The White Horse Cellar Museum was a specially constructed room in the executive headquarters of Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, Inc. where gatherings and receptions were frequently held.
“Charles Dibdin.” The 1911 Edition Encyclopedia. http://40.1911encyclopedia.org/D/DI/DIBDIN_CHARLES.htm (29 July 2003).
“The Contemplator’s Short Biography of Charles Dibdin.” Folk Music of England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales & America. http://www.contemplator.com/history/dibdin.html (29 July 2003).