PEOPLE IN PORTSMOUTH

 

ANDREW AND JOHN LINDEGREN

Andrew Lindegren senior was an iron-ore merchant from Sweden. He probably lived in St. Mary Street whilst his son, Andrew Jnr. may have lived in Bath Square. The senior Lindegren died in September 1783 which was the same year that his son went bankrupt. It is not known whether the death of his father contributed in any way to this financial state but somehow Andrew Jnr. managed to hold on to his possessions and develop as an able, successful and well-known local merchant who had a remarkable range of business interests and activities.
 
Only two years after his bankruptcy hearing he had accumulated enough wealth to buy a large house at No. 7 High Street which was added to a portfolio of properties including buildings at Horn Court, a store in Oyster Street, a house in St. Thomas's Street and a wharf, store and house in Broad Street (see The Last House in Portsmouth) which was his business headquarters.
 
His financial interests were not restricted to business arrangements as, for a while, he was a Prize Agent for the Navy during a time of considerable naval unrest, having to deal with complaints about conditions and pay, notably in connection with the crew of the "Alecto". He also, in 1785, became the Agent in Portsmouth for the Honourable East India Company, and, according to records, he worked diligently and was awarded a gratuity of 400, in recognition of his efficiency, which had increased the business of the Company. This post was to be held by the family until it was relinquished by his son, John, in 1844.
 
Mr. Lindegren, in his position as agent, was one of the first in the town to realise that war with France was imminent. He had received an order, by express, instructing him to stop six outward bound East Indiamen from sailing down the Channel into danger. By the time he had received the message they had already passed; so he dispatched swift vessels to attempt to overtake them and order their return to port. War was soon afterwards declared. Because of his Swedish background he was appointed Vice-Consul for Sweden, and later for the other Scandinavian countries, which must have made his office quite a cosmopolitan place.
 
Andrew was also a merchant in the true sense of the word, as he would buy and sell anything which would make a profit, mainly nautical goods. In the early "Hampshire Telegraph" newspapers there are a number of advertisements about goods which were to be auctioned, no doubt with glass in hand, at the Star and Garter Tavern which was conveniently sited next door to his office. He would profit from the misfortunes of others. The hull, rigging, sails and masts of the Danish ship "Der Mohr", which had been wrecked near the Isle of Wight, with some of her cargo of damaged cochineal and bales of cotton, could be viewed by applying at Mr. Lindegren's office. Obviously the cochineal had not sold well, as it was advertised again a week later.
 
By the following month he was selling damaged hemp, flax, hemp seed and canvas from the "Malvina" which had been scuttled and in January, 1800, he had the cargo of the brig, "Margarette", which had been captured on her voyage from Greenock to Savannah, in Georgia, on offer to the public. It included wine, peas, barrels of beef and pork, oatmeal, 8 muslin handkerchiefs, aprons, etc. Even the Honourable East India Company's ship the "Henry Addington" was not immune to troubles, being lost on Bembridge Ledge, and the haul from her included guns, grapnels, shot, Swedish iron, muskets, cutlasses and sundry other ships' stores.
 
Lindegren must have owned property outside the Town walls on Portsea Island, as a plot of his land was taken by the Crown for building the extension to the Royal Dockyard, and, at the Sessions held at Portsmouth in October 1814, he was awarded 500 in compensation.
 
In 1796 he was named as a Subscriber to the Portsmouth and Portsea Fishery, and here his investment would have made a loss, as the venture, which started as a desire of well-meaning gentlemen and merchants to aid the fishing industry, was doomed to failure. He probably handed over part of his business interests to his son John, as in 1823 he is mentioned in a trade directory simply as Swedish vice-consul, whereas John's entry is as a merchant. It is likely that he went to live abroad as the Hampshire Telegraph reported on July 7th. 1827: "Died on the 2nd. inst. at Montevilliers, in France, Andrew Lindegren, Esq. aged 74 years."
 
John Lindegren appears to have been another dynamic personality, being involved in many local social problems and business ventures of his time. During his early years he lived at Widley, but it is likely that he also resided in the family home in High Street, as he continued to pay the rates there for at least another six years after his father's death.
 
Apart from being Commanding Officer of the Portsdown Volunteers, until they disbanded in 1829, he had numerous interests. He took on his father's lucrative post as agent to the East India Company, and, there is mention in a trade directory, of the influential position of agent to Lloyds, as well as a general shipping agent. He continued as vice-consul to Sweden, but also included the countries of Denmark, Norway and the Brazils.
 
John Linegren was a subscriber to the new navigable canal from the River Arun, through Chichester Harbour to Portsmouth, which received the Royal Assent in 1817, was director of the Portsmouth and Portsea Bank for Savings and was involved in bringing the railway to Portsmouth.
 
In 1839 John became a Subscriber and active Director of the Floating Bridge Company and once the Bridge was in operation the Directors took it in turns to be responsible for its day-to-day running, and as John had his business so near, he was frequently in charge. The introduction of the Floating Bridge radically affected the premises at the end of Point and even though the lving quarters were re-built in a new modern style he remained there only two more years before selling out to Andrew Nance. John retained an interest in the area by renting a store house belonging to John Knott, on the other side of the road, beyond Tower Street, so that he had an office from which to continue, then conclude, his business.
 
By the time of the 1841 Census he was the tenant of a house in Wish Lane (later Elm Grove) which was one of the most fashionable parts of Southsea. He was at that time sixty years old, whilst his wife, Mary Ann, was twenty years his junior. They had a young family of a daughter, Mary aged sixteen, and two sons, Charles and William, aged fifteen and ten and kept a staff of three female servants. John was plainly moving away from business matters in Portsmouth at this stage as in April 1844 he relinquished the profitable post of Agent to the East India Company and was appointed British Consul at Porto Rico, after which little is heard of him until 1855 when he died at St. John's, Porto Rico, aged 74 years.
 
Abridged extract from "The House On The Point" by Cynthia Sherwood