The Rosher family were major manufacturers in the cement industry, and advocates and sponsors of homeopathy in the 1850s.
With grateful thanks to The Rosher Family: from Gravesend to Hollywood, by Amanda Thomas, first printed in Issue 9 of The Clock Tower, the journal of the Friends of Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre. This work is copyrighted and does require permission before it is published elsewhere (see comment section below).
The Rosher family were friends of Charles Dickens,
Alfred Rosher senior – 1904, father of Henry Rosher, ?brother of George Rosher, Solicitor, educated at the University of London in 1850, was a sponsor of homeopathy and an Honorary Solicitor on the Management Committee of the London Homeopathic Hospital, who retired in 1885, Alfred Rosher lived at the Grange, Rosherville, Gravesend,
Alfred Rosher was a member of the Kent Archaeological Trust, and a co founder and patron of the Rochester Church in Rosherville,
Edward Rosher – 1885, son of Jeremiah Rosher, was a sponsor of homeopathy in 1870,
Frederick Rosher 1829 – , son of Henry Rosher, was a sponsor of homeopathy in 1870,
George Rosher 1832 – , son of Jeremiah Rosher, brother of Alfred Rosher Senior, was a British solicitor and a sponsor of homeopathy in 1882, he was a co founder and patron of the Rochester Church in Rosherville, and he died in 1885,
George married Mary Hindle, the daughter of the Rector of Higham, Joseph Hindle. Joseph Hindle was born in 1795 of a landed family in Great Harwood, Blackburn, Lancashire. Hindle was the occupant of Gad’s Hill House when Charles Dickens decided to buy it in 1856.
Whether this cemented their friendship, or if they had known each other previously, is not clear. However, Charles Dickens became a regular visitor to The Knowle, the house at Higham Hindle had built for himself, Mary and her husband George Rosher.
The current owners of the Knowle, Lyn and Michael Baragwanath, have been handed down stories about the Charles Dickens’ period. Staff always knew of the arrival of Charles Dickens’ carriage at The Knowle as they could hear the ringing of the bells around the necks of his horses.
Henry Rosher 1794 – 1879, son of Jeremiah Rosher, father of George Rosher and Alfred Rosher, was on the Board of Management, and a Trustee (1873) on the Management Committee of the London Homeopathic Hospital, and he lived at 11 Bedford Square, and retired in 1875, and died in 1879,
Their son, Percy White Rosher (born circa 1861, St Pancras, London) married Mary Burns in 1891. This branch of the Rosher family lived in the St Pancras area of London for over half a century, but Percy and Mary’s second son, Charles Rosher (born 1885, St Pancras, London), finally broke the trend.
Charles Rosher studied photography in London and became one of Fleet Street’s first newsreel cameramen.
Then, in 1909, he moved to America, bought his first movie camera and found a job at the studios of the Horsley Brothers. David Horsley moved his studios out to California in 1911 and thus Charles Rosher became one of the first cameramen in Hollywood, and a firm favourite of the silent film star Mary Pickford.
Charles Rosher won Academy Awards for his work as cinematographer on Sunrise (1927) and The Yearling (1946). He also received eight Oscar nominations, two Eastman medals, a Gold Medal from Photoplay magazine, and the only fellowship award ever given by the Society of Motion Picture Engineers.
Charles Rosher married twice, first to Lolita Hayes and then to Doris Guazoni. His daughter, Dorothy Rosher (Nancy Anne Rosher), by Lolita, also went into the motion picture industry and is better known by the name of Joan Marsh.
Her first role, at nine months old was in Hearts Aflame. Later she played alongside stars such as Greta Garbo and Loretta Young, but she is perhaps best known in the role as a magician’s assistant in the Bing Crosby and Bob Hope classic, The Road to Zanzibar.
Jeremiah Rosher was also responsible for the development of the entire area of Gravesend known as Rosherville, which even had its own station and stationmaster’s house. According to Adrian C. Whittaker, the railway was part of the London, Chatham and Dover line built in 1888 and ran from Longfield to Gravesend West station via Southfleet and Rosherville.
Jeremiah Rosher died in 1848, and his estate was divided amongst his children. Jeremiah Burch Rosher, his eldest son (born 1792, Rotherhithe), inherited Trewyn, where he lived until his death in November 1874. Henry (born 1794, Rotherhithe), George (born 1804, Rotherhithe, who married Mary Rachel Brenchley) and Edward (born 1807, Rotherhithe) continued the lime and cement business in the Limehouse area of London, where Jeremiah had acquired a considerable amount of land on which he had also built housing.
Charles (born 1796, Rotherhithe) married into the Rickards family and remained at Crete House, William (born 1804, Rotherhithe) also remained in Northfleet and practised as a solicitor.
Charles Rosher, A.S.C. 1885 – 1974, grandson of Henry Rosher, was a two time Academy Award-winning cinematographer who worked from the early days of silent films through the 1950s. Born in London, he was the first cinematographer to receive an Academy Award, along with 1929 co-winner Karl Struss.
In 1889, Henry Rosher and Edward Rosher sold the land in Gravesend where they had worked a lime and chalk works since the early nineteenth century,
Rosherville was a pleasure garden in Kent was opened in 1839 by George Jones (a business man from Islington in north London) on the site of a disused chalk pit in Northfleet,
Despite his shrewd business instinct, Jeremiah Rosher clearly had a philanthropic side to his nature, as in 1839, he sold a disused chalk pit in Gravesend to a George Jones of Islington, who turned the area into a pleasure ground known as the Rosherville Gardens….
John Brenchley and Mary Harman, who lived at Wombwell Hall near Gravesend in the early 1800s. John Brenchley was a banker and distiller in Gravesend, probably running branches of the same businesses in Maidstone owned by his father, John Brenchley, the elder, and set up by other earlier members of the Brenchley family and their business partners, which also included the Bishop family.
The distillery in Maidstone produced an inexpensive variety of gin, known as Maidstone Geneva, and worked successfully side by side with the bank for many years until the driving force behind them, George Bishop, died in 1793.
The management skills of George’s heir, Argles Bishop, were not so successful, the distillery ran into problems and went bankrupt, and by 1814 his bank also had to close. It is unclear whether this 1814 incident was related to the bankruptcy case in 1826 concerning John Brenchley, the elder, of Maidstone and his son, John Brenchley, the younger, of Wombwell Hall, Gravesend.
Nevertheless, this shift in fortunes appears to have been temporary and did not seem to affect the Brenchleys’ relationship with the Roshers. By 1861, John and Mary Brenchley had died, and Mary Rachel’s brother, Thomas Harman Brenchley (born 1822, Milton), had married Emily Sarah Vaughan in Cardiganshire, Wales.
It is possible that the move to Wales may have been prompted by the Roshers who also had Welsh connections, though some distance away in Monmouthshire.
Jeremiah Rosher senior may have been born in Suffolk, and he likely moved to Trewyn, Monmouthshire, in the early to mid 1700s; more work needs to be done to establish this possible link to Mary Patterson’s line. He may even have married Sarah Stanton in Suffolk, but their son, Jeremiah, was born in Trewyn in 1765.
Sarah died between 1765 and 1774, and Jeremiah senior then shrewdly married Elizabeth Eysham, or Evesham, widow of William Shaw. Elizabeth had inherited from her grandfather James Eysham a mansion at Trewyn (according to Kelly’s Directory for Monmouthshire, 1901, built in 1695) and a considerable amount of land.
The younger Jeremiah Rosher inherited his father’s keen business sense. In 1791, he married Sarah Susannah Burch of Gravesend, daughter of the successful lime merchant, Benjamin Burch, and by his late twenties, Jeremiah had moved from Trewyn and established himself in London as a lime, coal and timber merchant.
In partnership with his wife’s sister, Mary Burch (heiress to Benjamin’s fortune), Jeremiah’s business empire stretched from Rotherhithe to Poplar in London’s docklands.
Here not only did he trade in lime but he also excavated the commodity, the main ingredient for mortar, concrete, plaster, renders and wash, and essential for the building of a newly industrialised London.
According to the British History Online, in 1801 and 1804 Jeremiah bought around three acres in Poplar in the area known as the St Vincent Estate and the east side of the Westferry Road. He also acquired a building in Limehouse where a lime kiln was situated to process the freshly mined material.
Jeremiah Rosher 1765 – 1848
Much of the area later occupied by the St Vincent Estate and the land on the east side of Westferry Road south of the Docklands Light Railway viaduct was first developed in the early nineteenth century by Jeremiah Rosher, a lime and timber merchant.
In 1801 and 1804 Rosher acquired about three acres in Poplar, together with property in Limehouse that included the lime kiln near the head of Limekiln Dock, from which he had previously been carrying on business in partnership with Mary Burch.
Rosher owned chalk pits near Gravesend, one of which was made into a pleasure ground in 1839, and the area is still known as Rosherville. The three acres were a roughly triangular field, which had been part of the park of the Dusthill, a Limehouse mansion of the sixteenth century or earlier.
It lay north of James Mitchell’s ropewalk and south of the creek or common sewer that ran into Limekiln Dock, and was empty save for eight back to back cottages built just north of the ropewalk by William Syer in 1786.
Rosher had Park Street laid out c1809 to run from Limekiln Hill east into the ‘park’, with the cottages on its south side. They had been joined by other houses at the west end of the street by 1813.
The surveyor William Robert Laxton can probably be credited with the layout of the Rosher estate from 1811, when Regent Street (later Gill Street) was laid out. He was responsible for the houses on its east side.
Development of the south side of Park Street extended eastwards across the then parish boundary into Poplar with five more houses in 1817–18. Around that date the Royal Sovereign public house was built north east of the junction of Regent Street and Park Street.
Phoebe Street and Phoebe Court, east of Regent Street, were at least partially built in 1821–2. The east end of Park Street and Park Place, including the Steam Packet public house, were built up in the late 1820s.
Rosher died in 1848, and the estate was then divided among his three sons, Henry, Edward and George. George surrendered his interest in 1848. Edward died in 1885 and his half of the estate was sold in 1888. Later freeholders, who may have been relatives of the Roshers, included the Rev. John Fleming and members of the Milroy family.