The niece who married a Courtauld;Social history

23rd April 1999 at 01:00
Louisa Perina Ogier was a year old when her Huguenot father Pierre fled religious persecution in France in 1730 and arrived in Spitalfields. Many of his family were already settled there, including his younger brother Peter Abraham. In France the family had been lawyers and landowners; in England they became silk weavers.

Pierre and Peter Abraham were particularly successful: they lived in gracious merchants' houses like the one at 19 Princelet Street - where Peter Abraham moved in 1744. His brother's daughter Louisa (pictured left) would have regularly visited her cousins there from her nearby house in Spital Square.

Not all Huguenots were so successful: one Ogier brother, Andrew, died in a paupers' hospital, and records show that French ribbon and handkerchief makers regularly attended soup kitchens. Even Peter Abraham, as the silk trade declined, had to install high windows in his attic room and let it to his weavers.

But Louisa moved further up the social scale. She married a Courtauld - soon to become great textile manufacturers - and when her husband, Samuel, died in 1765 she took over his trade as silversmith. She had four children, aged 12, four, three and 19 months. She continued to run the business for 15 years, and died in 1807.

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