John Maple was born 1 March 1845 in 145 Tottenham Court Road, London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom to John Maple (1815-1900) and Emily Blundell (1819-1904) and died 24 November 1903 Childwickbury, St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England, United Kingdom of unspecified causes. He married Emily Harriet Merryweather (1856-) 15 October 1874 in Marylebone, Greater London, England, United Kingdom.

"Cheap fares". Caricature by Spy published in Vanity Fair in 1891.

Sir John Blundell Maple, 1st Baronet (1 March 1845 – 24 November 1903) was an English business magnate. He was educated at King's College London.


His father, John Maple, had a small furniture shop in Tottenham Court Road, London, and his business began to develop about the time that his son entered it around 1861.

John Junior soon took over the practical management of the company, and expanded it considerably. By 1886, catering for the affluent, the business had premises that were five storeys high and over 2000 people were employed by it. Products made their way to great hotels, embassies, and palaces, such as Tsar Nicholas's Winter Palace and Vienna's Hoffburg Imperial Palace.

The firm became a limited liability company with a capital of two million pounds in 1890, with John Junior as chairman. He was able to become the owner of the palatial Childwickbury Manor and was a close friend of the future King Edward VII.


Maple's wife was Emily Harriet Merryweather.[1] Her father, Moses, ran a successful firefighting appliance business in Clapham.


His will mentioned all three surviving sisters: Emily Taylor, Annie Colman, Clara Wharton (whose descendant David Wharton has a copy of the will).


Lena, wife of James Rowland Ward

Cousins mentioned in his will

Robert Charles Blundell, Charles Constable Blundell, Harry Blundell


He entered Parliament as Conservative member for Dulwich in 1887, serving until his death in 1903. He was knighted in 1892, and became a baronet in 1897.

Other interests

He was the developer of the Great Central Hotel at Marylebone station, which opened in 1899. Hence the caricature?

He was the owner of Childwick Bury Stud, a large Thoroughbred Horse breeding operation built on his Hertfordshire estate, Childwickbury Manor. Appearing at first under the names of "Mr. Hodges" and "Mr. Childwick," from 1885 onwards he won many important races including two of the British Classics.

His public benefactions included a hospital and a recreation ground to the city of St Albans, near which his residence, Childwickbury Manor, was situated, and the rebuilding, at a cost of more than £50,000, of University College Hospital, London. In parliament he safeguarded the interests of the shop assistants, and for twelve years was the president of the Voluntary Early Closing Association.


Sir John Maple left a fortune of £2,153,000 at his death in 1903.[2]

The Chicago Daily Tribune of 5 January 1904, quoted at, says:

Sir John was a typical English retail shop-keeper, possessed of all the virtues and the prejudices as well as the shortcomings of his class. He dropped his aspirates in the most terrific manner, entertained the most holy horror and distrust of everything foreign, and was much distressed when his only daughter, who was the apple of his eye, insisted upon marrying Baron Eckardstein, who will be remembered at Washington, where he spent some time, as a wonderfully good looking, stalwart man. Foreign nobility was of no account whatsoever in the eyes of Sir John, who, it is said, after receiving the honour of knighthood in recognition of his immense contributions to the campaign fund of his political party, put forward an extraordinary pretension to descent from Blondel, the troubadour who sought out King Richard Coeur de Lion from his Austrian prison, and helped to rescue him from his captivity.
It may be remembered that according to the legend Blondel visited every castle where he thought that the king may be incarcerated singing the favorite songs of the monarch, finally discovering it through Richard taking up his song and singing the second verse. It is stated that when Richard heard the song he exclaimed, "Blondel m'appel" (Blondel calls me), and Sir John insisted that the names "Blundel Maple" were merely a corruption of this exclamation of the king, which afterward became the motto of the family founded by the troubadour.

(In fact, the "Blundell" was Sir John's mother's maiden surname.)


Offspring of John Maple and Emily Harriet Merryweather (1856-)  ¢
Name Birth Death Joined with
Grace E. Blundell Maple (1876-1950) 1876 November 1950 Hermann von Eckardstein (1864-1933) C J Williams (c1856-1941) Elidor Ronald Campbell (1881-1957) Hermann von Eckardstein (1864-1933) C J Williams (c1856-1941) Elidor Ronald Campbell (1881-1957) William Ernest George Archibald Weigall (1874-1952)
Winifred Mary Blundell Maple (1878-1886)
Dorothy Blundell Maple (1882-1888)

Adult daughter

In 1896, his only surviving daughter, Grace, married Baron Hermann Johannis A E Von Eckardstein, who was First Secretary of the German Embassy in 1898 and later Ambassador to the Court of St. James.[3] They were divorced in proceedings that took from 1907 till 1909. In 1910 she married Captain Archibald Weigall.


Grace Emily Weigall suffered many miscarriages or phantom pregnancies, but bore a daughter, Kit (1899-1917), to her first husband and a daughter, Priscilla, to her second husband.[4]

Grace bore two "illegitimate" children also. Their births were not publicised in the 20th century.

The surviving legitimate granddaughter, Priscilla Weigall, was first wife, 1935-1941, of the 6th Earl Howe, by whom she had two daughters.[5]

Other descendants

One of Sir John's great-great-grandsons is actor Jake Weber.

Furniture epilogue

The Maples furniture business continued for many years, becoming very big, until it started having problems and was taken over in 1990 by Saxon Hawk; then it went bankrupt in 1997 and was taken over by the retailer Allders.

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Morgan Howard
Member of Parliament for Dulwich
Succeeded by
Frederick Rutherfoord Harris


Footnotes (including sources)

‡ General
Ω Birth
  • Born above the shop. It was then in St Pancras, Middlesex.
₪ Wedding
  • Married by Rev Ben Austin, Rector of Little Mongeham, Kent
¢ Children
"2. Winifred M Blundell Maple, b. June 23, 1878
"3. Dorothy Blundell Maple, b. December 19, 1882 "
  • Further down that page, we read "Grace and Winifred (died 1886) as above, plus Dorothy (born 1882, died 1888)". Later the page gives even more detail.

Robin Patterson


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ For the amount of Maple's fortune, See P. A. Howell, online version of 'Weigall, Sir William Ernest George Archibald (1874 - 1952)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, Melbourne University Press, 1990, p. 436. Retrieved 1 August 2009
  3. ^ Robert Jervis. Perception and misperception in international politics, p. 335 (online)
  4. ^ P. A. Howell, online version of 'Weigall, Sir William Ernest George Archibald (1874 - 1952)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, Melbourne University Press, 1990, p. 436. Retrieved 1 August 2009
  5. ^ Conqueror 60-65 Retrieved 1 August 2009.

External links


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