Dictionary of London Immigrants |||

1565-1606 - Hart Street (City of London)

Glassmaker Jacob Verzellini was born in Venice in 1522 into a Jewish family. He moved to Vercelli (from where he took his name), located close to the glassmaking community of Altare. He left for Antwerp in the 1550s, married a Dutch woman, and established himself in the glass business. He arrived in London at some time between 1565 and 1570 as an assistant of Flemish-born John Carré [John Carre]. He set up as a glassmaker in 1572 at the House of the Crutched Friars in Hart Street. He secured a patent over cristallo’ manufacturing on condition that English workers were trained to continue production upon expiry.

For a decade at least all his employees appear to have been Venetian. With this new influx of workers, Hart Street became the most concentrated area of Italian immigrants in the city. Merchants, factors, and servants all lived and worked in close proximity to the glasshouse. Business flourished until the glasshouse burnt down in 1575. The Crutched Friars glasshouse was rebuilt, but the date when it restarted producing glass is not known. Verzellini also established glasshouse in Broad Street. A rich man, he retired in 1592 to his large estate in Downe, Kent. His sons were charged with continuing the business, but the proviso in the license that stipulated the training of native Englishmen came to fruition three years later. The diplomat Jerome Bowes was awarded the monopoly upon its expiration in 1595, but he was unable to sustain the business. By the end of the year, the Crutched Friars glasshouse closed its doors for good. Vezellini died in 1606.

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