Peter Duthoit Senior 1693-1764 and Peter Duthoit Junior 1719-1777
3 Wilkes Street (formally Wood Street)
The Du Thoits were a silk weaving family originating from near Lille, some of whom in the middle 16th century settled in Canterbury and set up as weavers whilst others made their way to Brick Lane and Wood Street (now Wilkes St) in Spitalfields.
Peter Du Thoit senior was baptised in the hospital chapel of the French Protestant Church, Threadneedle Street in 1693. His parents were Jaques Duthoit and Elizabeth Boubay who had both been born in Canterbury, but later moved to London. Peter followed in the family business of silk weaving and became a member of the City Livery Weaver’s Company from 1716. He had a business in Brick Lane but later moved to No 3 Wood Street – a more highly-rated location.
In 1715 Peter senior married Jane Messman, the daughter of another wealthy weaver who had helped bring the manufacture of the fashionable ‘lustring’ and ‘alamode’ silk fabrics to England. ‘Lustring silk’, now probably better known as ‘shot silk’ was a glossy fabric and ‘alamode’ silk was a thin, looser-weave fabric and usually black. It was used mainly for mourning shawls and scarves, and for the linings of expensive garments. Neither of these ‘black silks’ had been made in England before as the method was a well-kept secret and up to this time the fabric had been imported from France.
Peter and Jane went on to have numerous children. Their eldest son (also called Peter) was born in 1719. After an education at the Merchant Taylors School Peter junior went into partnership with his father and is noted in 1763 as a ‘weaver of black silk’ so he obviously had continued this side of the business. Peter junior married Mary Hawkins and they had three daughters. He retired back to Canterbury and died in 1777 where he is buried at St Dunstan’s Church in Canterbury. The Duthoit family remained in the weaving business until the late 19th century.
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