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Posts Tagged ‘victorian’

Everyone seems to mention him in passing, without actually saying who he is. The magnificently-monikered Erasmus Bond was the “London businessman” who, on 28 May 1858, gave the world the gin and tonic when he patented his new tonic water. I should imagine in the immediate aftermath of the Indian Mutiny, the employees of John Company were grateful for a stiff G&T.

Strictly speaking, Erasmus only invented the tonic bit, but with the specific intention of its being mixed with gin. That’s a major gift to humankind in my book. But who was he? A reasonably determined Google session gives you plenty of links, but they only tell you what I already have here. There is nothing yet on Erasmus Bond in the DNB. Can anyone elaborate?

Update: 22 July 2011.

By way of displacement activity I have spent a little time today coaxing Mr Bond from the shadows. He was born in the City of London in 1808 and died aged 57 in Isleworth, Middx in 1866, where he had lived for just a short time (the 1861 Census has him in Paddington). So very much a Londoner.

He married firstly Hannah Vale in 1834 and they quickly had two sons, William and Erasmus Jr. Hannah died in 1836, probably in childbirth or related complications. The 1841 Census has him living (or possibly visiting) in the home of one Thomas Slee’s family with his sister-in-law Peace and the two young boys. This is interesting because Slee was a distillery agent, almost certainly from the Slee family of Southwark who married into and went into business with Joseph & John Vickers, well-known gin manufacturers during the Victorian era (both of the Vickers became Masters of the Worshipful Company of Distillers). So here we have a tangible link between gin and tonic. Lovely.

Bond went on to marry his above-mentioned sister-in-law Peace (herself a widow) and they had two children, Thomas and Peace. The 1851 Census lists him as being a soda manufacturer; 10 years later he is cited as a tonic maker employing 12 men and four boys.

The Probate Calendar for 1866 calls him a Mineral Water Manufacturer with an estate of around £4,000. Not too bad.

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