In 1750, Jean Louis Bazalgette was born in the village of Ispagnac, Lozere, France, close to the famous Gorge du Tarn, into a family which had been tailors for several generations.  It was a generally poor village with a small and stifling petit bourgeoisie.   It is not surprising, being a younger son, that he would at the age of 18-20 wish to leave the village and seek his fortune elsewhere.  It seems most likely that he went to Lyon, the silk capital of France, and learned the silk trade, probably then graduating to Paris.  What is clear that he became a silk merchant and a very talented tailor, because we next see him arriving in London in 1775, and within a few years setting up shop at 18, South Molton Street.  He married Catherine, daughter of the haberdasher Philipe Metivier, of 29, New Bond Street.  By about 1780 he was tailor to George, Prince of Wales, whom according to Louis he served for 32 years.  How he came to the Prince’s notice is reserved for another blog!

He worked extremely hard, and appears to have made a great number of the Prince’s clothes,supplying dress suits, waistcoats, frocks, breeches, uniforms and even drawers, the quantity reducing as the turn of the century approached.  This was partly because Louis, having become very prosperous and also growing older, was pursuing other business activities, but also perhaps because of a change took place in gentlemen’s fashions, headed by such as George Brummell, meaning that the French style of dress was being replaced by a more sober ‘English’ style.

Louis continued to prosper, buying several fine London and country houses and ending his days in 1830 at Eastwick Park, Great Bookham, where he was also lord of the manor.  This is a true ‘Rags to Riches’ story, (no apologies for the pun), and in these blogs I plan to show intimate details of his dealings with the Prince, as well as the other interesting people with whom he came into contact.  I hope that readers will see this as a new thread in the social history of this period.

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