Thomas’s rise to power and the advent of the Guano empire.
Thomas Wheelock Walford (mother’s maiden name) arrived into Lima, Peru circa 1834. He was around 21 years of age; he is better known as the founder of the Wheelock line in Latin America.
After Peru’s Independence (from Spain) the British merchants achieved to place themselves in key (strategic) places of Chile and Peru, in the big cities and in the main seaports from where the British Companies controlled the local and regional trade. It has been estimated that 10% of the British Empire export market reached this new burgeoning market. (1)
There were many Agencies and merchants of the companies of London, Liverpool and Hull such as Gibbs and Co., Read, Huth Gruning & Co. and Bates and Stokes Co. (3) In these booming economies of South America, Thomas arrived into Peru just after his twentieth birthday.
He was born in Market Drayton, hence the connection to Tayleurs House (See first Blog) Shropshire on the 13th of December 1813, the youngest of seven Children the son of Mr. Thomas Wheelock Sherratt and Mrs. Elizabeth Walford. He was baptized in the Independent Methodist Church. Thomas’ Wheelock Walford Family were merchants and farmers.
His father was the steward for the Earl of Lichfield and he was one of the innovators for modernizing of the English Agriculture and some of the modern machinery of the time can still be seen at Park Farm inside the grounds of Shugborough Hall (4)
It is noteworthy that also residing in Peru there were direct relatives to him, Jonathan Buckley from Liverpool who married his older sister Emma and whose daughter (his niece Emma) would have a profound influence in the years to come….. At one point he switches employments to Henry Reed & Co (In other documents known as Henry Read) a subsidiary and representatives of Tayleur House. He worked as Chief Clerk.
The Agency rented out Casa Osambela at the time the grandest house of Lima (three floors Painted Blue in the photo) build in 1793 (by Don Martín de Osambela y Osambela Descendant of one of the grand families of Navarra at the time of his death in 1825 at the Battle of Ayacucho and the last Royalist stand at the Real Felipe Fortress ending Spanish Empire Domination. he left a fortune of at least 1.5 Million pesos Fuertes = ($F) ….17 “Pesos Fuertes” = to one ounce of gold (27.06 grams) ). A fascinating history for another blog but one of the many myths of this gentleman is that he left Spain due to a dalliance with one of the Kings Daughters! (5)
After Martin Osambela’s death His family was financially ruined and had to find ways to ends meet. Due to the demands of the new republican government and the confiscation of properties. (5)
The house was therefore either sold or rented out to Henry Reed & Co while the Osambela live there, Thomas Wheelock settled in his new employment and there he met around 1836-37 Mariana Osambela a young widow (Her Husband passed away in 1834) and second Daughter of Martin Osambela. Thomas Wheelock married Mariana in 1839, Her full name: Mariana Osambela Ureta was 25 years old. Her mother was Mrs. Mariana Ureta y Bermudez, born in Lima belonged to a well to do family of second-generation Spanish (“criollos”) Despite the financial and political downfall for Martin’s family, Thomas’s marriage to Mariana Osambela Ureta placed him as a prominent family man in Lima’s Society. (6) (8)
Mariana had a daughter from her previous marriage Juana Rosa Riera-Osambela (changed her name to Wheelock after adoption and who survived into adulthood) who married a Scottish engineer by the name of Alexander Prentice from Greenock, Renfrew, Scotland and had 12 or 13 children. (7)
Thomas became a very shrewd businessman with investments in Market speculation and loans to the local markets (many of these loans made for infrastructure were consumed in war and redrawing boundaries). in the light and gas company of Lima and the Water works. By the mid 1840’s he became the head of the agency at the return of Henry Read back to England and that enable him to build British interests in the region and represent several agencies by the 1850’s. His real fortune would come when he decided to invest in Guano and the Rise of the British Informal Empire. (9)
NEXT Article: The Guano empire.
1.- “A New Economic History of Argentina” Cambridge Alan M. Taylor and Della Paolera Gerardo. University Press 2003
2.- British Trade with Latin America in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Victor Bulmer-Thomas
3.- Anglo Peruvian Commercial and financial relations. 1825-1865. William M. Matthew PHD. Thesis 1970
5.- “Don Martín de Osambela, comerciante navarro de los siglos XVIII/XIX, y su descendencia en el Perú” – Anuario de Estudios Americanos , Teodoro Hampe Martinez
6.- The Diary of Heinrich Witt, Volume 3
7.- The Diary of Heinrich Witt, Volume 4
8.- The Wheelock Family in Peru…during the XIX Century… Jaime Wheelock Roman
9.- “The Imperialism of Free Trade” Economic History Review John Gallagher and Ronald Robinson
New Series, Vol. 6, No. 1 (1953), pp. 1-15