PORRI & SON
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A more detailed biography can be found under Biographies/Baldisaro
Baldisaro Porri was born in Appiano,
Italy in 1803 and in 1817, at the age of 14, he was sent to England to learn
a trade with Mr Nava in London. He was badly treated and practically
abandoned so he decided to return to Appiano by walking and hitchhiking across
Apparently his parents did not recognise him on his return, as he was
A new apprenticeship was arranged with a Mr. Alfieri in Halifax,
at a cost of 250 lire, and Baldisaro returned to England in 1819. Baldisaro
was trained as a jeweller, silversmith and to make barometers and he would
travel on business to various locations including Skipton. After his
apprenticeship was completed Baldisaro opened a small shop on Market Street
in Skipton trading as a jeweller and optician.
During the next few years Baldisaro would also have travelled
as a packman to neighbouring markets, and according to Patrick Beaver in
'A Pedlar's Legacy', in 1830 he is recorded as trading from a stall in the
Market Place, Leeds, as an "Optician, Jeweller and Umbrella Manufacturer".
Porri is unlikely to have been an actual umbrella manufacturer but
would have been skilled at assembling complete umbrella's from bits and pieces
of old discarded ones and selling them for about two shillings. He would
have been known as a "mush
faker". (Mush meaning mushroom [umbrella] and faker meaning maker).
Also trading at the market in Leeds was a fellow Italian, Antonia Fattorini
and the Porri and Fattorini families became close later resulting in the
marriage of Baldisaro's daughter Mary Jane to Antonio's son Innocent.
By 1851 Baldisaro
had a shop in Sheep Street (which he lived above) and Charles Porri, Baldisaro's
only surviving son joined the business and it expanded to selling china and
earthenware. On the 1861 census Baldisaro describes himself as a glass,
china, chinaware and rag merchant.
In 1863 Baldisaro built four spacious houses and shops on
the corner of New Market Street leading into Caroline Square, and the
corner shop and house of the development were occupied by Innocent Fattorini
(Baldisaro's son-in-law) and his wife Mary Jane. The jewellery shop was
owned by the Fattorini family for the next 60 years and was known in the town
as Fattorini corner. Baldisaro's grandson, Charles Innocent Moorhouse trained
as a watchmaker and jeweller in 1900 at the shop. 'Porri & Son' occupied
one of the other shops in the development in 1868 as a second
Porri shop in
In 1864 Baldisaro also built a shop and dwelling house (the
picture at the top of the page) for himself at the corner of Swadford and Coach
Street and on the 1871 Baldisaro is shown as living there with various family
members. The shop was known as 'Porri's
Baldisaro was a skilled craftsman and his barometers are still working today
and the Moorhouse and Fattorini families own some.
Baldisaro Porri died in
1872 and his son Charles continued the business until his death in 1888.
His wife, Santina Porri then took over running the business but she died
in 1890 leaving her only child and son Baldisaro Porri (aged 17) to run the
business under the supervision of his uncles. Baldisaro went to live with
his aunt Mary Jane Fattorini but because she already had a son called Baldisaro
she split the name and called her son Baldi and her nephew Disaro!