29 Sep: The Inquiry Office

Henry Robinson opened the Office of Addresses and Encounters on Threadneedle Street, London on 29th September, 1650. The centre provided a forward-looking, unusual mix of services ranging from job placements, money lending, and property dealings… to (shhh) match-making.

Robinson’s inspiration came from a broader philosophical concept of creating a place where people of all classes could access information, regardless of their status in society. He accordingly charged a minimal fee for answers to queries, and offered an array of services, from buying and selling land to language tuition and finding ‘travel companions’. 

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explore why euphemistic wording was so often used in these very first ‘classifieds’; reveal the first documented example of a ‘Lonely Hearts’ advertisement; and consider what Robinson’s upselling model had in common with Costco…

Further Reading:

• ‘Heretic, Rebel, a Thing to Flout: They Found Answers at the Office of Addresses and Encounters’ (Patrick Murfin, 2016): https://patrickmurfin.blogspot.com/2016/09/they-found-answers-at-office-of.html

• ‘The Secret History of Domesticity – Public, Private, and the Division of Knowledge –

By Michael McKeon’ (John Hopkins University Press, 2006): https://www.google.co.uk/books/edition/The_Secret_History_of_Domesticity/8VrwIKiAefkC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=henry+robinson+office+of+encounters&pg=PA28&printsec=frontcover

• ‘HISTORY OF IDEAS – Dating’ (The School of Life, 2018):

#1600s #UK #Romantic #Business