Charles Henry Harrod , (1799–1885), tea dealer and grocer, was born on 16 April 1799, at Lexden, Essex, the son
of William Harrod and his wife, Thamar, but little else is known about his early life. However, as he became a grocer and tea merchant, it can be presumed he had at least a rudimentary
By 1834 Charles Henry Harrod, had a business at 4 Cable Street, Whitechapel. The East India Company had just lost its monopoly on the control of tea pricing and individual grocers were able to move into this lucrative trade. Harrod Charles Henry opened new wholesale premises at 38 Eastcheap in 1849, the same year he is thought to have become involved in a small retail grocery shop at 8 Middle Queen's Buildings, Knightsbridge. He ran this one-room shop in conjunction with his city business. He retired from the shop in 1864, having sold it to his son Charles Digby Harrod in 1861. He ran another grocery at 40 Old Compton Street from 1866, which another son, Henry Digby Harrod, took over.
Harrod married Elizabeth Digby (1810–1860), daughter of a pork butcher from Birch, Essex, in 1830. They had four sons, the youngest of whom died in infancy, and a daughter, who died of measles, aged four. Harrod subsequently moved his family into the house behind the little shop at 8 Middle Queen's Buildings in 1853, as conditions there were better for the children than the City. Scrupulously fair with his sons, Harrod gave each equal help during his life, and equal shares in his estate on death. The Harrods were a close-knit family and when Elizabeth died in 1860, a niece from Birch helped Harrod with the household. After he retired another member of his wife's family cared for him. Harrod died of old age on 3 March 1885 at 2 Oxford Terrace, Wellesley Road, Chiswick, Middlesex, and was buried at Brompton cemetery.
His son, Henry Digby Harrod, later wrote that ‘I should like my Father's name … honoured before all other things as he was the person … the principal factor in the making of success, for without his Father's help my brother could have done nothing’ (H. D. Harrod to W. Kibble, Harrods archives). Harrod's hard work laid the groundwork for Charles Digby Harrod to build a world-renowned grocery and department store business.
T. Dale, A palace in Knightsbridge (1995) · private information (2004) · A. Turton and M. Moss, A legend in retailing: the House of Fraser (1989) · post office and trade directories, 1830–1915, Guildhall Library and Metropolitan archives · G. Frankau, research notes and draft of an unpubd book on the history of Harrods, 1944, Harrods Ltd, London · letter, Harrods, London, Henry Digby Harrod to William Kibble · d. cert. · CGPLA Eng. & Wales (1885)
Harrods Ltd, London