William Debenham

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William Debenham (18 April 1794 – 24 September 1863) was the founder of Debenhams, one of the largest retailers in the United Kingdom.


Born in 1794 in Alpheton in Suffolk,[1] William Debenham joined Thomas Clark in a partnership to manage a draper's store at 44 Wigmore Street in London.[2]

The partners later expanded the business such that it had stores on both sides of Wigmore Street, one known as Debenham & Clark and the other known as Clark & Debenham.[2] When William Debenham Snr retired a new partnership was formed between his son, William Debenham Jnr, and Clement Freebody.[2] This business became Debenhams, one of the largest retailers in the United Kingdom.[2] William Debenham Snr died in 1863 at Kensal Rise in London.[1]


William married Caroline Freebody in 1820 and together they had six sons and four daughters.[1]


Further reading[edit]

  • Fine Silks and Oak Counters 1778 - 1978 by Maurice Corina, Published 1978, Hutchinson Benham ISBN 978-0-09-134910-3