was born in Shepton
Mallet, Somerset, England into a
Jewish family and became an orphan at the age of eight. He
was brought up by an aunt, Miss Ann Speed. Having served as an
apprentice to a local draper from the age of fourteen he moved to
London to become the youngest silk buyer in the capital, working in
Peter Robinson at
Circus by the time he was thirty.
John Lewis Stores
In 1864 John Lewis opened his own small drapery shop, ‘John Lewis
& Co.’ at 132 Oxford Street (later renumbered)- on part of the
same site as the present John Lewis department store. The business
flourished and expanded and was rebuilt in the 1880s to form an
all-encompassing department store.
tradition has it that John Lewis walked from Oxford Street to
Square with twenty £1000 notes in his pocket and bought
Jones. Sales at Peter Jones had been falling since
1902 and its new owner failed to reverse the trend. In 1914 he
handed control of the store to his son Spedan.
In 1884 John Lewis married Miss Eliza Baker and together they had
two children, John Spedan, born
1885 and Oswald, born 1887. John Lewis remained in full control of
his Oxford Street store until his death in 1928 at the age of