Thursday, 15 July 2010

Napoleon Surrenders and is sent Snuff

On this day 1815, Napoleon I surrendered to Captain Maitland onboard HMS Bellerophon (coincidentally mythical Bellerophon, riding Pegasus, slew the monster Chimera), and was taken, in great secrecy, to Plymouth. Of course, word broke out that 'Boney' was there and crowds of sightseers appeared in boats but were not allowed to approach. Ironically, Napoleon wished to be given political asylum in Britain and, although this was never a serious possibility, the British government took nearly a month to decide what to do with him. On 7th August, he was transferred to HMS Northumberland, which took him to St Helena. The records of Fribourg & Treyer, snuff chandlers (est 1720), at the top of Haymarket until around 1982, 'at the sign of the rasp and crown', show that, besides supplying George IV (from the time that he was Prince Regent) and Beau Brummell, they also sent their Robillard blend of coarse ('rappee') snuff to Napoleon in exile. He was reputed to have used this at the rate of seven pounds (in weight) a month.

A 'rasp', as mentioned in the old shop shingle, was a file for shaving tobacco plugs (called 'carottes') to procure the snuff powder. The shop is still there, a splendid architectural survival (although now a tourist shop). Thankfully, their snuff is still made, according to the original receipts, and still sold under the Fribourg & Treyer name, by Wilsons of Sharrow. (who also make their own great range).


  1. Thanks for once again providing us fascinating information. HGB