Ernest William Thornton (Mercraed Series)


Rough sea at Seaford

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Proprietor of the Terminus Emporium, 23 Clinton Place, Seaford. According to John Robards (unpublished notes), Thornton owned a glass and china shop in the High Street before taking over the Terminus Emporium in 1912, where he sold stationery and other goods, including postcards. A later proprietor of the Terminus Emporium was Reginald Stewart.

Thornton sold large numbers of Valentine's cards, many of which were later stocked by Muddle's Library in South Street. In addition, he published numerous black and white collotype cards of Seaford and the Cuckmere valley that were printed for him by an unidentified British firm. The pictures have no borders. A few cards are labelled "Published by E. W. Thornton, Seaford", but most omit his name and address and are instead labelled "Mercraed Series". Mercraed was the name of a road in Seaford. The majority of the Mercraed cards have red captions, but black captioned cards are also known. Tester Bros. sold similar red-captioned cards, and may have obtained them from the same printing firm. The Mercraed Series was on sale by 1912.

The R. A. Publishing Co. of London printed some very inferior versions of the red and black captioned cards that had white captions and lacked the Mercraed label.

Thornton was born in London in 1874, and was the son of a consulting surgeon, John Knowsley Thornton, of Andley Street and later Park Street in London. His mother, Eleanor, had been born in Exeter. He was sent away to boarding school at the tender age of 6! In 1905 he married Alice Winifred Ashby, who had been born at Whitstable in Kent in about 1876. The marriage was registered at Reigate. The couple's first son, Eric John Knowsley Thornton, was born at Wivelsfield in 1906. They then moved to Seaford, where their second son, Ronald Arthur Knowsley Thornton, was born in 1910. According to the 1911 census, the Thorntons lived at 37 Sutton Road in Seaford. Kelly's 1915 Sussex Directory gives their address as "Shangani" in Sutton Park Road at Seaford.

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