Joseph Spiers of Glasgow was born about 1700 and married Elizabeth (surname not known) before 1743. They had a son, David, who was born in Glasgow c1743. He firstly married Esther Nash of Milton next Gravesend in 1764 at Gravesend, Kent and they had four sons, Thomas born 1766 in London, James was born in 1768 in London, George was born 1772 probably in London and David born 1773. There is another James, born to a David Spiers and Esther, he was buried in May 1767, aged 19 yrs, at the The Royal Hospital Chelsea (the Chelsea Pensioners hospital), London, but in view of dates they may be different parents. David married again, this time to Margaret Hardy from Sunderland, Co.Durham, the marriage in 1792 was in Ostende, Belgium.They had a son, David Joseph and six more children. Of the children from the first marriage, Thomas was a tobacco merchant and left Glasgow to live in Calais, France. He married Maria Haine in London in 1789. George married Sarah Hogg in London in 1801. Thomas and Maria Haine had three sons George, Thomas, Felix T.B.A and two daughters.

Thomas and Maria's son, Felix Theodore Benjamin Augustus Spiers was born in Calais, France, but lived in London and married Mary Ann Roberts, in 1830. He married her in Calais and again in London the following day. He traded as a ship broker as Redhead and Spiers of Tower Hill, London. He secondly married Adrienne Genevieve Olympe Andelle in London in 1835. His son by Mary Ann Roberts was Felix William Spiers who was born in London in c1832. In 1851 Felix sailed to Australia to join the gold rush. There he met a 25 year old Englishman from Essex, Christopher Pond, son of John Pond, a Customs Officer, and together they rented a room at the National Hotel in Melbourne renaming it, The Shakespeare Grill Room, to cater for the gold miners. Spiers was the accountant and Pond the charming mine-host. Their partnership was very successful and they then bought the Cafe de Paris in Melbourne. In 1861 they brought over to Australia the first All-England cricket team, who sailed on I.K Brunel's steamship, SS Great Britain, from Liverpool. This was the first commercial sponsorship of cricket. Mementos are in the museum of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) at Lord's Cricket Ground in London. They also organised the first balloon flight in Australia. The cricket connection is well recorded in various contemporary Australian and English newspapers.

When the partners returned to London they noticed as a consequence of their catering experience in Australia, that catering arrangements for railway passengers was very poor, Charles Dickens, whom they had tried to bring over to Australia to lecture, comments on it in his novel Mugby Junction. They obtained extensive contracts from the authorities to have restaurants and cafes at railway stations to supply food to passengers. They also built the Criterion Restaurant and Theatre in Piccadilly Circus, London, in 1874, managed by Charles Wyndham. Its bar was a famous meeting place and is associated with the mythical Sherlock Holmes. Next came the Gaiety Theatre Restaurant at Aldwych in The Strand, London in 1894. Dickens had an office there where he produced his magazine Household Words. They also catered at the Regents Park Zoo and the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. In early 1879 their Westminster Supply Association of New Bridge Street, London and Deane Street, Liverpool started producing an 80 page monthly subscription mail order catalogue, The Housekeeper, which also provided articles of interest, recipes and hints to housewives. In 1881 Christopher Pond, who had married Emma in 1852, died and is buried at Lambeth; one of their children whom they named Felix, is buried at Ramsgate. Felix Spiers took sole charge of the company.

The company owned 12 major hotels, including the Grand Hotel at Brighton. In 1957 the company acquired Chicken Inns. In 1960 the company was amalgamated with the Express Dairy Co. In 1969 it in turn was acquired by Grand Metropolitan Hotels. Felix married twice, firstly to Antoinette Emily Langton in Australia. Between 1855 and 1859 they had children, Felix Theodore (died after 1879), Marie Ann Leonie (died c1858) and Frank (died c1859), all born in Australia. His second marriage, at the age of 74 in London, was to Constance Albertine Fontaine, by whom he had no children. Felix William Spiers died in Paris in 1911 at the age of 79.

The author is grateful to Daniel Spiers, a descendant, for help in compiling the early part of the family tree, some of which is still to be more fully researched, especially the Glasgow beginnings and more facts about the early London family. The author was born in Liverpool, his early family were from London.

Author - Ron Spiers, England, September 2002