Michael Gutteridge’s father built square-rigged sailing ships on the Ouse but Michael was tall and lean and thought to be “consumptive” (tubercular) and was advised to move to a warmer climate. He got a job in Naples working for Messrs Shilton, a draper’s shop in Via Santa Brigida. However Mr Shilton, though a very kind man, was not apparently very business-like; in addition he had a nephew to whom he obviously intended to leave the business.
So Michael decided to open his own shop and declining the offer by Samuel Cooke, his father in law, of his cornmill he used the £6,000 of Ada, his wife's, dowry to open M. Gutteridge and Co. in 1878. Michael was a successful businessman and he soon opened a second shop (Piazza Dante) specialising in ready-made clothing (a novelty for Naples) and launched a flourishing catalogue which made his name known all over Southern Italy and the islands of Sicily and Sardinia. He introduced two great innovations in Neapolitan shopkeeping: Sunday closing (he was a firm attender at chapel and started a Young Men’s Christian Association) and fixed prices (the firm will never last, said his competitors).
When he retired in 1903 he had done so well that he was able to endow Wesley House. His son Harold became Professor of Comparative Law at Cambridge; his younger son Norman hated the business though he was very gifted in other ways – photographer, artist, and mountaineer (he went Alpine climbing with the future Pope Benedict IX). Michael died in 1935, aged 93.