Common in London in 1710. First used in Edinburgh by Dr. Spens. First used in Glasgow in 1780. Mentioned by Drayton in his Muscs Elizium (1630); but Drayton evidently refers to a sort of fan. Quarles's Emblems (1635) also uses the word to signify the Deity hidden in the manhood of Christ. “Nature is made th' umbrella of the Deity” (bk. iv. emblem 14). Drayton's lines are:
And like umbrellas, with their feathers, Shield you in all sorts of weathers.
The Graphic tells us, “An umbrella is now being made in London for an African potentate which, when unfurled, will cover a space sufficient for twelve persons. The stick is ... fifteen feet long.” - March 18th, 1894, p. 270.
“The young gentlemen belonging to the Custom House ... borrowed the umbrella from Wilk's coffee-house.”
So that umbrellas were kept on hire at that date.
Jonas Hanway (born 1712) used an umbrella in London to keep off the rain, and created a disturbance among the sedan porters and public coachmen. So that probably umbrellas were not commonly used in the streets at the time.
The tucked-up semstress walks with hasty strides, While streams ran down her oiled umbrella's sides.
Or underneath thè umbrella's oily shed Safe thro' the wet on clinking pattens tread.
as, under Gladstone's umbrella, means dominion, regimen, influence. The allusion is to the umbrella which, as an emblem of sovereignty, is carried over the Sultan of Morocco. In Travels of Ali Bey (Penny Magazine, December, 1835, vol. iv. 480), we are told, “The retinue of the sultan was composed of a troop of from fifteen to twenty men on horseback. About 100 steps behind them came the sultan, mounted on a mule, with an officer bearing his umbrella, who rode beside him on a mule. ... Nobody but the sultan himself [not even] his sons and brothers, dares to make use of it.”
“As a direct competitor for the throne- or, strictly speaking, for the shereeflan umbrella- he [Muley Abbas] could scarcely hope to escape.” —Nineteenth Century, August, 1892, p. 314.
In 1874 the sacred umbrella of King Koffee Kalcalli, of the Ashantees, was captured. It was placed in the South Kensington Museum.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894