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Lacemakers of Calais Inc.


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Hiram Longmire 1814 - 1880
The Longmire Story From South Australia

(Tulle 11, June 1985)

In his family history The family History of Hiram LONGMIRE 1814-1880 Adelaide 1972. Kingsley Ireland is able to trace the LONGMIRE family back to 1692 to the Lake District of Westmoreland. He follows the family down through the centuries until he reaches the central figures in his story William LONGMIRE and THOMASIN LANGWITH and son Hiram LONGMIRE. In following the earlier part of his story he mentions the names ENGLISH, HORNER, BRAITHWAITE and PAGE, folk who married into the LONGMIRE family between 1692 and 1774 in the northern countries of England. Kingsley brings to our notice that the name LONGMIRE means 'Dweller at the long marsh or bog' (Surnames of United Kingdom Henry Harrison. London 1912) and tells us that in the area of Windermere there are farms noted on Ordinance maps of Troutbeck called "Longmire" and "Law Longmire".

In the beginning of the story about Hiram other families marry into the LONGMIRE FAMILY in Nottingham, CARTER AND CLARKE are two names mentioned between about 1786 and 1830.

Hiram's parents Thomasin and William were living at Gramby St. Nottingham and William worked as a FWK (framework knitter) when Hiram was born. A copy of his baptismal certificate from St. Nicholas Church is reprinted in the "history"

Hiram married Ann WHILDON and had a son Henry in 1836 and Hiram (jr.) in 1838. Both registrations in Nottingham indicate they lived in Nottingham and that Hiram was occupied as a lacemaker. In 1841 a daughter Mary was born. The 1841 census of England has them all living in Orchard Square and the Population of Nottingham 52,614.

By 1893 prices of plain net were very low, so Hiram moved his family to Calais, France where he worked in the lace industry. Two children, Elizabeth (1844) and Walter (1846) were born in France and their birth certificates were obtained by Kingsley.

At the outbreak of the French revolution against Louis Phillippe in 1848 the situation in the Nottingham lace industry had reached a state of panic. William Felkin in his book "History of the Machine-Wrought Lace and Hosiery Manufacture" (centenary edition 1967) notes that:

"No regular sales of either hosiery or lace were made in the home markets from October, 1847 to April 1848 and much distress was caused"

Needless to say this was not the place to return when the French demanded the expulsion of the English lacemakers from Calais. Hiram did not find prosperity in Calais and so joined the English workers requesting from Lord Palmerston passage to South Australia

As we know from the "Papers Relative to Emigration" (Tu11e Nos. 5,6,7) there was quite a favourable response from the Colonial Office and in due time the immigrants including Hiram and Ann LONGMIRE and their children Henry, Hiram, Mary Elizabeth and Walter, boarded the Harpley bound for South Australia. Kingsley tells us that the Harpley of 571 tons was colonial build. Her master was a man named Buckland.

"The poop of the ship was transformed into a habidasher's shop from which everything necessary was gratuitously and unsparingly supplied to those who were in need Only two deaths occurred on the voyage out, those of an older man and a delicate infant. As a result 256 healthy people arrived on Saturday 2nd September 1848, on board a remarkably clean and well commanded ship"

The LONGMIRE family settled at Dry Creek near Adelaide. Annie was born to Hiram and Anne in November, 1848. Another son born in 1851 died at birth. By 1852 they had moved to Walkerville, closer to the city of Adelaide. Emily was born here in 1852 but only lived for 15 months. Following her death they moved to Riverton, about 55 miles north of Adelaide. Here Henry (Kingsley's great grandfather) married in 1357 and Mary died aged 17 in 1848.

In 1863 Hiram built the "Traveller's Home" Inn. Nantawarra and South Hummocks are each separate tiny places, distinct from Lochlet, on the Hummock's Rum, a leasehold sheep run occupied by John Ellis. A year later Elizabeth was married at the Inn. The township of Lochiel was later surveyed around the Inn.

In 1864 Ann died, aged 53. She was buried locally in what is now called Salt Lake Cemetery. In early 1869 Hiram, 55, married Caroline WARD, 34, a widow of Salt Lake at the Congregational Manse at Kadina. Later that year their only child Edwin Hiram was born at the "Travellers Home".

In February 1870 Longmires Inn was sold for 126 pounds. Hiram bought land in Lochiel in May, 1870 but soon after moved to Kadina where he was recorded in the "South Australian Directory" 1873-79 as a "chaff and corn dealer". Hiram died on 17th February, 1880 aged 66 years and was buried in Kadina cemetery. Caroline outlived him by another thirty years and died in July 1910 aged 75.


A booklet of 52 pages including additional Biographical accounts of Hirams children and grandchildren and charts of descendants up to 1972 including GRANT CHAPMAN former M.H.R. for Kingston S.A. and ROGER GOLDSWORTHY recent deputy premier of S.A. -Kingsley Ireland


Bert Archer's Diary

(Tulle 15, November 1986)

This "Diary" was written by Bert Archer and was based upon a diary kept by a previous passenger on the Agincourt. It gives us some insight into the hardship and boredom that faced passengers on such long sea voyages.

On Sunday afternoon, the 11th June, 1848, the Downs Pilot came aboard at Gravesend, and reported to the Chief Officer that they would sail on the morning ebb tide. Farewells were made on Monday the 12th and the Seamen went aloft on the fore, the main and the mizzen masts to unfurl the sails and set the canvas. The crew of 34 was kept very busy - Mr. BISSETT, the Chief Officer, was the busiest of all. It was then apparent that the ship was making ready for getting under way. A steam tug was ready to tow them out into the Thames River with the turn of the tide.

The 262 emigrant passengers crowded the bulwarks on the starboard side bidding adieus to the Gravesend crowd.

The Pilot gave the order to "heave round" and the Master, THOMAS SCOTT, then gave orders to the Bosun to weigh anchor and caste off. The anchor was hove up by the capstan on the quarter-deck and from each mast rang down the call from those aloft "sheet home". Slowly the Agincourt was pulled around into midstream by the tug, which churned up the dirty yellow river water. And so with the "Blue Peter" pennant and the Union Flag (Union Jack) flying in the breeze they were on their way to a new life in New South Wales.

It was with mixed feelings that the refugee-emigrants left England: some were reluctant to leave but all were hoping for and anticipating future prosperity in the "new land": they had some 13,000 sea miles to travel and would have to adapt themselves to new and strange surroundings. It would be an entirely different life for them and soon their English-French background would all be in the past. They were leaving behind insecurity and the bitter memories of the recent terrible Calais days of the Third French Revolution, whilst ahead of them lay the prospect of a new unknown life.

Just after Barking Creek hove in sight they passed the Nore where several naval buoys were sited in the Queen's Channel. Then after passing the North Sandhead Lightship the Bosun gave the order to "bring to" when approaching Deal and by reefing the sails the Agincourt came to a standstill. Here the pilot boat brought off mail, the latest English Newspapers and such and took the Pilot ashore. Down came the Blue Peter Flag and the Agincourt got under weigh again to pass South Foreland. It was fascinating watching the bronzed, weather-beaten seamen work the sails. They were like monkeys moving swiftly aloft up the ratlines and sang Sea Chanties as they worked.

"Chant" is a French word. One chanty went as follows:

"A hundred years is a very long time,
Oh-ho! Yes! Oh-ho!
A hundred years is a very long time,
A hundred years ago.

They hung a man for making steam,
Oh-ho! Yes! Oh-ho!
They cast his body in the stream,
A hundred years ago "

Other favourites included:

bullet"Sweet Belle Malone"
bullet"Off to Botany Bay"
bullet"Sailing over the Ocean Blue"
bullet"Can You Bake a Cherry Pie"

The sailors were adept in putting a clew or reef cringle in a sail, in turning up a shroud, in grafting a bucket rope, in fitting a mast cover, in fishing a spar, in gammoning a bowsprit, and in making various kinds of knots.

The decks, each day, were washed down and swabbed at 6.30am. This woke the passengers. At 5 pm the decks were cleared up and the sails trimmed for the night. The log was hove every two hours to ascertain the ship's speed.

On Wednesday and Saturday the 'tween decks were cleaned and holystoned and inspected by the Master.

On Sundays no work was allowed, except that which was essential, such as trimming the sails. Each Sunday the crew was mustered and inspected before the Church Service by Captain Thomas Scott, wearing his starched stock (collar) and tight buttoned uniform frock coat.

The Agincourt was a privately owned barque of 669 tons, registered at London. It was built in 1844 at Sunderland shipyards on the Wear River in the County of Durham by CHARLES LAING for the Duncan Dunbar line, one of England's wealthiest ship owners. It was considered to be well fitted out and was said to be "well found" in every particular. It was well suited for the conveyance of Immigrants, although the arrangements of the berths amidships, owing to her small size, was deemed by the Immigration Board to be not so advantageous as the usual method of placing them on the sides.

The Ship's Doctor was RICHARD ATKINSON - one of his assigned duties was the appointment of a passenger as a Teacher for the children and another passenger to assist him as an Orderly in the Ship's Hospital. He selected two emigrants whom he considered best suited to the jobs. At the completion of the voyage the Doctor recommended that a gratuity of £5 be granted each.

The emigrants found that except for one side of the Poop Deck, which was reserved for the Ship's Officers, they had practically a full run of the Ship. For the first few days they became absorbed in observing the crew at work, holy-stoning the decks, etc., and listened to the sailors singing sea chanties, whilst the children explored the ship and relayed their findings to the grown ups.

There were skylights to let in light below deck and also "bull's eyes", which were thick rounded glass inserts in the ship's deck.

Two anchors were carried in the bow of the ship, the heavier or "best bower" on the starboard side. In addition to these two anchors was a larger sheet anchor and a spare lashed to the deck to be used for an emergency.

The mess tables were long wooden benches with raised edges to counter rough seas and their seats were fixed long planks.

Each meal time had two sittings as follows:-

Breakfast:8am and 9am
Dinner:1pm and 2pm
Supper:5pm and 6pm

Two daily medical parades were scheduled - one at 10 am and the other at 5 pm.

There were no special baths; it was either saltwater showers on deck or basin and sponge in the cabin. Fresh water was very limited, the issue being one gallon each per day for drinking, cooking and washing. There were, however, some salt water closets available.

The sleeping quarters had long wooden bunks set in tiers and partitioned off into cabins along the centre of the ship. Mattresses were of fibre and were removable for airing. Each passenger was issued with a blanket and each family was issued with a commode.

The barque made good time sailing down the River on the ebb tide. The North Downs were on their starboard side. When they were opposite the Village of Sheerness and its old Fort they had reached the mouth of the River and found themselves in the North Sea. After passing North Foreland they sailed along the Kentish coast through the Strait of Dover past Goodwin Sands with the White Cliffs of Dover on the starboard side and the then "hated" Calais on the port side next into the English Channel.

On the 4th June they passed a lighthouse probably Beachy Head. Next they passed St. Catherines and then for three days they had light winds and were able to follow close inshore along the southern coast of England past Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.

Saturday, 16th, saw them opposite Start Point, Devon, where they put letters ashore by a fishing boat and the course was set for the open Atlantic Ocean and the hills disappeared on the northern horizon.

To a favourable breeze and the crew setting studding sails on both sides of the vessel, it was goodbye to England.

On Sunday, 18th, the Surgeon Superintendent held their first Church Service with the Captain reading the prayers, psalms and liturgy. The Church Service became a regular Sunday event.

The denominations of the emigrants as entered in the Ship's Register were:

Roman Catholic:7
Church of England:209

It was Monday, the 19th June, when little Mary Shaw, who had been born in Calais and who was only four years of age, daughter of JAMES and SARAH SHAW died of convulsions during an epileptic fit, only one week after they had left Gravesend. Following a burial service, her body sewn up in a canvas hammock was committed to the Ocean depths and was watched by emigrants with solemn awe. This occurred off the Bay of Biscay.

For the next two days the seas were rough and most of the emigrants suffered sea sickness (mel de mer) not being accustomed to the rough pitch and tossing of the vessel - some were advised to take a quantity of bottled porter to combat the sickness. Anything not fastened or battened down was scattering and rolling about the Ship - the fore and main topsails had to be reefed.

Opposite Cape Finisterre (Spanish for edge of the world) the wind continued strong, about 10 knots an hour, as they sailed off the west coast of Spain and Portugal, visible on the Eastern horizon. Occasional buildings, painted white, were seen along the coastline.

When opposite Gibralter, the weather became cloudy and schools of porpoises sported on both sides of the Ship.

On Monday, 26th June, a couple of days after passing the Straits of Gibralter a son was born to WILLIAM and EMMA BROWNLOW and was named GEORGE AGINCOURT. WILLIAM BROWNLOW was a big man, well over 17 stone in weight. Many of the male passengers were over 6 feet in height.

The Ship carried its own small printing plant and produced a weekly news sheet called the "Weekly Weed". The passengers took part in working the press and in writing articles. Practically all of the adults and most of the older children aboard could read and write.

The Isle of Madeira was passed on Tuesday 27th and the mountainous part of the island was clearly seen, as far as 20 miles to the west. By this time they had reached the Atlantic Ocean Trade Winds, the average limits of which ranged from latitude 10oN to 30oN.

Rough seas followed and many again suffered seasickness. Then came a calm of several days; the vessel hardly moving. Portugese "men-of-war", which looked like tiny sailing ships were numerous near 36oN Latitude. At night there was a phosphorescent wake, a fascinating sight, especially when viewed from the bench by the taffrail.

Next they passed to the west of the Spanish Canary Islands, situated Lat. 28o28'N and Long 16o 16'W, over a dozen in number, of which the principal are Great Canary, Teneriffe, Fortaventure, Palma, Ferra Gomero and Lancerotta, about 50 miles to 250 miles off the west coast of Africa. The circumference of the Great Canary is about 150 miles and that of Teneriffe is just under 120 miles. The peak of Teneriffe, covered by perpetual snows ("Tener" means snow and "iffe" means mountain) 12150 feet above sea level, was quite prominent.

Shortly after passing these Islands some more porpoises and a whale were sighted and the sky became overcast with an ENE wind springing up. The course was then set at SW by S. Here flying-fish and Portugese men-of-war became prevalent. It was fascinating watching the porpoises frolicking in the water and following alongside the Ship for a couple of days; they appeared to be staging a show for the passengers. The flying fish, in shoals of 50 - 60, would fly only a couple of feet above the Ocean surface for up to 100 yards and at other times landed on deck, 12' up.

On Wednesday, the 23rd June, they passed three inaccessible rocks up to 600 feet high and 1 mile Long, called "Martin Yez" a resort of abundance of sea fowl. A day later they crossed the Tropic of Cancer and the weather had become noticeably much warmer. A large canvas awning was stretched from the fore-mast to the mizzen-mast to give protection from the heat. Loose clothing was worn.

About this time two whales of the Spermatic type, feeding on a floating kelp, and schools of porpoises were sighted, followed by a few dolphins sporting around the Vessel. Porpoises and dolphins became a frequent source of amusement, especially when they leaped out of the water, at times as high as the fore-yard. They then had a week of good sailing with both the weather and the Trade Winds being favourable. Some days they sailed up to 200 miles still on the SW by S course. This took them well to the west of the Verdi Islands of St Fago and St Jago.

To while away the time they sometimes played games such as chess, backgammon and cards. On deck they played shovel-board, i.e. the sliding of round flat wooden discs along the deck into 9 numbered squares. Reading was always popular. Daily constitutional walks along the main deck were taken when weather permitted.

The emigrants never grew tired of watching the crew performing its daily tasks and listening to the Officer of the Deck shouting orders such as "ready about", "tacks and sheets", "main sail haul", "let go" and "belay".

On Sunday, 4th July, ROBERT AGINCOURT WOODFORD, two years old, died from a Liver Disease or a Fever and after a very sad funeral service his tiny body was buried at sea.

About this time, sharks, bonetus and dolphins were seen swimming around the Agincourt. Then followed days of storms, with vivid lightning, heavy rain and bad squalls. They were on the edge of a hurricane or cyclonic disturbance. The rain was especially welcomed, as it allowed the Ship's water tanks, square iron ones of 1,000 gallons and more in capacity, to be topped up.

EMMA JOHNSON, the youngest child of THOMAS and PHEBE JOHNSON died on Sunday, 11th July, after suffering for several days from a severe attack of dysentry and her body after being weighted and committed to the depths of the Ocean. EMMA had been born in Calais. The JOHNSON1S other three children had been born in Nottingham.

On this same day at Latitude 11oN and Longitude 20oW, they passed or really overtook and spoke with the "Castle Eden", a barque of 930 tons, when it was carrying out repairs having been struck by a heavy squall, 7 days previously, whereby she had lost her three top masts. She had 302 Government Assisted Emigrants aboard and was bound also for Port Jackson, where she arrived three days after the Agincourt, having left Plymouth on Thursday, the 15th June.

For one week the Agincourt sailed through the Doldrums luckily there was a light breeze and good headway was made. The weather, however, continued warm and several water spouts were seen when they were between 3o and 4o Latitude north of the Equator. A few turtles were also seen floating by.

They reached the Equator at Longitude 27oW on Thursday 20th July, and a "Crossing the Line" Ceremony was enacted. There was much speculation amongst the crew as to whether the ceremony was to be permitted, due to the attitude of the Ship's previous captain, Henry Neatby, to such frivolity. It was learned from the crew that Captain Neatby would not entertain any sort of tom-foolery liable to foster a drunken revel or cause ill blood; he would stamp out such affairs and the passengers, having to abide by his decision, would in lieu, collect £5 to indemnify the crew for the loss of their frolic.


Those Ships - Robert Wilson

(Tulle 16, February 1987)

The search for pictures and facts about the Harpley, Fairlie and Agincourt continues. Some recent investigation in Mildura may yield a picture of the two barques. We still have not found a trace of the Harpley.

A barque is a three-masted sailing ship which is square-rigged in the fore and mainmast. The Fairlie and the Agincourt would have looked very much like the illustration.

Random searches of Lloyds Register revealed some information about our three ships.1

The oldest of the ships was the Fairlie. She had been built in Calcutta in l812 and was rated at 756 tons. In 1848 her owners were Sames Bros. and she was registered in the port of London. She seems to have been a regular visitor to Australia. Fairlie made the voyage from London to Hobart Town in 1836 and l852 and was in Australia in 1864 and 1865, as well as her Sydney visit in 1848. I am sure that she made many other visits.

The Harpley was built on the River Tamar, in Tasmania, in 1847 and was described as a ship of 547 tons, owned by J. Raven, and registered in Launceston. She made voyages from London to Launceston in 1848 and 1852 under Captain Buckland. She made a further voyage to Melbourne in 1853. She broke up on the bar of Realejo harbour, Canary Islands in 1862.5

I must confess that I have much more information on the Agincourt, as it is the barque which brought my ancestors to this country. Unlike the other two ships there was another craft with a similar name. This other ship was larger - 958 tons, and had been built in London in 1841. Fortunately she seems to have been used on the London/Calcutta run as she made voyages to Calcutta in 1848 and 1852. However, she came to Adelaide in 1865.

Our Agincourt seems to have been a familiar sight in Australian ports. She is recorded2 as having her jib-boom snapped at Gravesend before sailing to Australia, arriving in Sydney 25th June, 1846. Her 1848 voyage to Sydney is well known to all of us.

In 1850 she arrived in Adelaide, bringing to this country one of Nick Vine Hall's ancestors.3 She also took fortune hunters from Adelaide to California during the American gold rush. The Agincourt arrived in Sydney in 1852 out of Hamburg.

Another of my ancestors arrived on the Agincourt in 1855 when she docked in Adelaide. The Agincourt transferred to the London to Aden run in the 1860's. The legislators of those days seem to have fiddled with tonnages, as in l843 the Agincourt was described as "543 tons (old Act), 669 tons (new Act)." By 1852 they were back to using the old Act and in 1884 she was rated at 562 tons. Her dimensions were length 127 ft, breadth 30.5ft, and depth 2lft4 and she had been built in Sunderland in 1844. Laing and Company owned the ship in 1848 and it operated out of the Port of London. However in l884 it was under Spanish registry.

There must be many more records of these ships and maybe somewhere there are some sketches of the actual craft. Let us hope that one day they come to light. Sources:


  1. Lloyds Register, editions of 1834, l836, 1848, 1852, 1864/5
  2. Our Antipodes by Godfrey Mundey
  3. Buxton Forbes Laurie by Nick Vine Hall
  4. Lloyds Register 1884/85 edition
  5. Enid Bastick


Australia Visited and Revisited

(Tulle 16, February 1987)

"Australia Visited and Revisited" is one of the first guide books about Australia. It was first published in London in 1853, three years after the authors began their hazardous voyage out.

After visiting the goldfields, sheep and cattle stations in Victoria, they returned to Melbourne, and travelled through Victoria to Albury on the new Sydney Road, eventually arriving at Sydney.

Gold again!! And on they travelled to the Ophir diggings, the Turon, Sofala, Pyramul, and Louisa Creek at Hargraves. The following quote is interesting, because of the reference to a "lacemaker family", living at Warragunya, a station belonging to Mr. Suttor.

To quote:

"On the following morning we proceeded to Warragunya, about three miles farther on, a station belonging to Mr. Suttor, and situated on Crudine Creek - a tributary of the Turon - which is joined by Cunningham's River. The storekeeper at this station is a native of Nottinghamshire; he was one of the men who were compelled to leave France during the revolution of 1848, and whom the British Government assisted to emigrate to this favoured land. His wife, a native of France, though born of English parents, is an interesting woman. They are, indeed, a contented couple; and it was quite refreshing to hear them speak in greatful terms of the consideration extended to them by their country. A son of theirs, a smart boy, accompanied us on the road towards Pyramul, another station of Mr Sutton's, which lay on our road.....They continued on their journey speaking to shepherds working for Suttor and said: "The shepherds spoke of their employer, Mr Suttor, with great respecty; they called him a fair man to labouring people; which in these times is a character of great value for a master who wishes to retain his men. As we approached Pyramul, we were surprised to see a flock of sheep under the care of a young woman, the first shepherdess we had met on our travels. Her father she told us, had gone to Louisa Creek with some neighbours, and left her in charge of the flock.

They had been very successful, getting some days as much as seven ounces of gold among four of them."

The family mentioned would have undoubtably arrived on the Agincourt, and were in the district where the Kemshalls finally congregated. But the description of the family excludes any members of the Kemshall family. Perhaps some member of the Lacemakers can identify this as one of their forebears.

The book was reprinted in 1974 by Ure Smith in conjunction with the National Trust of Australia (NSW) Library, number 994-03 MOS. The title of the reprint is "Australia, Visited and Revisited" by Samuel Mossman and Tho Thomas Banister.

The above article commences at the last paragraph on page 241.



More Fairlie Gossip

(Tulle 18, July 1987)

From the Immigration Board List for the Fairlie there was a couple of "Remarks" about two of the unmarried males: Robert Alexander Whitfield, a blacksmith from Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, who complained of "harsh treatment on the part of the Surgeon"; and James Wilkie, a sawyer, of Kilmore, Forfarshire, who complained "that his rations were stopped and that he was put on an allowance of bread and water for six days".

Oh! Oh! What had they been up to? I wondered.

But had they? From "Papers Relative to Emigration" the remarks for the Fairlie run as follows:

"The Fairlie is extremely well suited for the emigration service, and was in a very cleanly state on arrival.

The general appearance of the vessel, and of the immigrants, indicated a very effective discipline on board, for which it is but just to award considerable credit to Mr. Wilkinson, although, for the reasons below stated, the authorities here considered it undesirable that he should be again employed in this service.

The provisions and water proved to be of excellent quality, and no complaints were made as to the regularity of their issue.

With two exceptions, the people expressed themselves fully satisfied with their treatment during the voyage. The exceptions referred to, were complaints made to the board by two of the single men, that the Surgeon-superintendent treated them harshly, and applied abusive and irritating language to them. The Board were satisfied at the time that the punishment inflicted upon those men was well merited, and they did not therefore attach much belief to the statement made respecting the use of improper language by the Surgeon. I am now, however, inclined to believe, that the men's complaint was well founded, since I have had before me a specimen of the violent and grossly offensive language which Mr Wilkinson is capable of using, even in letters not unreflectingly written.

I considered it my duty to lay the letters to which I refer before his Excellency the Governor, because they appeared to me to indicate so serious a want of temper and discretion, as to render it undesirable, even if it were not unsafe, that their writer should be again placed in the charge of emigrants. Concurring in this view, his Excellency the Governor has recommended that Mr Wilkinson should not be again entrusted with the superintendence of an emigrant ship to this colony.

Mr Wilkinson reports, that he received all requisite assistance from the master and officers of the ship.

The immigrants generally were of a good description. Two of the single females were delivered of children on the voyage; another in an advanced state of pregnancy was sent to the General Hospital at Parramatta, and a fourth (Harriet Lawrence), who was sent to Maitland by the Government, and who refused to take service there, returned to Sydney, and is believed to be on the streets. The principal diseases, as reported by the Surgeon-superintendent, were "simple functional fever, diarrhoea, dysentery, catarrhs and sore throats."

Immigration Office, Sydney,FRANCIS L.S. MEREWETHER
29 October, 1849.Agent for Immigration


Barques and Ships defined

A vessel with three masts, with her foremast (front mast) and mainmast (centre mast) square-rigged and her mizzenmast (aftermost mast) schooner-rigged (ie. with sails fore and aft rigged - running along the centreline of the vessel).

The Agincourt was a barque, of 669 tons.

A vessel with a bowsprit and three masts, each composed of a lower mast, a topmast and a topgallant mast, and square-rigged on all three masts, ie. with square sails, normally rigged across the width of the hull. Such vessels are sometimes known as "square-rigged" or "full-rigged" ships.

The Fairlie was 756 tons "old measure", three-masted square-rigged ship. The Harpley, like the Fairlie, was a three-masted, square-rigged ship, of 547 tons new measure.


Of Shoes and Ships and Sealing Wax - Village Life and Customs

Whitsun there was the lambing feast, and on Midsummer Eve wrestling and dancing round the midnight fire in the village street. Every season in and event of the agricultural year was celebrated in due form, with mumming plays, hobby horses, fiddles and bagpipes, and though the music was not always of the best, and many of the ancient rites were wearing thin1 there was still life and zest in it and common national social tradition.

At night there was dominoes, cribbage, gleek (an ancient game of cards for three, each player having 12 and 8 for stock), backgammon, ombre (another card game for three played with a pack of forty cards). Singing was universal, while every village had its bell-ringers and its string-choir.

The Yule Log was brought home, and tales told over posset and frumenty (milk curdled with ale or wine and hulled wheat boiled in milk). The carollers and string choirs went their frosty rounds. The farmhouses and cottages, full of greenery and the kissing bush hanging from the rafters. The mummers in painted paper and floral headgear recited traditional words and banged one another with their wooden swords.

On New Year's Eve the wassailers came round with garland bowls, cleaving the winter sky with their song: and neighbours made kindly by the season, sat in one another's houses "fadging" over cakes and wine, "crotcheting" or similar hobbies.

The same gatherings were repeated with differences on Twelfth Night, when fires were lit and farm beasts and apple trees carolled.

On Distaffs Day the resumption of work was celebrated by labourers going around the parish in animal masks, blowing cow's horns and cracking whips.

On Shrove Tuesday miners visited one another's houses to turn their pancakes and "stang" whoever had not eaten theirs (carry astride a long pole), the laggards (with laughter) to the midden (dung heap).

Mothering Sunday was commemorated with a simnel cake (sweet cake of fine flour); Good Friday, by children going round with a fiddler "Peace Egging". There were dozens of other regional or special commemorations, such as "Tandering Day" when school children barred out their teachers, and men and women spent the evening drinking hot elderberry wine in one another's clothes. Sounds like a wild night!! There was also the Mischief Meet on May Day when, so long as one was not caught, it was lawful to pay off old scores.

In most areas there were the Mumming players, the May Birchers, the Club Walks, the Wakes, the Rush Festivals, Hiring Fairs, Goose Fairs, Harvest Festivals, and the marvellous get-togethers that weddings provided for even the poorest families. The main ingredient of all these activities was personal involvement, community spirit, and joy and comradeship in simple pleasures. Most of these elements are lacking in our present society, where the majority have become onlookers rather than participants, and thus become isolated from the community, in which they live.

In many of the English villages there was a team of Mummers. These were local men who had learned the traditional dances and words of the Mumming Plays from their fathers and grandfathers. The Mummers performed at Christmas time, going from house to house, crowding in from the dark winter night with a good deal of laughter and talk, and acting in hall or kitchen wherever there was space for them. Everyone knew what the play was about, for it had been acted year after year for centuries. It concerned St. George and the Turkish Knight, and was really a sort of parable on the growing corn. But few thought of its inner meaning, as they watched the fight between the two chief characters and saw the dead hero raised to life by the doctor's magic art. The visit of the Mummers was one of the great excitements of Christmas time. Robin Hood, Maid Marion and other characters of Sherwood Forest were also featured in Mumming Plays.

In some villages it was the custom for the May-Birchers to tour the village on the 30th April, leaving branches of different trees outside the cottage doors. This was something more than a pleasant way of decorating the village. The name of the branch chosen rhymed with what was supposed to be the house-holder's chief characteristic; and what was left therefore expressed what they, the villagers, thought of those that lived in the house. Thus, the fair of face or character had their doors adorned with pear; those who were admired or esteemed, had branches of lime. But plum meant that the inhabitants were glum or bad tempered, and a thorn bough that the family, or some member of it, was an object of scorn throughout the Parish. Some house-dwellers must surely have opened their cottage door with some apprehension on May Morning!

There were also Club Walks and Wakes. Nearly every village had its Men's Club - sometimes more than one - and quite often there was a Women's Club as well. These clubs existed to help their members in sickness and unemployment at a time when State help was not available. Once a year the Clubs had a grand procession and feast.

Dressed in their best, and carrying white rods, posies and banners, the members marched first to the Church where a special service was held, and then to the local inn for dinner and ale.

The Wakes were a more general holiday, which fell on the festival day of the saint in whose nam the Church was dedicated, or perhaps we should say, it began then, for sometimes it lasted several days. It was a great time for family reunions and hospitality, when all who could invite friends and relatives from other parishes; everyone did his or her best to provide a generous spread at table. Booths were set up in the village for the sale of cakes, ale, ribbons and trinkets; cheapjacks9 fortune-tellers and side-shows came from nearby towns, and every sort of jollification was indulged in: from racing, and dancing, to grinning through a horse collar, or climbing a greasy pole to win a fat pig.

Like the Club Walks, the Wakes began with a Church service and in many districts rushes were still brought to the Church, though the real need for them had long since gone. In earlier days most Churches had floors of beaten earth or stone, and rushes were strewn on the floor to keep the feet of the worshippers warm and dry. The rushes had to be changed from time to time, and it was customary to bring in the rushes with a great deal of ceremony at the Wakes and other festivals. About the middle of the 18th century most of the church floors were boarded over, so the rushes were no longer needed; but rush bearing was too lovely and loved a custom to be abandoned immediately, and in many parishes it was carried on to near the end of Queen Victoria's reign.

Every outlying hamlet contributed its quota of reeds, as well as the Church town itself. The reeds were stacked in towering piles onto decorated harvest wains, bound down with flower wreathed ropes and drawn by the best horses the village could provide. Before each cart went the Morris dancers and villagers carrying garlands; and on top of the load a bower of green branches was built, in which a man sat directing the procession. During the day, rush carts went all around the Parish, stopping outside farms and houses to allow the dancers to perform. Towards evening they returned to the Church, where the reeds were strewn on the floor, and the garlands were hung up in the chancel and the side chapels.


Thomas Stanley Summerhayes (1880-1950) - Pat Stewart, 23 March1987

(Tulle 21, May 1988)

I wonder how many members of the Australian Society of the Lacemakers of Calais learned their business skills at the Metropolitan Business College in Sydney; possibly when it was situated at 6 Dalley Street. Perhaps they remember the Principal, Mr Summerhayes ... if not for some act of kindness, then surely for his dark brown eyes! Some of our younger members may have learned Summerhayes Shorterhand, which he invented, but did they know that he was a fellow descendant of the lacemakers from Nottingham and Calais?

When George and Isabella Saywell and their family arrived in Sydney on the "Agincourt" on 6th October, 1848, their youngest child was Isabella, aged six months. Seventeen years later she married George Summerhayes in Young.

Thomas Stanley Summerhayes was born at Pioneer Farm, Monteagle, on 16th March, 1880, and baptised at St. John's Church of England, Young. There were twelve Summerhayes children: Thomas was the second son and eighth child.

Two more sons were born at Pioneer Farm: Arthur in 1882, and Jasper in 1884. A year or two later their mother decided to move into the town of Young "to educate her young sons". She opened a Boarding House which she named "Pioneer". (There were two more daughters: Ruby born in 1887, and Lucy Emma, who was born on 13th October, l889, and died five months later.)

In l888 "The Young Chronicle" published lists of Prize Winners from the Superior Public School. The third class list includes Thomas Summerhayes, who won 2nd Prize for "marks". His brother, Arthur, appears under the heading "Babies Classes". (It would seem they all won prizes for "attendance and general proficiency")

Tom Summerhayes, aged 14, commenced work at "The Young Chronicle" in 1894. The Newspaper had been established in 1874, but conducted from 1860 to 1913 by Mr George Reynolds, Snr., and later by his sons.

A special Diamond Jubilee Number was published by "The Young Chronicle" on 25th May, 1934, and provides some information of interest, including a Staff photograph of Mr George Reynolds and some of his sons, the young Tom Summerhayes and other employees.

Following are extracts from an article on the part of the late George Reynolds:

Some Old Employees

Others who went through the old office.... were....
. . and Tom Summerhayes, now principal of the Metropolitan Business College, with an enrolment 2500 students. Mr Summerhayes early showed his keen desire to progress, for he voluntarily added shorthand and reporting to his office duties, and filled many a long column with the speeches of the political and other leaders of the day.

The learning of Pitman Shorthand, the stepping stone to success of many thousands of ambitious youths - especially in the old days - was warmly encouraged by Mr Reynolds, and all his children who entered the office were required to know its elements. Mr Summerhayes, we believe, learned the winged art from Mr J.C. Daley, a schoolteacher for some time at Monteagle. Mr Tom Reynolds, who had previously been taught by the Rev. Robert Edgar, claims the privilege of having assisted Mr Summerhayes in his early struggles.

A Stepping Stone

Shorthand was certainly the stepping stone to greater things in the case of Mr Summerhayes, for the Metropolitan Business College (M.B.C.) was started originally as a shorthand school. Its development was amazing, and today no commercial or related subject is beyond its scope. Its large staff now comprises specialists in every branch of commercial work, and despite the depression it is still growing . . . . . "

The Metropolitan Business College was not established by T Stan1ey Summerhayes as commonly believed, but began under the name of the Metropolitan School of Shorthand, in a small room in Rowe Street, Sydney. At this time Business Education had to be pioneered. The typewriter was in its infancy, Shorthand writing was confined to Newspapermen and a few individuals who followed it as a hobby. Double-entry Bookkeeping was little used."

(Ref. History of the M.B.C. 1895-1921)

In 1907 Thomas Stanley Summerhayes won a Silver Medal for his ability to write Pitman's Shorthand at the rate of 200 w.p.m., and transcribe the same accurately into longhand.

The M.B.C. came under the Proprietorship of Thomas Stanley Summerhayes and J. Arthur Turner in 1908. They had "resigned their headships of Shorthand and Commercial Departments of another large Business Training Institute in Sydney, where they had laboured successfully for many years"
(Ref. M.B.C. Annual Report 1908)

Mr Turner remained an active partner until 1924. He died in 1927.

In 1915, Thomas S. Summerhayes began his search for a Shorthand System that would "give the brevity of the Pitman method, with none of its disadvantages". By 1939, he was satisfied with his new system, and the following year it was introduced into the College, which continues to teach both Pitman's and Summerhayes shorthand systems.

Now located in the A.M.P. Centre in Bridge Street, Sydney, and combined with the Hales Secretarial School, the M.B.C. is governed by the Council of the MBC Business Col1ege Limited, a non-profit membership organisation. The elected Council is loyal to the expressed wishes of Thomas Stanley Summerhayes, and mindful of his educational philosophy. His lifelike portrait hangs in the main office.

He was twice widowed. His first wife, Margaret Stewart, was the mother of their four children, one of whom died in early childhood. His second wife, Marjorie Byrne, had been his Secretary at the College.

Having realised his life's ambition, and settled his affairs, Thomas Stanley Summerhayes retired to his holiday home at Springwood, in the Blue Mountains, in 1958. He died in hospital on the fourteenth of March in the following year, just two days prior to his 79th Birthday.

Today's students who choose to learn Summerhayes Shorterhand are honouring a mastercraftsman of the winged art, and a grandson of a lacemaker. Could there be a connection?

I think my Uncle Tom should have the last say, so will conclude with some extracts from an article he wrote for the "Young Chronicle's Special Diamond Jubilee Number (Vol.60 No.44 May 25 1934).

'Prentice Boys and "Dello"
Old Days in the "Chronicle" Office
By T. Stanley Summerhayes

My recollections of the "Chronicle" are many and varied, and interesting. and inevitable, and frequent, because the training I got in that dear old office has been of constant value in certain details of my work today, embracing as it does the printing of so much literature, booklets concerning the activities of the College, inspirational or otherwise.

Punctuation, how particular "Delo" was; how he and I waded through the galley proofs, he with spectacles on, reinforced by a huge magnifying glass. No wonder we found all the errors and misprints! And how I loved his comments, most uncomplimentary to the offenders, particularly the apprentices.

I hope you don't feel that I am irreverent or disrespectful in giving your father the nickname we all used. I reverence his memory. I think as a boy I loved him. He gave me a great chance - he was always kind to me. I can see him now walking up Wombat Street -homeward bound - holding himself very straight. It seems to me now symbolic of the straight path the dear old man always followed in life -in journalism, in business.

The Nickname Explained

To your reading public may I explain the Nickname. The sign used in proof correcting in a newspaper office is a peculiar sort of D - for "delete", meaning "cut out" or "Take out", whether the thing to be taken out or "cut out" is a word or a letter. You can understand its significance. Like most boys we were often doing things in the absence of the "boss" that had to be "cut out" immediately we sensed his approach along that little passage leading from his editorial sanctum - and so it was often "deee-loh!" or shorter and sharper; but over the years it became a term of endearment or affection.

Dogs and Tin Cans

One thing I really regret. The passage at the side of the street consisted of two brick walls, and a cement floor - and the passage was narrow. I regret the number of dogs that emerged from that passage into Burrowa Street with tins on their tails. I regret the perfection of the combination of narrow passage, brick wall, cement floor in making a really hellish noise. I regret the howls, and now I know something of the psychology of humans, I regret extremely the state of mind of those dogs.

We were all in it. Setting type from wretched manuscript can be a very wearisome and monotonous business, and to wearied boys before they have acquired "feeling" a dog and a tin, and good conditions, can be a really spicy interlude.

Pleasant Memories

I don't know whether these are the recollections you asked for, but they are my recollections of valuable and valued years, under a good old boss, a fine gentleman - and pleasant relations with some very worthy people.

I learned to be industrious, to value industry, to concentrate, to be patient, to appreciate the value of earnestness, the value of co-operation and team work, and, incidentally, I learned some things to avoid - meanness, selfishness, conceit. I learned to think.


Nottingham Machine Lacemakers - A Lecture by Elizabeth Simpson at Our October 1988 Meeting.

(Tulle 24, February 1989 and subsequent issues)

This is a story about some lacemakers. particular machine lacemakers. Not those who sit with a cushion on their laps carefully twisting bobbins, creating fine and beautiful handmade lace, but those who learnt to operate enormous noisy machines, which miraculously could produce the finest, most delicate and beautiful lace fabric. We have to go back in time to the tail end of the eighteenth century - say from the 1770s onwards.

Nottingham was then a renowned centre of the hosiery industry. Hundreds and hundreds of ordinary men and women sat all the daylight hours, hunched over enormous, oily, heavy machines - knitting stockings. The framework knitting industry was at its height.

The ‘frame’ on which these stockings were knitted was an extremely cleverly designed machine. The fabric they produced lay flat. In order to make this into a stocking, it had, of course, to be seamed; hence those seams going up the backs of legs, which a lot of the more mature ladies present (and perhaps gentlemen too) will no doubt remember! This job of seaming was children’s work. As soon as they were able to hold and manipulate a needle, they were sent to work. Whole families worked together at this trade, on a hired machine set up in their own home. The men or women of the family worked equally on the machine – knitting was not then “woman’s work”. Payment was by result—piece work—the more pairs of stockings produced—the greater the income. A ‘good’ family could do reasonably well.

The cotton yarn, with which stockings were made, was imported from India and spun very fine. Used as a single thread it broke on the machines. Two, three, four or even more threads would be worked together. The more threads, the stronger, thicker and more hardwearing the stockings. The hosiery industry evolved a simple method of indicating how many threads there were being used together. A row of eyelet holes was set in the top of the stocking, forming a running pattern of 1, 2, 3, 4 or more holes. The more holes, the more threads and thus the stronger the fabric and, in this case, the stocking.

The buyer was able to ‘see’ the quality for himself. To make the holes, 1, 2 or more stitches were knitted together - exactly as we hand knit today - and then a loop picked up to create a replacement stitch in the fabric.

There were always good and clever operatives—men and women with ideas. It wasn’t long before one of them realised that if the knitting machine could be made to make a hole on purpose, perhaps it could be used to produce a net to use as a basis for lacemaking . I am sure that you all know that one of the simplest kinds of lace is produced as a form of embroidery onto net.

What is net after all but a whole lot of holes? The best began to experiment. But the first net fabrics had one major fault – if one thread was caught, the whole fabric unravelled, being woven with one continuous thread, as is all knitting. It was necessary, therefore, to knot the threads somehow. In the early 1770s then it was already possible to produce ‘net’ using a knitting machine. By 1775, warp net was being exported from England into France. On to this the French lace makers embroidered beautiful lace designs. By 1777 there were over 200 stocking frames suitably adapted to make bullet hole net fabric, working in Nottingham. Both the English and French courts were renowned for their extravagant clothes. Rich fabrics—bold colours and masses of fine handmade lace was used....lace which took hours and hours to produce. The question now in the minds of the entrepreneurs was, “If these machines could be further adapted, could they possibly make proper lace as fast as they can now make the net?”  

As early as 1774 King Louis XVI had sent the Duc de Liancourt to England with an operative named Rhambolt.  Rhambolt came to Nottingham and learnt to work a pin machine owned by Harvey and Else. On his return to France he took this newly acquired skill to produce point net, and thus the French began their competition with the English machine lace makers.

You will notice all these different ‘nets’ mentioned Warp-net; Bullet hole-net; Pin-net; Point-net…. all slightly different kinds, as the machine makers and operatives together worked out the ‘how’ of this exercise. Many patents were taken out over the years between the 1770s and the 1840s and are a good source of research if you’ve a mind to wade through them.

There is evidence that at least one Englishman, George Armytage, reached France as early as 1802 with his wife and three children, preceded by his machinery. This had been smuggled through Holland and Belgium. He set up as a point net lacemaker in Paris, with a man named James Moore. Moore, it seems, was a rather doubtful character involved in smuggling and the partners fell out, Armytage accusing Moore of trying to scuttle the firm by smuggling in machinery! Armytage actually took legal action against Moore, won and requested permission to move to Brussels.

This was granted, with the proviso that if he were not put in charge of a factory under the responsibility of a man named Gillet, then he must go to Verdun. The reasoning behind this is that during the Napoleonic wars from 1803 to 1814, Englishmen living in France were not allowed to do so in the coastal regions, they had to move well inland - hence Verdun! Oddly enough Felkin tells us that Armytage ‘about the year 1850, and at the age of 82, announced his intention to make a voyage to Australia, "to make himself acquainted with the country"’. He is said to have died there in 1857 ... presumably aged 89.

Another man, Samuel Brodhurst, a London stocking maker, went to France with his son, "for health reasons" in 1802. Both Brodhurst’s, father and son, worked for Armytage and Moore for a time, but were sent to Verdun with all of Moore's employees after the partnership between Armytage and Moore broke up.

Just exactly who it was who set up the first lace making machinery in France is still in doubt. Perhaps if the Napoleonic wars had not happened about this time it might all have been easier to work out!

The next step, however, in this industry, is to progress from the making of these "nets" to the reproduction of lace itself. The width of the fabric which could be produced on a stocking frame ranged from an inch to the size of the machine - an enormous width compared with handmade lace. If the machine makers could work out the "how" of producing lace designs with their machines, the industry would simply take off. Many men worked at this.

One notable name is that of John Leavers. He was born in Sutton-in-Ashfield in Nottinghamshire in 1786 and learnt his trade as a "setter-up" of lace machines in Radford. Much has been written about him, his ingenuity, his patience, his withdrawal from the mainstream of the industry. He liked to work alone - some say to protect his patents - some because he was just that sort of man. But we have to remember that he was trying to build this machine during the time when the Luddite rebels and frame breakers were smashing everything they could lay hands on. Is it particularly remarkable then that he seemed to be working in secret? Undoubtedly he was a genius and is recognised today as the "Father" of the modern lace industry.

By 1815 he had built a prototype of the machine which would become world famous and stamp the name Leavers for ever into the industry … this he did in a tiny garret in a building in Nottingham which can still he seen today. A machine which was later described as combining the strength and intelligence of the elephant with the delicacy, patience and artistry of the spider. Leavers "Improved" machine was first used in a factory belonging to Stevenson and Skipworth in Nottingham ...this about 1815...and the machine-made lace industry "began" in Nottinghamshire.

A lot of people prospered, but strangely the story relates that John Leavers often hadn't two half-pennies to rub together. By 1821 he was thoroughly disillusioned and with two of his brothers, Thomas and Joseph, moved over to France. There they built a machine at Grande Couronne, a suburb of Rouen. Later, it is said, these machines formed the basis of the Calais lace industry.

This new lace fabric could be produced so fast now that it was possible for designers to incorporate lace cloth into fashion on a really large scale. No longer was lace used only for edging or insertion - but whole garments could be made of it - and even household items like curtains and bed-spreads were possible. Veils and scarves, small and very easy to mass produce, flooded the lower end of the market - anyone could afford to buy and wear one. Fashion really caught hold of lace.

As the machine made lace industry boomed, the stocking makers industry declined. Lace making required a superior skill - all the better operatives moved over from stocking making to lace making. They became the new elite, attracting better wages and thus affording better living conditions. A gulf between stocking makers and lace makers began to yawn.

As far back as 1792, 1,500 acres of Basford had been enclosed and a whole new suburb erected, known as New Basford. Amongst the first to move into this area were the better off lace makers with their families. A new, prosperous and smart Nottingham suburb began to flourish.

But by about 1810, there was a great deal of unrest amongst the stocking makers. In their individual efforts to make more money, they were over-producing. Warehouses were stocked high. Demand could not keep up with supply and so prices fell and with prices, wages. It now became virtually impossible to make enough pairs of stockings per week to obtain a living wage. Angry men began to smash up the stocking frames, mindlessly taking their fury out on the actual machines with which they earned their livelihood!

The coming of power-driving changed the life-styles of all the operatives. It was much more economical to house the machines all together in a "factory shed" and keep them going, 24 hours a day even, if this was possible. In effect it was usual to shut them down for at least 4 hours through the night, unless demand was really high and then they often were run right through the whole night!

Single frames, worked by hand in the family home, were no longer viable. Operatives now found themselves slaves to the machines, working eight hours on and eight hours off. Suddenly the pattern of their lives changed disastrously. Frustration caused discontent to simmer. Even more frames than ever were now destroyed, as mobs of men attacked the hated "factories". As we move into the nineteenth century, this then is the picture of life in Nottingham for the stocking maker and the machine lace maker.

In 1809, in spite of the hard work Dr Attenborow had put in vaccinating children since Jenner first used his vaccine in 1796, smallpox hit Nottingham. Ninety three Nottingham people died of smallpox in 1809. In 1811 the Government sent Home Office representatives to Nottingham to enquire into the unrest. Luddite activity—that is frame breaking—was at its height. A Watch and Ward band was set up in Nottingham to police the streets. The ordinary householder and rate payer was now expected to police the streets himself. In March 1812, four frame breakers were sentenced to three and seven years transportation and in July one was given 14 years. Later that year—1812—4,248 families comprising 15,350 people, applied for Poor Relief. . .this was almost half the population of Nottingham unable to support themselves and applying for ‘relief’ from the hard-pressed Overseers of the Poor. Meanwhile—over in France machines were starting to produce point net fabric.

The Nottingham manufacturers however had progressed from making net to making a form of lace on their machines. It was impossible to import this into France without paying enormous customs dues. Ideas began formulate as to how to smuggle either the lace, or better still a machine capable of making it, into France. It has been said that the first machine to be set up in Calais was smuggled there in pieces in 1816. . .this is five years before John Leavers migrated to Rouen. A Nottingham man named James Clark went over to Calais especially to put the smuggled pieces all back together again and get the machine working. Soon Clark, Webster and Bonnington (the father of the painter Parkes Bonnington who studied art in Paris) were in partnership to produce machine made lace in Calais. 1815 saw the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Until now the French and English had been at war. Now here were English men moving machines over the Channel and setting up their factories in Calais.

However, the exportation of either men or machines or even ideas was frowned upon in England. Even as I was preparing this paper I chanced upon short ‘filler’ at the bottom of a page of the North Cheshire Family Historian which reads: “Extracted from the Westmoreland Gazette & Kendal Advertiser of Saturday 22 February 1822. EMIGRATION: Three journeymen cotton spinners of Stockport were taken to Bow Street on Saturday week charged with attempting to emigrate to France and to convey the secrets of their trade thither, which has already been done to a great extent.” In spite of this, by 1825 there were about 35 lace machines already set up in Calais out of perhaps 100 on the continent altogether.

 On April 12, 1810 five men appeared together before the Mayor of Calais to declare that hence­forth they were forming an establishment for the manufacture of nets called warp and twist. Their names were: — James Clark, Richard Polhill, Thomas and Edward Pain and Thomas Davison—all Nottingham men. By 1825 it had taken Calais less than 10 years to grow from nothing into a thriving lace—making centre. Civil records in France can now be combed for details such as partnerships, patents and, of course, civil registration. Civil registration of births, marriages and deaths began in France in1792—this is 44 years before being set up in England and Wales-so by the time that the first lacemaking  families reached Calais, all births, marriages or deaths which took place in France had to be registered in the civil records at the local town hall. It is important here to remember that St Pierre le Calais is NOT Calais. When the Nottingham men first set up their machines in Calais it was their habit to work them right into the night. At home in Nottingham the machines only shut down for the middle four hours of the night.

A lacemaking machine is incredibly noisy. The French inhabitants of Calais soon found this a great nuisance. They had been used to quieter English strangers living in their midst. Exiles such as Lady Hamilton. Half-pay officers or retired people of independent means. Calais was a small coastal town, unable to absorb this rapidly increasing population of English manufacturers and workers. A suggestion was made that these new arrivals should move them­selves and their noisy equipment out of Calais into its twin town of St Pierre le Calais where there was more room for them.

From about 1820 onwards then, this is the township where most of the English lacemakers lived and worked, and the records of St Pierre le Calais are the ones to be searched, not those for Calais itself. Today, of course, this is all one giant township, but at the time you will be working through the records it is important to remember this difference. After the defeat of Napoleon the French monarchy was restored. Now Englishmen could move freely around France again. This was the opportunity for enterprising Nottingham men to move into new fields. They began to enjoy living and working in Calais. English names can now be found in abundance in the civil records of Calais. It is not yet really understood why they decided on Calais instead of Brussels, Cambrai, Douai or Paris where earlier imported machinery had already been worked. My colleague, Margaret Audin, suggested four possible reasons:

1.      A regular cross-Channel ferry went from Calais back to England;

2.      If necessary, families were actually there ready to hop on to a cross-Channel ferry;

3.      A main road ran from Calais direct to Paris where lace was selling at high prices; and

4.      Perhaps this is the most important reason of them all – there was no lace industry already there!

The men of Nottingham were not over there on their own – they took their wives and even children… and soon English children began to be registered as having been born in Calais.

Here perhaps I should remind you that children with English sounding names can also be found in other French places, Boulogne and Rouen are two which spring to mind, but there could well have been others. When searching for English births registered in France it is best to extend the search beyond Calais. Many English boys and girls of marriageable age, met and courted each other in Calais. Strangely enough they often made a special trip to England to be married. They would hop on one of those cross Channel boats and have a church ceremony at one or other of the Parish Churches in Dover, usually St Mary’s. And just in passing...the marriages in St Mary’s parish church in Dover have been fully indexed. A copy of this index is held in the Society of Genealogists library in London. Margaret says it is a pity that they chose to be married in England because French civil marriage certificates are much more informative than English ones. However, she suggests that perhaps some Anglo-French couples possibly under pressure from the bride’s French family, would have had their Dover marriages transcribed into the French registers.

Mixed marriages were not at all unusual - Englishmen to French girls...and Frenchmen to English girls as well. Although St Pierre le Calais and Calais itself, both had a slightly British atmosphere, completely integrated into local life and might perhaps have found difficulty in ever returning to Nottingham for good. Perhaps the "English" youngsters felt that their marriages would be recoginised better back home in England, be more "legal". Who knows what was behind their thinking? Suffice it to say that now, when we are looking for the marriages of some of these folks, we find them in Dover - not Calais or Nottingham - but Dover!

French civil certificates are very different from their English counterparts. A birth registration, for instance, will give the exact hour of birth, the age and profession of both parents...and...the age and profession of two witnesses. These last details are very useful for you when you are sorting out your own lacemaking ancestors in Calais. 'Witnesses' are very often relations - cousins of some degree, or failing that, close friends and workmates. When we are trying to fill out a complete story, these extra details give us those 'other' bits of the jigsaw which make all the difference to the whole picture. Margaret Audin (who died on Easter Sunday,

1992, refer Tulle # 36, July 1992), has written a lovely little book entitled "Barking up that French Tree". I would imagine that she has already donated a copy to the Association of Lacemakers (sic) but anyone interested in their own French ancestors ought to have their own private copy for themselves. She tells me that it is currently out of print, but she is working on a second edition in which she plans to write a new chapter on the documents relating to the Calais lacemakers.

She describes all the French civil registration certificates in full and gives many extra pieces of information. For instance, she says that the baby is not only just registered at the Town Hall on its birth, but actually carried there to be to ascertain its exact sex. This, she says, is linked to military call-up which boy children would be liable to at the age of 20 years. Compulsory military service has never been popular in France. This, then, was one way of making sure that all boy children were definitely so registered!

Births had to be registered within three days and this can’t exactly have been good for the frailest of the new babies—health wise. This custom has now ceased, but was in full operation during all of the time that you will be searching the records. Inevitably deaths also occurred in Calais and the civil records list these too. Margaret describes a French death certificate of her own father-in-law, which she says has the details of his birth: where born, what time and date, what sex, the name of his father and maiden name of his mother. You may not yet have realised it, but Frenchwomen do not lose their maiden names when they marry—oh would that this was so for Britain!

How I have fretted at being described as a SIMPSON rather than my own family name—which happens to be ROBERTS which in fact is even harder to trace than SIMPSON, but that is not the point—it is a question of ‘identity’—I am my father’s daughter first—much later, my husband’s wife. You must remember this when you are looking for records of women—you seek them under their maiden surnames, not their married ones. Since the birth certificates of all their children include this information it is not too hard for you to know this name. Collecting French civil certificates is obviously a worthwhile exercise.

Whilst on the subject of ‘death’ there is even an English section of the Cemetery in Calais, in which there are great flamboyant tombstones. Huge flying angels hovering over the graves of tiny children. Vulgar in their ostentation really, but perhaps proclaiming the relative affluence of the English lacemakers, and emphasising their sense of ‘family’ and an aching need to put down real roots in this ‘foreign’ land. They were all well used to living in a ‘foreign land’ by the time they reached Australia.

They were also seasoned travellers. Whether the whole families actually travelled back and forth we are not yet quite sure, although some baptisms of young children have been found in Nottingham rather than in France. But certainly the men were quite frequently away from Calais. Registration certificates of some children show quite clearly that the father of the child was absent, and census returns also show absent fathers. It could well be that many travelled ‘home’ quite regularly. Perhaps to visit relatives—to stand vigil at the death bed of a senior member of their family—to attend to family business, who knows? But always they would keep their eyes and ears open. Frequently they must have been guilty of stealing ideas from Nottingham and taking them back to Calais. The men working in Nottingham had long seen all this going on but had been powerless to stop it—all they could do was struggle on, hoping that the demand for machine made lace would be enough for everyone.

1845 saw the Children’s Commission report on conditions of work. The report made on Nottingham children makes grim reading. Babies beginning to work at the age of five. Surviving ten years crawling about under thundering machines, using their little hands to keep on tying and re-tying broken threads which adults couldn’t reach without stopping the machines. These children, by their early teens, were bent, ill and near blind … and, of course, totally illiterate. In 1846 the average age at death, in Nottingham, was 27½ years. Over in France the English contingent had seen out several periods of bad times - trade recessions - reduced wages - dearer commodities. But more importantly, periods of political unrest. It began to look as if the monarchy was about to fall again. There were times when the English were far from popular with the French citizens - “a bas les Anglais” they shouted after them. If the English left, there would be more work for the French. Go home they screamed at the English. I suppose it was the women who worried first – about their children – their menfolk and their homes.

They lived a prosperous life style. Reluctant as they were to give it all up, it wasn’t any use flying i n the face of grave danger. Events of 1789 were a bare 60 years back. Memories were comparatively fresh. It may well be that because they lived on the main route home from Paris to England, this influenced them. Paris had always been a central point in French revolutions and riots there were usually much more violent than elsewhere in France. In 1848, an Englishman living in Nice or Vichy would have read of the riots in the newspaper, but not felt particularly involved. Those living and working in Paris would not only have been kept awake at night by noisy rioters, but might also have gone in fear for their lives even venturing out in daylight. This would not be because of their nationality, but because angry mobs are always dangerously unpredictable. Those fleeing from Paris then, were passing through Calais and no doubt spreading rumours as they went. Although these tales might have been exaggerated, there was also real unemployment and shortage of money in St Pierre. Margaret has a charming suggestion - she likens the colony to a hive of bees, which she says will ‘swarm’ at the moment when the hive becomes too crowded - simply flying off for pastures new. She feels perhaps this idea of looking out for somewhere new was already in the minds of many of the Lacemakers. It is significant that they did not feel so disposed during the minor revolution which took place i n 1830 - but then the English population of Calais was not so large. I think they began to panic about leaving France for good. It would be impossible for them to be absorbed by the trade back home in Nottingham... and besides they were not exactly in favour with their brothers there.

Where would they live? How would they live? At home there was un-employment, sickness and despair, on a much greater scale than they had ever seen in France. They had sufficient family contact with the industry and conditions back home in Nottingham to be well aware of the prevailing situation. They petitioned Parliament to help them to emigrate to Australia, and for once the Government acted remarkably quickly - within a matter of weeks three ships carrying nearly 1,000 people, lacemakers and their families set sail between April and June 1848 for distant Australia. 296 people sailed on the FAIRLIE arriving at Port Jackson in August, 1848; 245 people sailed on the HARPLEY arriving at Adelaide in September 1848; and 263 people sailed on the AGINCOURT which also put into Port Jackson in October 1848. Port Jackson is now Sydney. How could Nottingham possibly have absorbed these nearly 1,000 people?

The exodus of these folk to Australia was a minor miracle. The newspapers for Nottingham report the story and print copies of the letters of application which came from the leaders of this vast party of Lacemakers…and the replies received from the authorities-Parliament in London and the city Fathers in Nottingham. As always bits are left out! It has not been possible yet to work out whether any of them actually came home to Nottingham to bid farewell to their families or not. It is almost certain that one at least of the boats put in at a French port … some may have boarded there. The Act for making a railway from London to York, with a branch to Nottingham, to be called the Great Northern Railway, was not passed through Parliament til 1846.

It is most unlikely that the line was through and fully operative less than two years later. The journey would have had to be by road, on a coach. This could have taken anything up to four days from Calais through to Nottingham - was there time for anyone to do this, let alone the cash? There is evidence that the families left France in such a hurry that they were actually kitted out with clothes on board the ships. Margaret says that some of their French friends made collections for. In one official letter, at least, the leaders of the party promised to repay them money loaned towards the cost of the fares. This doesn’t sound as if there was any money to spare at all. No wonder when they arrived i n the Hunter Valley, they had no money to pay for help i n carrying their baggage and trudged through that rain-storm carrying all that they had themselves. What an arrival this must have been for them all! There is a lot of work to be done yet on the background to this remarkable story. Descendants of these Lacemakers here in Australia are variously doing their best, I know. This is such a unique and interesting story, it should present real impetus. No other group came in just this way - no others were bilingual - no others left quite the same inheritance to their descendants. Many of you have incredible keep-sakes still in your possession. Faded photographs, bundles of letters from home, tiny pieces of lace, and sad little boxes of parts of intricate machinery which no one now can put back together. They must have been important enough to salvage and carry all the way to Australia - a place which could be described at the time of their arrival as totally lace-less. Who wanted lace in this environment just exactly 60 years after the landing of the First Fleet? If lace was worn out here at all, then it would be just by those nearest the Governor.

There were certainly no lace making machines here already and this was the one thing that the lace makers did not bring with them. .how could they? They had fled France i n a hurry - no one had time to dismantle and pack huge machinery – indeed many of their very machines are there still, housed now in the museum in Calais! The struggle of the lacemakers to survive this upheaval will one day make absorbing reading. It was their immense good fortune that gold was discovered in America in 1849 and subsequently in Australia. Before they had been three years in Australia a boom was created through which anyone with initiative could find plenty of work, especially those capable of understanding machinery. Many of the newly arrived Lacemakers moved into Gold Mining areas - Ballarat, for instance, as many of you know already. However, back home in Calais, although the French monarchy did fall, after an inevitable hiccup, trade began to pick up and a thriving lace trade resumed. At the Exhibition held in London in 1851, much Calais lace was on display - and later at the Paris exhibition of 1855 even more was displayed. The English Nottingham lacemakers continued in competition with the Calais lacemakers … many of them English in origin still for not all of them went to Australia, or returned to Nottingham - John Leavers descendants stayed out in France, for instance. Obviously those with far too much to lose - the owners of enormous machinery, perhaps whole factories-or even shops full of goods - stuck it out and stayed in France. Today anyone going to do research in Calais should wade through the local telephone directory for “English” names. Many can still be found there - some of these people are now totally French, have been for up to perhaps six generations. But originally, whether they realise it or not, they were English-Nottingham folk in fact … and again whether they know this or not, many of them have Australian cousins.

Many did come home to Nottingham and managed some­how to survive -possibly with help from their relatives. Many of these, indeed, went back to Calais again just as soon as the troubles blew over. There are still families in Nottingham, who recall Great-Grandparents who spoke mostly French! As too do many Australians. I know of one family-SMITH in fact - which is now Nottingham based, and has been in the lacemaking industry for four generations. They know that their forebears weathered the 1848 ‘storm’ and eventually came home to Nottingham another whole generation later!

Knowing what conditions were like in Australia in the second half of the 19th century - it is hard to picture the struggle the Calais lacemakers must have experienced. For the women, in particular, it must have been like stepping back into the dark ages! Plucked from those neat houses. Leaving behind …far behind … too far ever to hope to see them again … their loved ones back home in Nottingham. Here was the reality of the ‘Tyranny of Distance”. Trying so hard to cope with this alien new land-with its shortages, inadequacies, roughness. But cope they just have - the long list of their descendants bears witness today to their triumph. Perhaps it was a mercy that letters took so long to get back home from Australia and the replies from England received. Six months in each direction was about the fastest. Often, if a letter just missed a ship, it took much longer. It may have taken them a whole year to realise that they had perhaps been overhasty - life back in Calais was much the same as ever - maybe even better. It was just as well that they struggled on in ignorance of this fact. By the time they really knew, it was much too late to change their minds anyway.

This, then, has been a tale of people and their struggle to survive. It has ranged far and encompassed some of the most important Industrial Revolutionary history of England, France and Australia. Margaret Audin has been a very great help to me over the preparation of this paper. She read the draft and made many corrections and suggestions for a better text. Many of the words and phrases are in fact hers. She writes and thinks very much in the same vein as myself, we would make a wonderful ‘double act! I have suggested to her that one day we should both come out to Australia and do just this - present a double act for you all! The next important meeting will be 1998 - the 150th anniversary of the Lacemakers arrival here - Margaret says she will then be aged 72! I shall be even older! But it would be a lovely celebration. I hope that by that time membership of the Lacemakers Association will be positively enormous. That you will have recruited all the help you need. But more importantly, that you will have gained the attention of the professional historians, and thus be recognised as one of the most important facets of English speaking Australia … taken your rightful place in fact.

Perhaps one day someone will write it all down for the benefit of the many thousands of descendants of these strange Nottingham folk who upped and went to live and work in Calais. Folk, whose descendants today believe they are English, French, or Australian, but are, in fact, cousins of varying degree and complexity with each other still, if they only take the trouble to work it all out and communicate with each other … and who were all once just plain Nottingham English frame work knitters making stockings for a living.


[1] Margaret Audin died on Easter Sunday, 1992 (refer Tulle # 36, July 1992.


Continuing Dr Bob Burgess's Story
The Maiden Voyage Of The Harpley

(Tulle 24, February 1989)

The Harpley (Launceston Examiner of 11th September, 1847): The "William" brought unwelcome intelligence of the Harpley. We give elsewhere as much of the particulars as the Sydney papers afford and regret to add that private advices are less favourable.

The vessel experienced strong easterly gales, and about 18 days after leaving Hobart Town was struck with a heavy sea which carried away a portion or her bulwarks (the sides of the ship above its upper deck). From that time she continued to leak to such an extent that the pumps required constant working. It was decided to proceed to Valparaiso, but contrary winds thwarted the design, and Captain Buckland decided it more advisable to bear up for Tahiti, where the ship arrived on the 28th June, about forty-six days after she had sprung a leak, during the whole of which time the pumps were vigorously worked by the crew and the military.

We understand that in consequence of the absence of the chief authority from Tahiti, a difficulty occurred as to the landing of the cargo, and she had to remain there idle for two or three days until the "Governor" returned. Upwards of two hundred tons of cargo had been landed, but the leak had not then been discovered: it wee feared that the whole of the cargo would have to be discharged and the vessel hove down. We need scarcely add that this intelligences has been received with general regret, from the painful frustration of the many anxious hopes of a prosperous voyage which attended her departure from this island. We subjoin an extract from the letter of a passenger to an officer of the 11th, by which it will be seen that the respected proprietor, Mr Raven, had exhibited the same spirit of liberality which distinguished him in this town.


"Sixteen days after leaving Port, have sprung a leak; all hands work the pumps night and day; for eight days often obliged to be lashed to the pumps to prevent being swept off, as the sea continued breaking over the deck: obliged to heave part of the cargo and guns overboard to lighten the ship: got to Tahiti on 28th June; landed the troops and passengers on the 1st July, who were placed in the mission-house, while the Harpley was being discharged and refitted. The soldiers speak highly of Mr Raven's kindness, who supplied the men with grog four times a day, and oftener during the roughest of weather, and allowed them an extra supply of provisions. The crew of the H.M.B. (Her Majesty's Britannic) ship-of-war "Grampus" assisted the Harpley's crew."

The above accounts are really only precis of the incredible drama. The real flavour of what it meant to be at sea in a howling gale that threatened to destroy the ship is captured in the amazing tale of an unnamed passenger aboard the Harpley on it's maiden voyage and published in the Launceston Examiner on 15th September, 1847. This is an extract of a letter dated Tahiti, 2nd July, 1847.

"This is a brief account of our voyage and the disasters connected therewith, compiled from the best authorities, for the use and edification of my Tasmanian friends. We sailed from Hobart Town at noon on Thursday, 29th April.

We had fair winds and strong for some time, and in six days passed the longitude of New Zealand. Sometimes it blew very hard; in fact we sailed more frequently under double-reefed topsails than in any other manner. Till the 18th May we managed to keep our course, although for the last ten days we have been continually amongst rain, squalls and gales, but on that day it blew a gale indeed, which staggered us altogether. Our topgallant bulwarks, though strongly built, were washed away like so much brown paper, and the stout iron staunchions snapped like carrots. The sea washed the vessel fore and aft, and at every plunge we shipped many tons of water. We had grown accustomed to having two or three feet of water in the lee scuppers constantly; but we objected strongly to the huge breaches the waves had made in our side, and the mountain seas which continually broke over our ship. One of these filled and broke down the larboard quarter, and the other was very much damaged.

To crown all, we found, on sounding the well, that the ship had sprung a very extensive leak, and that water was coming in at the rate of one inch a minute (i.e. five feet per hour); and moreover, we feared that we should be unable to keep the ship afloat until we could reach the nearest land. However, the pumps were manned instantly, and they have been going night and day without a moment's intermission ever since, and they are going now. A detachment of the 96th, consisting of 36 men divided into four watches of 9 men each, was appointed to pump constantly; and by dint of continued and unwearied exertions (and extra beer), they have just managed to keep the ship clear. Had the vessel made three inches per hour more water, we never could have been able to keep her afloat until we made land. Had we not been so fortunate as to have the soldiers on board, we must inevitably have perished, for it would have been utterly impossible for the crew and passengers to have kept her afloat for a week, even in fine weather (which we never saw), much more during the succession of storms, gales and squalls which attended us for more than a month from the time we sprung the leak.

Our distressed situation, the tremendous hole in the bottom of the ship, and fears for the safety of our lives induced the Captain to bear up for Valparaiso, as he was afraid to risk going round the Horn. Though only ten days sail from New Zealand it was not, of course, practicable to reach it on account of the prevailing westerly gales. We stood on, therefore, through storm and rain towards Valparaiso; but at the end of a week, the continued bad weather, the continued bad seas we shipped, the state of the men who had hardly ever been dry since leaving Hobart Town, and our apprehension that the pumps and the soldiers would both be worn out, were considerations sufficient to make us alter course, and bear up for Tahiti, as the nearest harbour and the best place to fly "for safety and for succour", though we had no chart of the island, and did not know the least in the world how the chances of obtaining assistance might stand in such a half-civilised out-of-the-way part of the world. After we had made a northerly course for two days we had a gale - such a gale! - to use the sublime words of Euripides, -


"I've been in many a breeze before,
But never sitch a blow."

All the other gales and squalls, etc., were insignificant by comparison with this one; it laid our blessed ship on her beam ends, washed me out of my cot (at about 3 o'clock in the morning), and frightened almost every one to a fearful extent - that is, to the full extent of fear. I rushed out of my cabin, in which my boxes and clothes were floating about four feet from the deck, found the cuddy full of water, women weeping and screaming, and men in great bodily fear, - and went upon deck, where I saw a picture I shall not forget in a hurry.

The ship was lying right down on her larboard side, all her quarter-deck (on that side) under water, and also a great part of the poop, and a mountainous sea washing right over her. The soldiers, unable to stand, or work the pump., were holding on as they best might to anything within their reach. Captain Buckland told the carpenter to fetch his axe to cut away the masts, but by the time all was ready the wind lulled a moment, and the ship righted a little. The sight was magnificent; sea and sky seemed all one mass; and it blew so hard that you could not look to windward nor stand for an instant without holding on vi et armis (i.e. with all the strength of your arms -vide new translation). We were skudding under two close reefed topsails and fore-topmast-staysail when this occurred. Afterwards we lay to for a couple of days under a storm trysail, when the wind was abating, we made sail, and about five weeks afterwards - having experienced nothing but foul winds - we arrived at Tahiti. We never had (for more than six weeks) one day's fair wind; or even one day's wind sufficient to enable us to lay our course; and what is more, the wind was not only generally blowing in our teeth, but mostly blowing so hard that it was impossible to carry sail. Even after we got within the tropics, when we confidently hoped to meet with a south-east trade, which would have been fair for us9 we still had foul wind (though not gales), and storms of rain accompanied by a great deal of thunder and lightning, which lasted for nearly a week. Nay, misfortune pursued us so far that, although we saw Tahiti at daylight on Wednesday morning, and were close to it (within ten miles) at night, yet we were unable, in consequence of calm. and light baffling winds, to get in until Saturday, and in all probability should have been outside the harbour till this very minute had it not been for the brickish conduct of the French and Englishmen-of-war lying here, who manfully and without any provocation whatever, sent 8 boats (4 French and 4 Eng1ish) pulling from 12 to 18 oars each, who towed us into the harbour in gallant style, to our great joy and immense satisfaction,. And here we are; amongst cocoanuts, plantains, bananas, oranges, limes, pineapples, arrowroot, Englishmen, Frenchmen, Yankeemen, Danishmen and le Kanague as the natives of these islands are called."

After such excitement the rest of the voyage was more routine. The Harpley was refitted and sailed from Tahiti on 12th September, 1847. (Launceston Examiner 20th September, 1847). She apparently called in at Rio de Janiero (Miss Wayne's file note say. "all well at Rio" with a newspaper reference of 26th February, 1848 - this does not seem to be the Launceston Examiner, but it may be another newspaper).

The Harpley reached England on 8th February, 1848 (L.E, 10th June, 1848). Here she must have been given a very thorough going over by the Surveyor for Lloyds of London, and was classed as Al for ten years (Cornwall Chronicle 26th August, 1848 - this is a Launceston newspaper).

Researched by Dr. R.J. Burgess.


Cousins? Which One? - Richard Lander

(Tulle 24, February 1989)

Have you ever experienced difficulty in determining the exact cousin relationship between two family members? There is a simple mathematical formula for doing so.

  1. The first step is to trace their lineage back to a common ancestor. Make sure that this is their nearest common ancestor and not his or her parent or child. By counting one generation too many, or too few, one will get the wrong number. Number this common ancestor "0" to ensure that this generation is not included in the arithmetic.

  2. The next step is to count the number of generations separating each person from the common ancestor.

  3. If the two numbers are the same, then the order of cousinhood is one less than the number. For example, if the common ancestor is a great grand-parent of each person. The number of generations is three and the order of cousinhood is two - so they are second cousins.

  4. If the two numbers are not the same, then the order of cousinhood is one less than the smaller number. For example, if the common ancestor is a great-great-grandparent of one person and a grandparent of the other, the number of generations are four and two respectively. Consequently, the order of cousinhood is 2-1=1 and the degree of removal is 4-2=2. They are first cousins twice removed.

  5. The children of first cousins are second cousins to each other.

  6. The children of second cousins are third cousins to each other.

  7. The children of your first cousins are first cousins once removed to you and you are the same to them.

  8. The children of your second cousins are second cousins once removed to you and you are the same to them.

  9. Grandchildren of your second cousins are your second cousins twice removed and you are the same to them.

  10. Great grandchildren of your second cousins are second cousins thrice removed.

Translating French Death Certificates

(Tulle 48, August, 1995 and elsewhere)

All translations have been kindly provided by Lyndall Lander. For your own certificates, substitute the appropriate English number, word or phrase from the table below.

Edward Lander âgé de 8 ans et 4 mois (célibataire) No. 81.

L’an mil huit cent quarante-trois, le vingt un du mois de Mars a onze heures du matin. Par-devant nous Louis Joseph Fougère, adjoint, remplissant par délégation du Maire les fonctions d’officier de l’état civil de Ia ville de St. Pierre-les-Calais, canton de Calais,. département du Pas de Calais, sont comparus les Sieurs Walter Wells, âgé de trente-huit ans, ouvrier en tulle, et Henry Constant Lancel, âgé de quarante ans, Secrétaire adjoint de Ia Mairie, tous deux voisins du décédé, demeurant à St. Pierre-les-Calais, lesquels nous ont déclaré que Edward Lander, âgé de huit ans et quatre mois, né à Nottingham, en Angleterre, demeurant à St. Pierre-les-Calais, mineur, fils de Edward Lander, ouvrier en tulle et de Mary Ann Simpson, demeurant à St. Pierre-les-Calais est décédé le vingt de ce mois, à sept heures du soir, à la demeure de ses père et mère site route de Dunkerque, Section B, numéro vingt-sept bis et ont les déclarants signé avec nous le présent acte, après qu’il leur en a été fait lecture.

 Edward Lander aged 8 years and 4 months (single) No. 81.

In the year 1843 on the twenty first of March at eleven o’clock in the morning. Appearing before me, Louis Joseph Fougère, deputy, fulfilling by delegation from the Mayor the duties of Registrar for the town of St. Pierre-les-Calais, canton of Calais, department of Pas de Calais, have appeared Messrs. Walter Wells, thirty eight years of age, lacemaker, and Henry Constant Lancel, forty years of age, deputy secretary of the Town Hall, both neighbours of the deceased, living at St. Pierre-les-Calais, who have declared to me that Edward Lander, aged eight years and four months, born in Nottingham, in England, living at St. Pierre-les-Calais, minor, son of Edward Lander, lacemaker and of Mary Ann Simpson, living at St. Pierre­les-Calais, died on the twentieth of this month, at seven o’clock in evening, at the home of his father and mother situated at Dunkirk Street, Section B , number twenty seven A and the declarants have signed with me this certificate after it had been read to them.

Translating French Birth Certificates

Rosina Lander. (légitimé) No. 358

L’an mu huit quarante-trois, le deux du mois de décembre a dix heures du matin. Pardevant nous Louis Joseph Fougère, adjoint, remplissant par délégation du Maire les fonctions d’officier de l’état civil de Ia ville de St. Pierre-les-Calais, canton de Calais, département du Pas de Calais, est comparu le Sieur Edward Lander, âgé de trente-deux ans, ouvrier en tulle, demeurant à St. Pierre-les-Calais, lequel nous a présenté un enfant du sexe féminine ne a la demeure site verte, Section G, numéro quatre cinque la trente novembre dernier a dix heures du soir, de lui déclarant et de Mary Ann Simpson, âgée de trente-trois ans, son épouse, et auquel il a déclaré vouloir le prénom de Rosina, les dites déclaration et déclaration (sic) faites en présence des Sieurs Thomas Eyre, âgé de trente sixains, ouvrier en tulle et François Henry Duquenoy, âgé de trente-six ans, journalier, tour deux demeurant a St. Pierre-les-Calais, et ont le père en témoins signe avec nous le présent acte, après qu’il leur en a été fait lecture.

Rosina Lander (legitimate) Number 358.

In the year 1843, on the second of December at ten o’clock in the morning. Before me Louis Joseph Fougere, deputy, fulfilling by delegation from the Mayor the duties of Registrar for the town of St. Pierre­les-Calais, canton of Calais, department of Pas de Calais, has appeared Mr. Edward Lander, thirty two years of age, lacemaker, living at St. Pierre­les-Calais, who presented to me an infant of the feminine sex, born at the dwelling situated at rue Verte (Green St), Section G , number 435, on the 30th November last at ten o’clock in the evening, of him the declarant and of Mary Ann Simpson, thirty three years of age, his wife, and to whom he has declared his wish to give the Christian name of Rosina, the verbal declaration and (presentation) made in the presence of Messrs Thomas Eyre, thirty six years old, lacemaker and Francis Henry Duguenoy, thirty six years old, craftsman, both living at S t . Pierre-les-Calais, and who have, the father as witness, signed with me the existing certificate after it had been read to them.






un, une


trente (et) un








trente-trois, etc.




















soixante et onze
















soixante-quinze, etc.








quatre-vingt et un




quatre-vingt dix












mil sept cent cinquante deux




mil huit cent vingt et un




mil huit cent trente-cinq


vingt (et) un


mil huit cent quarante




mil huit quarante huit



In the morning

du matin



In the afternoon

de l’après-midi



In the evening

du soir



At midday

à midi



At midnight

à minuit








de sexe masculin




du sexe féminin







3rd June

le trois juin



5th May

le cinq mai








à une heure du matin




à trois heures du matin



I pm

à une heure de l’après-midi



5 pm

à cinq heures de l’après-midi




à sept heures du soir




à sept heures et demie (½ )







Aged 22

âgé de vingt-deux ans







St Pierre les Calais as the Lacemakers Knew It.

(Tulle # 34, November 1991, Gillian Kelly)

While we view St Pierre as a suburb of Calais, as far back as 1640, a sketch map of Calais and its environs clearly shows the network formed by the streets Quatre Coins, Soupirant and Vauxhall on the Eastern side of Jacquard, and Vic, Tannerie, Temple and Neuve on the West. At the start of the 19th century the area that developed into St Pierre was developed to some extent. There were some 140 dwellings lining the named streets, with some of the smaller ones developing with names that indicated the rural nature of the area: Fleurs (flowers), Prairies (meadows), Verte (green). Pigs and cows still wandered along these pathways. By 1830 St Pierre had 1000 houses covering some 2200 hectares. Three quarters of the population was English. As urbanisation progressed, new streets were named in memory of the English Lace pioneers—Leavers, Lindey, Webster, and Martin. Heathcoat, who the French recognise as one of the leaders in the field, had a street named after him, but its pronunciation in French was just too awkward, so the street was renamed Hermant, after an early mayor.

The subdivider was evident early in the development of the suburb. As expansion took place, more and more landowners sold off small parcels without street frontage. Eventually unofficial “streets” were formed, and Council regulations were developed to ensure some standards were maintained. The owners developed the streets on their land at their cost (the profit being in the blocks) and then gave the street to the community. Most of the streets between St Omer Canal and Rue des Fontinettes were formed in this way. Even with some regulation there was little development of the condition of the streets. La Grande Rue, i.e. le Boulevard Jacquard, running into Boulevard Lafayette was the only one paved to a width greater than four metres. All the others were muddy or dusty, depending on the season. Often in winter, horses and carriages, and even pedestrians had difficulty. “L’Industriel Calaisien” said that a few couldn’t be crossed without a bridge when it rained heavily. Houses went up throughout St Pierre without order or unity of style - some back from the street and others almost on the footpath. There was no “elite” area. Modest workers homes were side by side with the more elegant homes of the owners and the occasional farmhouse that was a leftover from the farming era of the district.

Most of the houses were single storied and fairly solidly built, usually with a tiny attic under the eaves. They were whitewashed each year, and sometimes a little yellow colouring was added to this. The footings were treated with tar, giving a nice contrast, and often woodwork was painted in bright colours.

The ground floor often lacked a hall, and the entrance was straight into a room paved with red tiles. This was both kitchen and living room. Sometimes, if the house had a hall, there would be a small, very narrow room at the front. This made a kind of sitting room, used only on special occasions. A coal fire could be lit in the “prusienne”- a fire with an open hearth, but with a grille that could be lowered to prevent cinders flying out, or a child falling in!

In more modest homes, this room became the parents’ bedroom, while that tiny attic was for the children. Babies slept in their parent’s room in a cradle that the mother was able to rock by pulling an attached cord. To make coming and going easier, the room would be softly lit with a night light made from a small wax wick poked through a disc of cork, and floated on oil in a glass jar.

While this conjures up a cosy picture of cottage life, this wasn’t the case. Often there were no internal doors and the stairs to the attic were steep and narrow, with a knotted rope for a bannister. There were no sewers or water. Each house had a sewage bucket in the corner that was emptied night and morning at a public disposal point known as Maclntyres and very early each day householders could be seen rushing to dispose of their effluent, slopping the contents as they ran. Fortunately each day, when the bell struck nine, it was compulsory for householders to go out and sweep the area in front of their home, under the watchful eye of the Sergeants. Rubbish was then picked up by a dustman.

The land was such that drainage and water were large problems. Rain and run off went into a series of ditches pompously called sewers. They ran along the streets into l’Alyme and la Calendrerie Rivers. Even as late as 1842 St Pierre did not have private wells. The land was swampy and the water briny. This wouldn’t have been quite so bad if it hadn’t been for the amount of sewage that sank into it! The only public wells, at least provided with a pump, were at the gates to the walls. Water merchants supplied water from Fontinettes. They carried it in huge barrels and sold it at ½ to 1 sous per bucket.

Often the extended family lived in the house. Grandparents, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts as well as aged people who rejected the idea of hospitalisation were often found crowded into one tiny abode. Where there was room, some households took on one or two boarders to supplement their incomes. Sometimes apprentices were given food and board at the home of their employee.

The life of our lace workers was simple. Their housing was modest and nourishment frugal. Interestingly, a large part of the family income was spent on the toilette of the wife when young and without children. Older women were happy with a more modest wardrobe. The women always wrapped up in a woollen shawl when they went out, always bareheaded. They only wore a hat when their husbands reached the grade of “petit fabricant’, and then chose one that was much more suited to a middle-class older lady!

Saturday was pay-day and wages depended on production. Workers were paid by the piece. It was custom to take one’s pay and go to the ‘cafes’. It is presumed that this is the equivalent of the pub or club of today. Workers gave their wives what they thought was needed for the house customarily keeping plenty for themselves. Housewives supplemented this with the earnings of the older children.

Food was simple. Breakfast was a concoction of baked barley with milk and cream, and tea or coffee. There were two main meals: one based on potatoes with butter or lard, the other, (once or twice a week) was meat from the butcher, or pork from the delicatessen. The rural nature of St Pierre meant there was often vegetable soup, sometimes enriched with bacon, and bread. On Sunday beef gruel would be served. Supper was bread with cream or milk, and sometimes an egg or a piece of apple. There were plenty of potatoes and bread and brown bread was cheaper.

Later, all workers ate more meat. The French see this as a result of English influence. This demand kept the prices for meat up. The English are also reputed to have introduced tomato sauce and English and Dutch cheeses to St Pierre. The workers drank beer as a daily lunchtime routine. The beer was light and cheap and easily drunk. The English brewers in St Pierre made a stronger and better qualified brew which they introduced to the French. Wine was usually only imbibed on Sundays. Alcohol was drunk too freely. The workers supposedly drank neat brandy all day “to kill the worms”. It was drunk at a cafe or bought from a “bistouille” that opened in the morning and after the midday meal. One Dr Arnaud, who was severely critical of the English workers accused them of mixing sugar water with gin, and of choosing to get drunk in the evening”, when the people of Calais, being less prudent, “got drunk at all times of the night and day”!

In crisis times, when there was less money and less food, meat was supplemented with smoked herrings and kippers, and the workers even went fishing for their own fresh fish. When times were hard, lard replaced butter, and supper became bread and butter or lard dunked in tea or coffee. Teas became a concoction made from blackberry leaves, and coffee, which always had some chicory, became chicory alone.

After 1815, there was a friendly invasion of English in Calais. Officers stayed because they liked the French way of life, some were gentlemen of independent means and others were self-employed.

The start of the lace industry brought thousands more lacemakers, mechanics and designers. These, in their wake, brought grocers, cafe owners, butchers, booksellers and barristers. The influence was such that Le Journal de Calais published an English supplement.

From “Pickaxes and Needles”: “those who were employed in the lace industry were mostly English who had obtained permission to live in France. This population was considered unstable - they all said they’d leave at the first sign of any war to threaten France. A quarter of these were composed of the very poor who swarmed wherever there were factories. They came from every­where to buy the rather sandy land available – some 100 Francs, others 50F, 15F and even down to 1OF. They wanted a shack they didn’t have to pay rent for!”

In 1824 there were 412 English living in Calais. By 1841 this had increased to 1420. There was a sharp decrease after the events of February 1848, but by 1858 the numbers had increased to 2500.

Assimilation was gradual and mainly precipitated by the mixing of families rather than totally English families socialising with French. In the factories there was daily contact that saw love affairs blossom and lead to marriages that reflected a little of each other’s way of life. Mostly, the children of these marriages were raised as French, so schooling did much to assimilate them.

The registers of births are a good indication of this. 1853-1870 saw Eugene and Eugenie creep into English/French families, and Adolph, Leonie and Narcisse supplanted, little by little, the Williams, Walters and Mary Ann’s of the 1840s.

The drop in English numbers in 1848 is one of which all Lacemakers are aware. An eyewitness account of that time is interesting. Henry Robinson Hartley, resident of St Pierre noted that on the evening of 28 February 1848…

“….about 11 o’clock a good part of the working class was singing in the streets. They agitated the workers on the railway to stop work. They sang the Marseillaise, broke windows, threatened the mayor. The demonstrations went all night.”

The next day the Mayor called in the National Guard, who organised patrols and requested the Government send a regiment to control attacks on the factories and the English who lived there.

A certain xenophobe, evident in parts of France, circulated alarming rumours in the early days of March. It is said that at Boulogne, the English workers were expelled from the factories. Henry Hartley, on 8 March, wrote: “Yesterday, all was extraordinarily quiet, not a coach, not a rider. was by the order of the authorities.” The next day he wrote to a friend. “You will be happy to know we have had no attacks and there is no disorder in this village”.

However, the word ‘republic’ frightened the English (and also a certain number of French if one is to believe Le Jour de Calais). In frustration, and with the support of the Workers’ Union, 500 English subjects left St Pierre in May-June. There had been acts of pillage on the part of certain individuals who broke into a few houses and demanded donations in kind, or their lives. The intervention of the National Guard and the threat of court stopped these practices. The Garrison was on alert, ready to intervene if needed, and to the letter of thanks the Mayor wrote to the Commandant, he replied: “It’s my pleasant duly to reply, and to pay a great compliment to the locals, particularly to the numbers of workers, who, during the crisis, have not uttered one word that would hurt the military.

Source used: Albert Vion , “Calais et St Pierre au XIC Siècle (1815-1885)”, Westhoek-Editions, Dunkirk, France, 1982.



Life in the Lace Factories.

(Tulle # 35, March 1992, Gillian Kelly)

It is important to remember there were three basic stages in the history of the Lace machines. The first machines were hand operated, and produced a fine, even tulle that became the basis for embroiderers to work the designs on. The Old Loughborough, the machine that was first taken to France, was one such machine.

These machines were operated by craftsmen and all that was required was a small shed, or even a large enough ground floor room. There is a record of Thomas and Walter Shipman setting up a factory in an empty warehouse in rue de Ia Pomme d’Or (Ed: in St Pierre) in 1820. A little later a M. Herbelot of rue St Dennis operated in a building that was actually behind his house. The house fronted onto rue St Dennis, and out the back was his factory-a wooden shed some 5 metres by 3 metres. Behind it, fronting onto rue de Ia Riviere (facing Notre Dame) were the workers cottages. All the factories of this time would have been much the same.

Two other inventions revolutionised the industry—Jacquard’s system of punched holes in cards that carried the design, and the work of Fergusson which applied this to the tulle machines. For the first time the machines were truly making lace. And then came steam! In 1839 Pearson and Webster built a factory on the corner of rue Neuve and the future rue Nationale. It was 30 metres x 10 metres. On one of the short sides, a wall separated the boiler and engine room from the machines. The driveshaft ran from end to end in the building. Most of the early steam factories would have been (built) on the same lines.

By 1845 the basic design changed. The Farrands brothers, in rue du Pont-Lottin, built a factory with the boiler and engines installed in an entirely separate building, with a space of some three metres between it and the factory. The steam was carried through insulated pipes. This factory was three floors, only 3.30 metres wide. The drive shaft was off-centre, obviously to run a single row of machines.

There were many positions of employment associated with the running of a factory. To begin with there was the designer. The big factories had their own departments, but the smaller ones bought from public design firms. The French were master designers. After the Jacquard system was applied to the lace machines, a person was employed to punch the designs into the cards.(Jacquard conveyed his design message to the machine in much the same way as a Pianola Roller works, or as today’s knitting machine cards do.)

In another part of the factory hanks of spun cotton were wound onto wooden spools and were used for the weft threads. These operators were called les dévideuses - a term often found on birth certificates. The warp threads were produced by les warpeurs, (from the English, warper) winding the cotton onto long metal rollers that were the width of the machine. The weft is produced in the machine by the backwards and forwards movements of brass bobbins hung between very thin steel plates. The bobbin is rewound by les wheeleuses. The full bobbins were carefully checked for irregularities that would cause imperfections in the lace, and then returned to the machines by les remonteurs.

A factory of only ten machines would employ some 75 persons: 20 lacemakers, a foreman, a designer and his assistant, 2 devideuses, 2wheeleuses, 2 tamboureuses, 10 remonteurs (who observed the machines also), 1 pattern puncher, 1 warpeur, 4 menders, a women’s supervisor, 4 finishers, 20 trimmers, 3 clerks and one first aid man.


Those Two Maitlands.

(Tulle # 36, July 1992, Mrs Lindsay Watts)

There were paddle steamers trading last century between Sydney and Morpeth, both named Maitland. The first was built in 1837, the second in 1870. Both were wrecked after 28 years of service. The earlier vessel, built by John Russell of Darling Harbour, Sydney, was launched on 20 September 1837, watched at a distance by Governor Richard Bourke. The Governor had in mind the use of a steamship for moving soldiers, officials and convicts around the various settlements along the NSW coast.

A wooden vessel of 140 tons, with dimensions about 103 feet long, by 16 wide by 8 deep, the first Maitland was about the same length as the commercial tugs at present operating around Sydney Harbour. She was the third ocean-going steamer built in Australia and was owned by Edward Manning who intended her for the Sydney-Morpeth trade. The locally made engines gave her good speed, and she beat the Kangaroo during trials held on Sydney Harbour.

In February 1838 the Maitland made her maiden voyage from Sydney to Morpeth in command of Captain Taggart. She was fitted to carry sixteen passengers in the main cabin and eight in the ladies cabin. During her thirteen years in NSW she traded to the Hunter, Wollongong and Port Macquarie, the Hawkesbury, the Clarence and Manning Rivers and also Moreton Bay. She was sold in 1850 to Captain G. Cole for harbour duties in Port Philip. Five years later she caught fire on the Yarra River and sank but her remains were raised and rebuilt as the Samson. Soon afterwards she was sold to New Zealand interests, sailed across the Tasman and was used over there mainly as a tugboat. In 1865, she grounded and became a total loss.

The second steamer Maitland did not appear on the Hunter until 1871, so it is to the first we must refer. The assumption that our Lacemakers travelled on the Maitland came, I believe, from Bert Archer’s excellent historical fictional notes, based on all he could glean. However, in this instance, I think he may err. We know the Lacemakers left Sydney almost immediately upon their arrival. Vaughan Evans, who in 1987 was Editor of the journal of the Australian Association for Maritime History, went to the trouble of searching the Shipping Intelligence for October 1848, and says: It would seem most likely they travelled on the steamer, Rose, Captain Pattison, 172 tons, which made continual trips up-and-down to Morpeth and took only a day for the trip.


Letters from Adelaide - John Freestone.

(Tulle # 49, November 1995)


Among the passengers on the Harpley were John Freestone (36), Ann (30), William (10), Alfred (8), John (6), Henry (4) and Charles Robert (2). In November and December, 1848 John wrote two letters home which were published on page 8 of the Nottingham Review, 27 July 1849. To judge from the letters, John had a better than average gift for clear, informal narrative and one could wish that he had left a diary of the voyage and his early experiences in the Colony. Photocopies of these letters and of several other articles were kindly sent to Doug Webster, the ASLC Secretary in November 1995, by Barry Holland of Nottingham.


It will be in the recollection of our readers that about the time of the outburst of the French Revolution, when so many Nottingham lace-hands were driven from Calais, a large number of them were provided with the means of transport to Australia. The following letters are from one of the number:

South Australia, November 1, 1848. We landed at Port Adelaide on the 2nd of September, after a pretty fair voyage of four months. It was late on Saturday night when we got up to the quay-side, so no person went on shore that night. Several went on shore the next morning. I went in the afternoon, and a fine muddy, dirty place it was. It was all hop, jump and pick your road as well as you could, I used to think St. Pierre a very dirty place, but it is a palace to Port Adelaide. It is the muddiest place I had ever seen, and no mistake about it.

Well, after viewing the Port, I began to wonder what sort of a place the Town of Adelaide was; so the next day, Monday, after the commissioner had been and examined every person on board, and given such information as he was asked for, I and B Holmes started for Adelaide to seek for work; but we found plenty out of work as well as ourselves, and began to think we must have come to the wrong place. However, I went backwards and forwards from the ship to the town of Adelaide (which is six miles) for four or five days, making all the enquiries I could, until all my cash was gone; but having £2 to receive when I had been there eight days, for the office I served on board the ship, I determined not to spend it going to Adelaide, but to march straight into the bush at once, and not turn back until I had got work of some sort or other.

I told a man my intentions, and he said he would go with me, so, having got my brass, four of us started together, our first place to try being Gawler Town. The weather was very fine, and hot to us, so by the time we had walked seven miles we were all thirsty. We stopped at a place called Dry Creek, and lucky it proved, for a person whom we met, going to spend his money at Adelaide, said if a cart came past while we were refreshing ourselves, he would pay for us to ride, ”For,” said he, “thirty miles is too much for you to walk on a day like this.” We thanked him, telling him we could walk it very well, and, while giving him all the information we could about Old England, up came a cart, which runs every day from Adelaide to Gawler Town. He asked the driver what he would take us for? “Sixteen shillings,” said he. “But they are fresh comers,” said our newly met friend. “Then I will take them for fourteen,” said the driver.

Our friend paid the money, in we jumped, shook hands with him, and parted, perhaps never to meet more; if not I shall always think of him with gratitude and respect for the kind manner in which he assisted four strangers.

When we arrived at Gawler Town, we called on Mr Calton, who keeps a large inn, and, I am happy to say, is doing well. He is the brother of Chas. Calton who was apprentice at Mosely’s when my brother Charles was. I knew H. Calton directly I saw him, and he knew me through seeing me at Adelaide. He held out his hand, and asked me how I did and so on. “Well,” said I , “Mr Calton, we are seeking work, and I want you to give us a bit of advice.” “Go in there first,” said he, pointing to a room where about a dozen men were taking their evening’s meal.

We went in accordingly, and had an excellent supper. He then came and joined us, and I told him how we were situated, that we wanted work, and work we must have. He said he would try what he could do for us, as he had two sheep-farmers in the house, and, after partaking of a glass of ale with us, he went out to them. In about an hour he returned and said he thought it was all right. We saw the two farmers, and one engaged me and two others as shepherds, the wages being 15s per week, with 20 lbs. of flour, 20 lbs. of meat, 2 Ibs. of sugar and ½ lb. of tea. I thought this would keep us from starving. We stayed at Mr Calton’s all night, and, after breakfasting next morning, when we called for the bill there was nothing to pay; indeed, he behaved like a gentleman to us. From what I have heard of him and his brother Charles, I should think there are not two men in all the colony more respected.

Well, after engaging we went back to the ship with lighter hearts. All we wanted now was a dray to take us the seventy miles into the bush, which was no easy matter. We, however, found a man with three drays, who agreed to take all three families up to the place for £7; so we all started on the 18th of September. The first two nights we all slept on the floor of a house; the third at Mr Calton’s, who behaved with his usual kindness, charging us nothing for sleeping; the fourth night we slept in the middle of a wood, with a good blazing fire at our feet, and the sky for our canopy; and just before dark the next night we reached our destination; and right glad were we all to think we were once more likely to be settled in a house of our own, for ours had been a wearisome journey.

Well, here we are, located in a mud hut, with only one room in it, for cooking, sleeping, and everything else, with a hundred crevices, through which come the wind and rain; but I have stopped the greater part of them up. As for chairs and tables, our boxes serve for both. I have heard talk of the mud cabins of Old Ireland, but if they are any worse than the shepherd’s huts of South Australia, I feel sorry for them.

But if our huts are no better than theirs, we are better off than them in the “grubbing” department, we do get plenty of mutton, damper and tea. But Ann makes very little damper, as it is too heavy for the children, so we get some yeast from the gaffers and Ann makes some beautiful light bread; but, what makes it very troublesome, she has to bake it in a small frying pan among the ashes. We shall be better off in a bit for cooking utensils and everything else. I can see very plain it takes a married man twelve months to get thoroughly settled, with things proper for his use.

For the first fortnight I was jobbing about the master’s house, after that I had a flock of sheep to take care of. The same day William went to take care of some shorn sheep, and has been shepherding ever since, though I do not expect they will be able to find work for him all the year. He has been a very good boy. For the first fortnight that we were shepherding it rained during the days which was enough to daunt a man, much more a boy like him, but he stood it out.

It has been a very rainy season here; the oldest colonist cannot remember such a wet season. To me the weather has appeared like a very fine spring in England. I was saying that our first fortnight was a wet one; I got wet through two or three times a day, but I would sooner be wet through twenty times here than once in England. In my next I will tell you what I think of the place and my prospects. In the meantime accept the love of my wife, my children and myself.

John Freestone


John Freestone finished his first letter to his parents with the note that it had been a very wet season in South Australia. He spoke with respect of Mr Calton who aided him at Gawler. Mr Calton owned the famed Old Spot Inn - apparently a successful venture. Henry Calton and his brother Charles were Nottingham men and in 1820 their father Thomas headed up an immigration from Nottingham to Cape Hope.


(Continued in Tulle # 50, February 1996)

Not very long after their arrival at the Cape Thomas died, and his wife asked to be returned to Nottingham with her children. There were other Lacemaker families in that immigration so it is interesting that they should meet so far from home. Henry arrived in South Australia in 1838 on the Pestonjee Bomanjee. He was variously a Post Master, a Court Clerk and a Publican. He died in Victoria aged 42 in 1852 having followed the lure of the gold to Bendigo. He left a wife and two children behind.
His brother Charles, born 1808, arrived on the Royal Admiral in 1838. Charles died at Kadina in 1862, having been a farmer and a publican. Charles’ wife, Mary, died in her 55th year in 1860 Charles was at that time the proprietor of the Portland Hotel, Port Adelaide. Charles had a son John Frederick who married Elizabeth Goldsmith of Dover in 1854.


South Australia,
December 15, 1848.

Dear father and mother,- I hope you received the newspaper I sent, containing a full account of our arrival, and a list of the names of all the emigrants on board the Harpley. I sent it on purpose to set your minds at rest concerning the safety of my little lot from “the dangers of the deep” and I hope you have also received my letter bearing date November the 1st, wherein I gave you an account of our landing and my seeking for work, and getting a place to go shepherding. In that letter I promised to send you word what I thought of the country, and what were my In the first place, then, I will tell you, as far as I am able to judge, what I think of the country and climate. The weather, so far, I think beautiful. It has been, to my thinking, just like a very fine spring, though ihe colonists say it is cold, and that there has been two winters this year, and not one of the oldest among them ever remembers the rainy season to have lasted so long. Nevertheless, I think it all the better for us who had just landed, as we get used to the extreme heat by degrees; and, if I can judge from the short space of time I have been here, taking my own family for example, I should say ills a very healthy country for Europeans, though I believe my mud cabin is situated in one of the healthiest spots in all South Australia, being in a valley within four or five miles of the top of a range of mountams, and within twenty yard of what is called the River Gilbert. But they call anything a river here. The Gilbert is no bigger than the Tinker’s Leen in Nottingham Meadows, and is only a river in the rainy season; in the summer time it is nothing else but a string of water-holes.

As for the land it is of a fertile description, but the scarcity of water is a great drawback on cultivation. There is not one stream that deserves the name of river. The Torrens, which runs through Adelaide, is the same as the Gilbert, nothing but holes of water here and there during the summer time. There is plenty of good corn and good vegetables grown here, and the land is well adapted for the growth of the vine. There are many farmers with small vineyards, and I have no doubt before long it will be a very profitable source of commerce.2 As for the timber, there is very little good about where I am; but they tell me there is plenty of good timber 20 miles off. The principal trees about here are gum-trees. We have often talked and laughed about Colonel Crockett and “Opossum up a gum tree’, but it is a reality; for there are plenty of them. There are plenty of kangaroos and emus within 15 miles of my hut, and if I had a gun I could have plenty of sport, for quails, wood pigeons, ducks and turkeys are here in abundance, and also crows, magpies, hawks, parrots and all others down to as small as tomtit, and no trouble to get at them, for the birds are all very tame, and will let you come within a few yards of them. But the most plentiful thing here is the ant; there are hundreds of thousands of millions of them, and some very large, plenty an inch long The grass is alive with ants, grasshoppers, beetles and several other sorts of insects lizards so large that had I seen them in England I should have thought them young crocodiles The worst of all is the snake, whose bite is death. There is a fair sprinkling of that venomous reptiles about here. I have killed five; the longest between five and six feet. We have had several natives call at our hut. They all seem very harmless, but Ann cannot bear the sight of them, so she does not care how few of them come.

And now to tell you, if I can, what are our prospects; but I think this will bother me at present, for everything seems dull, gloomy and uncertain - wages are coming down and masters are making the flocks a third larger. It is a rather curious fact, that the French Revolution, which was the principal cause of our coming, should be the ruin of several of the sheep-farmers here, yet it is no less strange than true, for the price of wool has come down very low, fetching but one half Several of the poorest farmers have been sold up stick and stump, very good sheep selling For 3s.6d. each, so that you you will see, instead of my getting out of the reach of revolutionary war and its effects, I have been dropt in where it is felt the worst. You know I have not been the luckiest fellow in the world, and this is only another instance of my close connexion with “Fortune’s eldest daughter”. I do no feel satisfied with my prospects here, and therefore intend coming back to Nottingham if I can get a chance, that is, if the lace trade keeps anything like as good as was expected when I was there, and for the following reasons:- First, my wife does not like the place, neither does she like the thought of being here by ourselves. While there was some likelihood of some of you coming to us, she was contented, but when we found how things were going, we of course made up our minds that under no consideration would we send for any of you, nor, indeed, would I persuade any other person to come unless he could land with £120 in his pocket.

In the second place, wages will be very low, so low that a man, after living very frugally, having nothing but damper, mutton, tea and his “bacca” for a year, will be able to save next to nothing. Indeed, at the time I am writing this, there are no less than nine hundred men and women walking Adelaide streets in search of employment, some begging for work at any price. I really do not know what is to become of all the emigrants who are coming here, unless Government starts some public work such as cutting a canal, or making a railroad, or something of that There used to be always a demand for shepherds but there are too many now. The masters used to think 900 or 1000 a sufficient quantity for one flock, but now they have made three flocks into two, thus throwing every third shepherd out of employ, besides hut keepers; so you will see they do not want any new hands for shepherding for some time to come.

The third reason is, I should not like to stop here to do no better than at home, and at present I do not see any chance of doing so well, much more better, that is, always supposing trade to be as good as when I left. I expected to find good land cheap, so that a poor man would have a chance of buying some; but I find on the contrary, land is very dear near to the large towns. There is certainly plenty of land to be bought for £1 per acre, but it would not be of any use to a man like me, for the produce of such land would cost more in carriage to the market than it would be worth when it got there, all kinds of cartage being extremely dear, which is principally owing to the very bad roads.

As I have now given you my reasons for thinking of returning to Old England, you must not think that they are any worse than I have stated, I have neither made them better nor worse, but just what I really think they are. Neither must you think that we are miserable, or short of “grub”, we have plenty of victuals, and generally a good plum pudding on a Sunday. You know I have not been here long, and therefore may be writing under false impressions, but I have stated what I think is true.

I remain your affectionate son,

John Freestone


But John Freestone did not go home to England! His employment was with James Masters who came to Australia on the Africaine and in the early 1840s took up land around what is now called Riverton. It was not an easy area to access - the road in being a mere track in the 1850s, entirely without fences and with other roads branching off it. While working for Masters he and his wife had two more sons. Like most men in South Australia Freestone followed the lure of gold to the diggings at Avoca in Victoria. He took his wife and children, and it is most likely that Ben Holmes and his family, his companion from Nottingham to Calais to Gawler to Riverton travelled there with him.

There is no record of whether he was a lucky miner but a daughter was born there and died in the same year. The family stayed in the area. Charles Robert died of typhoid at the age of 15; Alfred and John didn’t marry, but the other boys did and had families of their own. According to the Avoca Mail they were cricketers, somewhat better at bowling than batting.

Many of the next generation died with typhoid being particularly prevalent. However, John Freestone lived to old age, still working as a miner when he died at the age of 78 in 1890. He is buried in Amherst Cemetery.

Later, various members of the family went into farming but James went to Western Australia where he was accidently killed at the Great Eastern Mine, Lawlers in 1899. His son, William settled in the Wongan Hills District about 1910. After many disasterous farming years in Victoria, the rest of the family followed and their descendants still farm in the Wongan Hills area.

From the notes of Marlene Kilminster.


Entrepreneurs or Villains - Doug Webster.

(Tulle # 50, February 1996)

The history books tell us that John Heathcoat patented a lace-making machine in 1809 and also that in 1816 three Nottingham men (Clark, Webster and Bonnington) smuggled some machines to Calais and so established an English lacemaking industry at St Pierre. These are, of course, gross oversimplifications - both were not single events but parts of long processes. Anybody who has bought a computer knows that it has probably been superseded by the time the account has been paid, and so with the nineteenth century lace trade, a major breakthrough was followed by a series of smaller improvements.

Gravenor Henson published his History of the Framework Knitters in 1831. In it he gives not only some of the details of the improvements to the machines but also the developments in the industry. The 1970 edition of the History has an Introduction by S D.Chapman giving a useful short account of Henson’s life and work. He was born in Nottingham in 1785 and was apprenticed to a framework knitter. He was a clever mechanic and after Heathcoat’s invention was able to establish himself as an independent manufacturer. However, possibly because of fluctuations in the lace trade or because he saw that manufacturers were patenting the improvements made by a generation of artisans, while he was still in his twenties Henson began to devote himself to political activity. He believed that the industries should be regulated by the Government to maintain a decent standard of living for the workers, that British industry should be protected
from foreign competition and that the export of British machinery and the emigration of skilled workers should be controlled. He was an opponent of the inequitable operation of the Combination Acts. These forbade joining together to achieve commercial advantage, but had penal sanctions only against workmen and not employers.

Henson’s History narrates an incident about a “tickler”, a device for making eyelet holes on material being woven on a stocking frame an embryonic predecessor of lacemaking This is Henson’s account slightly paraphrased: Morris had patents for eyelet hole machinery, to protect which required constant litigation till a final decision was obtained in the case of Morris v Branson in the Court of the King’s Bench at Westminster in 1776. Morris suspected that Branson was using the patented device illicitly but had been unable to detect him till at length, observing that the windows of Branson’s shop fronted the fields and that in the heat of summer the workmen laboured with them open, he and his witnesses took up a position on the long hilt on the western side of Nottingham and with a powerful telescope, early in the morning, saw Branson using the tickler machine, and immediately entered an action against him.

The defence was that that the tickler and eyelet hole work were known, had been previously used and was not a new invention. This was supported by two witnesses, Mayo and his wife who declared she had made a tickler some years before Morris had obtained his patent. The other defence was a reference to a 1572 judgement to the effect that new additions to old inventions were not new inventions. Against this it was stated that this would destroy the validity of every patent that had been granted. The jury gave a verdict in favour of Morris with £500 damages. Because the plaintiff could not obtain a warrant to seize the defendant’s effects until the next court term, Branson secretly took himself and nine frames to London where he took ship. When his absence had been discovered an application was made to Lord North, the Prime Minister, who despatched a revenue cutter and Branson and his frames were taken into custody when in sight of France.  As additional penalty the frames were forfeited, a £200 fine imposed with imprisonment till it was paid. Branson appealed for clemency and the Secretary of State admonished him for the consequences that might have arisen to his fellow tradesmen and townsmen and to his country, remitted his fines on condition that he should give security for remaining in the country and assign his frames to Morris who would employ him as a master stocking-maker and allow him to keep the frames while paying rent. Mayo, who had been a witness and a workman for Branson, had the same idea, but deterred by Branson’s example, decided to limit himself to taking ticklers to France to use on French stocking frames. But he had scarcely alighted from his coach in London when a press-gang seized him and he was obliged to serve on a man of war for several years.

The incident caught my attention because the principal character shared a surname with my Agincourt ancestor, but it also throws an interesting light on the rights of the English householder, in that Morris was unable to enter Branson’s workshop until he had witnessed evidence that the law was being broken. It is also interesting that Mayo, obviously not a property owner, did not have similar rights to resist being conscripted in the navy.


The Church of England in Calais and St. Pierre - Gillian Kelly

(Tulle # 51, May 1996)

France was a predominantly Catholic country but there was a Church of England presence in Calais as early as 1319. The Reverend John Liptrott and his wife Frances took up residence in rue des Prêtres and turned a room in their home into a small chapel for the use of English protestants and visitors. In 1825 the British Government appointed a Consul to the city and made this chapel the official Consular Chapel. Liptrott was named Consular Chaplain and paid £72 towards a stipend. The chapel became too small very quickly, with the growing English population and in 1826 a meeting of all the British in Calais was called with the Consul in the Chair and Liptrott presiding. As a result a M. Mallett converted a shop he owned at 6 rue des Prêtres into a chapel. A vestry courtyard was built with a door into the chapel.

On May 27, 1827 this, the Episcopalian Chapel of Saint George, with seating for 350, opened its doors for the 2500 English then in Calais. It was still in use in 1844 when a gallery was built and an organ hired at F200 per annum. Until then music had been produced from a harmonium The closing date is vague, but it was in use again in 1880 when it was bought by M. Celestin Darvell, priest of Notre Dame for 4000F and called “Cercie St Joseph”. John Liptrott continued as chaplain until 1841 when Rev Thomas Clark relieved him. Clark was followed by the Rev St Hill who recognised that by the 1850s most of the Anglicans lived in St Pierre. A single room chapel was opened above a café in route de Boulogne (now Ganibetta) but was quickly found to be unsuitable and the congregation committed themselves to building in rue du Moulin Brulée on land donated by an Englishman. Funds were donated willingly by the local community, but there was also a generous donation from England. The foundation stone was laid in 1862 and in 1864 Trinity Church was consecrated.

1877 was the last year the Church of England supported the church in St-Pierre The British Government withdrew its subsidy and closed the chaplaincy. At the last minute the Colonial and Continental Church Society came to the rescue and supported Trinity from then until 1940. During the Second World War the church was closed, but the Germans respected the building. After the war the British community had all but disappeared and as no one was interested in the building it gradually fell into disrepair. In 1955 the neighbouring gas company bought the building and after de-consecration in 1956 it was demolished after serving the community for 94 years. The spiritual needs of the Anglican communities are being, as in 1819, met in a small simple chapel.

The records of these early churches will assist Lacemakers in their genealogical research. The records of Liptrott’s Chapel of St George in Calais would have belonged to the Diocese of London and been returned there when the Chapel finally closed. The baptismal and burial records of Trinity have survived two wars and are now carefully preserved in a private collection in Calais. The continuation of family names makes many of the entries interesting to today’s descendants. I am indebted to M Dubroeucq for his very gracious gesture of allowing me to view them and copy information I found interesting. Included in these handwritten records of deaths are:

1860 PEET Henry Sumner 19 mths
1860 JACKSON Ann 74
1862 REVELL Frances 74
1864 PEET Ann 59
1869 HUSBAND John 49
1873 MOON Edward 51
1888 STUBBS Henry 76
1889 EAGLE William Frederick 84
1892 HUTCHINSON Joseph 73
1892 DIXON Edmund 84
1892 STRONG William 60
1895 JAMES Samuel 70
1896 JAMES Emmeline 63
1899 NUTT Hannah 72
1899 CROFT Isaac 82
1901 NUTT Alfred 80
1904 EAGLE Matilda 93
1907 ROBINSON Benjamin 67
1909 SHORE William George 67
1910 WORTHINGTON Edward 92
1912 STUBBS Francis 64
1914 SHORE Ann Eliza 73
1917 HOLMES Eliza 73
1918 HUMPHREYS William 64
1920 MATTHEWS Angelina 79
1924 SAYWELL Jasper 67
1928 EAGLE Sarah Ann 79
1928 STUBBS Caroline 81
1929 SAYWELL Clara 71
1932 MARVIN Emily 77
Amongst the births are:-  
1858 PEET Henry Sumner William & Eliza
1860 PEET William William & Eliza
1862 PEET Alfred William & Eliza
1860 PEET Kate George & Annie
1864 LOWE Jane John & Mary
1864 TAYLOR Richard Richard & Elionie
1864 MATTHEWS Mary Agnes William & Angelina
1868 WIDDOWSON Eliza William & Elizabeth
1868 POTTER Alice John & Maria

The above information has been obtained  from papers held in the private collections of L'Eglisé Reformé, St. Pierre and M.  G. Dubroecq, Calais. The Society thanks them both for their assistance.


Lace-Making by Machinery

(Tulle # 51, May 1996)

To begin to understand the lifestyle of the Lacemakers it is essential to understand the complexity and intricacy of the industry in which they were involved. The following article, while lengthy, is exceptional in its description of the trade. It was written in 1878, at a time when the history of the industry had not been written and rewritten.

The Inventions of Heathcoat, Leavers and Others of Nottingham Lace Factories.

David Bremner, c.1878

Soon after Lees stocking frame had been been brought to perfection, attempts were made to adapt the machine to the making of lace and net such as was produced by hand on the cushion. None of these attempts were successful, however, until an appendage called the point net machine was added to the stocking-frame. With this an imitation of cushion-net was made, but "not of a very satisfactory character" says Dr. Ure. “The net made of cotton thread was greatly inferior in strength, durability and transparency to the proper lace fabric. To remedy these imperfections became therefore, an object of pursuit to many ingenious artisans and liberal encouragement was afforded towards its attainment by the Iace manufacturers of Nottingham and particularly by Mr. Nunn. Any person who undertook to construct, on feasible principles, 'a machine capable of making bobbin-net lace' was zealously patronised. Most sober-thinking persons, however, regarded the COTTON—BOBBIN-NET LACE project as akin to perpetual motion—a thing not to be realised.”

Considering the complication of movements necessary to the production of lace on the cushion, this despairing view of the case was not to be wondered at. After many men had ruined themselves or broken their hearts in the effort to devise a satisfactory lace machine, Mr. John Heathcoat, a machine-maker at Loughborough, who had devoted close attention to the efforts of others, took up the investigation, and succeeded, in the year 1809, in producing and patenting a machine, which proved highly successful, and brought fortunes to the inventor and his partner, Mr. Lacy.

Numerous attempts were made to prove that Mr. Heathcoat had not invented anything, but had merely adapted and combined the inventions of others. These attempts failed, however; and Mr. Felkin settles the matter finally when he says:—” No model of those or any other parts of Heathcoat’s machine can be shown to have been previously put together upon which bobbin net, twisted and traversed from side to side, could be or ever had been made.” The factory which Messrs. Heathcoat and Lacy established at Loughborough was burned by the Luddites in 1816, and machines to the value of £10, 000 were destroyed. After this. Mr. Heathcoat removed to Tiverton, in Devonshire, and there set up a factory, from which he amassed a large fortune. He continued his mechanical pursuits, and patented several inventions. His death took place in 1861. In the course of his life he saw numerous modifications made in his bobbin-net machine, but none of them touched its essential principles. To show the change in cost to consumers which has been effected by the introduction of machinery into the lace trade, it may here be mentioned that when Messrs. Heathcoat and Lacy established their factory they obtained five guineas a yard for bobbin net of a quality which now sells at sixpence.

Mr. Felkin, in summing up Mr. Heathcoat’s services to the lace manufacture says This successful mechanician occupies a most important position in the manufacture of lace by machinery. Standing midway between the crowd of able men who, as inventors, preceded him about the close of the last and opening of the present century, and the numerous body of clever and useful mechanicians who have followed him down to the present time, his invention restored and strengthened the foundation of the lace trade of Nottingham decaying through the falling away of the manufacture of point-net; and thus, by the substitution of bobbin-net machinery, developing its productive powers, dispensing benefits to the neighbouring traders and workpeople, and by its rapid increase becoming an important branch of national industry.” If a piece of bobbin-net of the coarser quality be closely examined, it will be seen that the meshes approach an hexagonal shape, and that they are formed by the crossing and intertwisting of three threads—one of which traverses the fabric from end to end, while the others cross it diagonally in opposite directions. The difficulty of producing work of this kind by a machine will at once be apparent. It is an exact reproduction of the ground work made by the pillow lace workers, the intricate movements of whose hands the most ingenious man might despair of imitating in mechanism.

"Bobbin-net,” says Mr Ure, “surpasses every other branch of industry by the complex ingenuity of its machinery. A bobbin net frame is as much beyond the most curious chronometer as that is beyond a roasting-jack.”

In the first net made on machines the meshes were formed by looping or knotting, and not by twisting as in the case of pillow-lace The distinctive feature of Heathcoat's machine was that it formed the meshes by twisting, in exact imitation of the pillow-made fabric. This was accomplished by arranging one series of threads in a vertical position, to form as it were the warp, and twisting round these other threads, which traversed them diagonally from left to right and right to left. On either side of the vertical warp are curved metal plates, or “combs,” the teeth or grooves of which correspond to the number of interstices between the warp-threads. In these grooves the bobbin-carriages travel. The latter are triangular plates of steel, corresponding in thickness to the size of the meshes to be made for a moderately fine mesh they are about the thickness of a well worn shilling. In the centre of the plate is a circular opening, in which the bobbin, which is of the same thickness as the carriage, is mounted. The bobbins are made of two thin circular plates of steel about two inches in diameter, fixed on a spindle, and each is capable of containing about 100 yards of thread.

The bobbin is held in the carriage by means of a spring, which also regulates the strain on the thread. When the machine is set in motion, the carriages—of which there are two sets —are pushed through the warp-threads from one comb bar to the other, and at each such movement the comb-bar is moved one space to the right in the case of one set of bobbins, and one space to the left in the case of the other, so that when the carriages are again pushed through the warp the threads which they carry are twisted round the latter, and it is by a repetition of this motion that the meshes are formed. In the making, of one row of meshes the bobbins have to pass through the warp six times.

On reaching the edge of the web there is a switch motion, which causes the carriages to travel back in the reverse order to which they last moved; and so on till the supply of thread is worked up. The meshes are regulated and consolidated by a comb, which serves the purpose of the reed in a Loom. The machine, by its multiplicity of parts and delicacy and beauty of construction, is a triumph of mechanical art, and to be fully appreciated would require to be seen at work. There are several varieties of bobbin-net machines in use but as already stated, their essential parts are on the principle of Heathcoat’s invention.

Dr. Ure says:—” The persons who have distinguished themselves most in the development of lace machinery, as a part of the factory system, are Mr. Heathcoat, Mr. Morley, Mr. Sewell. Mr. William Jackson, and Mr. William Henson. William Mosely, of Radford, attempted to work the lever machine by a rotary motion without success: others who made a similar attempt with the pusher and warp traversing machines met with no better fate.” Dr. Ure did not fully recognise the merits of one of the principal machines now employed in the lace manufacture—namely, that invented by Mr. John Levers.

Probably, at the time he wrote it had not shown promise of being developed to the high degree of perfection it has now attained; and he merely refers to it as bearing a strong resemblance to Heathcoat s machine; but he admitted, apparently with some reluctance, that though it was “awkward, its movements complex, and its adjustments delicate,” the good quality of its work made it find favour with lace manufacturers. Levers was engaged in business as a frame smith at Nottingham when the success of Heathcoat’s invention was being demonstrated, and he was one of many persons whose inventive faculties were stimulated by the occasion. How he set to work to devise an improved lace machine, and other particulars concerning him, will be learned from the following passages copied from Mr Felkin’s book:

In carrying out the invention, Levers worked in a garret at the top of a building situated in a yard on the northern side of the Derby Road, Nottingham, and so quietly and secretly as not to be seen by anyone, even of his own family. The carriage and bobbins—things which presented so much difficulty to Mr. Heathcoat—with some of the inside parts, had been made as thin as was requisite by a relative, Benjamin Thomson, an extraordinarily clever workman in metals He was never permitted to see the machine in progress, but was the first, except its constructor, to witness its completion. Levers had no son, but two brothers and a nephew, John. All worked afterwards with him, and the nephew always stated that they saw the frame for the first time when it was ready to work. They found it to be eighteen inches in width, waiting for materials and prepared to start, which it did without difficulty The entire isolation of the inventor during this period was a remarkable feat.

Levers had expended his available means in the lengthened experiments and necessary expenditure incurred during the years 1812- 13. The house of John Stevenson and Skipworth, carrying on a lace business in Nottingham, was induced to furnish the funds required for producing more machines, upon what terms is now not known. Several were built, one of which was retained by Levers for experimenting upon.

The others were worked in a shop on their owners premises in St James’ Street. It is probable that the then existing patent rights on the one hand, and the profits daily realised by Levers and his patrons on the other, were the reasons why no patent was obtained to secure what was new in his method; for it seems to have been the prevailing notion among the mechanicians of the time that a patent must be taken out for all the machine and not, as might have been, for any parts or combinations only which were really new.

In 1814 John Farmer, with another hand, worked one of these machines, fifty-four inches wide, each taking five-hour shifts, the machine working twenty hours a day. The production was four pieces of ten racks each weekly. The wages were 5s. per rack—i.e., £5 for each workman a week Levers left Stevenson and Co., but for what reason the connection was broken is not known. In 1817 he worked in a shop in the higher part of St. James’s Street, and it was at this time that he altered the arrangement of his frames. They were at first made to work in a horizontal position, but he now made them to work in a vertical one as at present in use. In 1821 Levers went to France, and set up his machines at Rouen, and there died. He is said to have been a friendly, kind-hearted man, and a great politician. He was fond of company, music, and song, and was bandmaster of the local militia. He sometimes worked day and night if a mechanical idea or contrivance struck him, and would then quit all labour for days of enjoyment with chosen boon companions. He was frequently heard to say that the machine he had constructed was only in its infancy, because of the great facilities it afforded for alterations and improvement.”

The Levers machine, according to Mr. Felkin, is by far the most delicate—its inner parts working in the smallest space, and requiring the most careful adjustments and finish—of any amongst those bobbin net frames which are principally used. It is, therefore, when put together for fancy work, the most expensive in its construction. It admits of adjustment to nearly all kinds of work; and is fitted with the Jacquard apparatus and driven by power, its usefulness cannot be too highly regarded.

One of the most perfect forms of this machine was exhibited at South Kensington in 1874, and attracted much attention. It was of large dimensions, being thirty feet in length and nine feet in height and it was shown at work upon a lace two and a half inches wide, of which sixty pieces were woven at one time. The machine was furnished with nearly three thousand bobbins and carriages, and upwards of a hundred warp beams. It was driven at the rate of 120 picks per minute, and at that speed produced a yard of lace at each head in an hour, or a total length of sixty yards. As seen in the machine, the lace seemed to be one large web, over four yards broad, this appearance being produced by the lacing-threads which united each width of lace to its neighbours, and ensured equality of work, besides serving, other purposes. on being removed from the machine, the lace still united by the lacing threads, is bleached and dressed, and then the superfluous threads are cut out, and the separate widths of the fabric wound on cards.

When a return was made to Parliament in 1875 as to the number of factories in the kingdom and persons employed in them, there were 311 lace factories in operation. These contained 3,462 machines, and gave employment to 10,373 persons, of whom 6,945 were males and 3,428 females. The factories are dispersed over six or eight counties, but the chief seat of the trade is at Nottingham. It will be gathered from what has already been said that the lace machines are expensive appliances, costing, from £500 to £1,000 each The majority of those used in Nottingham are capable of making lace four or five yards in width, and even wider, as there are machines in the trade which make lace seven yards wide. They are all driven by steam-power, and stand in factories built specially strong to sustain the tremendous weight put on each floor. Some of these factories are exceedingly fine buildings, the rooms being lofty, measuring from twelve to fourteen feet in height, and the space across the rooms, from window to window, thirty-two feet. The windows are made as large as possible, as the best light is needed to carry on the manufacture.

The custom is for the owners to let out standings for the trade, for which from five-and-sixpence to seven shillings per week each standing is charged, the owner also providing steam power Each standing extends from window to window, the breadth being from six and a half feet to seven feet. The engine starts at four o’clock in the morning, and runs on till midnight, a day of twenty hours. But to enable this to be done without overtaxing the energies of the workmen, two sets of hands are employed.

The first set go on at four in the morning, and work till nine, when they are relieved by the second set, who work till one. The first set then again appear, and work till six, when the second set once more come on, and work till midnight. The next week the men change shifts, those who began at nine o’clock the previous week now beginning at four. By this mode the men work only ten hours a day each, except on Saturday, when the engine stops at one o’clock.

Prior to 1805 linen and silk threads were the only materials used in lace-making. In the year named, Mr. Samuel Cartledge, of Nottingham, effected an improvement in the production of fine numbers of doubled cotton yarn, and introduced the same to the notice of the lace manufacturers. The cotton thread, after some resistance on the part of interested persons, came into general use, as it had qualities which specially recommended it. For example, it is more elastic than linen-thread, and so less liable to break in working, and the articles made of it have a brighter appearance. Another important recommendation is that it is much less costly. Messrs. Houldsworth, of Manchester, devoted themselves to the production of this fine cotton-thread, and found it a very profitable business. Their price list for the year 1805 shows that they charged for No. 200, £3 3s. 6d.; No. 220, £4 Is. 6d; No. 240, £5 6s. 6d.; No.260, £7 3s. 6d.; No. 280, £9 9s. 6d.; and No. 300, £12 8s. 6d. per lb.

The prices remained unchanged for many years, and as finer numbers were produced still more extraordinary prices were obtained for them. It is said that this firm sold in one year £70,000 of fine yarn for lace purposes alone. In 1812 No. 320 sold at £15 2s and No. 352 at £27 8s. per lb. Improved has since changed this state of matters and now lace-thread can be purchased at a price which looks ridiculous when compared with the figures given above. In the days of hand-spinning the making of lace-thread was considered the highest department of the art, and the names of some of the more expert spinners have been handed down to posterity. In order to secure the advantage of a humid atmosphere and escape the trouble caused by currents of air, the lace-thread spinners of France and Belgium used to work in damp underground cellars, and their occupation was consequently a very unhealthy one.

From: Bremner David, Great Industries of Great Britain, Casseil, Petter, Galpin & Co; London, 1878


The Stapleford Windows

(Tulle # 52, August 1996)

A group of four cottages which stand opposite the junction of West Avenue and Nottingham Road are believed to have been built in the late 18th century.

These cottages are of special interest because they were associated closely with the lace industry, one of the town's commercial outlets in those days. These three storey cottages had a special room on the top floor with windows which spanned the length of the room and which enabled the lacemaker or mender to gain maximum daylight while at work.

Evol Watkins


William Lee Rewritten

(Tulle # 53, November 1996)

It is always a thankless and uncongenial task to become the iconoclast of popular myths. These have so woven themselves into the cherished traditions of mankind, that one feels one is half a murderer when forced to lay rude hands upon them; but this age demands fact in preference to fancy, and we are obliged, willy-nilly, to bow to the voice that is imperative.
Beautiful stories have been written regarding William Lee, the inventor of the stocking-frame. Most people have read the pathetic account of his consuming love for the village girl for whom he forfeited his rich fellow ship, and perhaps have wept over the poverty into which the young couple by their imprudent union were cast. They have been deeply moved by the statement that the new-made wife determined to support her beloved husband by knitting stockings! and that it was while the disestablished don was watching his “miller’s daughter” plying the nimble needles that the inspiration came to him of supplanting the tedious hand-work by a machine. The idyll is pretty, but, alas ! Lee, unfortunately for the story, never married; and so far from love having anything to do with the invention, we are now bound to admit that the curate of Calverton was actuated by the sordid desire of making money. While discarding the myth, however, we retain its substance; and we require no poetry to enhance the value of the stocking loom.

William Lee, M.A. of St John’s College, Cambridge, belonged to an old Nottinghamshire family, who had the right to wear royal quarterings in their coat-of-arms, according to the accurate if somewhat terse historian Thoroton. Whether the inventor of the stocking frame was born at Calverton or the parish of Woodborough is now beyond definite discovery; but it is quite certain that he was curate of the former place, and probably was born between the years 1550 and 1560. At any rate, he matriculated at Christ’s College in May 1579, whence he subsequently removed to St. John’s and graduated B.A. in 1582 3,
and M.A. most likely in 1586. He was curate of Calverton in 1589 the year in which the stocking-frame was invented. It is to be regretted that none of his contemporaries or immediate successors saw the significance of the invention, or gave them selves any trouble to collect biographical materials of the young curate. The facts given are all the authentic information we have of him up to the last date mentioned.

Very likely he may have seen hand-knitting in the parish to which he had been appointed, and, in all likelihood, some woman sitting at her cottage door gave him the first idea of the stocking-frame; but that his dominant notion was to benefit himself by his machine is shown by the fact that he sought the patronage of Queen Elizabeth, and, having failed to obtain it, transferred his contrivance to France, whose king, IV Henry proved more generous. The idea of a mechanical stocking
weaver took possession of the young clergyman, and he laboured on in secret till he produced a working model of the frame.

By the aid of neighbouring blacksmiths and carpenters, he had one or two machines constructed, and with these he seems to have gone to London, having in the meantime resigned all connection with the Church. Arrived in the metropolis, he set up his frames, got his brother James initiated into the mystery of working, them, and began to court royal favour by presenting “Gloriana” with a pair of his machine-knit hose.

He appears to have got an introduction to Lord Hunsdon, a relative of the Queen’s, to whom he displayed the wonders of the frame. That noble man promised, and endeavoured to obtain, the patronage of her Majesty, and is said to have brought her in person to Lee’s workshop. Elizabeth saw the ingenuity of the invention, but declined to give Lee the right of a monopoly, on the ground that it would be taking the bread out of the mouths of her subjects, by putting an end to hand knitting, which was then a pretty lucrative calling. Lord Hunsdon, however, is credited with having greater foresight than his royal relative, and was so sanguine of the future prospects of the invention, that he is reported to have sent his son to learn the art of machine knitting. Disappointed in his dearest hopes at home, Lee went further afield for patronage at the hands of Henry IV of France.

During the time—some three or four years—that he had been engaged in perfecting his machine, he had impoverished himself, and was fighting for life. He was therefore glad when the vista of fortune opened before him, even on a foreign shore, and eagerly transported himself and his invention to Rouen, in Normandy.
Shortly afterwards, his royal patron was murdered, and the young English man, thus deprived of the promised reward, and again thrown adrift, is reported to have gone down the sliding-scale rapidly, and eventually to have died in Paris in extreme poverty, before help from his brother could reach him.

Strong as was his faith in his mechanical child, Lee’s hopes were thwarted, but the child itself grew and prospered. James, his brother, and his apprentices in Spitalfields, and those whom William had taught the art in France, laboured quietly till the dawn of better days, which soon came, for in 1657 the Stocking Knitters’ Company was one of the thriving guilds in the metropolis of England.

David Bremner, 1878



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