SchooIdays - Memories and History
                     Pre 20th. Century



THERE is a suspicion that the earlier Sheffield cutlery was of a rough description, coarse and inferior, and suited only for use among the poorer people. It has been said that the London and Salisbury makers, as well as foreign rivals, were far in advance of the Hallamshire smiths in the pro- duction of the finer qualities. But the evidence in favour of this view is not definite enough to be wholly convincing. Various seventeenth century references to cutlery have been quoted from old writers, but some of them, so far from bearing out the contention, go to prove the opposite. There is, for instance, the recommendation of Peter Bales (I590) to provide, for making quills, " a good (pen) knife, right Sheffield is best "; and Hallamshire knives were being exported abroad in I586 and I589. At this time, too (the reign of Queen Elizabeth), the Earl of Shrewsbury thought the Sheffield cutlery not unworthy of the acceptance of Lord Burghley; and he accom- panied his gift of " a case of Hallamshire whittels" with a remark which shows how celebrated they were, since he commended them as " being such fruits as his pore countrey afforded with fame throughout the realm." The preamble to the Act of James I. (I624) incorporating the Cutlers' Company, speaks of the manner in which the inhabitants, engaged in the cutlery trade, had, " by their industry and labour, gained the reputation of great skill and dexterity," and " made knives of the best edge, wherewith they served the most part of this kingdom and other foreign countries." The main object of this Act was to keep up the reputation of their manufactures by providing against the incursion of " deceitful and unwork- manlike wares"; and it insisted that the edge of all steel instruments should be made of steel and steel only‹no cast iron " sow metal gudgeons "were to pass muster. The Steward's accounts of disbursements made at the Manor Lodge and Sheffield Castle contain references to purchases of cutlery in the early seventeenth century; and in the eighteent}l century the Cutlers' Company not unfrequently make presents of " silver-hafted knives and forks " to the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk, or other distinguished people. It is not, however, desirable to press the argument that may be based on these matters too far; and it must be freely admitted that the commoner kinds of cutlery have always been made here. There is a curious old publication, written in a vein intended to be comic, called " The Wandering Spy or the Merry Travellers" (I720), which boasts that one How, of Southend, made a knife that If touched upon a stair, or stone, Will cut a sirloin to the bone, And at one stroke, to human wonder, Divide the stubborn jointsllsunder. And this is compared with Sheffield blades, unfavourably to the latter: No Yorkshire carrier at a meal Durst draw a Sheffield blade of steel, And boast his cutting country bauble If one of How's adorns the table. Their rustic tools are only fit For rural poesies, void of wit, And to divide fat pork or peasen, Or cut down hooks in nutting season. It is legitimate to receive with scepticism this eulogy of the wares of the Southend dealer, when we remember that the name " How," with a cross and sort of Prince of Wales feathers, was a Hallamshire corporate mark struck by one Thomas Maxfield in Balm Green. There was also a Robert How, in " Old Waterhouse," a cutler, in I774. This How was, it is true, a maker of spring knives; and Maxfield is given in the Directories of I774 and I787, not as a table knife cutler, but as striking the How mark on wool shears and joiners' tools; yet the connection is significant enough to suggest an early instance of what has been very injurious to Sheffield's reputation‹so marking cutlery as to allow persons and places at a distance to rob the town of its credit and good name. And the process has been all too successful, in spite of those who, in the days when "rural poesies" were placed on cutlery, boldly challenged London's supremacy by such legends, whether etched on blade, or printed under transparent scales, as: Sheffield made, both haft and blade London for your life, show me such a knife. Or again, Sharpen me well and keep me clean, And I'll cut my way through fat and lean. I'm a Sheffield blade, 'tis true; Pray what sort of blade are you ? Other specimens of cutlers' poetry are: To carve your meate is my intent; Use me, but let me not be lent. And on the other side of the haft: I'll wait upon you at the table, And doe what service I am able. The proprietors of some of the lower class of eating-houses in London‹ "threepenny ordinaries "‹marked the estimate in which they held their customers and the store they set by their cutlery, by chaining the knives and forks to the tables, as pencils are tied at Postal telegraph counters. The statement by Sir Arnold Knight referred to in the preceding chapter, that up to the beginning of the eighteenth century grinding was not a distinct branch of business, but was performed by men also engaged in other departments of the cutlery trade, gives some confirmation to the belief that Sheffield cutlery was not, aforetime, distinguished by very high quality, or its artizans by great skill. For grinding is notoriously a diffcult process, requiring a larger experience and finer manipulation than was likely to be attained by men who, instead of devoting their whole energies to it, took it as one of many duties incidental to their calling. Labour so diffused could not be equal in its products to labour specialised. But Dr. Gatty cannot be right when he makes the date of grinding as a separate department of labour cotemporary with the founding of the first steam wheel in I786; since the grinders were sufficiently organised in I748 to form a benefit society for their own branch. There is much that is suggestive, and probably significant, in the marked contrast ever noticeable between the grades of cutlery made in the town and those made in the surrounding villages. The Directory of I787 puts common pocket and pen knives, and common scissors, in distinct categories; and it is to be noted that while there were then ninety makers of pen and pocket knives " in general " in the town, there were only six outside‹and those close at hand, at Bridgehouses, Atter- cliffe, and Neepsend; while there were 114 makers of common knives in the surrounding villages, but only thirty in the town. And the same is true of scissors. With the exception of one maker at Attercliffe and one at Brightside, all the "fine scissor" manufacturers were in the town; while there were as many makers of common scissors in the outlying hamlets as inside. " Flatbacks" and spotted hafts" came chiefly from Wadsley, Walkley, Heeley, Dungworth, Darnall, and other places. Wadsley seems early to have gained for itself the reputation which long made its name a bye-word synonymous with worthless cutlery. A clergyman who had been brought up among the cutlers of Coalpit Lane, writing, in I745, of worthless discourses easily reeled off, says: " This expeditious way of sermonising puts me in mind of the method made use of by some cutlers, whose professed rule is 'rap Robin and away with them'; but then such knives are justly called " Wadsley knofct-ons." That may be taken to be a current saying of the period, expressive of things hastily made and hurriedly got out of the way. We cannot but suppose that the localisation of industries, so prominent in the shear, sickle, and scythe trades of the villages to the south of the town, was characteristic also of what had obtained through many preceding generations in the making of knives. The striking manner in which special manufactures cling to certain localities is usually attributed to the settling here of refugees driven from the Netherlands, about I570, by the persecutions of the Duke of Alva. And the way in which each village was, and still is, celebrated for some particular manufacture is said to have originated in the exiles having distributed themselves according to their special branches of the craft‹sickle-smiths in one spot, scythe- makers in another, and so on. To the skill brought by these aliens is credited a distinct advance in the quality of local cutlery. The earliest cutlery made here was knives, scissors, and sickles. These are all mentioned in whal Mr. Sidney O. Addy, in his Sheffield Glossary, deems to have been the earliest English Dictionary, attributed to the first half of the fifteenth century‹the Catholicon Anglicum. He gives strong evidence for believing that the author of this book was well ac- quainted with this neighbourhood. In it are mentioned arrow- heads, knives (of several kinds), razors, scissors, sickles, and their several parts‹hafts, tangs, ferrules; as well as processes of manufacture‹forging, glazing, and smithing. The places where the cutlery is made are " smythies"; and the smith has his "paire of tangs" (tongs), his "stythy," and his "blawe bellows." There is no mention of files. It is decidedly puzzling to find a "thwytelle" explained by the Latin word dolabrum, which was a butcher's hatchet or cleaver; for thwytelle has always been accepted as the forerunner of the whittle, the simplest form of knife‹just a blade with a tang fitted into a handle, like those used by butchers and shoe- makers, or a very rude table-knife. It is impossible to suppose that the " Shefeld thwitel," or thwytelle, which Chaucer's oft- quoted Miller of Trumpington bare " in his hose," was a butcher's cleaver, and not a rough but ready knife. Furnished with a sheath, and carried in the stocking, this implement was handy for all purposes, domestic, agricultural, and, on occasion, for defence or offence. The sheath was so essential, before the days of clasp or spring knives, that its manufacture by sheathers was a distinct branch of trade. The Catholicon speaks of " the chape" of a knife. This was the metal plate, or mounting of a scabbard or sheath, particularly that which covers the point. We may fairly take it that whatever the quality of the Sheffield cutlery may have been previously, it was, throughout the eighteenth century, of constantly increasing excellence. The year I640 has been given as, approximately, the date when files and razors were first made here. It is not possible to fix with any precision the time at which the manufacture of saws and edge-tools was begun‹whether by the Netherlanders or earlier. But we do know that in I675-6, awl-blade-smiths and in I68I-2, file-smiths and scythe-smiths, were of sufficient importance to be admitted within the ranks of the Cutlers' Company. In I705-6 that Company spent considerable sums " in suppressing the designs and prosecuting of Mr. Hinchcliff who had hired several persons of this corporation to go with him to Stockholm, in order to settle an iron manufactory trade in those parts"; and in I725-27 the skill of the Sheffield file makers was in such repute that efforts were made, and forcibly resisted, to tempt them to carry their industry and their tools to France. The first improvement on the whittle was the jack-knife, a rude device for shutting the blade in the haft. The blade moved on a pin. When opened, it was kept in position for cutting by a catch, which rested on the back of the scales Dr. Gatty* has made an ingenious attempt to give the credit for this improvement to one John of Liege. This is based largely on the statement of a Dr. Somerville, who wrote in the eighteenth century; and on the name " Jocktleteg," or " Jack- a-legs." But the evidence is not satisfactory, and there is good reason to believet that the smiths of Liege took their patterns from, rather than supplied them to, England. The date I650 has been assigned as the time when spring- knives, at first with iron handles, began to be made. Their inventor is one of those unknown benefactors whose name is omitted from the rolls of fame. It has been suggested that as they were originally called couteaux‹a name found in use down to a late period#‹the device came from France. At first spring-knives were but clumsy, and made with only one -------------------- * Gatty's Hunter's Hallamshire, p 165. + Local Notes and Queries, Sheffield Independcnt, April IIth, I878. # Wilson Joseph, cuttoe and pen knife cutler, Castlefold" (1774)' "Abdy John, Howard Street, couteau and graver maker" (I787). In the list of Common Pocket and Pen Knife Manufacturers in the 1787 Directory, " those who make pen knives have the word Pen put against their names; the others make only couteaux." ------------------ blade. "Flat-backs" followed one-blade spring-knives. In stead of the blade and the spring being got up before the knife is "nailed in," or riveted together, as is the case with " round- backs," the flat-back was made up entire and then ground, the scales, springs, and covering all being ground flat at one operation and the blade at another. Then were many varieties introduced, the technicalities of which it would be tedious to recount. There were " stamped knives," with brass scales ornamented by being struck in a die; " framed knives," where ivory, tortoiseshell, or bone was bevelled into brass; " Chinese knives," with scales pressed from horn, and a neat device cut in the boss. " Diamonding," or scratching the bone scale in diamond shapes came in about I755-58, and for some time the process remained a profitable secret to its possessor. Horn pressing was used and tortoiseshell, but the dearness of the latter substance soon compelled resort to an imitation, and spotted knives," made with this, were very popular, and became, as already stated, an extensive industry in the villages. The imitation was effected by burning dark marks into clear horn, by treating it with a composition in which lime was an ingredient. This sham tortoiseshe]l was also largely used by comb-makers, and it is still sometimes seen in the commoner class of razors, though its employment for knives has quite died out. 'The Directory of I787 specifies just one manufacturer of spotted knives‹Tholllas Beet, land- lord of the Seven Stars, Trippet Lane. He was still using the mark (a fish hook) of Edward Beet, one of the many makers of these articles in I787. The stamping of bolsters in a boss saved labour and gave variety, for, until then, bolsters were either plain, or filed by hand. One in- genious mechanic devised an instrument for neatly preparing the scales for the reception of a shield: and, being ever ready to barter for a pot of ale the advantages that would have accrued from keeping this in his own hands, the plan was widely adopted. Another workman, an apprentice in Pepper Alley, improved upon the original one-blade pocket-knife, by making a "slit-spring knife," uith two blades side by side; and from this it was a natural step so to shape springs as to allow of a blade at each end. " Stafford knivcs," called after their maker in Broad Lane, were an early and very popular form of the improved cutlery, and with " Barlow " knives had a great vogue, which has not yet wholly died out. The process of horn pressing tempted makers into trying a great number of ingenious devices. The pocket knife, dear to the boyish heart, was used as a bait for seducing its owner into mastering the mysteries of the alphabet, and we come upon entries wllich show that it was worth the while of manufacturers to devote themselves exclusively to the making of " children's A B C knives." Scales were also utilised for the expression of patriotic sentiments, or of political ardour. pen-knife which obtained some popularity at the time of Napoleon s overthrow, had on one side a full-length figure of Wellington, holding in his right hand the Field Marshal's baton, while over his head the eagle of victory floated in the air. The other side gave a figure of Peace, standing on a pedestal and waving aloft four banners which bore the names of the allies‹England, Austria, Prussia, and Russia. On the pedestal was the inscription, " Perish the usurper who over- threw Europe and banished national rights." A partner in Wedgwood's potteries was connected by marriage witlh Sheffield, and the celebrated ware of that firm was at one time introduced as a material ior knife hafts. 'This gave rise to an angry revolt on the part of the cutlers significant as an early instance of their readiness to resort to " rattening" as a corrective to unfair competition. For one Baddeley, of Hanley, commenced fraudulently but successfully to copy their imitations of stag, buck, and buffalo horn handles. The workmen refused to make them up, and threats were sent to the masters that if they persisted in using this man's terra- cotta handles their works would be blown up. The employers gave way, and when Haddeley's son visited Sheffield, an attack was made upon him, and he was served with a written intimation that if he did not discontinue to supply the handles he and his works would be " done for." An immense stride in perfecting scissors was taken in 176I, when on Robert Hinchliffe produced the first pair made of cast steel, hardened and polished. The story is that love stimulated his inventive genius, and that his efforts were inspired by desire to win the affections of a young woman whom he wished to take for wife. The forming of the bows was his greatest difficulty. His first method was to make them solid; then drilling a hole, he enlarged this to the required size by laboriously filing away the metal. Afterwards he hit upon a simpler plan, and a ready sale was found for his wares in London and other markets. He lived in Cheney Square, and was reputed to be the first person who put out a signboard proclaiming himself " fine scissor manufacturer. ' The increasing luxury of the people had created a demand for forks; edge-tools and joiners' tools had also made their appearance among the trades of the town. With the multipli- cation of the cutlers had grown the demand for the fittings of their shops, and thus the manufacture of anvils, vices, and hammers had taken the position of recognised trades. In I774, " lancet and phlem makers " were a distinct class‹and the manufacture of surgical instruments implies both excellence of material and skill in workmanship and finish. So from I700 to I800 the industries of the town continued to increase and multiply, in general slowly, but occasionally with strides which form landmarks in the history of hardware manufactures. The period is illuminated by the brilliance of two notable discoveries made nearly at the same time, towards the middle of the century, by Sheffield men. The inventions of the art of silver-plating by Thomas Bolsover, and of making cast-steel by Benjamin Huntsman, were destined to have immense effect. The value of the latter, at least, was not all at once apprehended. The wise men of Sheffield obstinately refused to use Huntsman's steel. They complained that it was much harder than anything to which they had been accus- tomed. But Huntsman found the French more appreciative, and the superiority the foreigners began to attain thereby raised a competition which forced the Sheffield cutlers to adopt cast -steel. It has been customary among writers on this subject to say that up to this time the steel used in Sheffield was mostly imported from Germany and other countries, and it has been asserted that steel was not converted here until some years after Huntsman's invention, the process reaching us by way of Newcastle.* But this does large injustice to Sheffield. That steel was converted here and was used by the file-smiths in 1709, is shown by the draft of the agreement previously named,+ drawn up in that year to be entered into between Samuel Shore, "ironmonger," and Henry Ball, of Sheffield, steel maker. In this it was set forth that Samuel Shore, the owner of several furnaces for making steel, had usually employed Ball " for the making, slitting, and gadding of steel," and they proposed mutually to agree that Shore was exclusively to employ Ball, and Ball was exclusively to make steel for Shore, at ten shillings a heat, with two shillings compassionate money to Ball's mother. The agreement was not executed, a covenant being substituted, by which, during ten years, Ball, for 6s. a week, is to make, slitt, and gad all the steel said Shore has occasion for, having a man to assist him; he is not to make or gad for anybody, nor slit only for Sam Bayley, Sampson Bayleyt and Tho. Sayles, filecutters, for what they shall use for their own occasions. And Widow Ball is to have sixpence a week " while she lives of the ten years." " Slitting" was cutting, by a machine, thin bars of converted steel into strips, ready for the cutlers; "gadding" was hammering out these strips into still smaller sizes. Iron was prepared in the same way for nail makers. The Middlewood Forge is still known among the old people of the locality as "the slitting mill." It is believed that the process of " gadding " still lingers in one or two old-fashioned works. Again, we know that in I748 the Walkers, to whom is attributed the ~slim" device which robbed Huntsman of his secret, began erecting steel furnaces and pot furnaces at Grenoside.# Huntsman removed from Doncaster to Hands- worth in I742, and there he was prosecuting his experiments with steel until he established his works at Attercliffe in I772. It is probable that he had furnaces for converting steel by the cementation process at Handsworth; it is certain that he had ----------------- * Gatty's Hunter, p. I67n, and Sheffield Local Register (1785), p. 59. + Ante, p.5. Local Notes and Queries, Jan. 6, I879. # Gatty's Hunter, p. 211. --------------- them at Attercliffe, as is shown by views of his works in the possession of his descendants. Mr. R. A. Hadfield (Master Cutler, I899) has called attention* to accounts of the processes of making steel in Newcastle and Sheffield, given by a French expert, M. Gabriel Jars, who visited these towns about the year I764. In his " Voyages Metallurgiques," Jars reports that Swedish bar-iron was largely converted by cementatlon at Newcastle, and sent in great quantities to Sheffield and Birmingharb but he found that " dans la ville de Sheffield et dans ses envirolls, on convertit une tres grande quantitie de fer en acier," in furnaces built on the same principle as those of Newcastle, but on a minor scale for economy in construction, and so dealing with smaller "heats." And M. Jars, in another place, gives an account of Huntsman's process of refining steel by fusion, and says that attempts made to imitate this at Newcastle had " succeeded badly." It has been suggested that the earliest blister-steel makers here‹Samuel Shore in I709 and the Walkers in I784‹used local iron, and that the advantage Newcastle temporarily gained was through imitating the Germans, and imporling the produds of the Swedish mines. For although there are traces of Sheffield buying Danish and Spanish iron as early as 1557,+ ------------------ * The Early History of Crucible Steel; " paper read before The Iron and Steel Institute, August, 1894. Also, " Voyages Metallurgiques (dedie a l' Acadcmie Royal des Sciences de Paris), par M. G. Jars," and published in 1774, Vol, I., pp. 225, 257. Mr. Hadfield quotes a highly eulogistic report on Huntsman's Cast-Steel, by Fourness ad Ashworth, Engineers to their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and Duke of Clarence. The writers say they are the more induced to set forth the merits of this, the best cast-steel made in this or any other country, be- cause during the course of more than thirty ears of time devoted to the manufacturing of it, Huntsman has so much neglected his own interest and credit as never to give the public any account of his steel. They themselves only by accident heard of it, and they offer their information as friends to a man who ought, in an advanced stage of life, as well for his own gratification as his family's prosperity and comfort, to be repaid, by the increase of trade, for his expenditure of time, and his sedulity in contributing to the convenience of the mechanical part of society. " This is dated March 28th, 1792. The writers were evidently unaware that the inventor for whose interests they ~were so generously concerned, had died in 1776. + Gatty's Hunter, p. I2n. ----------------- we know that iron smelting in this neighbourhood is a very ancient industry, and was practised certainly in Norman times, and probably even by the Romans. In the Civil Wars both Royalists and Parliamentarians availed themselves of the iron works they found hereabouts for casting cannon and cannon- balls; and early in the eighteenth century the local forges were of considerable importance. It was therefore natural for the local steel makers to use the raw material nearest to hand. There has been preserved a memorandum about the priccs of bar-iron and rod-iron sold at Sheffield between the years I695 and I724.+ UP to I7I6 there was so steady an increase that " Mr. Shore and Mr. Cotton were thereby encouraged to set up their iron works, and then the great prices began to be given for cordwood. And in I722, the Duke of Norfolk's forge masters, to be revenged of Mr. Shore and Mr. Cotton, fell their price of iron." In I724 iron sold for £I7 bars, £I8 I5S. rods. "It so continucd until about two years ago (probably about I720) that forelgn iron came into England at a low price, and the forge masters have since sold at £I6 bars and £I7 I5S. rod." We have also# the details of calculations made by Mr. John Fell, of Attercliffe Forge, as to the cost of producing iron, having especial regard to the quantity of cord- wood obtainable from the Duke of Norfolk and other land owners. The " foreign iron," whose competition is above referred to, was probably iron from the American Colonies, for from I736 to I757 there was vehement pressure put upon Parliament to prohibit the importation of iron from the slitiing mills of New England, the usual wail of Proteciion being raised that otherwise the home iron tracle would be utterly ruined. The tanners added their voice for prohibition, urging the ingenious plea that if the English forges were discontinued the growing of timber would be discouraged, or the forests would remain uncut, so that there would be neither oak for ship-building nor bark for tanning. On the other hand there was expressed in petitions to Parliament, the more enlightened view of the wisdom of encouraging, by free import, the produce of our Colonies, thus rendering us independent of supplies from -------------- + Local Notes and Queries, Sheffield Independent, September 28th, 1874. # Ib., Octobcr 5th, 1874. --------- Sweden and other foreign countries.* In the end the Free Traders prevailed, and in I757 it was enacted that American bar-iron should be admitted duty free. The Directory of I774 gives the names of three firms then making cast steel‹Benj. Huntsman, at Attercliffe, Bolsover and Co., Sycamore Street, and John Marshall, Millsands. There are two others described generally as steel manufacturers ‹Greaves, Loftus and Brightmore, Townhead Cross, and William Parker and Co., Hawley Croft. In I787 there were five refiners and fifteen converters. In I797, fifteen in all (including the Walkers of Masbro'), refiners not being distinguished from converters. The substitution of rolling for the more primitive process of hammering must be noted as an important step in the development of the iron and steel industries. It came into special prominence in connection with Henry Cort's improve- ments in the manufacture of iron in I783. The process had already been applied by silver platers. In the first instance, these rolled by hand, then horse-power was substituted; and Joseph Hancock, the man who was chiefly instrumental in demonstrating the wide adaptability of Bolsover's invention to many purposes, devoted himself to rolling metal required by the silver-plate manufacturers. At one time he was, it is said, in High Street, facing the end of George Street, behind the premises occupied by Kippax and Nowill, but in 1787 he was in Union Street, where he is described as " plated metal roller." He afterwards utilised water power for rolling at the Old Park Mill. Thomas Bolsover, having, by his fortunate discovery of silver-plating, benefited others rather than himse}f, became a manufacturer of " saws, fenders, edge tools, cast- steel and emory," in Sycamore Street; and, extending the rolling process to steel, he erected, about I769, mills on the Porter Brook, below his house, Whiteley Wood Hall. Perhaps he did not wholly give up silver-plating. It has been said,+"that, in addition to his rolling mills, he erected at Whiteley Wood what are now known as " Forge houses " as
---------- * Local Notes and Queries, Sheffield Independent, May 25th, 1874. + Ib., August 22nd, 1878, ------------ a plating manufactory, where buttons and snuff-boxes were made, " buffing " being done higher up the stream, on the site of Fulwood Corn Mill. Joseph Mitchell and Co.‹who succeeded Bolsover and Co., Mitchell being Bolsover's son-in- law‹made gilt and plated-buttons in addition to edge-tools and saws; which seems to give confirmation to the above statement. The ruins of the Whiteley Wood Works remain to this day, and the name of their site, Bowser (Bolsover, Bowsever) Bottom, perpetuates the spirited but ill-starred enterprise of one of Sheffield's industrial pioneers. An illustration of the value of rolling may be found in the change it effected in the saw trade. Formerly the steel for each saw was hammered out of the bar, but this tedious labour being superseded by the new process, it became possible quickly to roll sheets of the required ihickness, which had then simply to be cut into the necessary sizes. And instead of the antiquated plan of making saws thicker at the tooth edge than in the blade‹so that in working they might clear themselves, " gait " was given by the simple but ingenious device of setting the teeth inward and outward alternately. As we have just seen, Bolsover not only rolled steel for saws at Whiteley Wood, but he made saws too, improving upon the technical skill of the local artisans by importing, as foremen, two makers who had worked for a Mr Manwaring in London. The history of Thomas Bolsover's discovery of silver- plating, and its influence on the prosperity of the town, has been well and exhaustively told by other writers.* It may be of interest, however, to focus a few of the side lights which are beneath the dignity of grave historians, and to give an account of the origin and fortunes of two firms, typical of others. ------------------ * See Gatty's Hunter's Hallamshire, pp. I68-9; Autobiography of Samuel Roberts, p. 37; Mr. Arnold T. Watson's paper on the Shefmeld Assay Office (Literary and Philosophical Society's Transactions, October Ist,I88g.) I am indebted for many particulars to the MSS. of the late Mr. Thomas Nicholson (partner in the early firm of Gainsford and Nicholson, Eyre Street), kindly placed at my disposal by his repre- sentatives, through Mr. Arnold T. Watson. I have embodied in this Chapter some of the information given in my paper on '~ The Rise and Growth of the Trades of Sheffield," read before the Social Science Congress when it met here in I865. --------------------- It is worthy of notice how largely the trade of metal button- making, both in Sheffield and in Birmingham, had prepared the ground for taking advantage of the discovery of silver- plating. When Thomas Bolsover, mending a knife in his attic on Sycamore Hill, hit upon the possibility of plating copper with silver by fusion, his dominant idea was to utilise the new process for making buttons; and to this end, in I743 ‹helped, it is said, with capital by Mr. Pegge, of Beauchief, and in conjuntion with Mr. Joseph Wilson‹he set up a factory for the manufacture of plated buttons and buckles on Baker's Hill. It was the sale of these wares, and perhaps also of plated knife handles, snuff boxes, and so forth, that was snatched from him by a dishonest traveller to the advantage of unscrupulous rivals. Joseph Hancock, who, with an outlook beyond buttons, first realised the capabilities of Bolsover's discovery, was but a brazier. Michael Boulton, a man of fine endowments, possessing what Smiles calls " a genius for business of the highest order" destined to give practical effect to ~Tatt's great invention of the steam engine, was a Sheffield button-maker. Negotiations between him and Mr. Richard Morton for a partnership here were broken off on a petty squabble over a paltry £40 as partner's salary; where- upon Mr. Boulton betook himself, in I764, to Birmingham, with results written large not only on the silver-plating trade but also on the history of our national industries.- While some of the early platers began thus as button- makers, others were cutlers, the transition, when plated knife handles came in, being easy. Henry Tudor, then in the employment of Young and Hoyland as button chaser, was hit upon by Dr. Sherburn as a likely practical man to take the ----------- * It is curious to note how Birmingham has benefited by other freaks of fortune. It was indebted to Yorkshire for Dr. Priestley, who, among other bellefits, taught it how to gild buttons without gold at a merely nominal cost; and for electro-plating, the secret of which was sold to Elkingtons by the most commercially practical of many experimenters, Mr. Wright, who had been pupil-assistant to Dr. Shearman, of Rotherham. Per contra, it was an apprentice of Boulton's, one Wilks, who, with another named Mottram, hit upon a great improvement in the cumbrous old method of making plated wire. He kept his secret to himself until out of his indentures, and then came with it to Sheffield, and began business with Mr. Mark Dixon. ------------- head of a concern he contemplated establishing for making best wrought silver plate. The firm of Tudor and Leader, in Tudor Place, originally known as Sycamore Hill, was the result. Thomas Leader was an Essex man who had come here by way of London; and it seems as if the original design had contemplated only the manufacture of such small articles as snuff boxes, for Daniel Leader, Thomas's brother, migrated from Essex in 1760, and was apprenticed to the firm as a " box maker." But the concern grew. It was one of the first to take up the new method of plating, and when the necessity for larger appliances for rolling was felt, Tudor and Leader were the pioneers in substituting horse power for the earlier method of hand labour. A nephew of Tudor's, one Harry Hurst, proved very useful by employing his artistic skill in copying the best silver patterns. Dr. Sherburn showed his appreciation of the efforts of his active partners by be- queathing the bulk of his property to Henry Tudor, with a share in the concern to Thomas Leader. Besides this, he left to the latter a favourite horse, and a funny story is told how Leader, when mounting his new possession for the first time, got up on the wrong side, by putting his right foot in the stirrup. " Gad rat it," said he, when the mistake was pointed out, " what can it mean so that I be on ?" The two working partners lived on the site now occupied by the Free Library. Afterwards, Mr. Tudor went into Tudor House (since occupied in various ways, as the first home of the Dispensary, a Bible Society Depot, and latterly by Corporation Departments), in succession to Dr. Sherburn. The works were across, that is on the north side of, Tudor Street, extending from what is now Surrey Street towards the Theatre Royal‹the site, in recent times, until their present factory was built, of Messrs. Round and Sons' premises.* In ------------------ * In one of the garrets of these works, when taken down in I865, there was revealed a considerable quantity of scrap metal, hidden away in the roof, the booty of some undiscovered thief. It was here that Bolsover was working when the light of his discovery dawned upon him. After- wards he lived up a Court in Norfolk Street. This house became the Second Assay Office, and was so used until I793, when the premises in Fargate, removed during recent improvements, were built at a modest cost of £900. ----------------- front of Tudor House, where is now the Lyceum Theatre, was a bowling green, and Mr. Tudor's gardens extended over all the surrounding space, in front and to the right; the grounds sloping down across what is now Arundel Street, amid sycamore trees, to the margin of the Sheaf. Behind was the garden of Mr. Leader's house, which, with Mr. Tudor's premises and grounds, covered the site where the Music Hall was erected in I823, and also that of the Mechanics' Institute, now the Free Library. The two houses commanded lovely country views. There is another story of Thomas Leader which illustrates at once the rural character of the neighbourhood in those days, and the unwise contempt the older firms felt for new comers. Mr. Leader, walking, with the father of the late Mr. T. Nicholson, in the field through which Surrey Street was afterwards made, remarked that the land below had been measured for building. " Yes," said his companion, " It's for young Roberts and for a plated manufactory, too." " Gad rat it, man," replied Leader, " let them take skimm'd milk that likes; we've got the cream"‹an unfortunate remark, for the industry and untiring energy of Mr. Samuel Roberts, coupled with the mechanical cleverness of his colleague, Mr. Cadman, and aided by the capital of Mr. Naylor, Unitarian Minister, as sleeping partner, enabled the firm of Roberts and Cadman to outstrip all local competitors, and to flourish after Tudor and Leader, either through reckless management or through the commercial difficulties attendant on the ruinous war time, had collapsed. Mr. Tudor was for many years a prominent man in the town's affairs‹as a Town Trustee, one of the first Guardians of the Assay Office, and in other offices. He had the repu- tation of being the proudest man in Sheffield, and this earned for him the title of " My Lord Harry." He was highly indignant at finding another Henry Tudor, a journeyman, between the wind and his nobility, and he vainly endeavoured to bribe the man to change his name. He and Thomas Bolsover, the inventor of silver-plating, married sisters. One of his daughters, by a second wife, became Mrs. Rowland Hodgson, wife of the friend of Montgomery and George Bennet.* From a younger daughter the family of Mr. Fernell, solicitor, are descended. On retiring from business Mr. Thomas Leader, Senior, returned to Broxted, in his native county of Essex, and died there in I8I9 at the age of 84. His son, Thomas, was Major in the Loyal Independent Volunteers (I794), and Colonel in the Sheffield Volunteer Infantry (I803). He was the hero of a Gretna Green romance, for no sooner did he come of age (I79I) than he ran away with the daughter of his father's neighbour, Thomas Henfrey, scissor smith, Master Cutler in I79I, who then lived in the house which stands askew at the top of Eyre Street. When Mr. Henfrey built himself a residence at then remote Highfield, to the astonishment of friends who wondered how he could venture along Sheffield Moor after dark, Col. Leader succeeded to the Eyre Street House. He died June 4th, I 833, aged 63, leaving one daughter, wife of the Rev. T. C. Holdsworth, of Matlock. Robert Leader, the son of Daniel, afterwards proprietor of the Sheffield Independent, was also in the business, until it was given up about the year I8I2. Colonel Thomas Leader had allowed his interest in the Volunteer movement and other outside affairs to divert his attention from a trade which he conducted somewhat recklessly‹and the penalty had to be paid. There was some talk of Daniel+ and his son Robert continuing the concern, but nothing came of it, and the tools and stock-in-trade, and the house in Surrey Street, were advertised for sale in I8I4. ----------- * Mr. Hodgson's father was Rector of Rawmarsh; his mother was the daughter of Mr. John Parker, of Woodthorpe, + A venerable Sheffield citizen who died in 1874 in his 93rd year (Mr. William Ash, joiners' tool manufacturer), traced some likeness in the late Mr. John Daniel Leader to his great-grandfather, whom he well remem- bered as " a little stiff man, built like an oak, dressed in knee breeches, long waistcoat, large cuffed coat, ribbed worsted stockings, and large buckles on his shoes; " discussing various local matters with his friend Quaker Abraham Wigram at the &mous hostelry, The Three Stags, Carver Street. Similarly, the late Mr. Albert Smith was accustomed to tell another great-grandson that if he put on a pair of old-fashioned horn spectacles, he would be the image of another great-grandfather, John Smith, the bookseller of Angel Street, ---------- We can trace in the records of the silver-plating trade indications that, as was natural, its earlier years, like those of all new industries in the experimental stage, were characterised by much unrest and fluctuation. The frequency with which the pioneer firms changed partners and localities is all the more perplexing because so many men of the same name were moving about, first in this combination and then in that‹ now shed from one firm to be joined to a neighbour, or again branching off from the parent stem to found fresh works. The permutations and combinations of such names as Morton, Roberts, Nicholson, are many; as to Watsons, as the time went on, they were endless. Thomas Law must have been early in the field, because his apprentice, John Winter, now with one set of partners and now with another, was himself in business from about I765. There were, too, another appren- tice, Mr. Samuel Roberts, and the Mortons, Richard and Thomas. By I774 we find, including button and snuff- box makers and silversmiths, sixteen firms in the trade. And it is of interest to see how widespread w as already the extension of plating. " These ingenious workmen," says the Directory of that year, " make a great variety of articles, an account of which here may not be improper, viz.: " Epergnes, tea urns, coffee and tea pots, tea kettles and lamps, tankards and measures of all sizes, jugs, cups, goblets, tumblers, candle- sticks, branches, cruet frames, water and plater plates and dishes, dish rims, crosses, castors, tea trays and waiters, bottle and writing stands, tureens, ladles, spoons, scollop shells, canisters, mustard pots, round and oval salts, bottle labels, cream pails, bread and sugar baskets, argyles, snuffer stands and dishes, wine funnels, skewers, cream jugs, lemon strainers, cheese toasters, chocolate pots, saucepans, stew ditto, snuff boxes bridle bits, stirrups, buckles, spurs, knife and fork handles, buttons for saddles, and a great variety of other articles."* ---------------- * To which may be added racing cups--for one of the early boyish recollections of the writer is a large portfolio in the possession of his grandfather (Robert Leader) containing the designs for racing trophies, and many other magnificent articles which had been made by Tudor and Leaders. Would that the manifold stories the old silversmith delighted to tell of the early years of the trade, and of the Sheffield of his youth, had been set down and noted, to be recalled now. ----------------- Not among the earliest, but among early silver-plating firms was that of Ashforth, Ellis, and Co. (Ashforth, Ellis, Wilson, and Hawksley, it was in I787). The history of this, both in its beginning and ending, as told for us by the late Mr. Samuel Ellis, is sufficiently typical to be worth recording. It was formed about I770 in Hawley Croft‹often called Holy Street. Mr. George Ashforth brought to it a certain amount of practical knowledge, and Mr. Samuel Ellis contributed considerable skill in designing and engraving. Ellis had been trained as a cutler, as his father and grandfather were before him; but he had drifted into the work of cutting presses for horn scales, and dies, and his artistic taste had led him to design models and ornaments for silversmiths. This admirably qualified him for entering on the plating trade, and the firm quickly won a fair measure of success. They removed their business to the east side of Angel Street, up a passage adJoining the shop in recent times occupied by Mr. John Tasker. The workshops extended so far in the rear that the windows looked upon the back of the old King Street Gaol. These premises becoming in course of time too small for their increasing trade, they built new works at the top of Red Hill (occupied until a few years ago by Horrabin Brothers), and Mr. Ellis erected for himself the house at the corner of Red Hill and Broad Lane, which has become a Roman Catholic institution It had a garden and orchard at the back extending to the top of Red Hill. To his brown wig, Quaker-shaped coat, white cravat, and shoes with large buckles, Mr. Ellis so invariably added a flower in his button-hole that he was known in the neighbourhood as " the old gentleman with a flower in his coat." Although the partners had not much of the commercial instinct, the concern, so long as it remained of a compass they could manage by personal attention in the workshops, went well, and realised for them what was then a handsome fortune. But, by and bye, travellers, with bolder views, imported larger ambitions than were entertained by the plain Sheffielders. They got admitted to the firm. The opening of a branch in Paris, side by side with Wedgwood's show-room, was followed by another in Dublin; and all went merry as a marriage bell. But the new spirit did not confine itself within the bounds of sound trading success. It soared to high personal flights incompatible with good management We have seen reason to suspect something of the same kind in connection with Tudor and Leader. The distrac- tions of France, at and following the Revolution, involved the Paris agency in troubles; and on the top of that, and with difficulties consequent upon the dismal state of commerce, there came a special loss of £5000 on goods consigned to Dublin. Bankruptcy, in I8II, was the result; the business was utterly broken up, and the stock-in-trade dispersed. Old Mr. Ellis was reduced from amuence to poverty, and ended his days, like Mr. Joseph Morton, maternal grandfather of Ald. Thomas Dunn, a fellow sufferer by mer- cantile misfortune, in discharging the duties of an appointment in the Assay Office. The manufacture of goods in Britannia (white) metal was another important eighteenth century addition to our indus- tries. There has been the usual controversy as to the first pioneer in this trade. Claims to priority have been made on behalf of several individuals, but the weight of testimony is in favour of Mr. James Vickers, of Garden Walk (Garden Street). There is strong evidence that he hit upon it by one of the accidents so frequently met with in the history of commerce. Mr. James Vickers was one of the earliest adherents of John Wesley in Sheffield. About I769 he bought for five shillings from a sick man whom he happened to be visiting, a recipe for making white metal. Experiments with this, cast in moulds, were so successful that a market was gradually established for spoons and forks, not only locally but in London, and on the strength of this success Mr. Vickers applied the metal to many other articles‹tobacco boxes, beakers, sugar basins, cream jugs, and especially tea and coffee pots. Mr. Vickers's priority is confirmed by the Directory of I787, where he appears as the only maker of " measures, teapots, castor frames, salts, spoons, etc.," in " white metal," besides plating with it bits and stirrups. His son, Mr. John Vickers, also a noted Methodist, who built Red Hill Terrace, joined him in partnership, and subsequently carried on the business until his death at Broombank House, Glossop Road, built by Mr. B, Micklethwaite, merchant, West Street. Competitors quickly sprang up‹as Richard Constantine; Broadhead, Gurney, and Spoiles; Froggatt, Coldwell, and Lean; Nathaniel Gower- and later, Mr. James Dixon, who had been an apprentice at Broadhead's, laid in Silver Street the foundations of the great establishment at Cornish Place. Mr. Vickers's business is still carried on by his descendants, Ebenezer Stacey and Sons, in premises closely adjoining the old ones in Garden Street. True to the prejudices which made them prone to stand in their own light, the working population were ever quick to resent efforts to improve the methods of bringing fuel to the town. Coal, obtained by little more than scratching the soil or by very primitive mining, is mentioned as in use in Hallam- shire in the reign of Henry VIII. There is a reference to "the coalepyttes " (significantly enough in connection with a fatal accident) in the Burgery Accounts for I587. It is quite possible that these gave the name to Coalpit Lane. Harrison, in his " Survey " (I637), speaks of Sheffield Park being " stored with very good coale and ironstone in abundance;" and its oak forests, close at hand, supplied fuel (' cord wood ') for smelting. The Norfolk Estate Steward's account for I636 contains payments for " cuttinge and rivinge old roots and other old wood into cords ;" and disbursements, in excess of incomings, " aboute the newe cole myne on the Parke Hill toppe and there abouts." After Harrison's time, near the end of the century, the splendid trees, containing the finest timber in England, were cut down. Some portions of the Park (called by the Duke's agents the Hall Park) were turned into farms. Other portions, where the timber had been felled, lay, by neglect of enclosing, open to the adjoining (Attercliffe) Common, or waste, " by which long prescription," it was said in I762, " the freeholders insist upon it as common, and claim rights of herbage." Mr. Burton, of Attercliffe Forge, had quietly added pieces of the Park land to the property leased to him or to Mr. Hayford, and conveniently forgot to pay rent either for the old or the new. Contemporaneously with the breaking up of the Park, we read of coal pits at Gleadless being let on lease; and in I702 " colepitts " at Handsworth are assessed to the poor. In I728 the 8th Duke of Norfolk, writing to his agent, suggests that, following the example of coalowners at Worksop and Nottingham, the price of coals from " my colliery at Shef- field," might be raised a halfpenny a (pack) horse load; but perhaps it would be as well, " as the road is intolerable bad," first to mend it, " which would in some measure please them for the advanced price." The people did not see it in that light, and so far from being " pleased " at improvements made for their benefit, but as they thought at their cost, they, as we shall presently see, riotously resented them. A monopolising policy inspired the Dukes, while desirous of getting their own coals to the town, to place impediments in the way of others, even of their own tenants. They used the roads through the Park for their own coals, but stopped the people of Hands- worth and Gleadless when seeking to avoid the long detour by Newfield Green and Heeley. In I762 attempts were made to prevent coals coming from Mr. Spencer's colliery at Attercliffe across the Common. Mr. Spencer had a colliery on his estate, and a small part of Attercliffe Common belonged to him; but the Duke claimed, as Lord of the Manor, to bar Mr. Spencer's access to the town over the remainder of the Common. " Spencer's tenants of the said colliery," it was said in a case laid before counsel with a view to an action for trespass, " sell a deal of coal into the town of Sheffield, in prejudice of the Duke's colliery in Sheffield Park, and they carry the coals upon horseback, also in waggons and carts over that part of the Common belonging to the Duke, because it is a great deal nearer Sheffield than the common high road is." The same Duke, the gth, took a more enlightened course a few years later, in I774. Instead of trying to shut out the competition of his tenants and neighbours, he sought, through the ingenuity of his manager, Mr. Curr, to meet it by facili- tating the conveyance of his coals to the town by the then very original means of a tramway with wooden rails. It was two miles long, and the coals were delivered at a depot at the bottom of the Park hill, near where Duke Street and South Street join Broad Street. Instead of being grateful, or pleased," the foolish people saw in this a deep design to raise the price of coals. A tariff was issued showing a real reduction in the price of coals as sold at the wharf, but ignoring this, the wildest stories were afloat, circulated perhaps by the carters, whose occupation was threatened. The scheme was denounced as an imposition and a cruelty; and "the merciless wretches," as they are called in a contemporary letter, were charged with stopping all delivery at the pits, with seeking to almost double the price, and with refusing to sell in less quantities than a horse load. Serious riots were the consequence. Several of the " large carriages on low wheels, which run on a road made of timber, in imitation of one at Newcastle," were destroyed. A truck, after being dragged in triumph through the town, was set on fire and sent flaming into the river. The new loading stage was broken up and burnt; a watch-box and the counting-house in the coal yard were wrecked, and the tram lines were damaged. The mob also attacked " The Lord's House " in Norfolk Row, where Mr. Henry Howard lived. Mr. Howard promptly published a handbill pointing out that it was never intended to charge higher prices, and showing how, instead of having this effect, facility of transit must keep them low. He was backed up by a reassuring statement issued by the Town Collector, the Master Cutler, and other leading inhabitants as the result of a public meeting. But the people refused to be comforted, and a few months later the riots were renewed so threateningly that an association was formed for the mutual protection of person and property. The tramroad was after- wards relaid with iron rails; and it has been contended that it was the first in the country so constructed. Common coal in I734 cost 2s. 6d. a ton, and " Attercliffe coal " 5s. I0d. The prices at the time of these riots in I774, at the pit hill, were: Hard, 3s. 4d.; hard and small, 2s. 8d.; small, 2s. per load of eight corves. The carriage from the pit to the town was 2s. 4d., or sometimes in winter 2s. 8d. The prices at the new stage were 4s. 6d., 3s. I0d., and 3s. 2d. respectively, with Is. 2d. per load carriage. Of greater effect on the industries of the town than any of the advances already described was, of course, the appli- cation of steam as a source of power. This, however, was only tentatively making its way in the latter part of the period of which we are now treating, and its revolutionary effect on trade belongs not to the eighteenth, but to the next century. It is, however, germane to the present purpose to record the manner in which man's greatest ally was received by the people of Sheffield; and it is of interest to note the mingled feelings of amazement and dread, of disbelief and suspicion and antagonism with which the new agent was greeted. when, in I785 or I786, one of the firms of Proctors (for there were several of that name in the town) erected the first steam grinding wheel on the Sheaf (in what is now Sheaf Street) the wiseacres predicted ruin to the innovators and all sorts of disasters to their workmen. Those who flocked to see the engine in motion were puzzled beyond measure by what was, to them, mysterious and unintelligible; and for a con- siderable time no grinders could be found to occupy the vacant troughs. At length one, greatly daring, set at nought the protests and warnings of his relatives and friends, and began to work; and when it was found that prognostica- tions of his speedy destruction were not realised, others followed his example. But even then, the prejudices against what was called " Old Steamy " remained, and they were encouraged by the frequency with which, owing to the iniyial difficulties inseperable from new developments, first one thing then another went out of gear, and the wheel "fell lame." It is said that the mother of the first grinder who worked in this wheel, assured by her son of the safety of the boiler, thought in muddle-headed fashion to carry out the principles he had explained to her, in her kitchen. Her kettle having " fallen lame," she corked up a bottle of water and put it in the oven to get hot. The inevitable explosion occurred, whereupon she said reproachfully, " Thah telled me there were no danger abaht it, but if thy boiler were to brust, same as moi bottle did i' t' oven, whoi, it 'ud knock t' wheel dahn." She was taken to see the engine, but the noise and motion threw her into such bewilderment that she soon fled from the place, increasingly assured that nothing but disaster could come from such new-fangled notions. Like steam, trades unions and strikes belong rather to the nineteenth than to the eighteenth century, but the latter was not free from attempts at combination, and from mutterings of the coming storm. The combination laws were such that the organisations of workmen, until the last years of the century, took the form of " Benefit Societies." In I720 the tailors formed the first of these. It was called a sick club, and although it did develop into an association for mutual helpful- ness in misfortune, its primary object was a curtailment of inordinate hours of labour. " Whereas," the original deed recites, " we usually work about at people's houses from six o'clock in the morning to eight o'clock in the evening for a day's work, and we now find the same prejudicial to us, and do all of us think it too long confinement for the wages we receive for one day's work, therefore be it mutually covenanted . . . that we will not at any time hereafter work abroad for any persons whatsoever in their houses longer than six o'clock in the evening, nor begin before six o'clock in the morning, upon any account, occasion, or pre- tence whatsoever, under the penalty of a sum of sS. of current money of Great Britain for each offence, proved on the credible testimony of two witnesses." The example of the Tailors was followed by others, sick clubs or benefit societies being formed by the Filesmiths and the Cutlers (I732), the Carpenters (1740), the Grinders (I748), the Scissorsmiths (I79I), and many others with such names as the " Old Unanimous," " The Union," " The Society Depending on Providence," " The Shepherds," " Bishop Blaze Club," " Old Gentleman's Club," " Indefatigable Society," and so on. The names of no fewer than thirty-six were sent in as intending to march to the opening of the Infirmary (I797), and besides these others were expected to join in the procession. Perhaps the powers exercised by the Cutlers' Company did something to delay the time when the necessity for combination was peremptorily forced upon the employed. Cases occurred, no doubt, in which the men, labouring under some grievance, put the master "uppo' t' shelf ' and refused to work for him until he granted redress. Or they adopted the rough and ready persecution described in an earlier chapter as employed against "Watkinson and his Thirteens ;" but it is not until I796 that we come upon the first considerable strike, or organised movement, on the part of a whole trade. The masters in this case replied by pledging themselves to reject the demands of the workmen and to refuse employment to any journeyman without the consent in writing of his former master‹an early instance of a " black list," or what we should now call boycotting. The masters, indeed, were not slow to take up any challenge. Throughout the century they had shown a greater readiness, under laws that looked leniently on acts on their part which would have been rank treason in the operatives, to form themselves into defensive associations, whether against the workmen or against the competition of one another. Thus in I773 the silver-plate manufacturers formed themselves into an Association, agreed upon a price list, and bound themselves not to sell below this, or to allow more than specified discounts. It held monthly meetings at various taverns, with the in- evitable suppers, and fined any firm not represented at them. But there arose a good many bickerings as to breaches of the agreement; the attendances, notwithstanding the fines, fell off; and the Association flickered out in I784. In I790 there was trouble in the scissor trade, and the master scissor-smiths got together a general meeting of merchants and manufac- turers, who resolved to appoint a committee and to subscribe " to prosecute the scissor-grinders and other workmen who have entered into unlawful combinations to raise the price of labour." They did so, and " five poor honest (scissor) grinders to prison they sent." Mr. George Wood, scissor manufac- turer, of Pea Croft (Master Cutler in I79I), took a prominent part in the affair, and for this Mather, in one of his most scathing songs, dubbed him " The Hallamshire Haman." ******************************************************************************** * This out of copyright material has been transcribed by Eric Youle, who has * * provided the transcription on condition that any further copying and * * distribution of the transcription is allowed only for noncommercial * * purposes, and includes this statement in its entirety. Any references to, * * or quotations from, this material should give credit to the original * * author(s) or editors. * ********************************************************************************

Back to Chapter Index

Home Page