LATE becoming HILL - 1: Mary & William Howell

Discussion in 'Forum: Saw Identification and Discussion' started by shoarthing, Jan 14, 2022.

  1. shoarthing

    shoarthing Most Valued Member

    All known J V Hill saws are stamped, besides his own name: LATE HOWEL

    . . . by this, these handsome tools claim their maker’s succession to the well-known Chelsea saw-maker Joseph Howell.

    This at first sight seems peculiar, since it is neither recorded - nor on the face of it likely - that J V Hill & Joseph Howell were acquainted. Further . . .

    . . . Joseph Howell’s Will of 1811, drawn up when 71, & just a few days after remarriage, explicitly left the active continuation of his saw-making business to his children William & Mary Bridget Howell: it was the primary Thing of Value he had to bequeath.

    Described as a “saw-manufacturer” in some trade directories, the Howells’ business was based in a cottage in the far Western fringe of London. The workforce - judging from Old Bailey transcripts of 1793, or of 1802 - variably comprised the Master; one or more hired hands, taken on when required; & a “boy” to mind the shop, run errands, & generally be useful. Between 1802 & 1811 Joseph Howell’s son William had moved on from being the “boy” to a “journeyman” - a description then used to define a skilled tradesmen, but one not fully qualified to set up on their own as a Master.

    One or both Howells indeed continued the business after Joseph’s death in 1823: Post Office London Directory entries of an unbroken series from 1824-1836 - entries based in part on information from local letter-carriers - continue to show: “Howell Joseph, saw-manufacturer, King’s-road, Chelsea” . . . & Land Tax assessments for the Parish of St. Luke, Chelsea show that Joseph Howell’s tenancy since 1788 of the King’s Road premises continued under his name for some five years after his death, up to 1829.

    Then, for at least the following three years - 1830/31/32 - Land Tax records for these exact same premises showed a new name: Mary Woolley - the married name of Mary Bridget Howell.

    Uncovering some human depth in this near-two-century-old Howell-succession narrative takes
    all the data available; here, in publication-years of 1825 & later (information was collected the previous year), are - I believe - all surviving Trade Directory entries relevant to the Howell saw-making business after Joseph Howell’s death:

    Entries for Joseph Howell/Jos. Howell:

    Robson: 1826-7
    Post Office: 1825; 1826; 1827; 1828; 1829; 1830; 1831; 1832; 1833; 1834; 1835; 1836 (no entry for 1837 or later)

    Entries for Mary Howell:
    Pigot Triennial 1832-4; Pigot Biannual 1833-4 (in lists of saw makers - NB neither list includes J V Hill)

    Entries for Mary Woolley:
    Pigot 1836; 1838 (in lists of saw makers - NB both lists include J V Hill)

    Entries for William Howell:
    Pigot Middlesex 1826; Pigot 1827; 1828; Biannual 1828-9 (in alphabetical non-Metropolitan entries)
    (no Trade Directory subsequent to this makes any mention of a William Howell in relation to saw-making)

    (NB Pigot’s has no Howell in its 1825 saw maker list; nor Robson’s in their 1828; 1829; 1830, & 1831 saw maker lists)

    In combination with Land Tax records; what at first seems a profusion of contrary entries can reasonably be grouped & ordered through time to reflect a family narrative:

    As from mid/late 1825, repeated into 1826, then 1827 (but no further) William Howell allowed it to be known to the local worthies/sources on which Pigot relied for information that the sawmaker HOWEL trading from his late father’s premises was himself.

    Mary Howell (as Mary Woolley), at some time between the assessment of Land Tax for 1829 (mid-June) & 1830 (early July), had the tenancy of the Howell-business premises assigned to her alone, for at least three successive years up to & including 1832.

    As from mid/late 1831, repeated into the next year; Mary Howell allowed it to be known to the local worthies/sources on which Pigot relied for information that the sawmaker HOWEL trading from her late father’s premises was herself.

    From the above, William & Mary Howell can be seen to have been acting at odds with each other over the direction of the Howell saw-making business from within two years of their father’s death, to before or around 1829/30, after when Mary prevails. While an unhappy situation, its causes were in retrospect predictable:

    Under the terms of the 1811 (Proved 1824) Will of Joseph Howell; William was directly dependent on their family business - now denoted a Trust - for his wage as “a journeyman” then was, equally with Mary, in receipt of ¼ of its net annual profit; the remaining half of this net profit going to Joseph Howell’s much, much younger (45 years younger!) widow: Ann.

    Joseph Howell made no provision for variation in these arrangements should Ann remarry . . . . whether or not she did (there is an opaque record for an Ann Howell, widow, marrying a John Elliott at St Sepulchre, Holborn in May 1825); William Howell was locked in to being a waged journeyman; denied advancement or independence, & with three-quarters of the net annual profit from his saw-making reserved for others; even the tools of their family saw-manufacturing trade had been disposed into a family Trust.

    From William Howell’s point-of-view, he was Joseph Howell’s saw-making successor, boy & man; & making saws marked “HOWEL” was both his living & (in modern cant) his identity. It is not easy to imagine an historical reality in which he voluntarily handed over that stamp of goodwill - that one Thing Of Value left (to him) despite his father’s Will.

    Part 2 of this piece focuses on Samuel Blythe

    Part 3 of this piece focuses on Mary Woolley & J V Hill

    Years active for the HOWEL sawmaking business of the King’s-road, Chelsea:
    Joseph Howell (1788) <1790-1823
    William & Mary Howell (later Mary Woolley) 1824>

    NB - Date in brackets = earliest documented residency at trade address; else from Trade Directories.

    * * * * * * * *

    NOTE 1: “All known J V Hill saws are stamped, besides his own name: LATE HOWEL” - on July 19th 1860 J V Hill applied for an ex parte injunction against an entrepreneur named Lazarus to prevent the passing-off of saws stamped “HILL, LONDON”
    . . . a notice to this effect published in the “St. Pancras News and General Advertiser” of September 27th 1860, stated: “no saw genuine unless marked “LATE HOWEL” - Ralph Lazarus was a St. Pancras tool dealer, local to J V Hill’s shop. Simon Barley’s British Saws & Saw Makers from c1660 has an image of the shallow back of a “gents saw” stamped only: J V HILL
    NOTE 2: “saw manufacturer” - sporadic Land Tax assessments from nearby show Joseph Howell with stabling for one or more horses - perhaps inferring a horse-powered mill for the grindstone(s) required for saw-plating. Sun Insurances of 1806 & 1809 might infer a desire or insistence on the part of his landlord (& neighbour) to control the risks from on-site smithying: Howell’s premises had a new landlord as from 1806. An alternative may have been provided by plural nearby iron-forging businesses . . . & in the C19th riverside Chelsea had freshwater-transport links to the iron, steel, & coal-producing parts of Britain.
    NOTE 3: 1832 - is the last year London Land Tax data is available for this parish area of Chelsea.
    NOTE 4: “The Compilation and Reliability of London Directories” P. J. ATKINS from The London Journal 1989 . . . . qualitative overview of this resource. Much modern scholarship is quantitative.

    1788 Land Tax assessment Joseph Howell Enlarged.png 1829 Land Tax assessment Joseph Howell enlarged.png 1815 Mary Bridget Howell to William Woolley.png 1788 Land Tax assessment Joseph Howell Enlarged.png 1829 Land Tax assessment Joseph Howell enlarged.png 1830 enlarged.png 1815 Mary Bridget Howell to William Woolley.png 1827 Pigot Provincial Wm Howell.png 1832-4 Pigot London Sawmakes.jpg


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    Last edited: Mar 6, 2022
  2. David

    David Most Valued Member

    Terrific research, and I look forward to the next installment!
  3. shoarthing

    shoarthing Most Valued Member

    Thank you - one day I will apply a lobster-pick to your immense aesthetic & historical grasp on this period.
  4. Joe S

    Joe S Most Valued Member

    Shoarthing, wow. Can't wait for the following piece either.
    Joe S