LATE becoming HILL - 2: Samuel Blythe

Discussion in 'Forum: Saw Identification and Discussion' started by shoarthing, Jan 24, 2022.

  1. shoarthing

    shoarthing Most Valued Member

    In the literal Last Words of a public spat of October 1839, over succession, Samuel Blythe claimed, of his own saws: . . . . “the quality of every article sold at his premises is equal to those which obtained for Mr. Howell such immense notoriety, and therefore superior to all makers in the trade."

    Joseph Howell, born in 1740, was of exactly the same generation as the celebrated Alexander Rutter; the man Joseph Wilson of Sheffield hired away from Birmingham in 1768/9, to bring with him the new skills & secrets of Birmingham sawmaking, improved yet derived from London origins.

    No solid records have been found - save for his first marriage of 1762 - of the first 47 years of Joseph Howell’s life: he appeared fully-formed in 1788 on the King’s Road in Old Chelsea, literally on its crossroads to access to Thames-side builders’ materials' wharfs; perfectly sited to supply the immense new market for tools as fashionable New Chelsea was built about him.

    This fragment from a delightful 1836 map of Chelsea by F P Thompson shows Old Chelsea between Oakley Square (then being built) to the North & the Thames to the South; the King’s Road runs East-West through its corner onto Church Street.

    The cottage workplace used since 1788 by Joseph Howell is coloured in red - its name varied; around 1835 & for the next couple of decades it was: Oakley Cottage, King’s Road. The other & larger part of Oakley Cottage had gardens facing to the top of Church Street. These cottages were built on church land - controlled by the nearby Rectory - called Glebe Place.

    These modest premises - likely a small shopfront onto the King’s Road, with living quarters above & behind; plus a detached workshop - suggest a small-industrial scope to Joseph Howell’s sawmaking . . . a February 8th 1810 notice in London’s Morning Advertiser pointed to the contemporary realities of the then 70-year-old saw-maker’s workshop:

    LOST, on Friday last, in the King’s-Road, near Sloane-square, a parcel of GROUND SAW PLATES, containing 15 pannel and 2 ripping, marked “Howel, London.” Whoever has found and will bring them safe to J. Howel, Saw-maker, King’s-road, Chelsea, shall receive ONE GUINEA reward.

    While the direction of the parcel was unstated; it is not unfair to assume the carter was inbound; & that the equipment in Joseph Howell’s workshop of 1810 was primarily limited to cold-working skills using tensioning-anvils; a fly-press, saw-makers’ vices, handle-making rasps & so on.

    After the upset of Joseph Howell’s decline then death in December 1823, as the reality of the terms of his Will sank in, William Howell would have needed help. The actual work taking place in the family workshop would have been pretty well identical to that of a one-man-band in contemporary Sheffield, minus their huge advantage of actually being in Sheffield, surounded by an infinitely busy hubbub of suppliers, competitors, & skilled journeymen.

    Also coloured-in on the above map, near Cheyne Walk & the Thames, is the believed position of #2 Great Cheyne Row (street numbering changed several times) then a bare ¼ mile/400 metres away.

    In the months after the death of Joseph Howell in December 1823 & before the Land Tax assessment for 1825 was signed off (June 13th) a new family took a tenancy on a house there - the Blythes of Sheffield: Samuel & Elizabeth with their young son Henry, possibly in the company of Samuel’s sixteen-years senior brother George, a retired soldier & Hallamshire cutler - ie a time-served steel-worker.

    All we know of the working relationship between Samuel Blythe & Joseph Howell’s successors - son William & daughter Mary - is that there was one, & that it ended sometime in 1828.

    Pigot’s Middlesex Directory of 1826 (information gathered locally in 1825) shows William Howell as the lone saw-maker in Chelsea.

    Pigot’s London & Provincial Directories for 1827, 1828, & 1828-9 again show William Howell in Glebe Place.

    The same 1827, 1828, & 1828-9 Directories also show Samuel Blythe, saw maker, of Cheyne Row - four hundred metres away.

    Samuel Blythe - by the time of collection of data for the 1827 entries - was an established Chelsea resident; with daughters Eliza born there in June 1825, & Sarah in September 1827.

    . . . but the Howell family business now had a direct & very local competitor.

    Our knowledge of the Howell/Blythe breakup of circa 1828 comes from a single (& not impartial) source: J V Hill.

    In a public spat of late 1839 between J V Hill & Samuel Blythe - concerning which of them had right-of-succession to Joseph Howell - Hill wrote of Blythe:

    . . . . “ . . . That person has not only been unconnected with the Business of the late Mr. Howell for a period of 11 years, but he has actually been engaged in opposition to it.”

    Samuel Blythe - though allowed enjoyment of this quarrel’s last words - did not deny the above . . . but nor did J V Hill deny the connection prior to 11 years before - ie prior to 1828.

    Mary Howell - as Mary Woolley - took control of the Howell family business before the end of 1829; suggesting a starting-date within which J V Hill’s later & repeated words: “For several years foreman to Mr. Howell” would be true.

    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 >

    Years active for the Blythe sawmaking business of Great Cheyne Row, Chelsea:
    Samuel Blythe (1825) <1827 >

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

    Here for Part 1 of the HOWEL to HILL succession-story

    Here for Part 3 of the HOWEL to HILL succession-story

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    NOTE 1: “ . . . a new family took up a tenancy . . . “ the National Census of 1871 has an entry for Elizabeth Blythe & her two daughters Eliza & Sarah - showing her birthplace as Sheffield, both theirs as Chelsea. Eliza was born in September 1825, Sarah in June 1827.

    NOTE 2: “. . . . the celebrated Alexander Rutter . . . “ in Simon Barley’s Doctoral thesis - alas only it seems available via print-to-order.

    NOTE 3: " . . . he appeared fully formed in 1788 . . . " the first mention of Mr Howell of Chelsea, saw-maker in a trade directory is in Volume 2 of the 1790 Universal British Directory

    Oakley sq to Cheyne Row highlighted 02.jpg 1828 Pigot’s Provincial Wm Howell.png 1827 Pigot’s London & Provincial Samuel Blythe enlarged.png 1828 Pigot’s London & Provincial Samuel Blythe enlarged.png 1828-9 Pigot’s London & Provincial Samuel Blythe enlarged.png 1835 baptisms of Henry & Eliza & Sarah Blythe - Cheyne Row Chelsea.jpg 1871 census Elizabeth Blythe sawmaker toolmaker & two daughters.jpg 1826 Pigot’s Middlesex miscellaneous.png 1790 Universal British Directory vol 2 Chelsea Mr Howell.png
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2023
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  2. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

    Thanks for a fascinating read, and wonderfully detailed research, it brings a whole new perspective to JV Hill Late Howell

    Brilliant work!

    shoarthing likes this.
  3. Joe S

    Joe S Most Valued Member

    Ditto everything Ray has said and thanks for sharing all this research. This would have taken some time and investigative work. Well done.
    Joe S
    shoarthing likes this.
  4. shoarthing

    shoarthing Most Valued Member

    . . . thank you both for your kindly expressed appreciation - of particular value to me due to each of your depth-of-knowledge & enthusiasm. Howell - & to a lesser extent Blythe - were influential-enough saw-makers to be owed the effort of finding their context of time & place. Am especially pleased to have at last tracked down a 1790 Trade Directory entry for Howell . . . .
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2022