LATE becoming HILL - 3: Mary Woolley

Discussion in 'Forum: Saw Identification and Discussion' started by shoarthing, Feb 27, 2022.

  1. shoarthing

    shoarthing Most Valued Member

    The turn of 1827/8 saw Joseph Howell’s adult children - Mary Bridget & William - with control over the family saw-making business & its profits:

    Joseph Howell’s much younger widow; Ann - born in 1785, & bequeathed half the net income from the business - appears to have remarried 18 months after her widowhood, to a John Elliott; a further 18 months later, in November 1827, an Ann Elliott, born 1785, died & was buried in the Howell’s parish church from a Chelsea address in Sloane Street.

    The saw-production arrangements - whatever they may have been - that had begun around 1825 between the Howells & the newly-Chelsea-resident Blythe family, had (by the later account of J V Hill) been brought to a close by around 1828.

    . . . . the Howell’s then situation can be put in modern terms: they owned an established & high value brand, well-situated to its market; but now faced volume producers, in Birmingham & above all Sheffield, whose vastly lower manufacturing costs & unmatched levels of expertise in saw-plate casting, rolling, & grinding had dramatically lowered cost, while commoditising previously scarce material. They also now had a direct competititor more-or-less next door in Chelsea.

    Mary Bridget Howell was her father’s daughter: though she chose, in 1815, when 37, to become married in Birmingham - over a day’s continuous travel from Chelsea - to a recent widower with four young children; to marry by licence rather than banns; to marry without explicit family consent and without immediate family attendance . . .

    . . . . the groom was a file-manufacturer: Fine Georgian, Regency, & later saws are unimaginable - indeed impossible - without equally fine files, hand-cut with an eerie regularity & precision, then hardened to harder-than-sawplate.

    . . . & the quality of William Woolley’s “warding & small files” - roughly what are now called ‘Swiss files’ - from his manufacturing town of Wolverhampton, dominated by the needs of the lock-making trade - kept continuations of his business active until after 1860.

    Wolverhampton was, however, even further away from Chelsea than Birmingham (tho’ goods in great volume from both were delivered to London via canal from before 1815); while records show no reason to doubt the judgement implicit in Joseph Howell’s Will that his son William was a ‘journeyman’ rather than a ‘master’ . . . . the Howell siblings needed someone on-site in Chelsea to maintain & ideally raise production; someone competent, open to modernisation, yet unthreatening to William’s status as a craftsman: they found it, somehow, in the then seventeen year old person of J V Hill.

    On plural occasions, later in life, J V Hill wrote of himself having been:

    . . . “for several years foreman to Mr. Howel” . . . this could not of course have described his relationship - if any - to Joseph Howell (who died when J V Hill was barely 13), yet could fit a working relationship with William Howell, from around 1828 ‘for several years’. . .

    . . . . this April 1831 burial-record of a William Howell, refers to the then newly-rebuilt St George’s Hospital, at Hyde Park Corner - the best & nearest public hospital to the King’s-road & the Howell premises.

    Perhaps the modern St George’s Hospital’s fascinating Post Mortem Project - at present covering no earlier that 1841 - might be extended backwards a decade, to provide more details (an address! a trade! an exact age! a cause of death!):- as things stand all that is known is that J V Hill’s later business dealings over the HOWEL name were with Mary Woolley - as he stated within a notice in The Weekly Dispatch of 29th September 1839:

    . . . “ for some years I conducted the business of the late J. Howel, Saw-maker, of Chelsea, for his daughter. In the year 1836, she having declined business, I purchased the same . . . .”

    Before he reached his majority at the turn of 1831/32, J V Hill can be assumed to have resided in Chelsea, as an employee overseeing the Howell workshop & adjacent King’s-road retail shop; then a July 1832 entry in old St. Pancras Church’s Parish Registers shows the marriage of then-21 year old Joseph Vaughan Hill; another entry of March 1833 shows the baptism of his first child, Ann - giving his trade as: “Saw Maker” & as an address: Cromer Street. Robson’s 1833 Street Index (information would have been collected/compiled at some time in the latter part of 1832) gives J V Hill the same street address; though not his trade.

    J V Hill’s business career over the following near-half-century - he retired in or before 1881 - was focused on this same small area of the Parish of St Pancras, Camden, just South of King’s Cross (then, pre-railways, a much-derided monument to King William IV); which was in 1832 around two hours’ travelling-time from the Middlesex village/town of Chelsea, on the far Western fringe of London.

    An advertisement by J V Hill first published in August 1864 in the Trades Union-linked journal Bee-Hive included the words: . . . . “Thirty-two year’s experience of Mechanics has proved that no House in London can supply a better article” . . . . . & this earlier advertisement of November 1849 in The Builder thanked . . . . “the trade and the consumers of the above articles for the support they have given him for the last seventeen years.”

    Both statements - published 15 years apart - count back to J V Hill’s saw-making business having begun in 1832 (& perhaps infer the latter half of that year).

    White’s 1834 Directory for Staffordshire showed separate entries under Wolverhampton file-makers for William Woolley & Son, & for William Woolley Jnr - each of Church Lane, Wolverhampton.

    Pigot’s 1835 Directory for Staffordshire, in its list of Wolverhampton file-makers, showed but one based at a Church lane address.

    A notice in the Wolverhampton Chronicle for May 1834 read:

    MARY WOOLLEY, Successor to the late William Woolley, begs leave to return her sincere thanks for the favours conferred on her late husband and son in the FILE TRADE, and solicits a share of the patronage which has been for many years so liberally bestowed on them; and hopes, by strict attention to the quality of the article, to merit a continuance of past favours.
    Bloomsbury-place, Wolverhampton,
    May 12, 1834​

    From 1834 Mary Woolley was newly without a partner, or son; providing for three as-yet unmarried daughters; and committed to managing the family trade of file-making . . . .

    . . . . given that context; the other & hitherto determinedly-continued family business - that of saw-making - found a new successor:

    J. V. Hill, for several years foreman to Mr. Howel, begs respectfully to inform them, that he has taken the SAW BUSINESS of the late J. Howel, of Chelsea, and as the original premises are closed, he intends carrying it on in the same name in his premises, No. 64 Cromer-street, Gray’s Inn-Road, where he has every convenience for so doing. J. V. H. intends making them at a rather less price than Mr. Howel’s list, at the same time assuring them that he will supply them with an article equal to any that have ever been made in that name. J. V. H. takes this opportunity of expressing his thanks to those of his friends, for the very liberal support they have given him since he has commenced business ; a continuance of the same will for ever be gratefully remembered.
    Oct. 26, 1835 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) 1824-1835

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

    Years active for the HILL-LATE-HOWEL sawmaking business of 64 Cromer Street:
    J V Hill (1832) 1836

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

    Part 1 of the HOWEL-succession tale here
    Part 2 of the HOWEL-succession tale here

    1818 vol 3 Parson & Bradshaw’s Directory Wolverhampton.png 1825 may 30 m John Elliott Ann Howell w.jpg 1827 nov 06 bur Ann Elliot age 42 St Luke's Chelsea.jpg 1832 marriage JV Hill Emma Hesketh.jpg 1833 baptism Ann Elizabeth Hill Cromer St.jpg 1835 Pigot’s Directory Staffordshire Mary Woolley.jpg 1849 The Builder.jpg

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 29, 2022
    ray likes this.
  2. shoarthing

    shoarthing Most Valued Member

    Apologies for delay in completing this little piece of research. The material I cannot yet find (please shout if you know of it) is the notice - published before 27th September 1839 - by or on behalf of Samuel Blythe, slagging-off J V Hill.