caution !! this is an initial draft ... these notes are on my server for safe keeping !!
NB Isabella Smallwood (neé Hall, 1856-) was my g-grandmother.
In 1841 the census identifies James Fletcher (1796-1852) from Lymm and his wife Sarah (1791-) from Warrington (or Eccles), at Chapel Street, Middleton, Oldham.
By 1851 they had a thriving family of fustian cutters living at Springfield, Thornham - Joseph (1830-) born in Lymm, James (1832-1908) born in Runcorn and John (1836-1901), Sarah Ann (1840-78) & Elizabeth (1842-) all born in Thornham, Middleton, Oldham. They were all, including 9 year old Elizabeth, cutting fustian. It seems likely that James learned the trade in Lymm, which was a renowned centre for the fustian cutting industry, and then moved on the Oldham where there was lots of work for skilled folk.
Father James died in 1852 but in 1861 Sarah and family were still at Springfield, Oldham but young James & John and the two girls now described themselves as 'silk cutters' ... perhaps now making velvet?
In 1868 James Fletcher (1832-1908) married Mary Hall a resourceful widow with two kids, one of the Isabella was my g-grandmother. The new family settled in Macclesfield where Mary had been living.
The 1871 census reveals James with his new wife living at 108 Brook Street, Macclesfield with Mary's children William Stanley Hall age 16 & Isabella Hall age 14 ... but now with two brand new Fletchers, Ann (1870-) & Ellen (1871-) ... and interestingly next door at 106 Brook Street lived John & Sarah Fletcher and John's sister Sarah Ann.
John Fletcher (1836-1901) was born in Thornham, Lancashire, and son of James Fletcher. He was James' younger brother & partner. John married Sarah Dewhurst (1848-) on September 25th at St Mary's Oldham in 1870, the daughter of David a wheelwright.
In the 1881 census James & Mary are recorded at Lewin Street, Middlewich with James the Master Fustian Cutter employing 32 hands with young William Stanley as his Manager. Slaters Directory of Cheshire in 1883 indicated James & John were trading as J & J Fletcher in Middlewich ... James also had operations down the road in Winsford ... the location of the Lewin Street Mill was shown on the map on The Middlewich Heritage Website.
The 1881 census shows John Fletcher and wife Sarah residing on Lewin Street, Middlewich, Cheshire, next door to James Fletcher’s family who were all in the fustian cutting business, John, as James, was listed as Master Fustian Cutter.
At time of the 1891 census, John and Sarah Fletcher (neé Dewhurst, 1848-) and their two sons, John (1884-) and William (1885-) were residing at 45 Gladstone Street, Hartford, Cheshire with John Fletcher Senior still listed as Fustian Factory Master. However the partnership with James had been dissolved by mutual agreement in 1884 ... maybe because of John's ill health, he died in Northwich in 1901.
In the 1891 census James and his stepson were continuing to cut fustian and the family remained at Lewin Street.
The 1901 England Census for Northwich, Cheshire shows Sarah Fletcher, 51. widowed, fustian cutter, and her two sons John (14) and William Fletcher (16), both working as fustian cutters. Living with the family was Jane Dewhurst, sister, 33, single, employed as a 'fustian weaver'.
By 1901 James and William S were still cutting but had moved to more palatial residential accommodation at Sutton Lane, Middlewich. Mary died in 1891. James died in 1908. In 1911 William Stanley was still working and living at Sutton Lane, still with Ann & Ellen and all three of them still single!?
It seems fustian cutting employed almost all the Fletchers ... and also Isabella's daughter, Ada, was to find her future mother-in-law was a Knapper and the Knapper Family were also famed for fustian cutting ... !
Letters concerning James Fletcher of Middlewich deceased and Fletchers Fustian Factory in Middlewich, see 1908-1909 DDX 228/254/1-44. In 1895 Porters named three fustian mills in Winsford - James Fletcher, Dierden Street; Robert Shepherd, Over Mills, John Street & W G Newall.
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