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. In 1841 census young James was 9.
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.
In the 1851 census young James (1832-1908) aged 19 was living with dad James Fletcher (1796-) Fustian Cutter aged 54 and mum Sarah ?? (1803-) Housewife aged 48 from Warrington ... living at 98 Springfields in Thornham, Middleton, Royton, Oldham, Lancashire. With 6 other family members - Joseph Fletcher, William Fletcher, John Fletcher, Sarah Ann Fletcher and Elizabeth Fletcher ... all Fustian Cutters.
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?
James Fletcher (1832-1908) baptised married Mary Hall (1832-91) in 1868 ... 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.
In the 1881 census James was recorded at 111 Lewin Street, Middlewich.
James Fletcher (1832-1908) 49 years old, born in Runcorn, Master Fustian Cutter employing 32 hands, Mary Hall (1832-91) his wife, 49 years old born in Ruyton, Shropshire. With young William Stanley (-) stepson 25 years old, born in Macclesfield, as his Fustian Cutter Manager. Duaghters Anne (-) 11 years old and Ellen (1871/2-) 10 years old, both born in Macclesfield, were at school.
The 1881 census showed younger brother John Fletcher (-) and wife Sarah also 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.
John Fletcher (1836-1901) was living next door at 112 Lewin Street. John, son of James Fletcher (1796-1852) 44 years old, born in Thornham, Lancashire. Wife 31 year old Sarah Dewhurst (1848-) born in Cltheroe, Yorkshire, married 25 September 1870 at St Mary's Oldham, the daughter of David a wheelwright. John was James' younger brother & partner.
Next door but one at 114 Lewin Street was 28 year old Henry Smallwood (-) Master Bricklayer employing 3 men from Middlewich and 23 year old wife wife Isabella Hall (-) born in Macclesfield with 2 year old daughter Ada Smallwood (-) ... my gran!
And to complete the picture next door at 115 Lewin Street were more Smallwoods - Elizabeth Smallwood (-) 58 year old widow with sons William (-) aged 22 and Richard (-) aged 21 both were Bricklayers all born in Middlewich.
And at 116 Lewin Street was James Smallwood (-) Bricklayer living with his 77 year old mother in law Ann Sweatman (-) with her 22 yeard old granddaughter Lydia Smallwood (1859-) and 1 year old grandson Christopher Thomas Smallwood (1880-)
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.
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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