Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Week 4: My ancestor was a dressmaker/needlewoman

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Week 4: My ancestor was a dressmaker/needlewoman



    This is an opportunity to showcase your dressmaker/needlewoman ancestor, you might want to offer a short biography and speak about their work eg
    Name
    Birth location/date
    Family background
    Where you've found them on the census
    Their workplace/employer
    Any tips on researching this occupation?

    [Next week: Soldier]

  • #2


    This is my 2x great grandmother Jane Perrin Brown Lawrence, she was bon in Stepney in 1829, her father had died before 1841 and in 1851 she was working as a braider, employing 6 hands, including her younger sister Mary.

    By 1861 she had married James William Crisp who was working as a leather factor's clerk, and although she had children at home aged 6, 3 and 1 she was working as a children's dressmaker.

    By 1871 the family were well off enough for her not to have to work but her sister Mary was living a few doors away in Mile End Road and had lost her auctioneer husband and two of her three children, and was a Juvenile Outfitter.

    Comment


    • #3
      It seems like many women that I find have dressmaker as an occupation at one time or another. Seems likely that many working class women needed to know what to do with a piece of cloth, and would do it for others when times required it.

      I do have a g'g'grandmother whose husband and father were both photographers (and herself, too, in the 1861). She, too, was sometimes a dressmaker. Probably helped with all the costumes they put people in for photos.
      ------------------------------------------------------
      My Families
      London-area Coverly Family Finder DNA Project

      Comment


      • #4
        Needlework was taught in Victorian schools, the one where I work has logbooks back to 1864 which records the girls being taught needlework while the boys learned military drill with toy rifles. In my school the vicar's daughter taught sewing but only when it suited her as there were frequent complaints about her not turning up. Other Christian ladies of leisure also gave their services though later the school mistress taught it, so it was a basic skill that could be used to earn a little money for a lot of effort.

        Comment


        • #5
          I have a pair of sisters who were listed as gold and silver embroiderers in 1901 when they were in their early twenties. Elizabeth Simpson was an "Embroiderer fancy textiles" and younger sister Margaret was an "Embroiderer fancy textiles (Gold lace and silk)". By 1911 Margaret was listed a servant and Elizabeth was an "Embroiderer, gold lace and silk". With such a definite description of their occupation, I had often wondered where they worked,

          Ten days ago I found out! They never married so were still at home in 1921 with my great x2 grandmother. Margaret is listed as being on home duties, she died the following month so am guessing she was poorly, but Elizabeth is still working as an embroiderer and of course their place of employment is listed so off to Google I went!

          e-simpson-1921.jpg
          E. STILLWELL & SON, LONDON, 25 BARBICAN & LITTLE BRITAIN - Stillwell & Son also known as Edward Stillwell & Son

          Their listing in Kelly's Commercial Directory 1891 reads: "Edward Stillwell & Son, gold & silver lacemen [sic] & embroiderers, army and navy accoutrement makers, epaulettes, braids, cords, belts & cork helmet manufacturers & sword cutlers, all regulation military & naval cloths & linings & every description of masonic clothing, jewels, furniture and fittings, tinsel, lace and trimmings …. 25, 26 & 27 Barbican EC ……. " The enumerator comments that they are naval and military tailors.

          Following their arrival from Scotland between 1887 and 1890, the family had been living in Clerkenwell firstly in the Dundee Buildings in 1891 and then the Compton Buildings in 1901 and 1911, where they still were in 1921; not much more than a 15 minute walk away from Barbican. It would be interesting to be able to find out when the girls started working there, they were aged 10 and 12 when they arrived in London.

          Finding examples of the type of work isn't easy - there are thousands of examples of their buttons and metal badges on auction sites, but the Science Museum does have an example of the type of machine embroidery possibly done by Elizabeth.

          Described as an "Oval collar or epaulette badge of twisted silver wire, and black silk, with chevron in design." Stillwell, E. and Son (maker).


          badge.jpg

          I have a photograph of my grandfather, he had married their niece the previous year, who became a mason in the early 1920s. This gives an idea of the type of work the firm would have done on the masonic regalia.

          fjl-mason-c1921-2.jpg


          Caroline
          Caroline's Family History Pages
          Do not do to others what angers you if done to you by others. Socrates

          Comment


          • #6
            Bancrofts.JPG

            My Grandma Annie Elizabeth Dunn born 1899 worked making dresses in a factory. She started at 13 at Bancrofts in Nottingham, photo attached, it is still standing.

            She worked there until she either married or had her first child. She told of when the children were little she would buy a remnant of fabric and make them all a new outfit. I would think these were probably hand sown.
            When I was a teenaged she taught me how to make clothes and had a treadle sewing machine.

            Lin

            Searching Lowe, Everitt, Hurt and Dunns in Nottingham

            Comment


            • #7
              What a great story, Caroline, and a good find in the 1921 census.

              I have several tailors / seamstresses so I'm off to do a bit more research and then write it up in some kind of coherent way
              Main research interests.. CAESAR (Surrey and London), GOODALL (London), SKITTERALL, WOODWARD (Middlesex and London), BARBER (Canterbury, Kent), DRAYSON (Canterbury, Kent), CRISP (Kent) and CHEESEMAN (Kent).

              Comment


              • #8
                Caroline the employment field in the 1921 is a real boon. Gold and silver work has a very long history, you only have to look at Tudor aristocratic portraits but so much of it was destroyed to reclaim the precious metals.

                Lin, I had my granny's treadle sewing machine and used to use it, though got rid of it as it took too much space in my tiny house, I now use my late mother's electric one from the 1970s. My great uncle worked for Horrockses so we often had lengths of cotton fabric with slight faults that my mother would make various things from.

                Comment


                • #9

                  I have tailors and dressmakers on both sides of my father's family.


                  His grandmother Lydia EMERSON b 1864 (photo) and his grandfather Frederick CAESAR b 1866 (photo) were both working at home as tailor and tailoress in the 1901 census, living at 25 Cumberland Street, St George Hanover Square, Pimlico in London.
                  040 Lydia cropped.jpg Frederick Charles Caesar.jpg


                  By 1911 the family roles were given as Frederick - a waistcoat maker, Lydia - a waistcoat maker, Daughter Daisy (24) -a skirt hand and daughter Ruby (22) (my grandmother) - a sleeve hand. I still have a tiny pair of my grandmother's steel sewing scissors and I use them all the time, still as sharp and neat as they ever were. I suppose they might even have belonged to her mother before that but I like to think that most of that family have probably used them at one time or another.


                  All I have from the 1921 is that Daisy was still working as a dressmaker but Lydia and Frederick had retired. Ruby had been married, had two little children but lost her husband in the war and was living with her parents and sister.


                  My father's great grandmother Louisa ROBERTS b 1844 is in the 1881 census as a Tailoress married to a journeyman bootmaker and their two daughters were also working as tailoresses. In 1891 Louisa was a waistcoat maker and the two daughters had left home. In 1901 she was still working as a tailoress - now in her mid 50s.

                  On my father's paternal side there are also at least 3 generations of Tailors starting in Cheshire and gradually working their way down towards London where the paths of the GOODALLs and the CASEARs finally crossed resulting in the birth of my father.
                  Main research interests.. CAESAR (Surrey and London), GOODALL (London), SKITTERALL, WOODWARD (Middlesex and London), BARBER (Canterbury, Kent), DRAYSON (Canterbury, Kent), CRISP (Kent) and CHEESEMAN (Kent).

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Miller's daughter Elizabeth Botting was born in Slaugham, Sussex in 1850 and was apprenticed as a dressmaker to her aunt Sarah Juniper who lived at North Hall Farm about a 20 minute walk away in Staplefield. Elizabeth worked there for three years without payment but was given all her meals. The farm was run by Elizabeth's grandfather William Juniper and his wife Elizabeth. In 1881 her sister Susannah was also a dressmaker, and their aunt had moved to Brighton.

                    Sarah Juniper had herself been an apprentice milliner in Cuckfield with Anne Picknell her distant relative. We know about Elizabeth's informal apprenticeship to her aunt Sarah because my mother in law Brenda was her granddaughter and in old age Elizabeth lived with Brenda and her parents and she talked a lot about the old times. In the late 1920s Elizabeth would make underwear for her three granddaughters including old style draws, with buttons instead of elastic.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Caroline View Post

                      Their listing in Kelly's Commercial Directory 1891 reads: "Edward Stillwell & Son, gold & silver lacemen [sic] & embroiderers, army and navy accoutrement makers, epaulettes, braids, cords, belts & cork helmet manufacturers & sword cutlers, all regulation military & naval cloths & linings & every description of masonic clothing, jewels, furniture and fittings, tinsel, lace and trimmings …. 25, 26 & 27 Barbican EC ……. " The enumerator comments that they are naval and military tailors.
                      Reading your post reminded me of a talk of an ex Hall and Lock embroiderer/designer, I attended. Fascinating and she bought examples of the gold and silverwork still made for dress uniforms, absolutely stunning.
                      Obviously Hall and Lock are known for their hand embroidery and I could only marvel at the tambor beadwork... something I aspire to be able to learn. But I would think that Edward Stilwell perhaps made similar products but machine made, possibly quicker and cheaper, but a skill in itself. However it may be worth taking a look at Hall and Lock for more examples of the type of work your ladies may have produced.
                      Bubblebelle x

                      FAMILY INTERESTS: Pitts of Sherborne Gloucs. Deaney (Bucks). Pye of Kent. Randolph of Lydd, Kent. Youell of Norfolk and Suffolk. Howe of Lampton. Carden of Bucks.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        These threads..........sorry for the pun..........have been some of the best threads on here, I am really enjoying these.

                        I actually have a Tailoring 'Dynasty' on my family a whole family that includes a Master Tailor, Tailors, Tailoresses, Seamstresses, Cutters, needlewomen, to name but a few of the family occupations.

                        The family line is the Butterworth line which hailed from the East End of London, possibly moving down from Lancashire. I have been investigating a family legend that we actually owned a Cotton Mill in Lancashire as well, but that's a whole different story entirely.
                        My Family History Blog Site:

                        https://chiddicksfamilytree.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Me too, Paul. Lots of interesting tales and snippets which are so relevant to many of our families. I have been book marking and tagging the threads into Evernote so I can find them easily later.
                          Main research interests.. CAESAR (Surrey and London), GOODALL (London), SKITTERALL, WOODWARD (Middlesex and London), BARBER (Canterbury, Kent), DRAYSON (Canterbury, Kent), CRISP (Kent) and CHEESEMAN (Kent).

                          Comment

                          Working...
                          X