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Week 17: My ancestor was a shoemaker/bootmaker/cordwainer/leatherworker

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  • Week 17: My ancestor was a shoemaker/bootmaker/cordwainer/leatherworker

    Week 17: Shoemaker/bootmaker/cordwainer/leatherworker

    This is an opportunity to showcase a shoe or bootmaker, cordwainer or other leatherworker from your family tree, you might want to offer a short biography and speak about their work eg
    Birth location/date
    Family background
    Where you've found them on the census
    Their workplace/employer
    Any tips on researching this occupation?

    Northampton Museum and Art Gallery Shoe Collection

    [Next week: Week 18: Straw plaiter/straw hat maker]
    Last edited by Jill on the A272; 16-04-22, 15:29.

  • #2
    There are 2 this week.

    Luke Dumelow, my 7 x G Grandfather, was born August 1715 in Castle Donington Leicestershire to William and Mary. He married Sarah Draper on 29th Apr 1739 at St Peters Derby.
    On 4th Jul 1744 he took on an apprentice cordwainer call Will, the son of Ann Smith.
    He died Feb 1798 at Aston on Trent Derby.

    Robert Dakin, my 6 x G Grand Uncle was born 1758 in Sileby Leicestershire to Robert and Jane and married Ann Henson in 1783 Sileby. He died in 1831. On his marriage he is a cordwainer and burial a shoemaker.

    Searching Lowe, Everitt, Hurt and Dunns in Nottingham


    • #3
      My 3x great grandfather Edmund Harwood 1803-1883 was a shoe and bootmaker, though he also called himself a master cordwainer. He had a business in the village of Sutton, Sussex where his father Thomas had been the village blacksmith. His brother Henry took over as blacksmith and the brothers lived next door to each other. Their father Thomas had left provision in his will for Edmund and his brother James to take up an apprenticeship as they were both still boys at the time of his death. One of his Harwood uncles was a shoemaker so Edmund may have gone there for his apprenticeship.

      Edmund also made an income by being the local Registrar of Births and Deaths, was the local postmaster (there is still a postbox outside his house) and he appointed his son William Neal Harwood, (another bootmaker) as enumerator of the 1861 census for Sutton, his other son Edwin was a bootmaker living in the near by village of Bury, but he died young in 1866 leaving a widow and children and was buried in Sutton. Edmund was still working at the age of 78, William Neal Harwood continued the business with his unmarried sisters after Edmund's death in 1888, continuing until his death in 1925 at the ripe old age of 83 though he seems to have given up bootmaking by 1911. He left everything to his only surviving sister Lucy who herself left a very useful will naming many of her nieces by their married names.

      Edmund, his wife Abigail, and their unmarried children William Neal, Lucy and Alice are buried in a row at Sutton and have matching gravestones.

      Edmund's daughter Emma Harwood (my 2x g grandmother) married a shoemaker's son, Thomas Jarvis though he was not local, but was a groom from Great Missenden where his father John Jarvis 1798-1871 was a shoemaker in Church Street.


      • #4
        Members of my Crisp family were leather factors, sourcing and supplying leather to the boot and shoe trade. My 2 ggfather William James Crisp (1831-1894) and his brother Edward (1834-1907) began as clerks to a leather factor in 1851, but by 1871 both William and Edward were describing themselves as leather merchants and Edward was living close to the Bermondsey leather market.

        William was still working in the trade up to his death in 1894 and his eldest son, another William James Crisp (& my great grandfather) was also a leather factor's clerk though inheritances from his father and grandfather enabled him to retire to the coast by 1901, he is missing from the 1891 census, I suspect he was abroad on business, possibly in Australia and New Zealand.

        Edward was in the trade for much longer, Whittard Crisp was the name of the company at 1 Market Street, Bermondsey and later at Tyers Gateway. His sons Walter, Edward, Hugh and Frank were directors and Walter was often abroad (USA/Canada) on business. The building was destroyed in the Blitz, but all Edward's sons had died by then. Walter Crisp left a small sum to the woman he eventually married (she was over 30 years younger than him and they'd been pretending to be married for several years) but the bulk of his estate went to Guy's Hospital.


        • #5
          Although I don't have a shoemaker on my own tree, I thought I would share with you another term or name for a cobbler/shoemaker which was highlighted in the Dear Paul column, it's the term 'Snob', which is another term for a cobbler, shoe repairer.
          My Family History Blog Site:



          • #6
            I have a father and son cordwainers in Wiltshire. Thomas Wyatt (4 x g grandfather) was born in Devizes circa 1790 and married Martha Maslen on 4 October 1810 in Market Lavington. They had four children before Martha’s death in 1826. Thomas married Mary Bunn the following year and the family lived in the High Street in nearby West Lavington. Thomas died in 1866.

            His son, James Wyatt (3 x g grandfather), was baptised 20 January 1811. He married Mary Daniel in Imber, Wiltshire on 8 November 1830 and appears on subsequent census returns as either a shoemaker or cordwainer (although I can’t find him in 1861). James and Mary had five children. In 1871, James is in the workhouse in nearby Warminster. He died in 1879 and is buried in Imber.



            • #7
              my great uncles, great grand father, 2x great grandfather and his brothers, 3x great grandfather were all boot & shoe makers, some of them even made the grade of master boot & shoe makers and had apprentices working for them.

              My 2x GG worked from his own back garden, some people who lived in the village where he was have commented on fb groups about remembering going to his house when they were children (he died in 1917) and seeing his sons who then owned the house and business. i have been to the area and seen the house (i wasnt brave enough to knock on the door). i also have photos from family members of the house and gardens back in the 1920-1940s etc.

              My great grandfather, Gardiner Lackey, was born in July 1881. I'm guessing that when he wasn’t at school he watched his father and older brothers at work and picked up the trade, as on the 1901 census he is listed as a bootmaker at his father's yard. Sadly, he didn’t keep it up as a career, as when he married and had children he was working as an overseer at the local coal mine. However, interestingly, one of Gardiner's sons, my great Uncle Cecil, did take up the trade and was the village cobbler in West Rainton, Durham, right up until the late 1950s/early 1960s.

              Gardiner's father, my great x2 grandfather, Robert Lackey, was born in Saintfield, Ireland, in 1845. Robert and his wife Mary, together with their two eldest children moved from Ireland to South Street, West Rainton, Durham, sometime after the 1871 census - they are in a village just out of west rainton in 1871. On the 1881 census, Robert is listed as a boot and shoemaker living at 'Lackeys Yard'. The family lived at the property, whilst Robert ran his business from the back yard.

              Over the years as his sons became old enough, they were also taught the boot and shoemaking trade. Four of Robert's six sons were listed as shoemakers or bootmakers on subsequent census returns. On his wife Mary’s 1921 death certificate, Robert is listed as a master shoemaker. A master shoemaker is one who has apprentices, hence the title 'master'. I don’t know much about my great x3 grandfather, James Lackey, apart from his name and occupation. According to his son's 1866 marriage certificate he was also a shoemaker.

              Boot and shoemaking was a highly skilled and labour-intensive trade. Those of Robert's standing would have known the whole process, from the selecting of the leather to the finishing of the final product. However, it wasn't very profitable and therefore fathers were often reluctant to pass their skills onto their sons, however this did happen in my family.
              **no point asking the living for help as the dead are more helpful!!!**



              • #8
                Mary Ann Chamberlain baptised on 29 July 1810 at St Marys Sileby Leicestershire was my 3 x G G Mother. Her 2nd marriage to John Brammer took place in 11 Jun 1849 at St Pauls Nottingham. John had also been previously married.
                On 1861 and 1871 census Mary was a Shoe Binder. Don't seem to have her death so something for me to look into.

                Searching Lowe, Everitt, Hurt and Dunns in Nottingham


                • #9
                  Hope this is ok on this thread.

                  John Thomas Gregory was a Harness and Saddle maker he married Florence Gertrude Lowe in 1896 at Holy Trinity Nottingham. This is the church my parents and Grandparents were married in and also my Brother and I were baptised.
                  He move to Mansfield and carried on his profession there, dying in 1931 in Mansfield. Florence was my G Grandfathers sister. She was well know by my Mother and her siblings.

                  Searching Lowe, Everitt, Hurt and Dunns in Nottingham


                  • #10
                    Christopher Martin born 1841 in Nottingham was a cordwainer. He married Lucy Bates in 1874 in Sneinton Nottingham. Lucy died in 1883 and Christopher was still a shoemaker on 1891 and 1901 census. He died in March 1904 and buried in Rock Cemetery Nottingham.

                    Searching Lowe, Everitt, Hurt and Dunns in Nottingham


                    • #11
                      My Shoemakers/Cordwainers are the Bradfield family, they started in Brixham with George (born c.1816), he moved to Bristol where one of his sons (another George) moved to Newcastle upon Tyne. George married a widow who had been previously married to an Edwin Charles Atwell also a shoemaker from Kent. I almost completed this circle of shoemakers when I moved from Newcastle to Somerset where I worked for Clarks the shoe people, though I didn't actually make shoes.


                      • #12
                        Herbert Roworth born 1861 Sutton Bonington Leicestershire was a shoemaker. He married Martha Burrows, my 3 x G Grandmothers Neice.

                        He lived their all his like but they had no children and died in 19334 and buried at Marle Pit Hill Cemetery.

                        Searching Lowe, Everitt, Hurt and Dunns in Nottingham


                        • #13
                          My husbands 9x great grandfather William Saker (1649-1715) was a cordwainer in Rusper, Sussex. He didn't pass his skills on as his only son died in infancy. His daughter Charity (my husband's 8x GG mother) predeceased him as did her mother Margaret. He mentions his daughter Katherine Manners in his will, she outlived him by 8 years and was buried at Horsham as "a poor woman".