William Snape (c.1774-1833), Mercer and Draper, Lichfield, Staffordshire

William Snape was a mercer and draper in Market St, Lichfield, who was used by the overseers to supply fabrics, cloths and threads to the workhouse. He supplied fabrics such as blue linen, drab calico, Irish linen, blue print, buttons and thread.[1] This suggest that the workhouse may have been making some form of uniform or sets of apprentices’ clothes (see ‘Blue Duffle’ entry 28 March 2019). We have vouchers for him supplying the workhouse between 1824-1830. The bill from 1824 has a pre-printed ink header across the top. It shows a tombstone with a shrouded urn on top with two figures either side one of which represents Liberty with her scales and sword. This suggests that his business was doing well as he could afford to add the headers.[2] The bills are still hand signed though by him, proving that he was literate. The header also states that William furnished funerals meaning that he supplied all the drapes, clothes and fabrics used in the funeral and he would rent them out. This at the time had become a lucrative business.

William Snape, son of Isaac Snape, was baptised on 24 July 1774. William Snape’s registered age in the calendar of wills was 59. This would mean his year of birth would be 1774. William Snape the elder married Anne Jackson in 1801 in St Mary’s, Lichfield.[3] We believe that they had a son, also called William, as there is a baptism that took place in May 1806 with reference to them.[4] At the moment we have no evidence suggesting that the son carried on the business or went into the same profession as he is not listed in any trade directories and we have no vouchers after the date William dies. There is however, a Mrs Anne Snape listed in White’s 1834 directory. She is not listed under any business, and had moved from Market St to Beacon St. This suggests that she was living off independent means.[5] There is a possibility that it could be the widow of William Snape as she is listed as Mrs Anne Snape. William did not leave a will when he died, however, letters of administration were drawn up after his death.[6]

The vouchers suggest that the business of William Snape was lucrative and successful as the total amount paid for the four bills we have is £22 9s 6 ½ d. It is then surprising to find that on 17 April 1821 there was a bankruptcy case in the London Gazette for William Snape, ‘of the City of Lichfield, Mercer, Draper, Dealer and Chapman’.[7] There were then three meetings arranged on the 14, 15 and 29 of May at the Talbot Arms, Rugeley, Stafford. The first meeting was for Snape to make a full ‘disclosure of his estate and effects’ and also for any creditors to prove their claims. The second sitting was to choose assignees, who were responsible to gather in all the debts owed to William Snape and the administration of his bankruptcy. The final sitting on the 29 was to finish the examination and for William Snape to declare everything he had, to state all his debtors and creditors. The solicitors for the case were Mr Thomas Gnosall Parr, of Bird Street, Lichfield and Messrs. Constable and Kirk, solicitors, Symond’s-inn, Chancery Lane, London.[8] The date for the final dividend to be paid was 16 December 1822 at the Talbot Arms, Rugeley, where all creditors should prove their debts and that any claims after that date would be disallowed.[9] This suggests that it brought an end to everything that the commissioners were going to do, therefore freeing Snape from the bankruptcy. We know that he recovered as the vouchers state that he was supplying the workhouse just two years after being cleared of his bankruptcy.

William Snape died and was buried in March 1833 at St Michael’s, Lichfield.[10]


[1] Staffordshire Record Office (hereafter SRO) LD20/6/6 no item no., Lichfield, St Mary’s overseer’s voucher, 1824; SRO LD20/6/6 no item no., Lichfield, St Mary’s overseer’s voucher, 1830.

[2] SRO LD20/6/6 no item no., Lichfield, St Mary’s overseer’s voucher, 1824.

[3] SRO D20/1/9, Lichfield, St Mary’s Parish registers, 1801.

[4] SRO D20/1/3, Lichfield, St Mary’s Parish Records, Baptisms, 1806.

[5] William White, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire (Sheffield: 1834).

[6] SRO P/C/11, Lichfield, Calendar of Peculiars, 30 August 1833.

[7] London Gazette, 17 April 1821, 877.

[8] London Gazette, 16 October 1821, 2059; London Gazette, 17 April 1821, 877.

[9] London Gazette, 23 November 1822, 1929.

[10] SRO D27/1/9, Lichfield, St Michael’s, Burials, 29 March 1833, 191.

Wild Boar Stuff

A draper’s bill presented to the overseers of Brampton listed three items as ‘wild boar stuff’. What exactly was ‘wild boar stuff’ and was it really made from ‘wild boar’? ‘Stuff’ was a generic name given to cloth used for making garments. Often the fabric was made from wool, or a mixture of wool and other fibres.

The OED defines ‘hog wool’, as ‘wool from a yearling sheep; the fleece produced by a sheep’s first shearing’. The term originated in the mid-eighteenth century.

John Luccock’s 1809 essay on wool notes, ‘The hog wool, or the first fleece produced by a lamb more than a year old, was greatly esteemed under the old modes of manufacture; and had not the machinery recently adopted rendered it desirable to obtain staples of a uniform length, which is not so easily effected in this class of fleeces, it would still maintain its pre-eminence, as it does in all places where the yarn is spun by hand’.[1]  Might this explanation mean that ‘wild boar stuff’ was actually derived from hand spun hog wool?

The Journals of the House of Lords vol. 60 contains a discussion on South Down wool, noting the increase in demand for hog wool: ‘All the Cloth made from the better Sorts of Foreign Wools have a more felting Property in them. That (producing a sample of Worsted Stuff) is made of South Down Hogs, probably South Down and Merinos together.’[2]

One suggestion is that it might be wool from the mangalitsa pig. This long-haired breed was not developed until the mid-nineteenth century by cross-breeding wild boar with Hungarian domesticated pigs, so cannot have been used to make the ‘wild boar stuff’ listed in the draper’s bill. Equally, there seems to be no reference to the use of its fleece for textile production. Another suggestion is that the ‘boar’ might refer to the colour of the textile, or perhaps the texture.

Any further information on ‘wild boar stuff’ would be welcomed.

John Styles adds that in Florence Montgomery’s Textiles in America
‘Wildbore’ [spellings varied] is defined as a fairly coarse worsted used for women’s gowns. ‘Stuff’ at this period generally means a worsted fabric, the sort of thing made either at Norwich or in the West Riding.

Sources

William Beck, The Drapers’ Dictionary: a manual of textile fabrics, their history and applications (London: The Warehousemen and Draper’s Journal Office, 1882).

Polly Hamilton, ‘Haberdashery for use in dress, 1550–1800’ (unpublished PhD, University of Wolverhampton, 2009)

Journals of the House of Lords, vol. 60 (1828), Appendix 3

Wilhelm W. Kohl and Peter Toth, The Mangalitsa Pig (2014)

Oxford English Dictionary


[1] John Luccock, An Essay on Wool, Containing a Particular Account of the English Fleece (London: J. Harding, 1809), 133.

[2] Journals of the House of Lords, vol. 60 (1828), Appendix 3, 84.

Blue Duffle

The Cumberland vouchers make frequent reference to the purchase of blue duffle.William Beck’s The Drapers’ Dictionary cites Booth’s Analytical English Dictionary of 1835 which describes duffle as ‘a stout milled flannel, but of greater depth and differently dressed. It may be either perched or friezed (napped), and is sold in all colours’. The name is generally thought to have derived from Duffel (now in Belgium).

In The Compleat English Tradesman Daniel Defoe notes that ‘The manufacturing towns of Lancashire, Westmorland and Cumberland is employ’d in the coarser manufactures of those counties, such as Kersies, half-thicks, yarn stockings, Duffelds, Ruggs, Turkey-work chairs and many other useful things’.

What was the blue duffle being used for? In all likelihood it was used to make coats or cloaks for the poor, perhaps as a type of uniform for the workhouse, or as part of a set of clothes provided for parish apprentices. Joan Lane notes that clothing for apprentices, including particular items that identified them with specific trades, was a common requirement, and that factory apprentices were expected to attend church looking reasonable. She continues that male parish apprentices ‘received a shirt, waistcoat, breeches, stockings and shoes, with a coat and hat for outdoors. A girl was given a petticoat, one or two shifts … with a gown, apron, stockings and shoes … Coats and cloaks were hardly ever bought for female pauper apprentices’.[1]

Five news items provide further information on the uses of blue duffle:

Cumberland Pacquet and Ware’s Advertiser, 14 March 1787, described how John Bell, aged 17 or 18, had run away from his apprenticeship from shoemaker George Sugding, in Workington. He was wearing a turned blue coat and vest, black breaches and a woollen hat. At the same time another apprentice, Jonathan Atch, aged 17, also absconded. He was wearing a blue upper jacket, a double-breasted blue vest and blue breaches, all duffle.

Cumberland Pacquet and Ware’s Advertiser, 23 May 1797, detailed the elopement of Daniel Hodgson and Mary Johnston, the wife of James Johnston. Johnston, aged 67, was reported as wearing a white thickset coat, and a blue and white striped waistcoat. Johnston, ‘a stout made woman … pitted with the small pox’, was wearing a a dark stamped gown and bed gown, a brown or blue quilted petticoat, black worsted stockings , a blue duffle cloak, and a black silk bonnet.

Twenty dozen pairs of stockings and ‘some webs of blue duffle and blue worsted stuff’ were stolen from Bridekirk manufactory, Annan. Carlisle Patriot, 14 March 1818.

Carlisle Journal, 7 August 1841, William Dixon gave evidence against John Cope for stealing a jacket belonging to Isaac Sherwin of Aspatria. When apprehended in Maryport, Cope was wearing a blue duffle jacket beneath which was the stolen jacket. Cope was found guilty and sentenced to six months hard labour.

In 1843 the Carlisle Journal reported an inquest. The headless body of a man was washed ashore opposite Eskmeals. The clothing consisted of a blue and white striped shirt, a red flannel shirt, a blue duffle jacket, and white woollen stockings. \lsdpriority

Sources

Cumbria Archives Service, Carlisle, PR60/21/13/3/ no item number, Brampton Overseers’ Voucher, settled 31 May 1795

Cumberland Pacquet and Ware’s Advertiser, 14 March 1787

Cumberland Pacquet and Ware’s Advertiser, 23 May 1797

Carlisle Patriot, 14 March 1818.

Carlisle Journal, 7 August 1841

Carlisle Journal, 9 December 1843

William Beck, The Drapers’ Dictionary: a manual of textile fabrics, their history and applications (London: The Warehousemen and Draper’s Journal Office, 1882), 106

Daniel Defoe, The Compleat English Tradesman vol II, (London: printed for Charles Rivington, 1727), 59–60

Joan Lane, Apprenticeship in England, 1600–1914 (London: UCL Press, 1996), 27–29


[1] Joan Lane, Apprenticeship in England, 1600–1914 (London: UCL Press, 1996), 29.