Ann Keen and Catherine Keen, boot and shoe dealers, Lichfield

Ann Keen’s listings in trade directories from 1818 to 1851 and her listing in the 1851 Census as a boot and shoe dealer (mistress) belies the notion of the short-lived female-owned business.

Ann Keen was born to William and Mary Keen in Eccleshall, Staffordshire, and baptised on 30 December 1771. She died, unmarried, in 1853, and was buried at Christ Church, Lichfield.

Parson and Bradshaw’s 1818 directory lists a William Keen, ironmonger, grocer, druggist and tallow chandler, with premises in Eccleshall’s High Street. By this date Ann Keen was already established as the proprietress of a shoe warehouse in Market Street, Lichfield. She was one of two female shoe dealers listed in the town; the other being Margaret Pinches of Boar Street. In comparison, ten male boot and shoemakers are listed.

Thus far 11 bills covering the period 1822 to 1829 have been discovered linking Ann Keen’s business to the overseers of St Mary’s, Lichfield. More may come to light. She was supplying men, women and children with ready-made shoes rather than making them. The vouchers show that Ann was assisted by Catherine Keen. What relation Catherine was to Ann is not clear at present, although Catherine might have been the daughter of Ann’s brother Walter baptised in Eccleshall on 31 March 1769. Until Catherine’s Keen’s marriage in 1823, it was Catherine who drew up the bills for the supply of shoes and took payment from the overseers. Following Catherine’s marriage to Moses Smith, a tobacconist from Hanley, Staffordshire, Ann initially employed an assistant J. Beattie, who like Catherine drew up the bills. Later, Ann took to signing the bills herself, or they were initialled by ‘WB’. At the time of the 1851 Census Ann Keen was living on her own in a property on the south side of Market Street.

Catherine’s marriage to Moses Smith was relatively short-lived. Smith died in 1831. By his will Catherine inherited all his stock-in-trade, money, securities for money, debts household furniture, plate, linen, chattels, and personal estate and effects, upon trust during her natural life. His unnamed children (a son and daughter) were to inherit on Catherine’s death. Catherine Smith and George Keen (Moses Smith’s brother-in-law and assistant in his tobacco business) were appointed the executors. An entry in White’s 1834 directory shows that Catherine continued her husband’s business as a tobacconist in Slack’s Lane, Hanley.

Sources

Staffordshire Record Office

BC/11, Will of Moses Smith of Hanley, Staffordshire, proved 7 March 1832

D20/1/11, St Mary’s Parish Register, Lichfield, 30 June 1823

D286/2/11, Christ Church Parish Register, Lichfield, 9 July 1853

D3767/1/5, Holy Trinity Parish Register, Eccleshall, 31 March 1769, 30 December 1771

LD20/6/6/21, Lichfield, St Mary’s Overseers’ Voucher, Ann Keen, settled 18 June 1822

LD20/6/6/, no item number, Lichfield, St Mary’s Overseers’ Vouchers, 14 August 1822, 25 June 1825, one undated [1825], and 29 June 1826, for example

TNA, HO107/2014, 1851 Census

Parson, W. and Bradshaw, T., Staffordshire General and Commercial Directory presenting an Alphabetical Arrangement of the Names and Residences of the Nobility, Gentry, Merchants and Inhabitants in General (Manchester: J. Leigh, 1818), 165, 175, 184, 188, 189

White, William, History, Gazetteer and Directory of the County of Staffordshire and of the City of Lichfield (Sheffield: 1834), 157, 569

White, William, History, Gazetteer & Directory of Staffordshire, 2nd edn. (Sheffield, printed by Robert Leader, 1851), 5

A Blog post about Clogs

PR10/100/18, Skelton Overseers’ Voucher, An account of Grace Matthews clothes and goods, 2 June 1785

Clogs feature in both the Staffordshire and Cumberland vouchers. In 1829 and 1830, for example, the overseer of Uttoxeter Mr Wood paid John Green for the following:

2 Sept  1829 Pair of Clogs 1s 4d John Green Mr Wood
7 Nov  1829 1pr clogs 1s  8d
18 Nov 1829 1pr of clogs ordered by Mr Wood 1s 10
21 Nov  1829 1pr of clogs ordered by Mr Norres 1s 6d
18 Dec 1829 1pr of clogs ordered by Mr Wood 1s 10d
8s 2d

 

10 Jul 1830 4 pr boys clogs 5s 4d John Green Mr Wood

Clogs were also by the overseers of Darlaston, Staffordshire: in 1818 Thomas Challinor was paid for three pairs.

In Skelton, Cumberland, the inventory of Grace Matthews goods and clothes included one pair of clogs. There is a separate blog entry for Matthews.

In Wigton, Cumberland, Thomas Watman’s 1773 bill refers to the calking of clogs.

Details of two further vouchers from  Wigton (1771) and Skelton 1791 are shown below.

6 Dec 1771 John Barnes
John Little
Daniel Steel
Daniel Steel
John Barnes
John Little
£0-3-8
£0-0-11
for 3 pairs of clogs
Ironing 3 pairs of clogs
1 Jun 1791 Thomas Mather William Stalker Thomas Mather £4.19.0 Maintenance, repair of clogs & 6 mths house rent

In his State of the Poor Frederick Morton Eden recorded: ‘Some years ago clogs were introduced into the county of Dumfries from Cumberland, and are now very generally used over all that part of the country, in place of coarse and strong shoes. The person who makes them is called a clogger. “All the upper part of the clog, comprehending what is called the upper leather and heel quarters, is of leather, and made after the same manner as those parts of the shoe which go by the same name. The sole is of wood. It is first neatly dressed into a proper form; then, with a knife for the purpose, the inside is dressed off, and hollowed so as to easily receive the foot. Next with a different kind of instrument, a hollow or guttin, is run round the outside of the upper part of the sole, for the reception of the upper leather, which is then nailed with small tacks to the sole and the clog is completed. [The Staffordshire vouchers often contain quantities of ‘tacketts’]. After this they are generally shod, or plated with iron, by a blacksmith. [Calking clogs – adding iron strips or plates to improve their durability – appears on numerous bills for Cumberland]. The price of a pair of men’s clogs (in Dumfrieshire) is about 3s including plating; and, with the size the price diminishes in proportion. A pair of clogs, thus plated, will serve a labouring man one year … at the end of that period, by renewing the sole and plating, they may be repaired so as to serve a year longer… [Many of the Cumberland bills are for making such repairs]. They keep the feet remarkably warm and comfortable, and entirely exclude all damp.”

At Lancaster, Eden noted: ‘Ironed clogs, which are much cheaper, more durable, and more wholesome than shoes, are very generally worn by labouring people’.

The noise clogs made alarmed those unused to it. In August 1797 Henry Kitt recorded: ‘We were annoyed at first by the harsh clatter made by the clogs of the boys playing in the street … We were soon, however, convinced that these wooden shoes, capped with plates of iron, were well adapted to the use of the peasants who inhabit a rough and marshy country’.

Sources

Frederick Morton Eden, The State of the Poor, vols. I & II (1797)

Henry Kitt, Kett’s Tour to the Lakes of Cumberland and Westmorland, vol. 5 (1797)

Cumbria Record Office, Carlisle

PR10/100/18, Skelton Overseers’ Voucher, An account of Grace Matthews clothes and goods, 2 June 1785

PR36/v/2/49, Wigton Overseers’ Voucher, 6 December 1771

PR V/36/3, Wigton Overseers’ Voucher, Thomas Watman 1773

Staffordshire Record Office

D1149/6/2/3/93, Darlaston Overseers’ Voucher, 19 October 1818

D3891/6/34/9/018, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Voucher, 2 September to 18 December 1829

D3891/6/36/8/12, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Voucher, 10 July 1830