Benford Family….Weavers of Kettering, Northamptionshire

5 Jul
2013-09-26 07.01.41

Settlement Certificate for Benjamin and Sarah Benford of Kettering – 1745 to the Parish Of Ullesthorpe and attested by: Thomas Benford  and George Smille (DOC 1)

The Northamptonshire worsted trade began in the late seventeenth century.  The Militia Lists of 1762 and onwards  list a number of freeholders engaged in the industry in the market town of Kettering. The establishment of the trade is attributed to the local supply of the long – staple wool that was necessary for worsted cloth production.

Northamptonshire Milita Lists for Kettering:

Benford John    Kettering Hux     weaver   1762

“WEAVER – A person who runs one or more looms to weave cloth. The more looms, the more money. Weaving is a very noisy operation, leaving many weavers deaf. Whether deaf or not, most weavers will have learned to lip-read since this is the only way to hold a conversation in the weaving shed.”

Benford Sam     Kettering Hux     combmaker    1762

COMB MAKER – “Makes Combs for the Textile Industry”

 

Benford Ben      Kettering Hux     weaver    1771

Benford Thos     Kettering Hux    wool comber    1771

 WOOL COMBER – “Operated machinery that separates the fibres ready for spinning in woollen industry”

Benford Wm      Kettering Hux     weaver    1771

 

Benford Ben Jr  Kettering Hux     weaver     1774

Benford Ben Sr    Kettering Hux     weaver    1774

Benford Thos     Kettering Hux     wool sorter    1774

WOOL SORTER – “one that sorts wool according to grade specifications”

Benford Wm      Kettering Hux     weaver    1774

 

Benford Ben       Kettering Hux    weaver    1777

Benford John     Kettering Hux    weaver    1777

Benford Thos     Kettering Hux    wool sorter    1777

Benford Wm       Kettering Hux    weaver    1777

 

Benford Wm     Kettering Hux    weaver 1781

Kettering was an influential urban area in the 13th and 14th centuries and by 1700  it had become an important centre for the woollen cloth trade. During the late 17th century and in the 18th century, Kettering specialized in the worsted trade, which has been attributed to the local availability of long-staple wool, best suited to domestic spinning. The wool was sorted and that which was intended for manufacture at home, was combed and then distributed in small quantities to the lower economic class of people who spun and reeled the wool. The spun wool was then passed on to the weavers. A Randall, in his book The Kettering Worsted Industry of the Eighteenth Century, claims “weaving was concentrated in Kettering, while the wool combing took place at Long Buckley about 15 miles south-west of Kettering”.  By 1741 Kettering was producing Shalloons – “A fabric of tightly woven wool, mainly used for the linings of articles of clothing” (Wiktionary) and was sending upwards of 1,000 pieces to the London markets.

There was a sudden collapse of the Northamptonshire worsted industry in 1770 and by 1794 the work force was 50% of the 5–6,000 people employed at its peak. The decline of the worsted trade of 1770 was largely due to the mechanization of worsted spinning in the West Riding of Yorkshire and over the county border in Leicestershire.

In my previous Blog, I referenced Benjamin and Sarah Benford who had relocated from Kettering to Ullesthorpe around 1745. They had relocated  prior to the decline of the Worsted Textile Industry, but their move may have had more to do with family as Sarah was from there and the birth of their first child was eminent. Many young women returned to their family at this time.

On my visit in 2013, I was able to visit the County Records Office in Leicester and discovered a document  known as a Settlement Certificate. These were documents issued by Church Wardens and Overseers of the Poor in a given Parish, to prove in which Parish a Family was  legally settled and to indicate, that should Poor Relief be needed, the family could be returned to that Parish. These certificates weren’t only provided to paupers. Regular Families often obtained them if they were moving to a new parish, and subsequently, if they fell on hard times, that Parish would know where to return them to obtain Poor Relief. This document helped me break through one of the many Brick Walls I had encountered in my research.

  1. In 1745, one such Certificate was issued to Benjamin Benford and Sarah (Page) Benford of Kettering, Northamptionshire and was addressed to the Church Wardens of the Parish of Ullesthorpe in Leicestershire. Benjamin had been born in Kettering in 1714 to Thomas and Sarah (Stanley) Benford (married Dec 16, 1708. On January 3, 1745 he married Sarah Page of Ullesthorpe. In order to settle in Ullesthorpe, the family would need a Settlement Certificate.  This Certificate answered my question….Was Benjamin who lived in Ullesthorpe, Leicestershire….from eleswhere? It seems this was the case… And just like like in the Bible…Benjamin begat Nathaniel in 1748?, Nathaniel begat Nathaniel in 1774, and Nathaniel begat Nathaniel in 1804.  (see Document 1 at the top of the Page) It is from this line that my Great Grandmother Clara Benford Perkins descends…..she being the daughter of Nathaniel (1804).

 

2013-09-26 06.59.44

Settlement Certificate for Benjamin and Elizabeth Benford and their Children Joseph, Jesse and Hannah – 1779. (DOC 2)

In this document (Doc 2), we have a Settlement Certificate for a later Benford Family who looks to be relocating at the time the decline is hitting its peak. It is 44 years later……1789 when this Benford Family is looking for opportunity eleswhere. There are two signatures of interest on the document…..Thomas Benford Senior and Thomas Benford Junior. On the document (DOC 1) created in 1745, there was one Benford signature…..there was a Thomas Benford who dies in Kettering in 1750 and I would guess he is the signatory on document. He had a son Thomas born in 1721 who could be Thomas Senior age 58 on document 2 and the other signature that of his son, Thomas Jr. likely around 25. Have I confused everyone…if only these people would have used different names or incorporated their birth year into the name as in Thomas 1721. You have no idea how difficult it is to sort out who is who in the records.

I located a Thomas Benford of Kettering listed as a Master Serge Maker in 1753 (The Genealogist) and he had an Apprentice by the name of Benjamin Meadows. In 1755 Thomas is listed as a Serge Weaver and has an apprentice Thomas Spriggs. This is likely Thomas Senior (Thomas 1721 who would be 34). 

The Genealogist-paid site

Masters Name Thomas Benford
Masters Trade Serge Weaver
Masters Abode Kettering, Northamptonshire
Apprentice Name Thomas Spriggs
Date of Duty 29th July 1755
Date of Indenture 4th July 1755
Term 7 Years From 24th Ju

Serge Weavers weave SERGE, a type of twill fabric that has diagonal lines or ridges on both sides, made with a two-up, two-down weave. The worsted variety is used in making military uniforms, suits, great and trench coats. Its counterpart, silk serge, is used for linings.  The word is also used for a high quality woolen woven.

I have been attempting to trace the ancestry of the Benford Family of Claybrooke Magna, Leicestershire for the past 10 years. I had always thought that the family likely originated in Warwickshire and moved up the road through marriage, perhaps from somewhere in the Coventry area.  My thinking may be partially correct.It would appear that at least one Benford Family…Benjamin Benford/Sarah Page had moved up the road …not from Warwickshire but from Kettering, Northamptonshire to Ullesthorpe, Leicestershire in 1745.  

I can’t find Benford’s in the Parish Records of that County (Northamptonshire) earlier than the 1700’s and these people all appear to be connected to the Worsted Industry which developed in the 1600’s. Could it be that the ancestors of these Thomas Benford’s…..weavers of Kettering, had originated in Warwickshire where the Benford name appears in the Parish Records from the 1500’s. People always moved for economic opportunities.  (Distance from Coventry, Warwickshire to Kettering, Northamptonshire is only 33 miles.) More research is needed.

From parish records for Claybrooke LEI we have a Benjamin Benford christened in 1751 – parents Benjamin and Sarah Benford. From apprenticeship records, we have a Nathaniel Benford (age 14 born circa 1748) apprenticed to John Barker CARPENTER of Little Ashby (Ashby Parva) about 1.5 miles from Ullesthorpe in 1762…perhaps the beginnings of the Carpenter trade for the Benford Family. The BIG Question…Is he Benjamin and Sarah Benford’s eldest son? Have not located a Birth Record for him. He would have been born 3 years after they married. Are there previous births for this couple..maybe the child died? 

We have in the Kettering Fuller Street Baptist records, a Benjamin Benford buried  21 Sept 1800 age 84 (born 1716) and his wife Sarah buried 26 Oct 1800 age 82 (1718).   We have a Thomas Benford buried there in 1791 age 81 (born 1710) and  a Nathaniel who was christened in Theddingworth , LEI (13 miles from Kettering)  June 5, 1714… parents Thomas and Sarah Bendford.  Are these  Benford’s related and the sons of one Thomas Ben(d)ford of Kettering? Did Benjamin and Sarah return to Kettering at some point in their lives?  ketteringca1900

If my thinking is correct then a Benjamin Benford of Kettering, Northamptionshire married a Sarah Page of Ullesthorpe LEI and started the Benford dynasty in Leicestershire. They were Non Conformists (Baptists) and the records are difficult to track, but a Benjamin and Sarah Benford are both buried back in Kettering (Silver Street Baptist). The names Benjamin and Nathaniel run through several lines in both counties making great difficulties in determining who is who.

On top of that, there are Benford’s in the southern USA in the early days of the plantations where a Nathaniel Benford is a slave owner in Charles City Virginia. He frees his slave and they move north and today there are many Slave Descendents with the Benford name. Many Non-Conformists left the Midlands to escape religious persecution and became some of the earliest settlers in the USA. Thomas, Benjamin and Nathaniel are the names running through generations on both sides of the pond.

As is always the case, my research will continue. I think I have proved the Kettering and  Ullethorpe/Claybrooke connection. Now I must continue to find out the Kettering/Warwickshie connection…if there is one.

More info on the Textile Industry if you are interested…

Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World | 2004 | GULLICKSON, GAY L.
COPYRIGHT 2004 The Gale Group Inc.
TEXTILE INDUSTRY.

“Between 1450 and 1800, textile production was second only to agriculture in economic importance. It employed more people and produced more profit than any other manufactured product. Production and trade existed at two levels:

Peasants and villagers turned locally grown wool and flax into fabric and clothing for themselves and their neighbors. The cloth they produced was of poor quality and not designed for export to distant markets.

On top of this local market, there was a large and lucrative trade in quality goods.

Two types of wool fabric were produced in Europe—woolens and worsteds.

Woolens were made from short-staple wool fibers that were swirled together before spinning. The cloth had a soft-textured appearance and feel.

Worsteds were made from long-staple wool and had a harder, smoother finish. Soft woolens were considered far more desirable than the harsher worsteds and dominated the wool trade.

Turning raw wool into fabric was a long, complicated process. The sheep’s fleece was sheared in one continuous piece, rolled, sacked, and sold to merchants (drapers) or clothiers or their agents. The fleeces were dirty and greasy, not uniform, and far from ready for spinning and weaving. Fleece breakers opened up the fleece and removed the large pieces of debris that were caught in it. The fleece was then pulled apart, and the wool was sorted into three or four grades. Next, the sorted wool was cleaned. Any remaining debris was removed from the fleece by beating it with sticks, and then it was washed in alternating hot and cold, soapy and clean water. Some fleeces were dyed at this point, but dyeing raw wool produced dull colors, and it was common to dye fabric after it was completed rather than when the wool was raw. Whether it was dyed or not, the fleece was now lubricated with butter or oil to make it easier to work.

After breaking, cleaning, and oiling, the wool passed into the hands of combers and carders. Their task was to convert a mass of tangled, curling wool into long, straight, smooth fibers for worsteds by combing, or into a smooth ball of short wool fibers for woolens by carding. Spinners converted the combed or carded wool into continuous lengths of yarn by pulling, twisting, and turning it into a thin, continuous thread. This was the most labor-intensive part of the process.

Weavers usually wound their own warps and prepared their own bobbins for the loom. The best woolens were woven on broadlooms that produced fabric that was 1¼ meters wide and 22 to 23 meters long. It commonly took two men and one child (most often, probably, a boy in training) to operate a loom and weave the cloth. Once the woolen cloth was woven, it passed into the hands of fullers who cleaned and softened it by dunking it in water that contained various kinds of detergents and soaps that dissolved or absorbed the fat that had been added to the wool before it was carded or combed.  Fullers placed the folded cloth in a vat and trod on it with their feet, periodically removing and refolding the cloth so it would be evenly fulled.

After fulling, the cloth was dried, stretched, bleached, and perhaps dyed. Teaselers raised the nap by brushing the cloth with the burr of the teasel plant to impart a soft finish. It was clipped smooth by shearmen, pressed, and returned to the merchant for sale. The entire process involved twenty people (not including dyers) for each piece of cloth produced and took at least six weeks. Women worked as carders, combers, and spinners, while men performed most of the other tasks. The finer the cloth, the larger the labor force and the longer the time it took to produce it. The finishing of worsteds was much simpler (they did not require fulling, teaseling or shearing, for instance), but the market for them was much smaller.

For the  luxury trade in silk, wool, linen, and (eventually) cotton fabric, the most important were heavy woolens. The customers for these fabrics were wealthy landowners, government and church officials, merchants, financiers, aristocrats, and master craftsmen in Europe, Asia and the Levant.

Most important of all the textile industries was the trade in raw wool and wool fabric. Sheep raising abounded everywhere and in the fifteenth century, the best fleeces came from England. In the sixteenth century, Spanish merino sheep knocked English sheep into second place.

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