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LACE-MAKING FAMILIES OF EAST DEVON

 

In 1880, Peter Orlando Hutchinson published his "History of Sidmouth" - a book on which he had worked for years and which is full of information about East Devon and covers a wide variety of subjects.

In his chapter on lace-making, he draws on a number of sources to name the leading lace-making families of the district:

"Dr Smiles, when speaking of the Flemings and of the French, who have settled in England at different times to avoid persecution says:

In the lace towns of the West of England such names as RAYMOND, SPILLER, BROCK, STOCKER, CROOT, ROCKETT AND KETTLE are still common and the same trade has been carried on in their families for many generations. The Walloon groups who settled in Wiltshire as clothworkers more than three hundred years since, are still known as "the guppys".

The name of GUPPY is well-known in Sidmouth and in Sidbury, and to the above list, I may add the names of RONCESVALLES at Sidbury, now commonly spelt ROUNCEVAL; ROLAND, now usually spelt ROWLAND - the first syllable as pronounced by the country people to rhyme with "cow". Also the names of MAER, DARE, SELLEK or SELLICK, TWOSE (pronounced TOOSE) and CHOWN.

The names of CHICK*, DENBY* HAYMAN*and RADFORD* are among the leading dealers or merchants in Sidmouth who buy up the lace made by the women and girls."

 

The Chick* family had a shop in Sidmouth's High Street. Edward Chick, the son of Harriet Chick, a lace maker, called himself a "lace designer" as well as a manufacturer.

Alfred Denby* was a prosperous lace manufacturer who employed four hands permanently at his premises in Fore Street, Sidmouth.

The Radford* sisters, Susan, Emma and Ellen, of New Street, Sidmouth, were all lace manufacturers and probably acted as dealers, going around the town collecting up the work of outworkers.

William Hayman* was based in East Budleigh where a large proportion of the women living there were engaged in the lace industry. Manufacturers like Hayman and Denby often became quite wealthy as most of the profit remained in their hands. Outworkers were paid a pittance, often in tokens which had to be spent at shops which the manufacturers owned.

 

 
 
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