A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 8. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1968.
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The economic importance of Tewkesbury, through most of the town's history, has resulted mainly from the navigability of the Severn, enabling the grain of the neighbourhood that was brought to market there, and the malt, textiles, and leather goods manufactured there, to be carried fairly easily to the coast. Conversely, the inadequacy of the Severn as a highway in the 19th century hastened Tewkesbury's commercial and industrial decline. The River Avon provided power for corn-mills, but not enough as is evident from the use of windmills. The town was also the centre of a large agricultural parish, and the agricultural history is described first below.
Agriculture. The demesne estates of Tewkesbury manor, together with those of the customary tenants holding directly of the manor, lay partly in Ashchurch and Tredington, and up to 1375 or later were administered as a single group. The information that follows, therefore, up to the late 14th century, relates to Ashchurch and Tredington as well as to Tewkesbury. In 1066 Tewkesbury manor comprised a large demesne farm supporting 12 ploughs and worked by 50 male and female serfs. Despite despoliation at the Conquest and a consequent fall in value, in the following twenty years another plough was added and 22 more serfs. The 16 bordars on the estate appear to have been more than usually dependent on the demesne farm, and were not recorded as having any ploughs; there were no other agricultural tenants, though an estate at Southwick of three hides, of which no further details were given, was separately entered in the survey. (fn. 1) The demesne increased in extent: in 1220 the bailiffs of the Earl of Gloucester had to answer for 28 plough-teams in Tewkesbury. (fn. 2) In the late 13th century the Earl of Gloucester's demesne was still large, amounting to 740 a. of arable land, in addition to 200 a. of parkland, 176 a. of meadow, and 50 a. of several pasture. (fn. 3) Between 1296 and 1307 the demesne was reduced, (fn. 4) apparently either by distributing it among free tenants or by granting it to the abbey. Nevertheless, in 1363 there were still 460 a. of demesne arable, 85 a. of mowing meadow, 80 a. of parkland, and 50 a. of pasture. (fn. 5) By 1375 there had been some rearrangement of the demesne land, and while it had not grown significantly less in acreage a large part of the tenants' works had been commuted for rents. (fn. 6) A century later the honor of Gloucester seems to have had no land in demesne, and Elizabeth Despenser (d. 1409) was the last medieval owner of the manor recorded as keeping any considerable acreage in hand. (fn. 7) In 1291 the only land that Tewkesbury Abbey had in demesne in the parish was two yardlands in the Mythe and one in Oldbury; (fn. 8) in 1535, however, the abbot had 130 a. in hand. (fn. 9)
In the early 14th century the free tenants of Tewkesbury manor (excluding burgesses) numbered 19, though the land of some was mainly, and of others entirely, outside the parish of Tewkesbury. The customary tenants were divided into several groups. The main group was of 56, described as customary tenants of the greater tenure in 1296, as natives in 1307, and later simply as customary tenants. Forty-one of them held 1 yardland each and 15 held ½ yardland, doing for each yardland 221 winter works, 59 summer works, and ploughing, harrowing, sowing, carrying, threshing, and maltmaking services; each also paid 1d. for the carriage of salt from Droitwich, a quantity of grain for seed called 'boonseed', and 4 hens at Christmas. Another 17 customary tenants were called 'Enches', (fn. 10) of the lesser tenure, in 1296; they were described simply as customary tenants in 1307, and thereafter as plough- men (carucarii); 9 held 1 yardland each and 8 held ½ yardland, owing for each yardland 6 days' ploughing or other work a week (festival days excepted) and 4 hens at Christmas. A group of 4 cottars had each a cottage and an acre or two for which he owed 59 works and 16 bedrips a year. Another 9 cottars recorded in 1296 may have been the same group as the 8 fisherman-tenants of 1307. In 1307 there were also miscellaneous tenants who held from 2 a. to 2 yardlands and performed various services, including carrying writs. Some of those tenants were presumably comparable with the 7 tenants by serjeanty of 1327. In 1307 also Nicholas the smith held 1 yardland in villeinage by service of making the ironwork for the 9 ploughs of the lord of the manor, for which he received 4s. a year for coals (carbonum). (fn. 11)
By 1375 a large part of the services performed by the tenants had been commuted. Whereas earlier the rents of the free tenants had amounted to £12 12s. 3d. and the customary tenants had paid very little rent in cash, in 1375 the rents of free and bond tenants together were £58 6s. 10d. and the tenures by serjeanty were producing a cash rent of £3 11s. (fn. 12) A hundred years later the whole income of the manor was apparently received in the form of rents, fines, tolls, and perquisites of courts. (fn. 13) Both in the town and in Southwick and the Mythe copyhold tenure of Tewkesbury manor (fn. 14) and of the abbey's fee (fn. 15) remained important until the mid-16th century, and appears to have lapsed fairly soon afterwards.
One of the services which the tenants performed in the early 14th century was work in the lord of the manor's vineyard, both at the grape harvest and at other times. (fn. 16) Work on the Earl of Gloucester's vineyard was recorded in 1185, (fn. 17) and the vineyard fence and ditch were still there in the mid-16th century. (fn. 18) The abbey also had a vineyard, mentioned c. 1195 (fn. 19) and shown in 1504 to be on the south side of the town. (fn. 20)
The size of the plough-land in Tewkesbury manor was small: in 1307 the demesne maintained 9 ploughs for 520 a., (fn. 21) and the 8 plough-lands of 1375, if valued at 4d.-6d. an acre, were each only 60 a.-90 a. During that period a third of the arable acreage lay fallow and in common each year. (fn. 22) Selions of arable land in the fields of Southwick were mentioned from 1315 onwards. (fn. 23) In the mid-16th century the selions there may have averaged c. ¼ a., and by that time some of them lay in small consolidated blocks and were inclosed. (fn. 24) The Gaston field included the area between Southwick Park and Gubshill, and stretched north-east to the Swilgate. Southwick field lay south of the park. (fn. 25) In each area traces of ridge and furrow remained in pasture in 1964. In the Mythe there are traces of ridge and furrow where the land slopes down to the meadows beside the Severn, and it is anyway unlikely that the Mythe was all pasture, woodland, and meadow in the early 14th century. The Mythe appears to have been wholly inclosed by the mid-16th century; a gradual process of inclosing the open-field land of Southwick had begun by then and was completed after 1686. (fn. 26)
The land held by the burgesses of Tewkesbury was distinct from the rest, as they alone held in Oldbury field, immediately east of the town. The Oldbury was evidently an open field in the 12th century, (fn. 27) and in 1314 it was reckoned to comprise 705/6 a. held at rents of 6d. an acre. (fn. 28) In 1337 the total rent of 35s. 5d. was described as a fee farm. (fn. 29) In the mid-16th century holdings in Oldbury field were usually divided evenly between the three furlongs, Upper, Middle, and Nether, but there was a fourth furlong, Hollam furlong, perhaps representing a small expansion of arable into Hollam meadow. The parcels of land were usually between 2 and 4 lands, each land averaging ½ a. A high proportion of the land was kept as pasture, (fn. 30) indicating the burgesses' need for pasture for their animals rather than crops. Another source of pasture was the Severn Ham, on which the commoners were entitled to pasture their beasts after the hay had been taken, from 31 July to 2 February. In 1610 the borough corporation decided to reduce its debt by lowering the number of commons on the ham and charging a fee for each beast pastured, (fn. 31) but it is not clear whether the resolution took effect, or if it did, for how long. In origin the commoners of the ham are likely to have been only the burgesses of the town, (fn. 32) but, partly because of the difficulty of distinguishing former burgage-tenures from others, (fn. 33) once the precise differentiation of economic groups and of tenures had become blurred, the commons came to be enjoyed by a wider range of inhabitants. In the late 17th century the ham was said to be a free common from Lammas to Candlemas, on which each freeman could pasture 3 horses, 6 cows, or 10 sheep — provided they were his own — and each free burgess twice as many. (fn. 34) The freedom referred to was presumably freedom of the borough, and the burgess a member of the corporation. In the late 18th century the right of common both in the Severn Ham and in Oldbury field and its adjoining meadows was said to be in the resident freeholders and occupiers, for their cattle only. (fn. 35) The Severn Ham and Oldbury field were both inclosed in 1811 under an Act of 1808, by which commoning rights in Oldbury were extinguished and those in the aftermath of the ham regulated. (fn. 36)
Two features of husbandry in Tewkesbury in the 17th century were market-gardening and tobaccogrowing. In 1540 a large number of gardens in and around the town was recorded. (fn. 37) In 1678 a writer drew attention to the suitability of the soil for gardening, and to the quantity of garden produce, notably excellent carrots, sent up the Severn to Worcester and elsewhere. (fn. 38) That form of husbandry may have declined over the next hundred years as market-gardening expanded at Evesham, (fn. 39) which the Avon navigation (fn. 40) had connected with the towns and ports of the Severn. Tobacco that was growing in Tewkesbury was ordered to be destroyed in 1627, (fn. 41) and in 1636 tobacco was said to be planted there 'in great store,' (fn. 42) when much of it that was grown locally was sold in the town. (fn. 43) In 1664 the constable of Tewkesbury was indicted at Quarter Sessions for neglecting an order to cut down and destroy tobacco crops. (fn. 44)
In the early 19th century the proportion of the population supported by agriculture increased up to 1831, and fell by half before 1841. (fn. 45) Though there were few landowners the farms were mostly small, and in 1834 there was said to be only one large farm. (fn. 46) In 1841 there were 13 agricultural occupiers employing between them 84 labourers, and another 6 who employed no labour. (fn. 47) There was one farm of 400 a. in 1850 and half a dozen of 50–100 a.; the rest were of 10–40 a. The produce of market gardens was sent mainly to Birmingham and Cheltenham. (fn. 48) Already the proportion of arable land was low, 321 a. or one-seventh of the land-area of the parish in 1834, (fn. 49) and it had fallen lower by 1901; (fn. 50) in 1933 there was no arable land in the Mythe and only c. 150 a. in Southwick. (fn. 51) In 1939 3 of the 10 farmers named in the area of the ancient parish had over 150 a. (fn. 52)
Mills. There were two mills in Tewkesbury belonging to the manor in 1066. (fn. 53) They were presumably the mills belonging to the honor of Gloucester in the early 13th century, and then referred to as the mills of the town (fn. 54) to distinguish them from the abbey mills. The Borough Mills, standing between the Old Avon and the Mill Avon towards the north end of the town, were apparently the two mills granted to Edward Hazlewood and Edward Tomlinson in 1581 (fn. 55) and the mill called Mr. Blackburn's mill in 1733. (fn. 56) The mill was rebuilt in 1865, and another building was added in 1889. (fn. 57) By 1870 the mills belonged to members of the Healing family, and in 1964, when the business had expanded beyond milling alone, the Healings remained active in running what is usually known as Healing's mill. (fn. 58) Grain was brought to the mill by barges from Avonmouth, and the mills, which were driven by steam from 1865, and later by electricity, employed over 100 people. (fn. 59)
Two mills were granted to the abbey about the time of the abbey's foundation, (fn. 60) and they are unlikely to have been different from the two mills belonging to the abbot in 1291 (fn. 61) or from the two water corn-mills on the Avon near the end of the town, occupied by the monks, whose profits in 1535 went to the cellarer of the abbey. (fn. 62) Those, the Abbey Mills, were leased with Tewkesbury Park, (fn. 63) and were granted with the park by the Crown in 1554. (fn. 64) By 1594 they had been increased to four mills, (fn. 65) but they formed a single range across the Avon; a fifth mill was added to the range, but Francis Popham agreed in 1617 to demolish it. (fn. 66) The mills remained the property of the owners of Tewkesbury Park until 1710 (fn. 67) or later. In 1793 they were rebuilt with 8 pairs of stones and 4 wheels, (fn. 68) and in 1799 may have been part of the Abbey House estate. (fn. 69) The Abbey Mills appear to have been out of use as mills in the mid-19th century, but they were in use in 1883 and 1921. (fn. 70) In 1964, when the mill building housed a tea-shop and was called 'Abel Fletcher's Mill' (from John Halifax, Gentleman), some pieces of the mill machinery survived. Another mill belonging to the abbey paid rent to the kitchener in 1291. (fn. 71) It appears in 1540 to have been on the Swilgate (fn. 72) near the Gander Lane bridge; (fn. 73) record of it at a later date has not been found.
In 1291 the abbot received rent from a windmill in Tewkesbury, (fn. 74) which was presumably a precursor of the windmill held with the abbey's water-mills in the 16th century and later. (fn. 75) In 1747 Edward Popham pulled down an old wooden windmill on Windmill Hill, south of Holm Bridge, and replaced it with a brick building; near-by, in the Hill Garden, John Wilson had built a brick windmill in 1742. (fn. 76) One of the two was the house formerly a windmill mentioned in 1774, (fn. 77) and a map of 1825 marked a windmill or the remains of one opposite the workhouse. (fn. 78) Perhaps in the same part of the parish stood the windmill held at farm from the Earls of Gloucester in 1296 and 1327, (fn. 79) said to be worth nothing in 1337 because it was so broken that it could not grind, (fn. 80) and recorded again at its former value in 1349 and 1359. (fn. 81)
River Traffic. The use of the Severn as a highway, and obstructions caused by weirs for fishing or milling, may have been the issue in the dispute between Mauger, Bishop of Worcester, and Tewkesbury Abbey that was resolved in 1207 when the abbey agreed to prepare two fit ways by the water called Avon for the bishop, one towards Worcester and one towards Gloucester. (fn. 82) The needs of river traffic prompted the destruction or modification of the abbot's weir in the Severn in 1292. (fn. 83) Until 1842 the Severn was a free river, as had been declared by statute in 1431, (fn. 84) and the carriers on it, notwithstanding the many navigational hazards of natural formation, prized the freedom from tolls and manmade obstacles. (fn. 85) In the 16th century the burgesses and inhabitants of Tewkesbury asserted and established their freedom from tolls at the bridges at Worcester (fn. 86) and Gloucester. (fn. 87)
There are references to cargoes of timber being brought down the Severn through Tewkesbury in the 13th century, (fn. 88) and in 1407 Thomas Bridges of Tewkesbury had seven trees lying at the quay there. (fn. 89) In 1401 Tewkesbury, like Norwich, Lincoln, and Kingston upon Hull, was ordered to supply one barge for the king's forces. (fn. 90) Boats appear to have been made at Tewkesbury in that period: in 1519 a gift for the repair of the town quay was made on the condition that two new slips were made. (fn. 91) In the mid-16th century the town quay was said to be for boats called picards. (fn. 92) In addition to the town quay, on the Old Avon, there was a warehouse by the wharf of the Upper Lode; (fn. 93) and much later, in 1839, there was a wharf at the Lower Lode ferry. (fn. 94)
In 1580 Tewkesbury was declared a 'creek' of the port of Gloucester. (fn. 95) In 1579 some inhabitants of Tewkesbury were accused of piracy on a Spanish ship, (fn. 96) and in 1588 Tewkesbury was ordered to join with Gloucester in providing an 80-ton ship for the navy. Tewkesbury refused to contribute money, and was ordered instead to make available a 25-ton pinnace, locally manned and supplied, but the pinnace failed to join the navy and was anyway inadequately fitted out. (fn. 97) The town's refusal to co-operate with Gloucester may have been stimulated by jealousy of Gloucester's predominance in trade on the river. (fn. 98)
Tewkesbury's share of the trade was not small: in 1584 the Gloucester port-books recorded nine Tewkesbury boats, ranging from 10 tons to 20 tons burden and averaging 15, which carried varied cargoes in which grain, malt, metheglin, and hides bulked large. The cargoes were entered in the names of 8 merchants, 5 trowmen, and a maltster; most of them were bound for Bristol, but several were going to North Devon and South Wales. About one-third of the entries in the Gloucester port-book for that year related to Tewkesbury. (fn. 99) In 1595 Tewkesbury had a rather smaller proportion of the river traffic, but the variety of cargoes and of ports to which the boats were destined was wider. (fn. 100) It has been estimated that nearly half the down-river cargoes in 1601–2 were carried by Tewkesbury boats, but the proportion fell to less than one-fifth during the 17th century. (fn. 101)
Trows were being built at Tewkesbury in the early 17th century. (fn. 102) In 1643 the Tewkesbury ship John True was employed by parliament in the crossing to Ireland, (fn. 103) and at the end of the 17th century Tewkesbury was said to send more ships than any other Severn town to Ireland. (fn. 104) By 1668 there was a stone causeway near the Quay that was used as a coal-wharf. (fn. 105) In 1683 the port-books recorded 7 ships from the town carrying varied cargoes, including stockings, chairs, and candles, but with grain and malt predominating as earlier, to Bristol and the ports of the Bristol Channel. (fn. 106) Regular passenger travel by river to and from Gloucester had been established by 1703. (fn. 107)
Many people employed on the river are recorded among the inhabitants of the town: for example, a waterman received a royal grant of protection in 1519, (fn. 108) 31 mariners, trowmen, and carriers were listed in 1608, (fn. 109) there was a ship's carpenter in 1747 and 1768, (fn. 110) and 3 barge-masters and 6 watermen subscribed a petition of 1773. (fn. 111) It is not clear whether boat-building continued in Tewkesbury in the 18th century, and no record of it has been found. In 1842, however, there was a boat-yard (fn. 112) and boatbuilding remained one of the local industries. (fn. 113) During the Second World War there was a temporary increase in the number and size of craft built at Tewkesbury; in 1964 there were four yards employing c. 50 people in making and maintaining pleasure-craft. (fn. 114) The decline in river-borne freight had begun by 1835, when it was attributed to improvements in the docks at Gloucester and to the development of railways, the chief railway in question being the Moreton-in-Marsh and Stratfordupon-Avon horse tramway, (fn. 115) which linked north Gloucestershire with the canal network of the Midlands. The improvements of the river channel, however, in the mid-19th century (fn. 116) made it possible for the Severn to retain much of its tonnage as larger vessels came into use. In 1961 16,000 tons and in 1962 22,000 tons were carried by river between Gloucester and Tewkesbury. (fn. 117)
Most of that traffic was grain, and grain had been the chief cargo since the 13th century. In 1211 grain, (fn. 118) and in 1213 grain and hay, was sent from Tewkesbury to Bristol. (fn. 119) In 1330 John Browne of Tewkesbury was trading in corn and other merchandise in various parts of the realm, (fn. 120) and in 1334 the Crown licensed four other inhabitants to export grain. (fn. 121) In 1348 merchants shipping corn regularly at Tewkesbury for Bristol, as they averred, were suspected of unloading it into ships anchored at sea out of Bristol. (fn. 122) In 1398 Tewkesbury was one of the main suppliers of corn to Bristol, (fn. 123) and in 1429 the wheat and malt sent there from Tewkesbury each year was valued at £500. (fn. 124) In 1550 it was ordered that Tewkesbury should relieve the shortage of grain at Bristol, (fn. 125) and in 1629 corn was exported to Ireland. (fn. 126) Corn was ordered to be taken to Tewkesbury, as a centre for its distribution, c. 1630 and in 1638. (fn. 127) The grain trade, connected with the local malting industry, (fn. 128) remained an important part of the economy of the town until the 19th century: in 1852 there were eight corn-dealers there. (fn. 129)
Although much the greater part of the river traffic of Tewkesbury was carried on the Severn, the traffic on the Avon, after that river had been made navigable in 1636, was not negligible, as is evident from the need for an Act of Parliament in 1751. (fn. 130) In the mid-19th century barges used the Mill Avon to reach the Abbey Mills. (fn. 131) In 1950 the Avon immediately above Tewkesbury became the object of attention of the Lower Avon Navigation Trust Ltd., which set out to maintain the navigation from Tewkesbury to Evesham, primarily for recreational use. (fn. 132) In 1964 one grain barge still plied between Pershore and Tewkesbury.
Markets and fairs. The development of the town as a market centre appears to have been fairly rapid after the establishment of the market in the late 11th century. (fn. 133) In 1180 or 1181 a charter of Bordesley Abbey (Worcs.) referred to a standard measure of grain, the 'bishop's quarter at Tewkesbury'. (fn. 134) In 1207 the Crown bought 69 bulls at Tewkesbury. (fn. 135) By 1199 the honor of Gloucester included a fair at Tewkesbury. (fn. 136) The markets and fairs belonged to the lords of the manor; they were granted with the manor to the borough corporation in 1610, (fn. 137) but already in 1579 the bailiffs of the town had won their struggle, which they had waged since incorporation in 1575, to act as clerks of the Tewkesbury markets. (fn. 138) In 1757 the corporation leased the tolls of grain; (fn. 139) in the same year, and again in 1805 and 1809, the corporation successfully resisted at law a contention that tolls were not due on the whole quantities of corn sold in the market by sample instead of being pitched there in bulk, but in 1813 the question was finally decided against the corporation. (fn. 140) In 1837 the corporation sold the reversion of the market-house and the tolls on the sale of all dead stock to a local auctioneer. (fn. 141)
In the 13th century the fair may have been held at mid-summer, for in 1324 Hugh le Despenser had a grant of a fair on 19 June lasting 10 days. (fn. 142) In or before 1441, when there was another grant, the mid-summer fair was replaced by two eight-day fairs, at the feasts of St. Matthias (24 Feb.) and St. Bartholomew (24 Aug.). (fn. 143) The two fairs were confirmed in 1575, when a third, on 25 April, was added. In 1605 the fair on 25 April was replaced by one on 3 May, and in 1610 additional fairs, with a court of pie-powder, on 11 June and 29 Sept. (later called Barton Fair) were established. (fn. 144) Those five fairs continued, (fn. 145) their dates modified by the change in the calendar, into the early 19th century, when there were also two other fairs, on the second Wednesday of April and the first Wednesday of December. In 1827 the June and December fairs were replaced, to avoid clashing with neighbouring fairs, by 'great markets' on the same days, and a third 'great market' was held on the second Wednesday in August. There were also hiring fairs on the Wednesdays before and after Barton Fair on 10 Oct. (fn. 146) By 1870 the traditional dates of most of the fairs had been abandoned, and fairs were held on the second Monday of every month except October, when Barton Fair and the two hiring fairs were held as before, as were also the three great markets. (fn. 147) By 1885 all but Barton Fair had been replaced by fairs held on alternate Wednesdays except in October. (fn. 148) In 1964 Barton Fair survived as a pleasure fair in Barton Street, and the others were in effect fortnightly sales. (fn. 149)
In the late 16th century the borough corporation asked to be allowed to hold a market every Wednesday for cattle, wool, and yarn, as they had one already for grain and other things. (fn. 150) By the end of the 17th century markets were held on Wednesday and Saturday, (fn. 151) and perhaps then as in the early 19th century and later the Wednesday market was for corn and livestock, the Saturday market for provisions. (fn. 152) In the late 19th century the main Wednesday market lost its identity by merging with the fortnightly fairs, and the Saturday market dwindled away. (fn. 153) The buildings connected with the markets are mentioned above. (fn. 154) In the early 18th century the grain market was held in High Street between the 'White Hart' and the 'Quart Pot', (fn. 155) but with the growth of the practice of selling by sample (fn. 156) the grain market moved off the open street.
Industry and trade. Not many references have been found to inhabitants of medieval Tewkesbury described as merchants. Only three were listed for the taxation of 1341, (fn. 157) but those three did not include Philip the merchant mentioned in 1348, (fn. 158) and clearly there were others living by merchandise. John the spicer, for example, was one of those licensed to export corn in 1334. (fn. 159) Others belonging to the provisioning trade included many butchers, (fn. 160) bakers, brewers, (fn. 161) and several innkeepers. (fn. 162) Vintners mentioned in the 12th and 13th centuries (fn. 163) may have been employed in making wine from the grapes of the demesne vineyard, for accounts of the honor of Gloucester included expenses on the vintner's press and the vintner's salary. (fn. 164) In the early 16th century many inhabitants were presented for selling bad salt, (fn. 165) and it seems that the lord of the manor's owning a salt-pit at Droitwich gave Tewkesbury a share in the salt trade. (fn. 166)
The medieval clothing industry in the town is represented mainly by the large number of references to dyers in the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries. (fn. 167) Fullers had given a name to Walker's Lane by 1257, (fn. 168) and Philip the walker was sued in 1328 for detaining a bale of cloth. (fn. 169) Tailors occur in the 14th century, (fn. 170) and hosiers, mercers, and chapmen in the 15th. (fn. 171) The tailors' was the one trade known to have been associated in a guild or company before the 16th century. (fn. 172) In 1521 there was a dispute between two inhabitants dealing in cloth in England and abroad. (fn. 173) Tanners in Tewkesbury were recorded in the 13th and 14th centuries, (fn. 174) and in 1386 the abbey had a tannery (fn. 175) which was perhaps the same as the abbey's tan-house scheduled for destruction in 1542. (fn. 176)
Various metal-workers are recorded in the town in the Middle Ages. Apart from smiths there were a lorimer (fn. 177) and a cutler in 1327, (fn. 178) an ironmonger in 1478, (fn. 179) and braziers who had given a name to Braziers' Lane by the 15th century. (fn. 180) The most frequently recorded metal-workers were goldsmiths, who lived in the town between the mid-12th and the mid-14th century. (fn. 181) In the 15th century two bellfounders were recorded. (fn. 182) A glasswright was recorded in 1327 (fn. 183) and a slater in 1350. (fn. 184)
In the 16th century incidental references to occupations tend to show the cloth and leather trades as predominant in the town. The clothiers and mercers included Giles Geast, who owned looms and houses occupied by weavers, and John Geast. (fn. 185) There are also references to dyers, cappers, many tailors, (fn. 186) drapers, shearmen, (fn. 187) carders, card-makers, (fn. 188) and a woolwinder. (fn. 189) The leather trades were represented by tanners, skinners, glovers, and saddlers, (fn. 190) but most of all by shoemakers, of whom there were from 12 to 20 trading on their own account at any time in the late 16th century. (fn. 191) Of metalworkers there were a goldsmith and a locksmith in 1540, (fn. 192) and a pinner in 1544. (fn. 193) Other 16th-century occupations recorded were those of painter, (fn. 194) harper, wax-maker, (fn. 195) chandler, bowyer, (fn. 196) and bookbinder. (fn. 197) Only one 16th-century maltster has been encountered, (fn. 198) but the quantity of malt shipped to South Wales in the period 1566–1602 (fn. 199) shows that he was one of many. Some maltsters presumably doubled as brewers; a horse-driven brewing-mill in Quay Lane was recorded in 1540. (fn. 200) There were presumably also more coopers than the one recorded in 1546. (fn. 201)
The predominance of the cloth and leather trades and the presumption that maltsters and coopers were more numerous than the haphazard records show is confirmed by the list of able-bodied male inhabitants in 1608, which gave 74 men working in cloth and clothing (including 27 tailors and 8 weavers), 63 in leather (including 28 shoemakers, 18 glovers, and 12 tanners), 14 maltsters, and 12 coopers. The metal trades were also well represented, with 19 men, including 5 cutlers and 2 pewterers. Two salters in 1608 recall the medieval salt trade, and a parchment-maker, 3 paper-men, and a stationer formed a well-defined group. (fn. 202)
Although the tailors had a form of guild by 1488, (fn. 203) the other trade guilds seem to have originated in the 16th century and later. The arrangement of guilds further confirms the predominance of the cloth and leather trades. After the tailors' guild the earliest recorded was the cordwainers', which was in existence by 1562. (fn. 204) A guild of haberdashers and mercers existed by 1569, and one of weavers by 1575.
Other guilds, paying fee-farm rents to the borough corporation instead of to the Crown, were evidently established by the corporation, exercising the function given it by its charter of 1575 of regulating trade. A guild of whittawers, glovers, pointmakers, pursers, and pouchmakers existed by 1579, one of coopers and joiners by 1581, one of shearers and cutters by 1603, and one of spurriers also by 1603. In or before 1581 (fn. 205) the drapers and dyers, who had once been members of the tailors' guild, formed a separate guild which was, however, re-united with the tailors' in 1601. (fn. 206) Guilds of butchers and bakers were recorded in 1677 and 1686 respectively, (fn. 207) and are unlikely to have been in existence then for very long. By 1698 the organization of trades by guilds was in a muddle, and the borough corporation attempted to reintroduce some order. (fn. 208) In 1699 seven guilds were effective for ceremonial purposes and provided their proper flags for the bailiffs' procession. (fn. 209) Guilds of smiths, recorded in 1705, and of brewers, recorded in 1743, (fn. 210) may have been created in 1698, but even if they were formed later at least three of the ten earlier guilds, not counting the drapers and dyers, had ceased to flourish by 1699. After 1743 the only guilds recorded were the tailors' and the cordwainers': the reorganization of 1698 may have been ineffective or shortlived.
The guild of drapers, dyers, and tailors comprised 3 drapers, 3 dyers, 13 tailors, and 1 other in 1642. There were 19 members in 1647 and 16 in 1698, including two masters at each time, and in 1698 the borough corporation promised not to give the freedom to tailors from outside so long as there were 14 or more tailors trading in the town. From 1550 the guild owned two houses in High Street. In 1813 (fn. 211) the one surviving member of the guild sold the houses and any other property for nearly £600, for a few years earlier the guild had become a sort of tontine when the only three members agreed to admit no new members. (fn. 212)
The cordwainers' guild became a social club in the early 18th century, with local gentry among its members; it reverted to its character as a craft guild from 1756 to 1787, and having become once again a social club assumed c. 1840 the functions of a local Conservative club. In that form it survived actively until after the First World War, but in 1941 the four surviving members dissolved the guild on the grounds that its legitimate functions had ceased. (fn. 213)
In the late 16th century Camden noted the manufacture at Tewkesbury not only of woollen cloth but also of 'smart biting mustard'. (fn. 214) Tewkesbury mustard was noted for its pungency: the literary association of Tewkesbury with mustard draws its strength mainly from Falstaff's allusion. (fn. 215) An earlier figurative use of the phrase 'Tewkesbury mustard', in 1591, (fn. 216) is also slightly later than Camden's reference. A possible hint that mustard was made in the town in the 15th century comes from the record of financial links of inhabitants of Tewkesbury with grocers and spicers of London and elsewhere. (fn. 217) 'Tewkesbury mustard' became a jocular metaphor, (fn. 218) and mustard-making appears to have left the town (fn. 219) long before George III asked facetiously about it on his visit there in 1788. (fn. 220) References to Tewkesbury mustard were more allusive than informative; but it appears to have been made from wild mustard, pounded and made into balls the size of a hen's egg which were sold either plain or gilt to be dissolved in vinegar as a condiment or as a cure for ailments. (fn. 221) Local tradition has claimed more than one place as 'the mustard factory', (fn. 222) but the manufacture is likely to have been no more than a marginal and spasmodic cottage industry. (fn. 223)
In the 17th and 18th centuries the woollen cloth industry of the town declined and was largely replaced by stocking-knitting, but the other main industries survived: the malting trade appears to have expanded, the manufacture of leather goods to have declined a little, and metal-work to have continued as a significant part of the town's industry though on a smaller scale than textiles, malt, or leather. Admissions to the freedom of the borough and indentures of apprenticeship support the conclusions drawn from less concise evidence, but the admissions and indentures are so far from complete and so often uninformative about occupations that they do not afford any statistical evidence. (fn. 224)
The clothing trade remained important through most of the 18th century. The 'decay and loss of that staple trade' described as 'a great detriment' in the early 18th century was not a total loss. The mercers and tailors, numerous in the 17th century, (fn. 225) continued to be numerous in the 18th. In 1773 the signatories of a partisan petition included two mercers and seven tailors, and no fewer than 20 weavers, (fn. 226) to whom references in earlier times are few. (fn. 227) Other clothing trades recorded were those of draper, haberdasher, dyer, feltmaker, and flaxdresser. (fn. 228) Both in the early 18th century and in 1774 reliable authors linked woollen manufacture with stocking-knitting as the chief trade of the town, (fn. 229) suggesting that there was exaggeration in the statement of 1792 that the clothing manufacture had long since been lost. (fn. 230) That industry may have largely disappeared from the town between 1773 and 1792, for there is no substantial evidence of it in the 19th century. (fn. 231)
In 1641 the first hosier was admitted a freeman, by apprenticeship, (fn. 232) and in the sixties several hosiers were among the many tradesmen of Tewkesbury who issued tokens. (fn. 233) Although in the 19th century stocking-framework knitting was said to have been on a small scale until c. 1760, (fn. 234) it was said to be the chief trade of the town, with cotton-working and woollen manufacture, c. 1710, (fn. 235) and Defoe described Tewkesbury as 'famous for a great manufacture of stockings'. (fn. 236) That there was an increase of framework-knitting during the 18th century is nevertheless evident from the growth of the number of frames from 50 in 1714 to 650 in 1782. (fn. 237)
The large number of maltsters in the town that may be inferred from the frequency with which they occur incidentally in records (fn. 238) is corroborated by other evidence. In 1608 the borough corporation found it necessary to make a by-law specifically about the waste from malt-houses, (fn. 239) suggesting that the 14 maltsters listed the same year (fn. 240) were driving a considerable trade. In 1718 a petition for duties to protect the malting trade claimed that the trade of Tewkesbury consisted chiefly in malting, (fn. 241) an exaggeration with some truth behind it. (fn. 242) In 1781 there were 45 malt-houses in the town; one had been converted into tenements, several held stocks of malt belonging to people who were not primarily maltsters, and several maltsters had stocks in more than one malt-house. (fn. 243)
The number of tanners seems to have shrunk after the early 17th century, (fn. 244) and few records of them have been found. In 1717, however, a petition from the town prayed for the prohibition of the export of bark, to protect the English tanning industry. (fn. 245) In 1781 there were four tan-yards. (fn. 246) The number of glovers kept high until after the mid-17th century, (fn. 247) and four were among the token-issuers of Tewkesbury later in the century. (fn. 248) In 1756 a glover, Richard Allen, contracted to keep the poor-house. (fn. 249) One glover was recorded in 1773, (fn. 250) 1781, (fn. 251) and 1820, (fn. 252) but in 1830 it was said that gloving had long since ceased in Tewkesbury. (fn. 253) Other leather trades recorded were those of saddler, collar-maker, and whip-maker, (fn. 254) but much more important was shoemaking. During the 17th century, when it retained the function of a craft guild, the cordwainers' company had between 10 and 20 members. During the century over 100 boys were bound apprentices to shoemakers. The change in the character of the guild may have reflected a contraction of the trade in the late 17th or early 18th century, and in the period in the 18th century when the guild regained its original function its membership was smaller than in the 17th century. (fn. 255) That may, however, have resulted only from membership being no longer obligatory, and in 1773 the shoe trade in Tewkesbury included 6 cordwainers, 4 cobblers, 4 heel-cutters, 2 shoemakers, a currier, and a clog-maker. (fn. 256)
Metal-workers do not figure much in the records of the 17th century, though they included a pewterer c. 1660 (fn. 257) and a brazier in 1697. (fn. 258) Iron-mills in Tewkesbury were conveyed in 1720, (fn. 259) and nailmaking may have been introduced by then. Nailshops by the Avon, forming Nailers Square, were mentioned in 1781, (fn. 260) and three nailers signed the petition of 1773. Other signatories included 5 blacksmiths, 5 whitesmiths, a cutler, and a brazier. (fn. 261) There was a goldsmith in 1733 (fn. 262) and an ironmonger in 1756 and 1768. (fn. 263)
Metal-working and light engineering survived the 19th century in Tewkesbury when nearly all the other considerable industries failed. In 1805 nails were said to be made in great quantity in the Quadrangle (fn. 264) (presumably Nailers Square), but the industry lapsed, to be revived between 1820, when there were no nailers in the town, (fn. 265) and 1830. (fn. 266) In 1835 nail-making employed c. 50 people, (fn. 267) and there were 5 nail-shops in 1842, off Barton Street. (fn. 268) Thereafter the manufacture declined, and only one nailer was recorded in 1870. (fn. 269) In the mid-19th century there were braziers, cutlers, gunsmiths, millwrights, blacksmiths, and whitesmiths in the town. (fn. 270) A pin factory was built by Beard & Co. in 1849 near the bottom of High Street, but it did not last long. (fn. 271) Another pin factory, in Oldbury, recorded in 1852, (fn. 272) may have been the forerunner of the Oldbury Engineering Works, recorded in 1876, (fn. 273) which until after the First World War made fair-ground machinery. Part of the site was in use in 1964 as an agricultural machinery depot. In the late 19th century and early 20th there were several engineering firms; some of them of little permanence, (fn. 274) but others were active in 1964. There were also workshops and small factories belonging to the Dowty Group, which during the Second World War had established works at Ashchurch, where its production of mining equipment and seals was centred. (fn. 275) St. Mary's Works, a chemical factory in 1870 and 1885, was an engineering works in 1897. (fn. 276) It was out of use by 1921, (fn. 277) and in 1964 the site in St. Mary's Lane was occupied by a car park.
Stocking-framework knitting was the chief industry of the town in the early 19th century. (fn. 278) In 1810 there were 800 frames, in 1819 559, and in 1830 700 employing a quarter of the population. (fn. 279) In 1834 most of the women and children were said to be employed in stocking-making. (fn. 280) In 1841, when there were 13 stocking manufacturers, (fn. 281) Tewkesbury was one of the chief centres of the cotton hosiery industry, (fn. 282) but recessions and competition from other centres slowly undermined the industry in Tewkesbury. In 1842 220 frames were laid off work; (fn. 283) in 1844 there were only 380 frames in use, with 550 idle; (fn. 284) and in 1852 only 8 stocking manufacturers were recorded. (fn. 285) The number of manufacturers had dropped to 4 by 1885, and to 2, working part-time, by 1897. (fn. 286) The trade had died completely by the end of the First World War. (fn. 287) One of the biggest stocking factories was off East Street, where its buildings survived, converted partly into dwellings, in 1964; (fn. 288) another, on the corner of High Street and Smith's Lane, with a shaft 135 ft. high, was built in 1861, (fn. 289) and later became first a brewery, (fn. 290) and then a garage.
Connected with the stocking industry were factories for cotton-thread lace, silk-throwing, and small linen articles. A lace factory was established in the Oldbury in 1825 with good buildings and up-todate machinery; (fn. 291) it provided employment for women and children, (fn. 292) and had c. 150 hands in 1835 when, however, the machinery had become obsolete. (fn. 293) In 1841 there were 50 bobbin-net machines, (fn. 294) but by 1850 the factory employed only 80 people, (fn. 295) and it closed soon afterwards. (fn. 296) The silk factory in the Oldbury started in 1847 (fn. 297) and closed in 1870 when the firm moved to Coventry; (fn. 298) in 1850 it employed c. 200 people. (fn. 299) A silk-finishing factory was built c. 1840 on the site of a tan-yard on the Avon north of St. Mary's Lane; after a few years it became a shoe factory, the 'Halifax Works'. For some years it was closed, and it was re-opened after 1883 by the Tewkesbury Manufacturing Co. which, with several changes of ownership, employed c. 300 people, making collars, shirt-fronts, and wrist-bands, until the First World War. (fn. 300) The building, known as the Eagle Factory, was out of use in 1921. (fn. 301) By 1964 most of the building had long been in ruins; one small part of it was used as a dress factory, and another as the headquarters of the St. John's Ambulance Brigade.
The leather industry also dwindled in the 19th century. Edmund Rudge, the miserly tanner who died in 1843 reputedly worth £140,000, (fn. 302) belonged to an earlier and, for the industry, more prosperous age. There had been still three tan-yards in 1842, (fn. 303) but only one tanner was recorded in 1870, and none by 1885. (fn. 304) A tannery on the Avon, behind St. Mary's Lane, which had possibly once been Rudge's, was out of use in 1883; in 1921 it housed the electricity works, (fn. 305) and in 1964 a boat-builder's yard. The other leather trades also declined during the 19th century: curriers, of whom there were 5 in 1842, saddlers, of whom there were 3, (fn. 306) and shoemakers became fewer. Saddlers and shoemakers survived into the 20th century: in 1910 there were 2 saddlers and 13 boot- and shoemakers, (fn. 307) but 19th-century attempts to establish boot and shoe factories had not succeeded: in addition to the short-lived shoe factory in the Halifax Works there was in the sixties a factory belonging to Edwin Insall & Co. behind no. 73 Church Street, (fn. 308) which had moved by the nineties to smaller premises. (fn. 309)
Malting declined in Tewkesbury in the 19th century, like the other traditional industries. In 1830 the malting trade was said to be considerable, but smaller than formerly; (fn. 310) in 1842 there were still 26 malt-houses, (fn. 311) though in that year, as in 1852, only 11 maltsters were named. (fn. 312) In 1870 only two maltsters were named, (fn. 313) and by 1919 there was only one malt-house in the town, (fn. 314) in Station Street, the Malt-house in St. Mary's Lane having gone out of use since 1883. (fn. 315)
Apart from those traditional industries, there were some smaller manufactures that were by no means negligible. Rope-making, recorded in the late 16th century (fn. 316) and presumably connected with the boatbuilding industry already described, was practised in 1832 (fn. 317) and 1885, (fn. 318) and is recorded in a streetname in the Oldbury. Chairmakers, of whom there was at least one in 1773, (fn. 319) numbered 5 in 1820 and 1842, (fn. 320) and 2 in 1852. (fn. 321) In addition to 3 hatmakers in 1842 there were 5 makers of straw-hats, (fn. 322) and the manufacture of straw-hats, continued until 1885 or later. (fn. 323) There were brickworks along the left-hand bank of the Severn; (fn. 324) the works in Mythe Hook were in use by 1825, (fn. 325) and two brick-makers were among those who died of cholera in 1832. (fn. 326) The last brickworks were closed in the early 20th century. (fn. 327)
In the 19th century, therefore, Tewkesbury lost its role as a manufacturing centre. In a small way the metal industries survived, and they expanded during the Second World War. In 1964 light engineering afforded much of the town's employment and sustenance. In addition there was milling, building, boat-building, the tourist trade, and the provision of retail shopping and service facilities for a considerable rural area. By far the most important single source of employment, however, for the inhabitants of Tewkesbury were the Dowty works centred in the neighbouring parish of Ashchurch.