A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1907.
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IT would appear from any study of the industries of Oxfordshire that that county is prevented, as if by fate, from ever attaining to the position of a great industrial or commercial centre. Oxfordshire is, rather, especially adapted to the requirements and practice of agriculture. There is little or nothing in the actual nature of the county that would necessarily create an industrial district. There are, however, a few qualifications that might be made to the above statement. In the first place Oxfordshire has for a large part of its boundary the greatest river of England. The Thames must undoubtedly in early times have played a greater part in the advance of the industries of the county and the dissemination of its manufactures than it does at the present time. By means of this river the products of Oxford, and in particular of Henley, were easily carried to the metropolis. It is evident that this was the case from records of the reigns of Edward I and Edward II, which point back to an earlier period. From these records it is to be gathered that the merchants of Oxford and probably of Burford too (for here was one of the earliest merchant gilds, established in 1082) sent their goods by clumsy barges to London. (fn. 1) From very early times the malt of Henley was dispatched in the same manner, and frequent references are to be found to bargemen and that method of transit. (fn. 2)
Two other rivers of Oxfordshire are both supposed to have had a direct effect upon the industries of the county. The Cherwell in the seventeenth century was a bright and clear stream, and the purity of the water tempted the leather-dressers to carry on their industry in the city of Oxford. (fn. 3) The Windrush is even more famous. Dr. Plot supposes that 'the abstersive nitrous water of the River Windrush' had something to do with the excellent quality of the Witney blankets. (fn. 4) Whether this is an actual fact or not, the Windrush water does seem to play a part. The blanket manufacturers of Witney tried in recent years to use the same soft water that is used in the blanket-making business in the north of England. The result was most unsatisfactory, and the blanketers returned to the water of their own stream.
Besides the importance of its rivers, there is another natural possession of Oxfordshire which has been of considerable value. The whole county abounds in stone, and there are about forty quarries now in use, many of them of great antiquity. A third important gift of nature is clay, which is worked for brick-making in many parts. The fourth and last special qualification is the presence of iron ore, which was discovered about 1853, and lies in the northern portion of the county. Except for these Oxfordshire has no natural reasons for being an industrial county. What industries there are have arisen either from purely domestic arts which were common throughout England, or because they were made necessary by the presence of a large and ever-growing university, which naturally brought trade to a county which would otherwise have been purely agricultural.
Amongst the industries that are entirely due to the existence of the University of Oxford is, in the first place, the University Press. This is now the largest industrial concern in the whole county, employing daily over 650 hands. The press was started in Oxford in either 1468 or 1478, the latter date being now accepted by most authorities. Its career was at first most chequered. It lasted for nine or ten years, and then ceased to exist. After thirty years printing was once more revived, but only for a short time. It was not until 1585 that a press was firmly established, and from that date Oxford printing has been celebrated. The press of the seventeenth century owed much to Archbishop Laud and Dr. Fell, and in the same way the printing of the eighteenth century would never have reached the excellence that it did, had it not been for private enterprise and private munificence. (fn. 5) At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Charles Lord Stanhope carried on this idea, and his 'secret process' of stereotyping, together with other of his inventions, passed into the possession of the university authorities. In the year 1830 the Clarendon Press was moved from the Old Clarendon Building in Broad Street to the spacious premises in Walton Street. The first few years of printing in the new buildings were extremely successful owing to the energy of Mr. Joseph Castle. In 1883 the University Press became a purely industrial concern, when it was placed under the capable management of the present controller, Mr. Horace Hart.
The reason why the university was situated in so low-lying a position as Oxford is probably because of the importance of the River Thames. There can, however, be no question that, as far as building materials were concerned, it was as good a situation as could be found. Certainly the stone used by the ancient stonemasons has proved itself of a porous character, especially when brought from Headington, but in more recent years a better stone has been used which has been found to 'weather' very satisfactorily. The building of the Oxford colleges during the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries gave a very considerable impetus to the industry of quarrying. The presence of a university naturally meant the building of churches, and these, together with the collegiate and university edifices, have been constructed almost entirely from the stone of the surrounding districts. The earliest quarry worked was at Chilswell, and from this the Anglo-Saxon and Norman buildings of Oxford were constructed. (fn. 6) In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries both Headington and Taynton stone were used, as is evidenced by the records of Exeter College and Thame Church. These quarries continued to be the two most important well into the nineteenth century. At the present time, however, Headington is but little used, and Taynton Quarry is situated on private property and worked only by the estate masons of Mr. Mervyn Wingfield. At Burford, too, was a quarry of repute mentioned by Leland and by Wood. It is situated in what is now called Upton, and is locally known as Kitts Bank. It is from this quarry that traditionally much of the stone was sent for the building of St. Paul's Cathedral after the Great Fire of 1666. The eighteenth century witnessed very little collegiate building, and the history of quarrying in this county is correspondingly silent. At the present time quarrying is carried on in different parts of the county, but there is a falling off in the amount produced and the number of hands employed.
The making of parchment and later of paper was a natural outcome of the university and the necessity for manuscripts and books. A very considerable number of the uses to which dressed skins and hides can be put were familiar to the traders in ancient Oxford, but probably none were more important than that of parchment-making, which must have been an industry from the earliest times. The first year that can be stated as one in which a 'Studium Generale' existed in Oxford is 1180, and in that year there is evidence of parchment makers in the town. (fn. 7) This parchment-making continued through many centuries, and parchment sellers were still fairly common in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. It is indeed from Tudor times that the industry of paper-making must be dated, (fn. 8) and Cecil was an ardent advocate of schemes for the manufacture of this product. (fn. 9) Macpherson, in his Annals of Commerce, (fn. 10) would place the date of white paper-making at the end of the seventeenth century, but it is certain that paper for books was made at Wolvercote Mill as early as 1666. (fn. 11) It is a recognized fact that the manufacture of paper in England was largely due to the French immigrants at a later period, for they had learnt the art in Angoulême, but it would appear that Wolvercote Mill continued to carry on the business successfully from the time of its foundation without any alien interference, though at that period there were many Frenchmen in Oxford. At the beginning of the nineteenth century paper-mills were working at Eynsham, Wolvercote, and Sandford under the management of Mr. Swann. Later on in the same century paper for industrial purposes was also made at Sandford, Shiplake, Oxford, and Henley.
The last industry to be noticed as definitely connected with and due to the university is that of bookbinding. The age of this trade is exactly the same as that of parchment-making, the name of the first bookbinder being found in the same document as that of the first parcamenarius. For the early history of this important industry the writer is much indebted to the work of Mr. Strickland Gibson, Early Oxford Bindings. A list of those connected with the book industry of Oxford is also to be found in Mr. Madan's Early Oxford Press, published by the Oxford Historical Society. For the first few centuries of Oxford binding there is little or nothing to record save the names of the binders and their place of abode. The binders seem to have formed a kind of gild, and their habitations and workshops would appear to have nearly always been situated in Cat Street or Schidyerd Way. The earliest stamped work that can be attributed to an Oxford binder is a collection of sermons written in 1460. In the sixteenth century certain improvements and changes were introduced in the methods of the binders, for whom the next century was a veritable 'golden age,' for it was during this period that Sir Thomas Bodley established his famous library, and many works had to be bound. The eighteenth century does not afford so much history of this industry, but the nineteenth displayed many points of interest, and towards the end showed splendid improve ments as seen in the Morris paper, and the beautiful vellum bindings of Messrs. Morley Brothers and others.
Of the industries that owe their origin to purely domestic arts there were many in Oxfordshire. Some of these have disappeared, or almost entirely so; others have flourished and become important business concerns. Of those that have disappeared, the first to be mentioned is glass-making. (fn. 12) This seems to have existed during the seventeenth century and in the early eighteenth century, but since that time glassmaking in Oxfordshire has been merely a tradition. A second industry which lasted for a longer period than the glass-making at Henley was a small trade in steel articles, which were manufactured at Woodstock. (fn. 13) It is evident that this work was carried on in the later years of Queen Elizabeth, that it flourished in the eighteenth century, but it had completely died out by 1850. Silk weaving and winding were also at one time a small industry in Oxfordshire, and as early as 1677 silk stockings were woven at Oxford by means of an invention of Mr. William Lee. (fn. 14) Henley-on-Thames also had its silk industry, which it carried on as late as 1856. Another of the extinct industries is that of Banbury cheese-making. (fn. 15) This was a milk-cheese, about one inch in thickness, and evidently well known in the metropolis, as it was frequently referred to by both authors and playwrights of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This cheese-making industry gradually disappeared, and by the middle of the nineteenth century it had entirely gone. The earliest of all these industries that no longer exist, but possibly by far the most important, is that of minting money. Mr. Stainer, in his Oxford Silver Pennies, has shown how important the Oxford mint was during the Anglo-Saxon period, and indeed up to the reign of Henry III. From that date there was no mint at Oxford until the troublous period of the Civil Wars. Between January, 1643, and June, 1646, Charles I had much of his money coined in Oxford, part indeed from the plate of the colleges. But after the capture of the city by Fairfax, the necessity for a mint no longer existed, and Oxford lost an ancient though only an occasional industry.
The domestic industries of Oxfordshire that still survive are very numerous, though perhaps not always of any considerable importance. The best known at the present time is blanket-making at Witney. As early as the reign of Henry III Witney was evidently a town of clothiers. Mr. Thorold Rogers considers that blanket-making was already an industry in Witney in 1385. (fn. 16) During the Tudor period the trade continued to thrive, and in the seventeenth century the family of Early began to manufacture blankets, which they still continue to do. At the beginning of the eighteenth century the formation of a blanket-makers' company was supposed to be likely to help on the trade, but the industry flourished in spite of the company rather than because of it. Towards the end of that period a very large quantity of blankets was sent regularly to London by wagons. The introduction of machinery may have been a temporary inconvenience, but it certainly helped to increase the output, which to-day is far greater than it has ever been before.
Very closely allied with blanket-making was the textile industry in general. This was, in early times, carried on in most of the homes throughout the counties of England; but Oxfordshire has a peculiar pre-eminence, as the city of Oxford was one of the earliest towns to have a weavers' gild. This gild was certainly in existence as early as 1130, (fn. 17) and it may possibly have existed even a few years earlier. Its story is a varied one, and the number of its members fluctuated very considerably. In 1159 the gild was of sufficient importance to obtain a royal charter, and it seems to have reached the height of its fortunes in the reign of John, when there were no fewer than sixty members. Three years after the accession of Edward I the gild was in a state of decay, and there were now scarcely fifteen members on the register. Weaving did not entirely disappear, however, for at the end of the fourteenth century there were twenty to thirty individuals who were engaged in the craft. During the next century the celebrity of the Cotswold wool was at its height and weaving and the woollen industry were common throughout the county, including such places as Chipping Norton, Burford, Great Tew, Bicester, and Oxford. After the dissolution of the monasteries there was a very early attempt to found a factory for 2,000 woollen workers in Osney Abbey at Oxford, but there is no proof that the clothier, Mr. Stumpe, succeeded in his scheme. In Elizabeth's reign the 'Incorporation of the Misterie of Weavers and Fullers of Oxford' was in full working order. By the beginning of the seventeenth century the wool trade was one of the important industries of Banbury, where it is still continued. As years went by it died out in the city of Oxford, but it seemed to grow and flourish elsewhere as seen in the foundation of Bliss's Mill at Chipping Norton, about the middle of the eighteenth century. The people of Banbury took up, in particular, one kind of manufacture, viz. worsted plush, which is still made by Messrs. Cubitt, Son & Co., while Chipping Norton earned a certain fame for its tweed. But Oxford has no coal, and steam-power is a necessity. The cost of transport is very considerable, and so, though a few places still maintain their textile industry, the county has had as a whole to give way to the more prosperous woollen districts of the north.
Just as the weaving of cloth was done at home in the middle ages, so, too, leather-dressing under one form or another was a by-product in most of the villages and towns of Oxfordshire. Anthony Wood shows most clearly that the leather industry was a very considerable one in this county from early times, and the saddlery trade of Burford had in the seventeenth century a European reputation. But of all the uses made of leather, glove-making is perhaps at the present time the best known with regard to the county of Oxford. As early as 1279 (fn. 18) this work appears to have been done in Oxford itself, and glove-makers continued to be of some importance in the city until the seventeenth century. Previous to this, however, the Woodstock trade had started, and was already of some size by the last years of Queen Elizabeth. Here the trade with many fluctuations has remained to the present time, and although perhaps the industry is not as flourishing as it was in former years, yet it still employs a large number of hands in the surrounding districts.
The largest trade of all in Oxfordshire is that of malting and brewing. This business, which is now carried on by several firms in different parts of the county, originated in the humble and homely brewery of the small farmer, householder, publican or college butler. Brewing was done in Oxford as early as 1240. (fn. 19) In 1354 the industry came under the strict supervision of the university authorities, who continued for many centuries to keep a watchful eye upon the brewers, who appear, from the records, to have needed it. Henley was another brewing and malting centre, and during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries sent much malt to London. In the eighteenth century the type of brewing began to change. The small breweries which still continued were overshadowed by larger concerns, as for example the Swan's Nest Brewery at Oxford, and what is now Messrs. Brakspear and Sons' at Henley. At the beginning of the nineteenth century Deddington had a momentary reputation for the excellence of its ale, but Burford ceased to have any importance as a malting town. From that time to the present day the chief breweries of Oxfordshire have been either in Oxford itself, or at Henley, Chipping Norton, Witney, and Banbury.
The brewing of ale in Banbury was carried on alongside another industry which has a world-wide renown, though it is perhaps of no great importance from the economist's point of view. Ever since the reign of Elizabeth, Banbury cakes have been made in the old borough of that name. (fn. 20) They are mentioned by Holland in 1609, by Ben Jonson in 1614, and again many times during the seventeenth century. They appear to have been equally well known in the eighteenth century, and towards its close the renowned maker was Betty White. During the last century their fame was spread by the Great Exhibition of 1851, and now the Great Western Railway has helped to stimulate their sale.
Before closing this account of the industries of Oxfordshire which have arisen from the purely domestic arts, three other industries may here be briefly mentioned. The first is that of lace-making, which is to this day only of a domestic character, and is carried on in the cottages of the south-eastern portion of the county, particularly of that part which lies contiguous to the county of Buckingham. In the second place, there is boat-building, which must have existed in the very earliest times, for bridges were few, the river had to be crossed, but above all goods must go to London. This industry is now no longer domestic, but carried on by several builders in the county, Messrs. Salter Bros., the Saunders Patent Launch Building Syndicate, Ltd., Messrs. Hobbs, and East's Boat Building Co., Ltd., being the chief firms. The last of this class of industries is that of chairmaking, which is of some antiquity, and which is still carried on at Stokenchurch, Chinnor, Caversham, and Watlington.
So far we have been solely concerned with those trades which have arisen from the presence of the university, or have had their origin in domestic industries, or with those peculiar and separate classes of industry which played their little part in Oxfordshire history and then disappeared. To turn from these, a brief introduction is needed for those industries which cannot be said to fall under any of the above classifications, and may be enumerated as industries connected with metal. The first of these is the iron ore industry, which is confined to the northern portion of the county, in particular to Hook Norton and Adderbury. Here brown hematite is worked in fairly large quantities, but all of it is sent out of the county to the blast furnaces of South Staffordshire or North Wales. Agricultural machine-making and ironfounding is, however, carried on in Banbury and in the city of Oxford. As early as 1841 Banbury had some fame for its turnip-cutters, and since that time agricultural machines have been made by Messrs. Samuelson & Co., Ltd., and Messrs. Barrows in Banbury, and by the Oxford Steam Ploughing Company at Middle Cowley, Oxford. Besides this form of iron work, Messrs. Lucy & Co. have a foundry at the Eagle Iron Works, Oxford, which was originated as far back as 1760. The third of these metallic industries is that of bell-founding, which has been carried on with varying fortunes from the beginning of the seventeenth century to the present time, at Burford, Witney, Woodstock, and Oxford.
Thus Oxfordshire may be said to have had about twenty industries, many of which still remain. But in no sense can the county be regarded as a true industrial centre. Most of the trades, as has been shown, arose either as a natural growth from domestic industries, or from the needs of Oxford as a university town. The fact that Oxfordshire was far removed from the modern centres of industry has prevented that county excelling in any particular industry, and except for the stone, and iron ore, the county is lacking in mineral wealth. The university on the one side, and agriculture on the other, have afforded sufficient employment for the people without any large number being driven into what may be called extraneous industrial concerns.
The Oxford Press
The largest industrial establishment in the city of Oxford at the present time is the University Press in Walton Street. Here several hundred workpeople are regularly employed in the printing, folding, and cutting of the Bibles, Prayer Books, and educational works that bear upon them the famous name of the Clarendon Press. Like many other large and successful concerns the University Press started under very humble circumstances. When first printing was carried out in Oxford no man could have imagined the strides in progress that were to be made in the next 430 years.
'Towards the close of the fifteenth century there was a meteor-like appearance of an Oxford Press.' (fn. 21) In its origin this Oxford Press was, as far as can be ascertained, quite independent of Caxton's printing. The battle which has been waged about the date of the first book printed at Oxford has made this book 'a veritable typographical battleground, and in Henry Bradshaw's opinion a touchstone of intellectual acumen.' (fn. 22) This book bears the date 7 December, 1468. It is an exposition of the Apostles' Creed, ascribed to St. Jerome, but is in reality a treatise on the creed by Tyrannius Rufinus. (fn. 23) It is now supposed that the date ought really to be 1478, and that in the hurry of printing an x was omitted. In 1664, Richard Atkyns, a Gloucestershire gentleman, propounded what is known as the Corsellis forgery, by which he tried to prove that a printer, Frederick Corsellis, had printed in Oxford ten years before Caxton set up his presses at Westminster. Mr. Madan says, 'as no one believes in this story it is not worth while to do more than to point out that no corroboration of it has ever been found.' (fn. 24) Conyers Middleton in his Dissertation on the Origin of Printing, published in 1735, was the first to throw doubt upon the year 1468. From that time the opinion has steadily grown that 1478 and not 1468 ought to be the date of the first printed book at Oxford. Mr. Madan treats the subject with the greatest care in his History of the Early Oxford Press. He takes into consideration the question of signatures; he shows that there are no signs of progress in the first three Oxford books; he points out that the same type is used, the same sized page, and the same number of lines in a column; he remarks, with numerous examples, that mistakes of dates are common, and finally he considers that the books bound up with the Jerome would show rather the date 1478 than that of 1468. He considers that it is conceivable, but not probable, that printing was done in Oxford previous to the year 1477. (fn. 25) In the Chart of Oxford Printing Mr. Madan would appear even more definite when he says 'the fact remains that the greater the bibliographer the more certain he is that the true date is 1478.' (fn. 26)
The Press that probably produced this book lasted from 1478 (?) to 1487. The second work produced was Aretinus's Latin Translation of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. Of this there are eight copies in existence and several fragments, but all the copies are very poorly printed; it was published in 1479. In 1480 a work on Original Sin by Aegidius de Columna of Rome was printed. One of its interests lies in the fact that the colophon is printed in red, this being the only instance of colour-printing in this early Oxford Press. This was followed in the same year by the first English printed classic, Cicero pro Milone, which remained the only printed classic until in 1497 a Terence was issued to the world.
The next publication is only known from two leaves in the British Museum, acquired late in 1871 or in the spring of 1872. It is a fragment of a Latin grammar printed probably in 1481. The author might be perhaps John Anwykyll, who was master of Magdalen College Grammar School in 1481 (?)–87; it has been supposed that the grammar was written by either Holte or Stanbridge, but it has been practically decided that this was not the case. In 1481 a commentary on the De Anima of Aristotle, by Alexander de Hales, was printed, and it is in this work that the earliest woodcut border appeared. In the following year John Lathbury's Latin Commentary on the Lamentations of Jeremiah came from the Oxford Press, to be followed in 1483 by another Latin grammar again believed to be by John Anwykyll. In the same year a commentary on the burial service by Richard Rolle of Hampole was printed, and it was again produced at Paris in 1510 and at Cologne in 1536. It is rather doubtful whether the Nineteen Logical Treatises were printed in 1483; and the doubt also exists for the Provincial Constitutions of England, written in Latin, with a commentary by William Lyndewoode. A considerable interest is attached to this work from the fact that it contains a large wood engraving of Jacobus de Voragine writing the Golden Legend. In 1891 another work ascribed to the year 1483 was discovered in the British Museum, and this was the Counsels of Alms-giving by St. Augustine. Of a Latin translation of the spurious Epistles of Phalaris printed at Oxford in 1485, three copies are known and several fragments; while fragments of two leaves of the Textus Alexandri printed in the same year exist at St. John's College and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. The last work printed by this early Press was a Festiall, in the 'yere of our lord mcccclxxxvi the day aftir Seint Edward the Kyng,' which would seem to be 19 March, 1486–7. (fn. 27)
Throughout this period the printers seem to have been two in number. Between 1480 and 1482 four books were printed by Theoderic Rood, who came from Cologne and described himself as 'Theodericus Rood de Colonia in Alma Universitate Oxon.' Between 1483 and 1487 Theoderic took into partnership Thomas Hunte who is described as 'Universitatis Oxoniae stacionarius' and who lived 1477–9 in Haberdasher Hall. Suddenly, however, in the winter of 1486 or spring of 1487, the printing press at Oxford ceased its work, and no reason for this stop is at present known. It is interesting to notice that the printing at St. Albans, which had started about 1480, ceased in the same year as at Oxford. (fn. 28)
The printing press which was used by Rood and Hunte was of course a wooden hand-screw one, and though the earliest engraving of a press is of about the year 1500, yet there can be little doubt that it was much the same as the press of fifteen years before. The types employed were of seven kinds, but Reed (fn. 29) considers that these reduce themselves to four principal founts and one fount of initial letter. The character of the founts were Cologne black, used in the Jerome, Aretinus, and Aegidius; narrow, Dutch black, the origin of which may be looked for near Cologne; heading and initial black, a large special type; small lower-case Dutch black; large lower-case Dutch black; a church type, going with the small Dutch black; small Caxtonian black; large Caxtonian black; a church type, going with the small Caxtonian black.
For thirty years Oxford was apparently without a press, but in December, 1517, the second press was established, lasting for a peculiarly short period. (fn. 30) Its position is fairly well known, being 'in vico diui Johannis Baptiste,' or St. John's Street near Merton College. In 1518 it is connected with the name John Scolar, who ten years later probably printed at Abingdon. In 1519 the last book of the second press was printed by Carolus Kyrfoth, but nothing is known of either of these two printers, either why they came or why they ceased to print, and it can only be conjectured that they were foreigners. It is remarkable to notice that the first Oxford press had printed much theology, whereas the second press ignored that subject, printing rather grammars, logics, arithmetics, and works on natural science. (fn. 31) Seven works are in existence as the output of this press. Copies exist in the Bodleian and St. John's College, Oxford, of Burley on Aristotle, printed 4 December, 1517. Half a dozen copies of the Ethics, under the name of Johannes Dedicus, still exist, being printed in May, 1518. Three copies of the De Luce have been found, and were printed on 5 June, 1518. Walter Burley's Principia was printed two days later; and in the same month De Heteroclitis nominibus by Robert Whittington. Jasper Laet's Prenostica was probably printed in 1518, and in 1519 a system of arithmetic known as the Compotus was issued to the world. (fn. 32)
Once again Oxford was left without a press, but it was not alone in its misfortune. It appears that for the central forty years of the sixteenth century, Oxford, York, Tavistock, Abingdon, and Cambridge, all of which had had presses, ceased entirely to print. (fn. 33) In November, 1585, however, The true difference between christian subjection and unchristian rebellion by Thomas Bilson was issued, and in this book, on page 263, Greek type is used for the first time. (fn. 34) The year 1585 saw the firm establishment of the press at Oxford. It was erected by the Earl of Leicester, who was then chancellor, and the first book printed was John Case's Speculum moralium quaestionum in Universum Ethicen Aristotelis. It is interesting to notice 'that neither the vice-chancellor nor the printer of this volume had any suspicion that there had been printing in Oxford previous to the publication of the present volume.' (fn. 35) The printer at the new Press was Joseph Barnes, who remained sole printer to the university from 1585 to 1617. It is evident, however, that he exercised other trades as well, for he was granted a licence to sell wine from October 1575 to at least October 1596. (fn. 36) The university now began to exhibit some interest in printing, and on 10 January, 1586, a Committee of Convocation was appointed to consider de libris imprimendis. (fn. 37)
Any chance, however, of printing on a large scale was at once stopped by an ordinance of the Star Chamber, which allowed only one press at Oxford and only one apprentice. (fn. 38) Printing, nevertheless, seems to have thriven, for in 1588 the Oxford press issued its first édition de luxe. (fn. 39) In 1596 Joseph Barnes applied for a licence to exercise the monopoly of printing all inedited Greek and Latin books, (fn. 40) and in the same year, as a proof of the enterprise of this printer, Hebrew type was introduced for the first time. (fn. 41)
At the beginning of the seventeenth century there was a considerable increase in the output of printed matter in Oxford, but Madan considers that this was partly due to the interest of James I in literature. (fn. 42) In 1617 Joseph Barnes, the printer for thirty-two years, was succeeded by John Lichfield and James Short. The Lichfield family continued to print almost to the middle of the next century. At this time there is no proof of a special printing house being used, 'and there are as yet few signs of actual academic patronage or interference, and the failures and successes of the printers and publishers . . . are the ordinary fluctuations of trade.' (fn. 43) From 1624 to 1640 William Turner was a university printer in conjunction with the Lichfields. (fn. 44) The fame of the Greek matrices of Sir Henry Savile, which had come into the possession of the printers at Oxford, had spread abroad, and they were borrowed by the University of Cambridge in 1629 and returned two years later. (fn. 45)
Oxford owed much of her early success in the industry of printing to Archbishop Laud, who especially concerned himself in the development of the 'Learned' Press. (fn. 46) In 1632 the first charter to Oxford which allowed printing was presented. (fn. 47) It considerably extended the ordinance of the Star Chamber, for three printers were granted to the city, and by an amplification dated 13 March, 1632–3, each of the three might possess two presses and train two apprentices. By the same amplification unauthorized reprints were forbidden to be made for twenty-one years. The university was now beginning to take a keener and truer interest in the Oxford Press, and in 1633 a committee of convocation 'ad audiendum, statuendum et determinandum de negotio impressorum et Praeli & eorum quae ad imprimendum pertinent' was appointed. This idea was subsequently followed out by the appointment of delegacies in 1653, 1662, and 1691. (fn. 48) About this time, but certainly not before the year 1634, Laud applied the £300 fine, inflicted on the printer of the 'Wicked' Bible in 1631, to purchase a fount of Greek type which was to be used for printing in either Oxford, Cambridge, or London. As a matter of fact it was not used at Oxford but in London. (fn. 49) To still further improve the Press and its relations with the university a statute was passed in 1636, known as 'de Typographis Universitatis,' and in this is the first mention of the Architypographus, though no one held the office for twenty-two years. (fn. 50) On 12 March, 1637, the university handed over for three years all its rights of printing Bibles, Lily's Grammar, &c., in consideration of receiving £200 a year, to the London Stationers' Company. This agreement was renewed on several occasions, viz. 12 August, 1639; 1 October, 1661; 29 November, 1664; and 6 August, 1667. (fn. 51) It was in the year 1637 that an important decision was come to with regard to printing, and Mr. Hart records that type-founding was first authorized in England during this year. (fn. 52) On 5 May, Laud, who had in every way facilitated the acquisition of good Oriental and other type, was able to write to the vice-chancellor, 'You are now upon a very good way towards the setting up of a learned Press.' (fn. 53)
The Civil War broke out in 1642, and unlike other places and other industries at Oxford, printing naturally flourished more strongly than ever before. This was due to the fact that from October 1642, after the battle of Edgehill, to April, 1646, when Charles I fled to the Scots, Oxford was the head-quarters of the king, and many royal proclamations and other documents were issued from the Press. The output in 1642 was 147, while at the end of the war, after the king's execution, in 1649, only seven works were issued. (fn. 54) During the king's stay at Oxford the printing house had stood in what was then called Butcher Row, now known as Queen Street. Here on 6 October, 1644, a disastrous fire broke out and Oxford was for the moment deprived of her Press. Printing, however, was soon resumed, and in 1648 the University Press used for the first time Arabic type. (fn. 55) It has been asserted in Bigmore's Bibliography of Printing that during the Commonwealth and for the first nine years of the reign of Charles II, printing was carried on in the old Congregation House of St. Mary's Church. (fn. 56) Mr. Madan, however, finds no confirmation of this, and says that the printers used their own hired premises chiefly in or near Cat Street. (fn. 57) It was during this period that the first Architypographus was elected according to the Laudian Statutes of 1636. Samuel Clarke, M.A., was elected to this highsounding office on 14 May, 1658, and held it until he resigned in December 1669, when he was succeeded by Norton Bold. This office was to be held, according to the statutes, by 'a person set over the printers who shall be well skilled in the Greek and Latin tongues, and in philological studies.' His duties were— to supervise and look after the business of Printing and to provide at the University expense all paper, presses, type, &c., to prescribe the module of the letter, the quality of the paper, and the size of the margins, when any book is printed at the cost of the University, and also to correct the errors of the press. (fn. 58)
The period of the Restoration was naturally a very busy one for the Press. There was an enormous outburst of literature upon the return of the monarchy and the appearance of a lasting peace. The surplus schools money was granted by convocation for the creation and maintenance of a 'learned Typographie' in 1660. A year previous, Anglo-Saxon type had been introduced, and the year of the Restoration saw the introduction for the first time of music type. Ever since 1635 Leonard Lichfield had been printer to the university, and in 1665 his son had the honour of printing the first copy of the oldest still existing newspaper. The London Gazette, as it is now known, began as the Oxford Gazette on Wednesday, 15 November, 1665; the court then being at Oxford. It was last printed at Oxford by the university printer on 22 January 1666, and even after that, for the first two numbers printed elsewhere, it bore its original title of the Oxford Gazette. (fn. 59)
Just as Archbishop Laud did his utmost for the University Press in the reign of Charles I, so Dr. Fell was as great a benefactor under Charles II. Between the years 1666 and 1672 Dr. Fell made several valuable gifts of matrices. (fn. 60) These for the most part came from Holland, the Dutch having long been famous for this kind of work. Bagford wrote, 'The good Bishop provided from Holland the choicest Puncheons, Matrices, etc., with all manner of Types that could be had.' (fn. 61) The burgomaster of Amsterdam also assisted Fell in his attempt to help the Press, by presenting to the university a fount of Coptic type. There is no question that Dr. Fell's gift was of a most munificent character. Amongst the many appurtenances of printing it may be noticed that he gave thirtyfour boxes of matrices, a large number of puncheons, hammers, moulds, vices, shears, blocks, and 332 dressing sticks. Besides these there were seven printing presses, two rolling presses, many cases, and an anvil and engine. (fn. 62) In 1667 the first type-founding was successfully carried out at Oxford. Mr. Madan considers that the actual founder was a Dutchman from Batavia, Peter Walpergen. (fn. 63) Mr. Hart thinks that Dr. Fell had two Dutch founders, one of whom was possibly Peter Walpergen. (fn. 64) At any rate Walpergen did found type in Oxford at this time and he was succeeded first by his son and then by Mr. Sylvester Andrews. In September, 1669, the University Press was transferred to the Sheldonian Theatre, on the floor of which printing was carried on. (fn. 65) What was quite as important was that the new type-foundry was placed in the basement of the theatre. The place was very ill-chosen, as all printing was disturbed at Commemoration and other festivals when the theatre was required for university purposes; on such occasions the presses and all the materials required had to be carried into the large loft and stored until work could be resumed. The cost of the Press at this time was a heavy burden upon the university, and to relieve it on 16 November, 1671, Dr. John Fell, Sir Leoline Jenkins, Dr. Thomas Yate, and Sir Joseph Williamson took over the working of the Press, paying the university chest £200 per annum. (fn. 66) That Dr. Fell did his best is shown by his own words referring to the period between 1672 and 1679. He mentions that the Press was taken over— and at the expense of above four thousand pounds furnisht from Germany, France, and Holland, an Imprimery with all the necessaries thereof, and pursued the undertaking so vigorously, as in the short compass of time which hath since intervened, to have printed many considerable books in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, as well as in English, both for their matter and elegance of paper and letter, very satisfactory to the learned abroad and at home. (fn. 67) It is curious to notice that at this time many of the compositors were Frenchmen.
Dr. Fell may be said to have launched the University Press upon an assured path of progress. Step by step advance was made, and new ideas and fresh gifts helped on the work so ably started. The year 1674 saw the beginning of the splendid series of Oxford Sheet Almanacks that are now known throughout the world. The year 1675 was even more famous, for it was then that the Oxford Bible Press began, and the first Oxford Bibles and Prayer Books bear the date of that year. Following the noble example of Dr. Fell, Francis Junius in 1677 gave to the press his Gothic, Runic, Icelandic, and AngloSaxon punches. All this time the university put up with the inconvenient situation of the Press in the Sheldonian Theatre. It was only when in 1688 it was realized that the fine building was threatened by the continued working of the heavy presses that a situation elsewhere was found to be necessary. The two sides of the Press were divided; the 'Learned' Press was placed in a building at the northern end of Cat Street, while the 'Bible' Press was sent to a house in St. Aldate's. It is worthy of notice that although this most necessary change had been instituted, yet the famous Sheldonian imprint was still used. (fn. 68) The history of the Press during the seventeenth century closed with a most suitable memorial, for it was in 1693 that the first specimens of type ever published in England were issued from the University Printing House.
During the first two decades of the eighteenth century it is remarkable that in Oxford as elsewhere in England there was far more Dutch type in use than type made in English foundries. (fn. 69) Examples of these are well known, and Mr. T. B. Reed writes:—
Specimens of Dr. Fell's and Junius's gifts, and an account of the foundry with its recent acquisitions, were frequently printed in the early part of the eighteenth century. Rowe Mores mentions four between 1695 and 1706. In the latter year the document had grown to twenty-five leaves, and included a great primer and a two-line great primer purchased in 1701, and other additions. The inventory mentions twenty-eight moulds as being the number still in use in the foundry, and seven presses in the printing house. It also distinguishes certain types as being of the Dutch height, a discrepancy to which, in all probability, may be traced that unfortunate anomaly of 'Bible' height and 'classical' height, which to this day hampers the operations of a foundry where, in perpetuation of a blunder made two centuries ago, types are still cast to two different heights agreeing neither with one another nor with any British standard. (fn. 70) In 1713 the two 'sides' of the Press were once more placed within the same building. For about two years (1711–13) a heavy rectangular structure had been in process of building at the eastern end of Broad Street. It was designed by Nicholas Hawkesmoor, one of Wren's pupils, and it was paid for out of the profits of the sale of Lord Clarendon's History of the Rebellion, and for this reason is known to the present time as the Clarendon Building. It was here that the university carried on printing until 1830.
For the first thirty or forty years during which printing was done in the Clarendon Building, the Press seems to have been at a low ebb, a fact which is proved by a letter written by Dr. William Blackstone to the Vice-Chancellor. (fn. 71) But the prosperity of the Press only waned for a time, and the generosity of individuals was almost as marked in the eighteenth century as it had been in the previous century. In 1753 Mr. William Bowyer presented to the university the Anglo-Saxon type belonging to Miss Elizabeth Elstob. This remarkable lady, born in 1683, was the daughter of Ralph Elstob, merchant of Newcastle, and sister of the Rev. William Elstob of Oxford. In 1715 she published her AngloSaxon Grammar which helped to prove her great industry and learning. Mr. William Bowyer having become possessed of the type used for Miss Elstob's grammar sent it to Rowe Mores to be forwarded to the university officials. Mores took the type for repair to the famous foundry belonging to Mr. Caslon, where it was kept for four or five years without being touched. Mr. Bowyer, learning this, reobtained possession in 1758, and entrusted the type to Mr. Cottrell, who had it 'fitted up' and made ready for use. Once again this valuable type was sent to Rowe Mores to be given to the university, but in 1760 Bowyer found that it was still in Mores's hands. It was not until 1764 that the type was handed over, and it was not until exactly a quarter of a century after its original presentation that the university acknowledged the gift, this being at last done in August, 1778. (fn. 72) If proof were wanted that Oxford was not behindhand in the famous revival of printing it is to be found in that admirable specimen of typography, Blackstone's Charter of the Forest, printed in 1759. In this work the copper-plate initials and the vignettes containing views of many of the colleges and public buildings of Oxford are of extreme beauty. There is no doubt that this wonderful revival received very considerable impetus from the taste and genius of Baskerville. This founder was employed by the university about this period, and his Greek punches, matrices, and types, still preserved at Oxford, are supposed to be the only relics in the country of the great Birmingham foundry. (fn. 73) Dr. William Blayney's folio edition of the Bible, printed in 1769, marks an epoch in the history of the Press, for this Bible remained the standard one for many years. The very fact that the Press had as early as 1770 an Oxford Bible warehouse in Paternoster Row proves that the 'low-water' period had been successfully passed. Once again before the century closed a generous gift assisted the advance of the Press, for in 1785 Lord Godolphin bequeathed £5,000 to the university, the interest of which was to be applied to the benefit of printing and learning. (fn. 74) The Press of the eighteenth century might be justifiably proud of its work, and during the last half of the century several specimens of type were issued. One of these included Baskerville's Greek type and the long-primer Syriac purchased from Caslon, 1768–70. Another specimen, issued in 1786, showed that many of the old founts had been discarded in favour of more modern letters. In 1794 a still further specimen was printed which included amongst many others a great-primer Greek cut by Caslon. (fn. 75)
Mr. Hart, in his article 'Charles, Lord Stanhope, and the Oxford University Press,' (fn. 76) gives an interesting account of the arrangement and methods employed by the university printers when they carried on their work at the end of the eighteenth century in the Clarendon Building. The room that is situated on the right-hand side of the top of the steps leading from Broad Street contained the hand presses for printing classical works. The room to the south was the Board Room. Above these were rooms for the compositors and for the readers of the 'Classical' or 'Learned' Press. The storage for this side was still made in the loft above the Sheldonian Theatre. On the East side of the Clarendon Building the Bible Press was located, and its storage room was a very lengthy one adjoining the Tower of the Five Orders. The methods employed were very primitive. 'The "casting" or jerking the hot metal into the mould, in making the type, was still done by hand.' The press itself can only be described as a 'crazy structure' of wood, except where 'a stone slab made a bed upon which the form of the type was placed.' Mr. Reed records that at this time there were five presses and one proof press. One of these presses is spoken of as 'mahogany, set up in the year 1793,' and another as 'the new construction which works with a lever,' set up in the same year. (fn. 77) The ink was applied by an extremely slow process and was put on to the type by a ball of leather. On dark and gloomy days all the light that was given to the printers and compositors was by means of a few guttering tallow candles.
The progress of the eighteenth century continued in the nineteenth. In 1805 Charles, earl of Stanhope, offered to the university his so-called 'secret process' of stereotyping, his iron hand press, his system of logotypes and his logotype case. (fn. 78) In October of this year two of Stanhope's presses were set up at Oxford. Mr. Hart says—
Lord Stanhope was the first in the field with a new press made of iron, and with a system of compound levers for raising the platen after the pull in lieu of the 'squeezing and unsqueezing' described by Luckombe, (fn. 79) or of a rope and weight.
An iron press 'of the first construction' at the present Clarendon Press has letters sunk deep in the front of the principal iron casting, declaring 'Stanhope invenit,' while lower down in a more modest place is an inscription which is cut into the metal and which records 'Walker fecit.' The first construction, however, proved too weak in the frame, and so, says Hart—
the Stanhope iron press was immediately improved upon by other makers. Its inventor claimed no monopoly and refused to protect his invention; indeed, as in the case of stereotyping, he almost invited others to exploit it. The Stanhope press was soon superseded by the Columbian and other iron presses; and these again were displaced by Cope's Albion press which has a spring in addition to the levers.
Stanhope's inking process was far inferior to that employed at the present time; he used rollers covered with leather, not as now rollers of a compound of treacle and glue. (fn. 80) Other signs of progress were shown by a Parliamentary Paper issued in 1815. By this means it was demonstrated that during the seven preceding years the number of Bibles printed at the University Press at Oxford was 460,500. Besides these, 400,000 Prayer Books, 386,000 New Testaments, and 200,000 Catechisms and Psalters had also been issued. The total value of these was computed to have been £213,000; while the total value of non-sacred books issued during the same period was placed at £24,000. (fn. 81)
It is obvious from the figures quoted above that the University Press was issuing an enormous number of books, and that it was fast outgrowing the capabilities of the Clarendon Building. New buildings had therefore to be provided, and the Press was removed to Walton Street, where the fine erection originally designed by Daniel Robertson and completed by Edward Blore was opened in September, 1830. The building consists chiefly of two main blocks, each of which is three stories in height and connected on the eastern side by others of one story. In the centre of the principal front there is an entrance of three arches, with an entablature and parapet supported on Corinthian columns. The south wing is devoted to the printing of Bibles, while on the north the 'Learned' or classical Press is situated. (fn. 82) Six years after the removal of the Press to Walton Street, Mr. Joseph Castle, senior, carried out several important changes. The first cylinder printing machine, known as Lloyd's, was introduced, followed almost immediately by the first steam engine. It was, indeed, due to Mr. Castle's talent and ingenuity that machine work was successfully introduced, and it is equally due to him that many other mechanical contrivances were undertaken at this early date, and are, in fact, still in use. In 1838 the first double-platen printing machine was employed, and it was well that these rapid processes of printing were introduced, as between 1840 and 1842 there was a large increase of production owing to the Tractarian movement. It was in the latter year that Oxford India paper was first used. Stereotyping by the paper process came in about 1860, to be followed in 1863 by electrotyping. From 1863 to 1880 Messrs. Macmillan and Co. were the publishers for the university for the 'Learned' Press; they were succeeded by the present publishers, the firm of Messrs. Henry Frowde, (fn. 83) which had published for the Bible side since 1874. During this period the Rev. Bartholomew Price did much for the University Press. He was appointed secretary in 1867, the year when the 'Clarendon Press Series' was started. In 1872, on the death of Mr. Thomas Combe, the Rev. Bartholomew Price assumed the general management, and it was under his control that on 30 June, 1877, The Caxton Memorial Bible was published. One of the greatest days in the history of the Press was 17 May 1881, when the Revised New Testament was issued, and upwards of a million Oxford copies were sold on the first day. At this time, however, the Press was by no means the large industrial concern that it is now. This change and improvement is largely due to the new system of management that was inaugurated on the appointment of the present controller, Mr. Horace Hart. When he undertook the management in 1883 there were only 278 workpeople employed, by 1894 these numbers had increased to 550, and at the present day there are about 650. In 1883 there was no photo-mechanical department, this being introduced in 1885. The first Russian type to be employed by the University was acquired in 1888, and two years later the first Burmese type came into the possession of the Press. It was not until 1900 that the type of hieroglyphics (Lepsius) was acquired. (fn. 84) The reputation of the University for its Oriental and learned type has ever been maintained, and by these numerous additions, together with the fact that the foundry still remains a part of the Press, it is obvious that the Clarendon Press can hold its own against the world, for it possesses probably the largest collection of 'polyglot' matrices of any foundry in the kingdom. (fn. 85)
The history of the University Press may from one aspect be put in a nutshell. The number of books that have from time to time been issued shows to some extent the advance or decline of printing in Oxford. The total number of works printed between 1478 and 1900 is 19,475. If this total is broken into groups it will be found that 148 works were printed between 1478 and 1600; 1,161 between 1601 and 1650; 1,428 between 1651 and 1700; 1,108 between 1701 and 1750; 1,365 between 1751 and 1800; 4,449 between 1801 and 1850; and 9,816 between 1851 and 1900. (fn. 86)
It is interesting to notice that the earliest document which affords circumstantial evidence of a studium generale at Oxford contains the name of the first Oxford binder—Laurencius. (fn. 87) Dr. Rashdall records this document and shows that it was a transfer of property in 'Cattestreet.' (fn. 88) It was in this part of Oxford, now somewhat arbitrarily known as St. Catherine Street, that the bookbinders had their head-quarters for 500 years. The appearance of the name Laurencius in about the year 1180 shows that Oxford was carrying on a trade at a time when that trade was particularly good, for the English bindings produced in the second half of the twelfth century were of an extremely fine character. (fn. 89) It is, however, noticeable that there are no records concerning the bindings of Oxford until the fifteenth century, except the names of the binders, who were apparently fairly numerous. In the first half of the thirteenth century the name of Reginald the bookbinder occurs in an old deed preserved in the Oxford University Archives. (fn. 90) In 1226 William the binder of books is mentioned, (fn. 91) and about the same time Augustine carried on his binding trade in the parish of St. Peter's in the East. (fn. 92) About the years 1230 and 1240 Walter the bookbinder dwelt in the same parish, (fn. 93) and this is probably the same Walter who is mentioned in the cartulary of the convent of St. Frideswide in or about the year 1246. (fn. 94) Between the years 1252 and 1290 Stephen the bookbinder lived in the parish of St. Peter's; (fn. 95) he is very frequently mentioned in ancient records, definitely called 'Le Bokbindere' in 1275, and dwelt in the corner house within the Eastgate.' (fn. 96) At identically the same time William de Pikerynge, known as a 'laminator,' dwelt in Oxford. It is presumed that he died before 1308. His motto has been preserved, and was Vivite innocue, lumen adest. (fn. 97) His contemporaries and workers in the same craft were Symon and Jon (fn. 98) and a certain William. (fn. 99) It was to the first of these three that the prior and convent of St. Frideswide's leased a messuage in the parish of the Blessed Mary, and he is mentioned as Symoni librorum ligatori.' (fn. 100) It is evident that the William mentioned above did not carry on his work in the usual neighbourhood, and it is more than probable that his workshop was near the castle. (fn. 101) The Hundred Rolls of 1279 not only show that bookbinding was done in Cat Street, but they also mention another binder—Stephen, who resided in the parish of St. Peter's. (fn. 102) Besides these private binderies there was as early as 1283 a tannery and probably a bindery used by the binders of Oxford within the precincts of Osney Abbey. (fn. 103)
At the beginning of the fourteenth century Walter, Augustine, and Adam, three bookbinders, were witnesses to an undated deed now preserved in the Oxford University Archives. (fn. 104) The last of these had his tenement in the neighbourhood of the present Oriel Street, (fn. 105) the place being then known as Schidyerd Way. (fn. 106) Some years later within the Schidyerd Way a tenement was called 'Bokbynders,' (fn. 107) and Mr. Strickland Gibson says that this 'seems to denote a binder or gild of binders there.' (fn. 108) It was probably in this neighbourhood that William, a bookbinder, had his premises in 1338, (fn. 109) and Simon and John Faunt were binding at much the same time. (fn. 110) The earliest entry in a book stating that it was bound at Oxford occurs at this period. The inscription, which is of about the year 1340, states 'Istum librum Oxonie fecit Ricardus de Redyng ligari.' (fn. 111) The Osney Abbey bindery still continued, and close by was what was called the Bookbinders' Bridge, the first mention of this being in 1377. To-day the bridge is nameless, but the passage leading to the tenements adjoining is still known as Bookbinders' Yard. (fn. 112) Between 1370 and 1380 individual bookbinders seem to have been few in number, only one apparently being recorded, namely Robert 'Bokebynder.' (fn. 113)
The fifteenth-century records open with a distinct proof of the conservative settlement of bookbinders in Cat Street. In the Osney Roll a 'Tenementum Bokbyndere' in this street is recorded for the year 1402. It was rented first by Henry the 'lymner' (fn. 114) and later by Richard the parchment-seller. (fn. 115) It was about this period that the Oxford bookbinders probably used white sheepskins for their bindings and little else. (fn. 116) From this time onwards there are many records of Oxford binders, and in a university it was only natural that the trade should have been a flourishing one. For the year 1424 there is a record that shows John Dolle, a bookbinder, lived in Cat Street, and this is probably the same man who occurs in 1453 under the name of John Delle or Dolle. (fn. 117) In 1436 Stephen was ligator librorum de Oxonia, (fn. 118) and his contemporary was John More. This man seems to have been a bookbinder for many years. He is frequently mentioned in 1440 (fn. 119) and 1444. (fn. 120) From the accounts of the church of St. Mary the Virgin, John More, like many of his fellow craftsmen, lived in Cat Street in the years 1460 and 1461, and also between 1468 and 1469. (fn. 121) A neighbour of More's, 'Thomas Bokebynder de Catys Street,' was imprisoned in 1446 for saying that the mayor and townsfolk were not under oath to respect the rights of the university. (fn. 122) Three years later John Pradte or Pratt, 'bokebynder of Oxford dwellyng yn Katstrete,' was paid five shillings 'for mending of the bokys'; this being an early record of payment is of some considerable interest. (fn. 123) In the will of Dr. Richard Brown 'Johannes Bokebyndere Oxoniae' is mentioned in the year 1452; (fn. 124) and 'William Bokebynder' occurs as the name of a witness in the year 1459. (fn. 125) The last date brings the history of Oxford bookbinding to an important event. Mr. Strickland Gibson writes:—
The earliest stamped work which can be attributed to an Oxford binder is on a collection of sermons written at Oxford in 1460 . . . . The dies are disposed in the traditional English manner and two of them are of very early design. . . . The back of the volume is tooled with intersecting fillets and small roundels arranged in sets of three.
These roundels are very distinctive of Oxford in the fifteenth century. (fn. 126) The next earliest Oxford binding is to be found on an MS. of J. Goolde belonging to University College and bound in 1462. (fn. 127) Previous to 1734 the MS. Royal D. 6 II in the British Museum bore the following interesting inscription, which disappeared owing to rebinding—
Iste liber ligatus erat Oxonii in Catstrete, ad instantiam Reverendi Domini Thome Wybarum in sacra Theologia Bacalarii Monarchi Roffensis, Anno Domini 1467. (fn. 128)
Between 1480 and 1482 books were printed by Theoderic Rood, and between 1483 and 1487 Rood seems to have been in partnership with Thomas Hunte. These two printers had their typical kind of decoration on the bindings of their books, and on all the volumes printed by the first Oxford Press foreign influence can be traced in the type of binding. Mr. Strickland Gibson writes: "Some bindings, almost certainly produced at Oxford, are not only decorated with foreign stamps, but are absolutely foreign in design as well.' (fn. 129) The two binders at this period were Thomas Uffynton and John Bray, and it must have been one or other of these who bound for 12 pence the copy of Antonius Andreae which still retains its original covers and is preserved in Magdalen College. (fn. 130)
During the sixteenth century some changes were introduced in the system of binding in Oxford. Instead of white sheepskin, from 1450 calf was almost universally used, and this remained the chief article for covering the boards, which up to 1600 were as a general rule of oak. (fn. 131) Besides this change, owing to the greater demand for books 'a labour-saving tool called a roll came into use. It consisted of a wheel engraved with a design, which could therefore be repeated indefinitely. Many bindings decorated in this manner are not inferior to stamped work, and for a few years the old style was but slightly modified, but when smaller rolls came into use this class of binding quickly deteriorated and soon lost its distinction.' (fn. 132) The names of the bookbinders in this century are not so numerous as in the preceding hundred years. There may be two reasons for this. In the first place the Oxford Press closed its interesting career for a very large portion of the period; and secondly, many bookbinders were probably classed as stationers. In 1525 one Gressop was a binder, (fn. 133) and in 1556 there is a record of fourteen pence being paid to 'Cavy for bynding of a boke for the accomptes.' (fn. 134) Another binder's name, Rowland Jenckes or Jenkes, has been preserved to posterity by the fact that in 1577 he was condemned at Oxford for sedition. (fn. 135) One of the longest-established and best known bookbinders of this period was Dominick Pinnart or Pinart. He was admitted a bookseller in 1574, and occurs in the Oxford University Archives as a bookbinder in 1583. (fn. 136) He is mentioned by Wood as a binder in 1619, (fn. 137) and probably died in 1627, when he was buried in the university church of St. Mary the Virgin. In the same year in which Pinnart was admitted as a bookbinder, one Carre is mentioned in the archives as carrying on that trade. (fn. 138) The last of the Elizabethan bookbinders was Stephen Wilson, who is recorded as a bookseller in 1590, and a binder in 1591. (fn. 139) At the close of the sixteenth century the use of clasps on bound volumes, which had been general, now began to disappear.
The seventeenth century opened in Oxford with a magnificent addition to its public buildings and its possession of books. In 1598 Sir Thomas Bodley, diplomatist and scholar, began the formation of the Bodleian Library, which was opened in 1603, and endowed by Bodley in 1611. (fn. 140) This munificent gift led to an enormous increase of binding work in Oxford, and there was a consequent increase of binders. Robert Billingsley is the earliest binder mentioned in the seventeenth century, and he was engaged in his trade about 1601, but he was certainly dead before November, 1606. (fn. 141) Between 1602 and 1613 Edward Miles bound for the Bodleian Library, (fn. 142) and for the early part of that period Nicholas Smith did likewise, but he died in or about 1609. (fn. 143) John Westall was also a binder, and practised his trade as late as 1640. The name of John Allam appears in 1610, but he did not bind for the Bodleian later than 1631. (fn. 144) Between 1610 and 1633 Henry Blewet or Bluett lived as a binder in St. Mary the Virgin's parish, (fn. 145) and a contemporary, John Adams, (fn. 146) was employed for five years by the Bodleian Library between 1613 and 1618; he also bound for Magdalen College between 1610 and 1620. He lived close to the historic position of bookbinders in the past, for his house was on the north side of the schools quadrangle, and it was here probably that he trained his apprentice John Kearsley in 1613. (fn. 147) In the same year Francis Peerse or Elias Peerse and Christopher Barbar were also binders for the Bodleian. The library in fact kept a great number employed, and between 1615 and 1626 there were William Webb, William Johnson, John Hill, William Davis, William Wildgoose, William Spicer, Sampson Bele, and Robert Nixon; the latter had been apprenticed to the already-mentioned Robert Billingsley. (fn. 148) Roger Barnes, of the parish of All Saints, (fn. 149) was especially famous for his bindings, and to this day they exhibit very skilful tooling, and the leather has proved to be of a most durable quality. (fn. 150) He was engaged in the trade in 1626, (fn. 151) and was assisted by his son John Barnes, whose apprentice was Ralph Beckford. This man bound a book for the University Archives in 1647, and was still a bookbinder in 1675. It is said that he was the last to use the old-fashioned roll, (fn. 152) just as he employed 'hatching' almost to the time of the Commonwealth, although this 'hatching' at the head and tail of a book had been a distinct feature of Oxford bindings between 1598 and 1620, (fn. 153) and had then slowly gone out. Another binder of this period who carried on his work for many years was the already-mentioned William Webb, who continued to bind until 1652. (fn. 154) Seale of the Eastgate also bound for the Bodleian Library between 1636 and 1637, and he is probably the man whom Wood mentions for the year 1659. (fn. 155) A William Ingram bound for the Bodleian in the year of the Restoration, and another William Ingram was a binder about 1680, but he died before 1684. A third Ingram carried on the name into the eighteenth century, binding in the years 1700 and 1701. (fn. 156) Meantime there had been several other binders, as for example Richard Heart, who dwelt in St. Mary's parish in 1666, and Francis Oxlade, who bound for the library between 1668 and 1669. In March, 1681, the bookbinder to Prince Rupert was in Oxford, but possibly only for a short time. Four years later James Short was a binder, and in the year previous to the Revolution there is the first mention of Mr. Thomas Sedgeley. During the last seven years of the century Thomas Churchill, William Jenkinson, George Chambers, E. Skinner, Anthony Hall, Thompson, and Thomas Wildgoose all carried on this industry. (fn. 157)
Two changes in binding were introduced in the seventeenth century. The first of these was the gradual disappearance of the heavy oak boards which gave way to pasteboard about 1600, though wooden boards were used as late as 1609; and the second was the almost general use between 1620 and 1730 of rough calf for the covering of the book. (fn. 158)
The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were linked together in the history of bookbinding at Oxford by Mr. Sedgeley. He died in October, 1719, at the ripe old age of seventytwo years. Hearne records in his diary that 'he was an extraordinary good binder.' (fn. 159) Another of his name must have carried on the trade, for there are references to a Thomas Sedgeley, bookbinder, in 1721, 1727, 1738, and between 1740 and 1749. (fn. 160) Two of the original Sedgeley's contemporaries were Cornelius Llewellyn, who is recorded as a binder in November, 1710, and William Thompson, who may have been the Thompson of the previous century. Besides these, there were West and Francis Oxlade in 1712, and Doe and William Smith between 1717 and 1719. (fn. 161) In that same year another binder, Mr. Sele, or Seal, is entered in Hearne's diary, (fn. 162) and he describes the style in which one, at any rate, of his books was bound. It was covered in 'calf's skin with red leaves, roll'd and letter'd.' (fn. 163) Two other men, who had evidently been binders for some time, are recorded by Hearne for 1720 and 1721. The first case is that of Richard Higges, concerning whom Hearne tells us nothing except the date of his death. (fn. 164) But the second entry is more interesting, as it records the fact that the bookbinding fraternity, even in the eighteenth century, still seems to be settled in its old haunt, Schidyerd Way. Here Richard Webb continued to live for some years, though he had retired from exercising his handicraft. (fn. 165) During the next ten years Abbott, Henry Jones, Edmund Allin, and G. Wightwick were binders in Oxford, (fn. 166) besides Andrew Hanley, who was apparently much disliked. The annoyance of the university binders in May, 1721, was owing to a special honour having been conferred upon this Andrew Hanley. In that year the vicechancellor matriculated this man, who had served his apprenticeship in London and had not been resident in Oxford very long. This action, according to Hearne, was 'to the great mortification of the Oxford bookbinders.' (fn. 167) Hanley, however, seems to have prospered, for when he came to Oxford he had apprenticed himself to the widow of a bookbinder of the name of Smith, and in about 1725 he married Mrs. Smith and carried on the business. (fn. 168)
During the period 1730 to 1745 there are only four names left on record, as far as can be ascertained, and these are Fletcher, Richard Gillman, Alexander Thompson, and E. Willoughby. After this date the Bodleian binders are fairly numerous. In 1745 the name of Thomas Parker occurs, and he is again found as a regular binder from 1751 to 1793. In 1745, too, William Hayes bound for the library, and the name occurs continuously from 1790 to 1830. The firm of Messrs. Hayes & Sons still carry on the work, and as their premises are in Oriel Street they preserve the tradition of the bookbinders of Schidyerd Way. The last forty years of the eighteenth-century records contain the names of Doe and Thompson in 1762; Wood in 1782; Joshua Cooke between 1785 and 1791; J. Padbury between 1785 and 1789, and from the New Universal Directory it is evident that the latter was still a binder between 1791 and 1798. Elmsley and Bardgett (?) bound for the Bodleian in 1792, but their names do not apparently occur again. (fn. 169) The last two binders of the eighteenth century were Thomas Barrott and Thomas Wood. (fn. 170)
The bookbinders in Oxford during the first twenty years of the nineteenth century seem to have been about fifteen in number. (fn. 171) Amongst these were Barrott in 1805, Couldrey and Elsbury in 1815, who bound for the Bodleian, but in particular J. Saunders, whose good bindings are still remembered by some, (fn. 172) and who continued to carry on the business well into the century. In 1895 Edwin Hickman died, after being a bookbinder in Oxford, and especially binding for the Bodleian Library for many years. He had been apprenticed to a firm belonging to Messrs. Fred. Kile & Sons. The founder of this firm is thought to have been a Bavarian who had been settled in Oxford for some time before Hickman went as his apprentice. The business was carried on at 6 High Street, St. Clement's, and was at one time very well known and prosperous, but before Mr. Kile died, in 1854, at the age of eighty, it was only in a small way. A contemporary business was that of Mr. Charles Richards, who was both a bookseller and binder. He sold his business to Messrs. Henry Maltby & Bloxham, but after Mr. Bloxham died the firm dissolved. The present business of Messrs. Alfred Maltby & Son goes back to much the same period, and they bind for the Bodleian. In this work they succeeded, in 1877, Mr. Richard Hall, who had in turn taken over the concern of Mr. Richard Omath. About the middle of the nineteenth century 'Mr. John Graham had his binding shop in the New Inn Yard, St. Aldate's.' This business was sold to a Mr. Henry Hammans. At very much the same time Mr. Bellamy in Paradise Square did all Mr. Parker's pamphlet work, which was then very considerable, and kept several hands in constant employment. The firm of Messrs. Bellamy & Co. is still in existence in New Inn Hall Street. Mr. Wheeler was also a binder in High Street in the central period of the nineteenth century, and sold his business to a Mr. William Mansell, by whom it was again sold to Messrs. Swadling & Ovenell. Since Mr. Swadling's death it has been carried on by Mr. E. Ovenell in Holywell Street. 'Jerry' Ward, William Salter, and Robert Hartley were also binders, but their businesses were not as important as that of Messrs. Thomas & George Shrimpton, who were originally binders in Church Street, St. Ebbe's. They then removed to Ship Street, and soon after sold the business to Messrs. Morley & Brewer. (fn. 173) This Mr. Morley was the founder of the firm now known as Messrs. Morley Brothers, and was apprenticed to Messrs. William Hayes & Son, in or about the year 1845. In 1853 Mr. Morley, in partnership with Mr. Brewer, re-started the business of Messrs. Shrimpton in Ship Street. From that moment the firm has always had a great reputation for its particularly beautiful work in vellum and morocco bindings. Twelve years after the foundation of the firm the bookbinding factory was moved from Ship Street into larger and more commodious premises in Long Wall. (fn. 174) In 1883 Mr. Morley, senior, carried out one of the greatest of his bookbinding undertakings, when he bound for presentation to the Queen, Mr. Eastwick's folio edition of The Kaisarnamah i Hind; or the Lay of the Empress of India. The binding was of blue morocco leather, very elaborately tooled; in the centre was the monogram 'I.V.R.' and in each of the four corners was the Star of India. Some idea of the skill and labour of the designer may be gathered from the fact that the gilding on the book was the result of over 3,000 toolings. (fn. 175)
About sixteen or eighteen years ago Mr. Morley obtained from the north some old spiritmarbled paper of French character. This was shown to Mr. Morris, printer, of New Inn Hall Street, and he was so struck by its beauty that he was determined if possible to reproduce something of the kind. After twelve months' indefatigable labour, Mr. Morris was successful, and produced the now well-known 'Morris paper,' for the 'fly' or 'end' papers of books when bound. This was at first used solely by the firm of Morley, but it has since been taken up by other binders. In 1897 Mr. Morley, senior, died, and the firm, which had for some time been known as Messrs. Morley & Sons, took the name of Messrs. Morley Brothers. The present head of the firm has been in the business for fifty years, and throughout his experience no artist has ever been employed, for the Brothers Morley execute all their own designs and superintend the whole work of binding, the toolings and inlayings of which are well known in both hemispheres.
There are at the present time, besides those already mentioned, numerous other binders who still carry on in Oxford one of the earliest trades that was connected with the university.
Parchment And Paper Making
In a county within the bounds of which was situated a large and ever-increasing university, it is only natural to expect, and to find, in early days parchment-makers and in later times several paper-works. The earliest year that can be given for a studium generale in Oxford is, too, the first year in which a parchment-maker is mentioned. In or about 1180, Reginald, a parchment-maker, occurs in a deed of Elias Bradforth now preserved in the Oxford University Archives. During the reign of Richard I, Roger pergamenarius, or parchment-maker, had his dwelling within the parish of St. Mary the Virgin. It would appear, from the few records that exist, that in early times the parchmentmakers, like the bookbinders, dwelt for the most part in or about Cat Street. It was in this street that Simon parcamenarius, had his abode between 1240 and 1290. Here too dwelt Stephen percamenarius, between 1251 and 1252. The names of Simon and Peter also occur at this time as the makers of parchment. (fn. 176) The powers of the university were gradually extended over some of the trades which came into intimate contact with the members of the university, and in 1290 all the parchmentmakers of Oxford were placed under the jurisdiction of the chancellor. (fn. 177)
During the fourteenth century several names of individuals trading in parchment are to be found, though the exact date is not always to be ascertained. In 1303 John de Warham is recorded as a parchment-maker. (fn. 178) The name of Adam de Walton occurs in the University records, and Simon, who was engaged in the same trade, was a witness concerning land in the parish of St. Mary the Virgin. (fn. 179) In 1377 a John is recorded as a maker of parchment, (fn. 180) and it is possible that he was the John Hyrys mentioned with Richard and Edward in 1380. (fn. 181) That parchment-making continued is, of course, an obvious fact, for books were a necessity; but the meagre records on the subject only supply a very few names in the fifteenth century: these were Richard senior and junior in 1410, and Hawkins and Alexander, who are called parchment sellers, in 1482. (fn. 182)
The next century witnessed a considerable falling off in a trade which had evidently flourished in the thirteenth century. During 1556 and 1594 only five names occur of men engaged in the industry. These were James a Wood in 1556; Thomas Wadloffe in 1564; Gilbert Burnet alias Cornyshe in 1567; Thomas Gowre, who resigned his office of parchmentseller in 1593–4, and was succeeded by William Jennings or Fenninge. (fn. 183) In the first twenty years of the seventeenth century three names are left on record. John Cooke was followed by Henry Dockin, who was succeeded in turn by Richard Parne. (fn. 184) But by the seventeenth century it is probable that white paper for books was well known, (fn. 185) though Macpherson would place the date of its introduction at the end rather than the beginning of that period. (fn. 186) At any rate, by 1666 the Wolvercote paper-mill, the fame of which is at the present day world-wide, was established. Just as Dr. Fell exhibited so much interest in the creation of a great Press at Oxford, so he exercised his influence and encouraged the fitting up of the paper-mill at Wolvercote by Mr. George Edwards, at that time a well-known engraver. (fn. 187)
From this time forward, with several fluctuations in its history, the Wolvercote mill was famous for paper. Hearne mentions the mill in May, 1722, (fn. 188) and has already made an extremely interesting remark in his diary concerning the paper made there in 1718. 'John Beckford,' he records, 'and his wife are now living in Wolvercote paper-mill; he is famous for making paper. Some of the best paper in England is made at Wolvercote Mill.' (fn. 189) If the present fame of the Wolvercote paper is taken into consideration, it is worth noting that it has been of such excellent quality for so long a period.
There is something of a blank in the history of Oxford paper-making during the eighteenth century, but it is evident that it existed, and in 1792 a journeyman paper-maker was arrested for joining in a conspiracy with ten others to demand higher wages. (fn. 190) At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the most celebrated paper-maker of Oxfordshire was Mr. Swann. During his career he had control of the three paper-mills at Wolvercote, Eynsham, and Sandford. He was in possession of the Wolvercote mill as early as 1813. In that year he had a hot dispute with the people of Yarnton about the water. A lawsuit was started, as the people of that place accused the owner of the mill of having raised the lasher during the night and let the water through. (fn. 191) About 1850 Mr. Swann gave up the Wolvercote mill, which at this time belonged to the Duke of Marlborough. In 1855 it was taken over by Mr. Combe, and he rebuilt the mill, erecting the smaller of the two chimneys with that date upon it. (fn. 192) In 1870 the Delegates of the Clarendon Press determined to control their own paper-making, and so purchased the Wolvercote mill, which they still hold. (fn. 193) The mill is under the guidance of the controller, Mr. Joseph Castle.
Mr. James Swann also held the mill at Eynsham, and he was a paper-maker there previous to 1823. (fn. 194) As late as 1852 Swann & Blake were paper manufacturers in this town, (fn. 195) and the mill is of interest, as within its walls some of the earliest experiments were made for making paper from Esparto. (fn. 196) After Mr. Swann gave up the mill it was taken by Mr. Wakefield, and it is now tenanted by Mr. Bugg, a manufacturer of leather boards.
The paper-mill at Sandford passed into the hands of Mr. James Swann on 24 June, 1823. (fn. 197) The Sandford mills are of very considerable antiquity, but they were originally corn-mills, as is stated in a document of 1865, in which a reference is made to the mills having been destroyed by fire at an earlier date and having been almost entirely rebuilt. In a document in the possession of the Delegates of the University Chest, Sandford Mills existed in 1694, but it is evident that as late as 1805 they were still corn mills, as Joseph Hill, who was then holding the mills, is spoken of merely as a miller. (fn. 198) The old corn-mill was probably first converted into a paper-mill when taken over by Mr. Swann. The work done at first was, of course, confined to hand-made paper. Machinery for making paper was, however, coming in, and about the year 1840 Mr. Swann introduced a 52-in. papermaking machine with one drying cylinder. (fn. 199) The paper duty was still being levied, and in 1853 the proprietor's machinery was seized and sold, as he was unable to meet the demands of the Government. (fn. 200) The next year the mill passed from the control of the Swann family, and was taken over by Mr. John Thomas Norris, a paper manufacturer of Sutton Courtenay. It is in the conveyance of this year that there is a mention of the 'Paper-mill' yard. (fn. 201) In the same year Mr. Park of Bury, well known to the past generation of paper-makers, installed at Sandford a 72-in. machine, and this was worked for many years, but of course with numerous improvements. In 1872 a very disastrous fire broke out in the mill, the construction of the wooden upper stories and drying lofts rendering ready fuel to the flames. Practically the whole of the mill was destroyed except the steam boiler-house. (fn. 202) Eight years after this disaster the mill was sold by the Rev. Walter Kitching to the University of Oxford. (fn. 203) In 1881 it was let to Alfred Cannon, paper-maker, and he produced thick and thin browns in rolled sheets and double-caps with two machines of 68 and 72 in. respectively. Two years after this a Hercules 'turbine' was introduced by Mr. Cannon, and this was followed in 1886 by steam engines of 120-horse power. (fn. 204) On 27 February, 1903, a lease was drawn up between the University and Cannon & Clapperton, Ltd., which is the present title of the firm at Sandford. (fn. 205) In 1905 Mr. Clapperton introduced a second Hercules 'turbine,' but in addition to these there is one water-wheel, for the mill is mainly dependent upon water power. The chief ingredients in the Sandford paper are wood pulp and paper waste, and the different papers made are very numerous, including 'glazed casings,' 'duplex papers,' 'cover papers,' and any coloured tint paper.
The Weirs mill near Oxford was also in former years a paper-making establishment. Like so many of the others it had originally been a corn-mill, but about the year 1824 it was converted into a paper factory. The type of paper made was purple needle paper and coloured wallpapers, but as a general rule these were manufactured without any decorative pattern. In a few cases, however, patterns were employed, but these were always stamped on by hand. After many years of this kind of work the mill began to produce shop papers or coloured wrappers, and this industry was carried on until 1885. In that year the paper-making machines were taken out, and Mr. John Towle turned the mill into a board manufactory. Here that work is still carried on in conjunction with Hincksey Mill, where cardboard-making has been executed since 1825. In fact, this latter mill was one of the earliest to produce boards for the manufacture of portmanteaux. (fn. 206)
The neighbourhood of Henley is also well known for its paper-mills. In 1852 Thomas and John Hunt were paper-makers at Shiplake, (fn. 207) and a paper-mill is still worked there by Mr. T. Neighbour. Another paper-mill was formerly worked at Rotherfield Peppard. Previous to 1890 it was destroyed by fire, but having been re-built it was taken by Messrs. C. H. Smith & Sons. During their tenancy they made fine, small, handpaper, and employed about twenty hands. Their lease ran out in March, 1904, and they then retired to their warehouse in Henley, where they carry on paper-bag making as one branch of their business. (fn. 208)
Weaving in some form must have been done in Oxfordshire in the earliest times. It existed in Witney as early as 969, but the first record for the city of Oxford itself is not to be found until 1130. By the end of the reign of Henry I gilds had been formed in many of the large towns, and the members were most probably foreigners who were banded together in these corporations. (fn. 209) The Pipe Roll of 30 Henry I shows the existence of such a gild in Oxford, and states:
The weavers of Oxford return their account of one mark of gold for their gild. In the treasury £6 for one mark of gold and they are quit. (fn. 210)
The names of one weaver and one fuller have been preserved for the year 1139 in the cartulary of the monastery of St. Frideswide. In a charter of Stephen for that year Thomas the fuller held land in Oxford, (fn. 211) and Ernald the weaver is also mentioned, both in this year and again between 1180 and 1190. (fn. 212) For the first year of the reign of Henry II Anthony Wood quotes the same words as given in the Pipe Roll of 30 Henry I, (fn. 213) and in the Liber Rubeus de Scaccario it is recorded, 'Telarii Oxoniae j m auri pro gilda sua.' (fn. 214) Five years after this entry the weavers of Oxford obtained a royal charter. (fn. 215)
Weaving industries flourished in the reign of King John, and the number of weavers is considered to have been more than sixty. (fn. 216) During the same period there was a fulling mill at Osney. (fn. 217) There was some trouble between the weavers' gild and the town authorities, for in 1224 the weavers of Oxford paid a cask of wine as a fine to be allowed to carry on the manufacture of cloth as they had done under Henry II and John, and they were no longer to be obstructed in their craft by the mayor of the town. (fn. 218) The names recorded of those engaged in the textile industry during the reign of Henry III are by no means numerous. Between 1210 and 1230 there were Thomas and Segrim, both weavers, (fn. 219) and at the same time Robert the fuller held land in the parish of All Saints. (fn. 220) Another fuller named Thomas is also mentioned between 1247 and 1250. In 1270 John the weaver obtained a messuage, (fn. 221) and at some uncertain period of the reign Andrew Halegoth sold cloth within the city. (fn. 222)
So large a number of weavers as existed between 1199 and 1215 was never again reached. In 1275 the weavers' gild was found to be fast decaying. In this year they obtained a reduction of their fee-farm rent from one golden mark annually to 42s., on account of their small numbers, now scarcely fifteen. (fn. 223) The Hundred Rolls of 1279 preserve the names of a few of these weavers. There were John and Roger; William living in the parish of St. Peter-leBailey, and Augustine in the parish of St. Michael. (fn. 224) The mayor and bailiffs of Oxford attempted in 1284 to resuscitate the declining trade by gaining an order to permit weavers, who were probably foreigners, to ply their trade in the town and suburbs of Oxford. (fn. 225) Excellent as this would appear to be, the scheme evidently failed, for six years later the fifteen weavers or Oxford had so decreased that there were only seven left to petition the king that they might pay half a mark annually instead of 42s. (fn. 226) A very probable reason for the falling off of the Oxford trade at this period is to be found in the bad means, or total lack of means, of communication. The Thames had in the past been an excellent way of transporting merchandise, but in the reign of Edward I or of his son Edward II this method had become dangerous, as is shown by a petition of the merchants of that period. They said that the Thames passage was blocked by 'gors, locks and mills, often to their great peril'; they also pleaded that justices should be appointed to see the matter remedied. (fn. 227) But the trade was doomed, for the time at any rate, and by 1323 the weavers of Oxford were all dead. The burgesses, however, continued to be charged with the 42s. a year payable to the barons of the Exchequer. (fn. 228) It is interesting to notice that twelve years later Walter de Farndon was a dyer and bailiff of Oxford, a fact which points to the existence of some trade. (fn. 229) This can have been but very little, for in 1352 the burgesses of Oxford were released from the arrears that they ought to have paid on behalf of the non-existent weavers. The arrears had by this time amounted to the considerable sum of £63 10s. (fn. 230)
According to the records for the poll tax in 1380 better times had undoubtedly come, for there were resident in Oxford between twentyfive and thirty weavers, and fourteen or fifteen fullers; (fn. 231) and in about 1400 there was an eyot near to Osney known as 'Fullingmill eyt.' (fn. 232) That the trade continued in the next century is evidenced by the existence of a dyer in 1444, (fn. 233) and that the annual 42s. due from the weavers' gild of Oxford was among the sums assigned by Parliament to meet the expenses of the king's household in 1450. (fn. 234) The records of Bicester Priory give some evidences of price in the reign of Henry VI, for £10 18s. 6d. were received for 23 tods of pure wool sold to a certain merchant at Oxford. The same account proves the existence of a clothier at Great Tew of the name of John Bandye who was paid for blue cloth the sum of £7 15s. 2d. (fn. 235) This was the period when the Cotswold wool was at the height of its fame, and Chipping Norton, as being on the edge of the Cotswold county, vied with Chipping Campden as a woollen market. Previous to 1451 John Yonge was a celebrated woollen merchant in Chipping Norton. (fn. 236) But the great day in the history of weaving in Oxfordshire was reached in 1546, when William Stumpe, clothier, of Malmesbury, rented Osney Abbey. It may be regarded as one of the earliest attempts to create a factory on a very large scale, for Stumpe's intention was to employ 2,000 hands. Leland mentions that Stumpe was a rich clothier, who, after the dissolution of the monasteries, between 1536 and 1539, bought the abbey of Malmesbury of the king. It is said that all the offices of this ancient monastery were filled with looms for the weaving of cloth. Stumpe intended to use Osney Abbey in the same way. It is. however, uncertain that he occupied his Oxford 'factory' for very long, though in all probability he did expend a certain amount on the fitting up of the premises as a mill. In the Records of the City of Oxford the minute recites 'What Mr. Stumpe must have at Osney,' and then continues with 'What Mr. Stumpe must do havyng Osney.'
Fyrst he must paye yerely for rent in the whole xviij li by equall partes at the foure usuall termes. Second, he shall make noo undertenant, nor leave hit to ony man withowt the consent of the Deane and chapter there, provided that the Deane and chapter shall gyve their consent withowt difficultie, yf the undertenant be honest and hable to occupye the said howses and mylles accordyngly to the meanyng of thes indentures. Thyrdly, he must bynd hymself to fynd work for ij M (2,000) persons from tyme to tyme, if they may be gotten, that wyll do their worke well contynually in clothemakyng, for the succour of the cytye of Oxenford and the contrey about yt, for the which intent the mylles were made. (fn. 237)
The impossibility of carrying out this last clause was sufficient reason for the total failure of the scheme.
The price of wool was said to be raised about the middle of the sixteenth century by rich graziers combining and keeping in the supply. (fn. 238) But the trade flourished in Oxfordshire, particularly in Oxford, Chipping Norton, Burford, and Banbury. Burford was described in the reign of Edward VI as 'a very great market toune and replenished with much people.' (fn. 239) The great woollen merchants of Burford were the Sylvesters, and they had been engaged in this industry for many years. (fn. 240) Connected with the clothing industry of the same town was Symon Wysedome, (fn. 241) who resided in Burford in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. At the same time a 'wole-house' in Shepe Street, in Banbury, is mentioned, and William Richardson was appointed aulnager in 1552. (fn. 242) Three years later in Oxford a fulling mill was 'set upp betweene the hygh brydge and Ruly Wall by Mr. Mallyson.' On 14 February, 1572, the minutes of the corporation record 'the Orders of the Incorporation of the Misterie of Weavers and Fullers of Oxford.' The Records of the City of Oxford contain the following account—
These orders are engrossed in 3 parchement skinnes, under seale confirmed and approved by Edward Saunders, Knight, Lord Cheife Baron of the Exchequer, and William Lovelace Esquyer Serieante at Lawe, Justices of ye Assize for Oxfordshire 27 Feb. A° Eliz: 14°'
They have a circuit of 5 miles allotted them about Oxford and ye suburbes thereof, wthin which bounds no man must worke in ye misterie of weavers and fullers unlesse he be of their fellowship.
They are to chose 2 wardens every yere, the one a weaver, ye other a fuller, uppon ye feast of ye exaltation of ye Crosse beinge ye 14 day of September, uppon which day they are all to goe to church togeather to heare some prayer or homilie red there to them etc.; that beinge done then they are to goe to ye choice of their 2 wardens and 4 bedells or warners.
Those 2 wardens are to make search at times convenient after any kind of weavers or fullers worke not well and competently done, and to see that every weaver have in his house or shop from the summe of 16 bores to the summe of 700 harneyses and slayes, 3 beares betweene every harnys; and yt every fuller have eleven corse of handells and 2 payre of sheres at ye least etc. under ye payne of 2s. 6d. etc. No fuller within ye sayd circuite may kepe or occupy in their houses journeymen, otherwise called cardes, uppon payne of 6s. etc.
They may keepe their courts uppon their 4 usuall quarter dayes every yeare, 14 to be sworne of ye jury to enquire if their orders be well kept.' (fn. 243)
By an order of 1575 woollen cloth might be bought and sold by anyone in Oxford, (fn. 244) and in the next year by the Act of Parliament 18 Elizabeth, c. 21, it was—
lawful for every person to buy and sell within the Borough of Woodstock all manner of wools and yarns brought into the Borough in the usual market and fair days. (fn. 245)
James I in 1608 granted by a charter a wool market to Banbury. The profits gained by the town authorities by means of this market were to be expended for the public good, and for the sustenance of the poor and the infirm. (fn. 250) Two years later, for the advancement of this market, a wool house was erected in Banbury, where the trade was carried on with some briskness. (fn. 251) White cloth seems to have been the chief industry in Oxfordshire in these early years of the seventeenth century, (fn. 252) and although the trade had spread to different towns it is evident that it was still carried on in Oxford itself, as one Thomas Almont, a bailiff of the city for 1620, was a fuller by trade. (fn. 253) But Banbury, besides being famous for its Puritanic leanings, must also have been celebrated for its wool industry, for it is referred to in 1636 by Sir William Davenant when he wrote—
The weaver of Banbury, that hopes To intice Heaven by singing, to make him lord Of twenty looms. (fn. 254)
As to Chipping Norton, its woollen industry still continued, and Kirtland infers that many of the fine houses in the centre of the town were occupied by merchants of position. (fn. 255) With regard to Oxford itself, Anthony Wood not only records the existence in 1660 of one John Clarke a dyer, (fn. 256) but he definitely shows that Oxford in former times 'was a town of clothing.' (fn. 257) He again writes—
The woll market according to tradition [was] formerly in Halywell Green and on part of the ground (included in Magdalen College Grove) sometimes known by the name of Parys Mede. Here it seemes according to an old booke which belonged sometimes to the weevers of Oxon hath bin 23 loomes at once working and barges passing thereby and coming up to it on the river Charwell. As also according to a certain note that I have seen 70 fullers and weevers were altogeather sometimes there inhabiting. (fn. 258)
At the beginning of the eighteenth century Banbury came forward with rapidity as an industrial centre for textile manufactures. In or about the year 1701 Messrs. Cobb & Co., manufacturers of webs and horse-clothing, were founded; (fn. 259) and about the same time it is evident that dyeing was done in Banbury, for Josiah Franklin, father of the famous Benjamin Franklin, broke away from the family tradition, and deserted the hereditary smithy and his birthplace in Northamptonshire, to follow the occupation of a dyer in Banbury. (fn. 260) In 1718 a fresh charter, somewhat similar to that of James I, was granted by George I to Banbury, and by it the town was allowed to continue the woollen industry. (fn. 261) During the reign of George I there are references, but certainly only a few, in the parish registers to jersey combers, jersey weavers, worsted, silk, linen, and garter weavers. (fn. 262) Chipping Norton was not to be left behind, and in 1746, according to more modern sources, (fn. 263) or, at any rate, in 1757, according to Kirtland, (fn. 264) Messrs. Bliss and Sons founded their well-known mills, at first for the manufacture of tilting and linsey wolseys. In 1776 the villages round Oxford were busily engaged in handloom weaving, and one such that was particularly well known was that of Charlbury. (fn. 265) In the same year the Oxford Journal, by means of its advertisements, reveals the fact that the weaving industry was in a flourishing condition, both in the city of Oxford and the surrounding neighbourhood. On 7 June there occurs the following:—
Notice is hereby given to all spinners of Yarn, Hemp and small flax within 25 miles of the city of Oxford, that they may have employment from August next. N.B. Several hundreds may have employment: The sooner application is made the better. (fn. 266)
The woollen trade of Burford had not as yet disappeared, and well into the nineteenth century this town continued its manufacture of duffles or duffields and rugs. (fn. 267) And in the Antiquarian Itinerary there is a plate of the year 1816 which shows the large warehouses of the Sylvesters as still standing. (fn. 268)
Banbury was the chief centre, however, and its trade was evidently extensive for Mr. Philip Rusher to mention it in 'Crouch Hill, a Poem.'
Here flourish manufactories and arts, And num'rous workmen ply their useful parts; Swift fly the pointed shuttles through the looms, And moving beams reverb'rate round the rooms. Quick industry, with busy air and face, Presides o'er all and moves from place to place. (fn. 269)
The manufacture for which the town of Banbury was particularly famous was worsted plush, (fn. 270) though there were others such as web and girth making. This plush was generally spoken of as a coarse velvet, and was also made in the villages of Bloxham, (fn. 271) Bourton, Wardington, and West Shefford. (fn. 272) In 1831, from the population returns, it appears that 125 men were employed in Banbury in the plush and girth trade. This return, however, was distinctly misleading, as the Banbury employers sent their work out into the neighbourhood, and it is conjectured that at the least 550 men, women, and children were engaged in some portion of these manufactures. According to the Report of the Commissioners on Municipal Corporations, the Banbury trade in 1835 was regarded as having declined. If this were not actually true at that date it was certainly the case between 1841 and 1851, as the census return of the latter year points out that the population of Adderbury was gradually decreasing owing to the emigration of the plush weavers to Coventry. (fn. 273) Before 1841, however, the trade was fairly progressive, and it is best shown by the report of 21 December, 1838, from the secretary of the Assistant Hand-loom Weavers' Commissioners. Of this document Beesley says that a report was made to Parliament respecting Banbury. From this it appears that, at that date, the manufacture of plushes and other very heavy fabrics of worsted and cotton, variously intermingled, chiefly for exportation, was in the hands of three different firms—Gillett, Harris, and Baughen—and employed 430 looms. These firms were stated to be the only plush manufacturers in England making rough articles for clothing, except one house at Manchester, which made a few sealiottes for waistcoating and caps. All the articles produced in Banbury in the plush trade were in the style of velvets, and were made in looms of the oldest construction with the shuttles passed by hand. Coarse wires, inserted between the warp threads in weaving, form the pile, the threads across the wires being cut with a lance to form the pile of those which are strictly plushes; while other articles variously designated have a curly surface formed by simply withdrawing the wires without cutting the threads which cross them. Many of these fabrics go through the hands of merchants to Portugal, Spain, Italy, and the south of Europe generally. 'A man,' says one of the accounts reported, 'ought to make a piece of from forty-two to forty-four yards of livery plush in a month, for which he would receive about £3.'
The report further states that the manufacture of webs or girthing and horse-cloths had been carried on in Banbury by the family of Messrs. Cobb for about 140 years. The manufactured articles are supplied to Birmingham, Walsall, Glasgow, Bristol, &c., whence they find their way into general consumption. The number of persons employed in 1838 in weaving and winding was about forty. The weavers were chiefly men and boys, but there were five girls weaving light articles, the looms being all single-handed and making only one breadth at a time. All winding, warping, and filling of quills, were done by hands expressly employed by the master. The men had merely to put in their warps and shoot down the weft. The average weekly earnings of the boys winding these were then 1s. 10½d., and the average weekly earnings of the weaver by piece work were 11s. 0¾d.; they worked on an average 9½ hours a day, six days a week. (fn. 274)
In 1852 there were three plush manufacturers, Messrs. Baughen, Messrs. Haynes, and Messrs. Lees. In the same year the webbing, horsecloth, and girth manufacturers were Messrs. Cobb, Messrs. Taylor, Messrs. Laurance & Walker, and the spinning of worsted and mohair was carried on only by Thomas Baughen at Victoria Mills. (fn. 275) Eight years later the manufacture of plush is said to have been extensive, employing 120 families. (fn. 276)
Meantime, in Chipping Norton, Messrs. Bliss & Sons carried on their woollen industry. About 1821 they made kerseys, webs, and horseclothing, and a few years later took up the manufacture of serges and tweeds. (fn. 277) In 1852 they employed 150 hands. In 1867 they received the gold medal in Class III at the Amsterdam Exhibition, and in the same year Napoleon III wished to bestow upon them a new order of reward. At the present time no member of the Bliss family is in the firm; it has been made into a limited liability company, and the work done tends much to the prosperity of the old woollen centre of Chipping Norton. Banbury is still famous for its plush. The firm of Messrs. Cubitt, Son & Co. continues to carry on business, while Messrs. W. Wrench & Co. manufacture plush at the neighbouring village of Shutford. The old industry of horse-cloths is now in the hands of Messrs. James Walker & Sons. (fn. 278) But of the ancient weaving that was formerly carried on either in Burford or in Oxford there is now no trace, and the textile industries of the county in general may be said to have given way before the great businesses of South Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire.
The blankets of Witney are celebrated throughout the world, and their manufacture is probably the best-known industry of Oxfordshire. It is satisfactory to learn that unlike so many of the other trades of this county, blanket-making is more flourishing than ever before. (fn. 279) That weaving has long been established in Witney has been well proved by a mention of the 'fullers' isle' in a charter of King Edgar of the year 969. (fn. 280) According to Mr. Monk (fn. 281) there is every reason for believing that the woollen industry was carried on in Witney and most of the neighbouring villages at the time of the Norman Conquest. This was certainly the case elsewhere in the county, and Witney, with its splendid stream the Windrush, was as well situated for the cleansing of the wool as any other of the Oxfordshire townships. The same reasons that now make Witney the centre of the blanket industry held good in this early period. Here was a small town in a fine wool-growing district with a clear atmosphere and pure water. From very early days the Bishop of Winchester had a palace at Witney, the site of which is now occupied by a house called 'The Mount.' In 1221 Henry III stayed with the then Bishop of Winchester in this palace, and from an account of his visit it may be inferred that Witney, even in these early times, was famous for the manufacture of woollen goods, and it points to a flourishing trade that must have been carried on in that valley for many generations. Henry expended the then enormous sum of 'xx pounds upon his wardrobe during his visit to Peter des Roches at Wittenage.' (fn. 282)
Up to this time there is no sign of blankets being made. It is not until about the year 1320 that one Thomas Blanket at Bristol is traditionally supposed to have invented a woollen fabric with the nap raised and of a length hitherto unknown. The story goes that from this invention, and from the name of the inventor, the soft woollen covering, now such a necessity, had its origin, and a new word was added to the English language. Mr. Thorold Rogers considers the manufacture of blankets to have existed in Witney for 500 years, (fn. 283) and he records that 319 fleeces were sent from Heyford and 262 fleeces from Radcliffe to Witney in 1385, the carriage for which was 1s. 4½d. (fn. 284) Witney, however, was nearer to the famous wool-growing country of the Cotswolds than either Heyford or Radcliffe. In the next century the Cotswold sheep were particularly celebrated for their fine wool, some of which was no doubt purchased by the 'blanketeers' of the valley of the Windrush. So valuable, indeed, were these sheep that they were considered worthy gifts from one sovereign to another, and Edward IV presented some in 1464 to Henry of Castile, and four years later some more were sent to John of Aragon. (fn. 285) At this time and for a century before there had been a general influx of foreigners from Flanders, and from the ecclesiastical accounts at Witney the names that are recorded at the beginning of the reign of Henry VIII show distinct Flemish origin. (fn. 286) In 1521, however, there is one English name recorded, namely, that of John Baker, who was a weaver in Witney at that time. (fn. 287) Under Queen Mary in 1555 the Weavers Act was passed, (fn. 288) and the Witney people were affected as all other weavers in the country. But under Elizabeth an Act was passed with reference to a few special counties where the woollen industry was carried on. By the Act the breadth of white woollen cloths was determined for the counties of Wiltshire, Gloucester, Somerset, and Oxford. (fn. 289)
The Witney woollen trade was in a flourishing state during the latter part of the sixteenth century; and early in the seventeenth century Walter Jones had amassed so great a fortune, as a wool merchant of Witney, that he was able to purchase the Chastleton Estates, and became a large landowner. (fn. 290) Amongst others connected with the trade at this time were John Collier, clothier, and Stephen Collier, (fn. 291) fuller, members of a family well known in Witney for many generations.
Blankets were made to some extent in the reign of James I, and it was evidently an extremely flourishing trade in 1641, because of the number of petitions sent from Witney during that year. On 12 August the blanket-makers petitioned against a misuse of the sealing of their bundles.
Wm. Howes now deceased and his son Wm. Howes have for the last 30 years forced petitioners to have every bundle of blankets sealed at a rate which has been raised from 2d. to 6d. per bundle, besides fines and exactions proceeding, and have therefore enriched themselves. (fn. 292)
This petition is referred to in the Journals of the House of Lords as follows:—
Upon reading the Petition of the Blanket Makers of the toune of Witney, in the County of Oxon, complaining of a patent for the sealing of their Blankets, which is a great oppression for them; it is ordered that the Patent, by which the same are sealed, shall be brought into this House, and that the Patentees shall appear before their Lordships, on Thursday the 26th of this instant, and that the patentees shall forbeare to lay any imposition upon the said Blankets made or to be made in that Toune until the pleasure of this House be further known. (fn. 293)
As a sign, however, of the extensive trade of Witney, the petition asking that the rights and privileges of the Royal African Company might be protected is peculiarly interesting. There can have been no reason for the manufacturers of Witney to have interfered in this matter, unless they had already started their trade in rugs and blankets with the natives of Africa. (fn. 294)
By the year 1677 the foreign trade of Witney was well established, and Dr. Plot leaves an excellent account of the trade at this time:—
The Blanketing trade of Witney is advanced to that height that no place comes near it; some, I know, attribute a great part of the excellency of these Blankets to the abstersive nitrous water of the River Windrush where they are scoured . . . . but others there are again that rather think they owe it to a peculiar way of loose spinning the people have hereabout, perhaps they may both concur to it: However it be 'tis plain they are esteemed so far beyond all others, that this place has engrossed the whole trade of the Nation for this Commodity; in so much that the wool for their use, which is chiefly fell wool (off from sheep-skins) centers here from some of the furthermost parts of the kingdom, viz. from Rumney-marsh, Canterbury, Colchester, Norwich, Exeter, Leicester, Northampton, Coventry, Huntingdon, etc., of which the Blanketers, whereof there are at least three score in this town, that amongst them have at least 150 looms, employing near 3,000 poor people, from children of eight years old to decrepit old age, do work out above a hundred packs of wool per week.
This Fell wool they separate into five or six sorts, viz. long fell wooll, head wooll, bay wool, ordinary, middle and tail wooll: Long fell wooll they send to Wells, Taunton, Tiverton, etc., for making worsted stockings; of head wool and bay wool, they make the blankets of 12, 11, 10 quarters broad, and sometimes send it, if it bear a good price to Kederminster for making their stuffs, and to Evesham, Parshore, etc. for making yarn stockings; or into Essex for making Bays, whence one sort of them, I suppose, is called bay wool: of the ordinary and middle they make blankets of 8 and 7 quarters broad; and of these mixed with the courser locks of fleece wooll a sort of stuff they call Duffields (which if finer than ordinary, they make, too, of fleece wooll) of which Duffields and blankets consists the chief trade of Witney.
These Duffields, so called from a town in Brabant, where the trade of them first began (whence it came to Colchester, Braintry, etc. and so to Witney) otherwise called shags, and by the Merchants, trucking cloth; they make in pieces about 30 yards long and one yard ¾ broad, and dye them red or blue, which are the colours best please the Indians of Virginia and New England, with whom the merchants truck them for Bever, other Furs of several Beasts, etc., the use they have for them is to apparel themselves with them, their manner being to tear them into gowns of about two yards long, thrusting their arms through two holes made for that purpose and so wrapping the rest about them as we do our loose coats. Our merchants have abused them for many years with so false colours that they will not hold their gloss above a month's wear; but there is an ingenious person of Witney that has improved them much of late, by fixing upon them a true blue dye, having an eye of red, whereof as soon as the Indians shall be made sensible, and the disturbances now amongst them over, no doubt the trade in those will be much advanced again.
Of their best tail wooll, they make the blankets of 6 quarters broad commonly called cuts, which serve seamen for their Hammocs, and of their worst Wednel for collar-makers, wrappers to pack their blankets in, and tilt-cloths for Barge-men. They send all sorts of Duffields and Blankets weekly in waggons up to London, which return laden with fell-wooll from Leaden-hall and Barnaby Street in Southwark, whither 'tis brought for this purpose from most places above mentioned; Oxfordshire and the adjacent counties being not able to supply them. (fn. 295)
During this century and even as early as the sixteenth century the Wenman family were connected with the wool trade in Witney, and also represented the county in the House of Commons on several occasions. (fn. 296) At the end of the seventeenth century the Early family had started their business, which they have continued up to the present time. Five generations of this family have had a large share in the history of blanket-making for the past 250 years, (fn. 297) and they are said to be the oldest manufacturing family of one trade in England. (fn. 298) About the same time John and Thomas Brookes were blanketers at Witney, but they failed in 1707. (fn. 299) A few years previous to this Witney was honoured by a royal visit, for James II, according to Wood, in 1687 'afterwards went to Yarnton, Cassington, and then to Witney where they presented him with a pair of blankets with golden fringe.' (fn. 300) That trade was very prosperous in Witney at this time is evidenced by the number of tokens that still exist. (fn. 301)
The 23rd of May, 1710, was a great day in the history of blanket-making. On that day a charter was granted to the Company of Blanketweavers. It was intended by this means to foster the blanket manufactory, but it really smothered the trade instead. It restricted competition; laid down rules that soon became obsolete; and the free manufacturer naturally refused to be so checked. According to the charter the company was 'to encourage and promote all arts and manufactures.' Only those who were legally entitled to be blanket-weavers were 'to use and exercise the art and mystery of blanketweaving in Witney aforesaid, or twenty miles round the same.' The company itself was to 'be incorporated by the name of the Master, Assistant, Wardens, and Commonalty of blankett weavers, inhabiting in Witney in the county of Oxon.' It was also ordained that the company 'may have and use a common seal for the affairs and business of the said Corporation.' This seal is now in the possession of the firm of Charles Early & Co., and has been recently introduced into their registered trade mark. Besides the actual officers of the company, a high steward was appointed, and on this occasion he was Henry, earl of Rochester. The first master was John White, senior, while the assistants were Thomas Early, Thomas Johnson, Edward Bird, Michael Baughin, William Rogers, William Jones, William Townsend, and Thomas Boulton. As wardens, the company, 'ordain, nominate, constitute and appoint' William Baughin and John Cowell; 'our well-beloved subject, James Hall, gent.,' was appointed clerk or secretary for life. The company was given the right 'to prepare, make, ordain and constitute such and so many good and wholesome by-laws.' (fn. 302) Amongst these laws were those concerning apprenticeship, the last of these apprentices being Mr. Charles Early, whose indenture was drawn up in the year 1838. By this document the apprentice was bound not 'to contract matrimony within the said Term, he shall not play at Cards or Dice Tables or any other unlawful games . . . he shall not haunt Taverns or Playhouses nor absent himself from his said Master's service.' (fn. 303)
On 12 January, 1711, the first meeting of the Blanket Company was held under the Master White. (fn. 304) Amongst the original members there were several whose names are still well known in Witney. There were John Dutton, Robert Collier, Edward Busby, Thomas Ffuller, William Marriott, Richard Deane, Thomas Ffreeman, Joseph Basson, Thomas Brookes the Younger, Richard Collins, John Early and John Wiggins. The last two were not sworn in because they were Quakers and so 'made the solemn declaration instead of taking the oath.' The second master, William Early, was appointed this year. (fn. 305) At this time the trade over which the company exercised jurisdiction was very considerable, and in 1712 there were 115 members. From 1700 to 1730, the industry seems to have employed 3,000 persons from eight years old and upwards, and 150 looms were in constant use. (fn. 306)
Within ten years of the first meeting of the company a Blanket Hall was erected. This probably took place in or about the year 1721. (fn. 307) At this hall all the blankets made at Witney were weighed, measured, and marked. Here, too, meetings were held, fines were imposed, and the company exercised the rights and privileges granted by the charter. (fn. 308) Among the records in the minute book, of fines inflicted, and other matters, there are many curious and quaint entries. In March, 1711, 'One George Green, a member of the company, was fined five shillings for working with his daughter in his loom, and at the same time refusing to give work to a journeyman who applied for it.' Another case that came up for judgement on the same day was that of Edward Dutton, who 'was fined 20s. for making a stockful of Blanketting or stuff for pettycoats 36 yards long 8/4 and half wide, contrary to the good rules and orders of the company.' On another occasion 'Thomas Early is fined 20s. for making a stockful of coarse middles two and a half yards in each blanket.' This same Thomas Early and Michael Baughin were fined 1s. each for 'leaving the court without leave of the master.' From 1730 to 1740 the number of members began to decrease. It was seen by the more energetic manufacturers that the company restricted rather than assisted the trade. The members of the company also seem to have looked to the festive side of the gatherings rather than to the manufacture of blankets. Thus in 1732 a minute records, 'Ordered for the future that the Company's Dinner be ready on table by twelve of the clock, and that such of the Company as shall not appear by one o'clock (whether the books be brought up or not) to be fined a shilling each, and no excuse except sickness or London journeys.' (fn. 309) It is not surprising that some members revolted. Thus William Dutton and Thomas Wiggins were fined 2s. each, for they 'gave vile scurrilous and opprobrious language to the master and assistants.' In much the same way in 1738 William Bird called the master a fool, reviled the company, and dared to say that he would 'never bring any more goods to the Hall.' (fn. 310) The company sometimes refused the right of blanket-weaving to certain individuals. It is recorded in 1738:—
that the wardens give notice forthwith unto John Coxeter and Thomas Silky, not to presume to follow the trade of blanket weavers in Witney or within 20 miles thereof, and in case they shall presume to offend against this order it is further ordered that an action be brought in the name of this Company to recover the several penalties by them respectively incurred, by not observing the By-laws of this Company, as well as for all past offences as for those which shall hereafter be committed, the expenses whereof to be paid by the master for the time being, out of the stock of this Company.
Although the members quarrelled among themselves, yet they were willing to support their country at a time of need. In 1745 it is recorded in the Book of the Company:—
Whereas it was agreed that this Company should raise 30 men for the service of his majesty in suppressing the present unnatural rebellion, and it appearing to be agreeable to the government to have the same paid in money (to wit) one guinea for each man, it is agreed and ordered that the present master do pay the sum of thirty guineas into the hand of the proper officer and take a receipt, in lieu of the 30 men to serve as their quota in the Oxfordshire Regiment of Foot commanded by the Right Honourable Lord Viscount Harcourt. (fn. 311)
In 1754 the company was obliged to elect a new High Steward. For some years this purely honorary position had been held by the Earl of Clarendon, but on his death the Duke of Marlborough was elected. Twelve years later a great national question caused much rejoicing in Witney, for in 1766 the blanket-makers lighted bonfires and expressed their delight at the repeal of the Stamp Act. (fn. 312) About this time the blanket trade was not as flourishing as it had been. Although Mr. Monk (fn. 313) writes an account of a visit to Witney in 1769, in which the trade seems to be extremely good, yet Arthur Young (fn. 314) does not show the same figures a year previous. Young proves that there were only 500 weavers in Witney in 1768. He says that 7,000 packs of wool were made up; that the wages ranged from 10s. to 12s. a week; and that some of the blankets cost as much as £3 a pair. In 1775 the blanket-makers of Witney were regarded as sufficiently important to be listened to in the House of Commons, and they succeeded in their petition for the reduction of the heavy duties on rape seed, the oil from which was used in the manufacture of blankets. (fn. 315) Machinery was now coming into use. In 1764 Hargreaves had introduced the spinning jenny, and other machines had been invented. That the blanket-makers were ready to take up these machines is evidenced by an entry in the Court Book of the Company in 1782 in which it is stated:—
It is unanimously agreed to purchase, erect and set up an engine for rowing Blankets upon the same construction as the Company are informed are used at Colchester, etc., and that Mr. Richard Lardner be empowered to take a stockful of kersey blankets to be rowed by the said Rowing machine. (fn. 316)
Edmund Wright and Thomas Townsend were the first two manufacturers at Witney to use machinery. It is clear, however, that in this trade as in others the taking up of machinery was very slow. The people of the villages for 14 miles round Witney continued to spin by hand, but it was gradually found that they could not produce enough to keep up with the demand for Witney blankets. In 1792 it is recorded that a large quantity of wool was consumed weekly and that the foreign orders were very extensive. The home trade was also good, and Witney blankets were brought before the notice of royalty when John Early, the master of the Blanket Company, with several others, went to Nuneham, near Oxford, and presented George III and Queen Charlotte with a pair of blankets. (fn. 317)
In 1802 400 hands were employed in this manufacture, (fn. 318) but in 1805 Macpherson in his Annals of Commerce records that 3,000 of both sexes were engaged in sorting, spinning, and weaving. (fn. 319) At about this time Giles quotes an interesting account of the trade:— (fn. 320)
Witney is very famous for its woollen manufacture which consists of what they call Kersey-pieces, coarse bear-skins and blankets. The two first they make for the North-American market, vast quantities being sent up the river St. Lawrence, and also to New York, Boston, etc. The finest blankets, which rise in price to three pounds a pair, are exported to Spain and Portugal; but all of them are first sent to London in broad-wheel waggons, four or five of which go every week. The finest wools they work come from Herefordshire and Worcestershire, and sell from eight-pence to ten-pence a pound. The coarsest is brought from Lincolnshire; they call it Daylocks and purchase it for about four-pence half-penny a pound; it is used in making the coarse bearskins. There are about five hundred weavers in the town who work up seven thousand packs annually. Journeymen in general earn on an average from ten to twelve shillings a week, all the year round; but they work from four in the morning to eight at night. The work is of that nature that a boy of fourteen years of age earns as much as a man. Boys and girls of seven or eight years of age earn from eighteen to twenty pence a week by quilling and cornering. Old women of sixty or seventy earn sixpence a day by picking and sorting the wool. A strong woman can earn from tenpence to a shilling a day by spinning; and a girl of fourteen four-pence or fivepence. They weave according to the season; in winter kerseys and bearskins, ready for shipping in the summer for the St. Lawrence; and in summer blankets for home consumption and to supply the markets of Spain and Portugal. The blankets usually purchased at home are about three and twenty and four and twenty shillings a pair, ten quarters wide and twelve long.
Arthur Young, writing in 1807, says that the Witney trade was considerably improved by the invention of the 'Spring Loom,' by which one man was able to do the work of two. Previous to this invention the looms were of the most primitive description; the journeyman stood on one side with the apprentice opposite, and the shuttle was thrown from one to the other. After the introduction of the spring loom, trade was considerably increased. The machinery was said to earn £4,000 a year, though wages kept at very much the same rate as in 1768, viz. 12s. a week. Some of the blankets made at this time cost as much as £5 a pair, (fn. 321) and Witney was as celebrated as ever for the fine quality of its productions. (fn. 322) Immediately before this period the businesses in Witney had been in the hands of many small capitalists employing a few weavers and sending the yarn to the cottages in the neighbourhood to be spun. By 1826, however, this seems to have been changed, and the few larger capitalists had succeeded in gathering together the scattered and numerous smaller concerns. Cobbett remarked this on 30 September, 1826, when he wrote, 'There were, only a few years ago, above thirty blanket manufacturers at Witney; twenty-five of these have been swallowed up by the five that now have all the manufacture in their hands.' (fn. 323) That this was good for the neighbourhood and for the industry can scarcely be doubted. Between 1841 and 1851 the population of Coggs increased because of the blanket industry. At Hailey and at Crawley blankets were made, and Giles records the existence of tucking or fulling mills at Minster Lovel, Worsham, Swinbrook, Widford, and Burford. At this time the average of blanket-pieces and pilot cloth at Witney was 10,000 in number, and the average value per piece £9. The six chief manufacturers were, in 1852, John Early & Co., Richard Early, Edward Early, Richard Early junior, Early Brothers, and Horatio Collier. These six firms consumed weekly 120 packs of wool, weighing 240 lb. each. Every year about 93,000 blankets were made, and on the premises belonging to the firms 800 men, women, and children were regularly employed. (fn. 324)
This prosperous state of affairs continues. In 1899 it was recorded that about 800 hands were employed and 250 looms. (fn. 325) Charles Early & Co., the oldest of the firms now in Witney, employ about 400 factory hands in their wellappointed and up-to-date mills. The next oldest firm is that of William Smith & Co., and besides this there is another well-known Witney family now engaged in the trade, namely, that of James Marriot & Co. The wool used in blanketmaking is drawn from various sources. Both English 'fleece wool' shorn from the live sheep, and 'skin wool' taken by the fellmongers off the skins of sheep killed by the butcher, are used; and besides there are the wools from Australia, New Zealand, India, and other wool-producing countries. The first process is to blend the various sorts of wools. The wool is then put into the 'willey' or willow to prepare it for the carding machine. There are two 'willeys,' the one the 'shake' willey, filled with iron spikes to beat and roughly open the wool, the other the 'teazer,' with curved steel teeth which further open the wool. From the machines the wool is passed on to the 'scribbler' and 'carder,' leaving the latter in loosely-formed 'slivers,' which are in turn passed between leather rubbers to give them some consistency when they are wound on long wooden bobbins. These bobbins are placed on the spinning mule, where the threads are stretched and receive the necessary amount of twist, being finally wound on to wooden spools ready for the weaver's shuttle. The woven piece when cut from the loom has still several processes through which to pass before it resembles the fleecy Witney blanket. In the stock house it is passed through an alkaline solution, and then is placed in the fulling stocks, where it is pounded by the heavy hammers which shrink the fabric and leave it spotlessly clean. In the milling machine the shrinking process is completed, and the cloth is then of the right substance. To brighten the colour of the piece it is finally washed, placed in the centrifugal machine, whirled round a thousand times a minute, and left dry enough for bleaching. In the bleaching house the blankets are hung in sulphur fumes for about ten hours, and it is from this process that they get their somewhat pungent smell. In dry weather they are stretched out of doors on tenter-hooks, but in wet weather they are placed in steamheated chambers. Clean, dry, and white, the heavy fabric is passed 'under a revolving cylinder clothed with a spiral wire cord the teeth of which draw out the fibres of wool from the surface of the cloth.' The piece is finally cut up into separate blankets, the edges are whipped or bound; each blanket is scrutinized and smoothed over, and is packed for home or foreign use under the title of what it truly is—'a real Witney blanket.' (fn. 326)
Silk weaving and winding
The people of Oxfordshire have never engaged to any great extent in this industry, and at the present time there is no silk weaving or winding done in the county as far as the writer has been able to ascertain. The silk industry is first mentioned by Dr. Plot in 1677, when he records that silk stockings were woven at Oxford. This industry was carried on by means of a new invention due to the mechanical genius of Mr. William Lee, M.A. (fn. 327) How long this industry remained in the city it is impossible to say. In the reign of George I it would appear that a certain number, though very few, silk-weavers were dwellers in Banbury, as shown by the parish registers of that reign. (fn. 328) At Henley-onThames a silk industry was carried on at the beginning of the nineteenth century. In 1823 two silk-factors had their works in this town; Messrs. Barbel & Beuzeville had their premises in Friday Street, and Mr. G. Skelton carried on this trade in Mann Lane. (fn. 329) As late as 1856 Henley continued to do a certain amount of business in silk. For several years previous to this date a silk-winding mill had stood in Phyllis Court Lane. The silk was sent from London and wound by women and girls, but the factory could only have been on a very small scale as the total weekly wages amounted only to between £30 and £40. (fn. 330)
Lace-making in Oxfordshire is an industry of small size, but of great importance to many of the women of the villages, particularly on the eastern and southern sides of the county. The lace that is made in Oxfordshire does not bear the title of the county, but is known to the world as Buckinghamshire lace, for it is exactly the same as that extremely charming threadwork named 'Bucks pillow-point.' Mrs. Palliser in her History of Lace describes the process of making in clear terms:—
The pillow is a round or oval board, stuffed so as to form a cushion, and placed upon the knees of the work-woman. On this pillow a stiff piece of parchment is fixed with small holes pricked through to mark the pattern. Through these holes pins are stuck into the cushion. The threads with which the lace is formed are wound on bobbins, formerly bones, now small round pieces of wood, about the size of a pencil, having round their upper ends a deep groove, so formed as to reduce the bobbin to a thin neck, on which the thread is wound, a separate bobbin being used for each thread. By the twisting and crossing of these threads the ground of the lace is formed. The pattern or figure, technically called gimp, is made by interweaving a thread much thicker than that forming the groundwork, according to the design picked out on the parchment. Such has been the pillow and the method of using it, with but slight variety, for more than three centuries. (fn. 331)
Lace-making dates back to the sixteenth century, and tradition has always ascribed its introduction to Queen Catherine of Aragon, who, it is said, did much to develop the art in the villages. Whether this is true or not, lacemaking seems to have been well understood by the time of Queen Elizabeth. To this day in Oxfordshire there is a lace which is commonly made, with a graceful fern pattern interwoven on the groundwork, and this is always known amongst the women-workers as the Queen Elizabeth pattern. It is interesting to notice that this pattern is identical with the lace carved on the statue of Elizabeth at Cumnor, and as far as can be ascertained from the workers, the pattern is of great age and has been handed down from mother to daughter through many generations.
It is more than probable that the Flemings had much to do with the lace-making in this part of England. Between the years 1570 and 1580, these Flemings escaped from the despotism of Alva and Philip II, and took up their residence in Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire and came over the border into Oxfordshire. (fn. 332) In this county the industry was, of course, never a large one, but it seems to have been carried on by a few workers, and the art was never lost, being continued through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In 1778 a new style of lace was introduced which gave a slight encouragement to the trade, and this was called 'point ground' lace. (fn. 333) After the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, there was a steady influx of French émigrés to this country, and it is well known that in Buckinghamshire they engaged in the lace trade, and it is presumed that they undertook the same art in the immediately adjacent counties. (fn. 334)
Both Arthur Young and Mr. Brewer record the fact that lace was made at the beginning of the nineteenth century at Thame; (fn. 335) and it is evident that the industry was still fairly common in that neighbourhood in 1820. (fn. 336) But between 1810 and 1830 many lace-making machines were introduced, especially those of Joseph Heathcoat, with the result that the demand for hand-made lace began to decline. By about the year 1850 the lace industry of Thame had practically disappeared. In 1851, however, better times came. The Great Exhibition of that year gave a very considerable impetus to all forms of lace-making, and the hand-made lace industry revived by means of the introduction and great demand for Maltese guipures. (fn. 337)
In the four lace-making counties of Buckingham, Bedford, Northampton, and Oxford, there were in 1862 25,000 lace-makers, but only a very small proportion of these lived in Oxfordshire. (fn. 338) From this date until very recently there was again a great falling off in the number of those employed in this beautiful art. It is proposed by one who is deeply interested in the industry that this decline was due to the fact that the old parchment patterns of their ancestors had by that time been completely worn out by frequent use, and that the women-workers lacked the proper training for the creation of really good and perfectly accurate new patterns, for when they did trouble to prick out new sheets these were generally carelessly done, and many errors were to be found in the lace. On the other hand, a writer in the Connoisseur would put the cause of the decline down to a very different fact, and says:—
The great fault of our English lace-workers is that they do not move with the times in producing up-todate shapes, preferring to keep the same parchments and patterns that their grandmothers did, and which are not at all suitable for present day fashions. (fn. 339)
Much, however, to revive the industry has been done in recent years by purely private enterprise on the part of certain Oxfordshire ladies. The excellent results of this were to be seen in 1905 at the Albert Hall, where there was an exhibition of the Thame lace industry. At the present time lace is made in many other villages besides Thame. A very little is made in Banbury and its neighbourhood. It has never died out at Chinnor, and now there are about a dozen workers producing very excellent lace. At Sydenham, near Thame, the lace-making is also of a high standard, and in fact has been regarded of such capital quality as to gain prizes. In the neighbourhood of Henley the lace-woman still plies her craft, and at Stokenchurch fairly good lace is also being produced. In neither of these districts has lace-making ceased since its first introduction. In Wheatley this is not the case, for here lace-work died out completely, and has only been revived in recent years. The lace produced is now becoming extremely good and is being sold outside the village. This state of affairs is largely due to private enterprise and to the fact that there are technical classes for instructing the girls of Wheatley to keep up an industry which was the pride of their grandmothers.
Mr. Thorold Rogers has said that the tanning of leather was probably a by-product in most villages in England. (fn. 340) It may be safely concluded that since the early middle ages tanning and the other adjuncts of the leather industry have been undertaken by the people of Oxford, Burford, Witney, and Bampton. As early as the Norman Conquest there were probably leather-dressers in Oxford itself. Wood says:—
Cordwainry or Cordiners Rew (in ancient evidences written 'cordwanaria,' 'corviseria,' 'corniseria,' and 'allutaria'); soe called from those that employ themselves about leather, that is to say, tanners, curriers, and shoemakers, having bin all probably in antient times of the same gild.
Those that are called 'allutarii,' I suppose are the same that tan the skins of beasts and provide them for the 'corviserii' or 'corearii,' which are called curriers; and those that are 'cordwanarii' are those that work upon the leather soe provided either for shoes or bootes . . .
The place therefore for the Cordwayners in Oxon (whose fraternity is as antient as the Norman Conquest, if not before) as also thes here called 'corviserii' and 'allutarii' were in the parishes of St. Michael's at Northgate and St. Martin's as divers antient scripts testifye. . . . 'Tis evident that their shops were on the east side of North Gate Street. (fn. 341)
The antiquity of the Cordwainers' gild is well shown by the fact that it was reconstituted in 1131. (fn. 342) Liber Rubeus de Scaccario stated the fees paid by this gild in 1155, (fn. 343) and mention of these is also made by Anthony Wood.
Several of the names of these early leatherdressers have been preserved. Thus in the last few years of the reign of Henry II, Lambert was a cordwainer in Oxford. (fn. 344) Under King John, Hugh practised the leather trade in the parish of St. Edward's, (fn. 345) and Richard the cordwainer became an alderman of the city. (fn. 346) Under Henry III Hugh the cordwainer was evidently of some considerable importance in the parish of St. Edward's, as the chaplain acted with Hugh's 'consensu et consilio.' (fn. 347) This Hugh had probably a son who afterwards carried on the same trade, for between 1235 and 1248 there is mention of Hugh the cordwainer, junior. (fn. 348) Besides these were Ralph, (fn. 349) and Walter the currier; (fn. 350) Thorold and James flourished as tanners about 1240; (fn. 351) Robert Bonnallet was a cordwainer about the same time; (fn. 352) while James the currier held property in Oxford ten years later. (fn. 353) By means of the Hundred Rolls of 1279 still further names may be added to the above list. James was a cordwainer, (fn. 354) while the tanners for the most part lived in St. Ebbe's, two women being amongst them, Maud and Agnes, the men being John and Richard. The other tanners at this time were Jordan, Gilbert, Philip, and Roger. (fn. 355) Five years later, in 1283, it is recorded that leather was prepared within the abbey of Osney, which at that time possessed its own tannery. (fn. 356)
The ordinance for Oxford market was passed in 1318, and the tanners and cordwainers were arranged for as in the case of all other trades. Their situation was precisely that described by Wood. (fn. 357) On 18 January, 1321, Edward II issued a writ concerning the cordwainers. The gild of leather traders had prayed the king to confirm their charter from King Henry (III), and to grant further that they may use their franchises within the suburbs of Oxford. They specifically ask that a declaration shall be made that no one shall cut leather tanned or of Cordova, nor shall anyone be allowed to sell such leather within the town or its suburbs unless he be a member of the gild. (fn. 358) The king by his writ would appear to have been most anxious to encourage the gild of the industry of leather-dressing, and Ogle says that the writ expresses the King's stern displeasure with the Bailiffs for their disobedience to his repeated injunctions in favour of the guild of Cordwainers and Corvisors (leather cutters and shoe-makers), prohibiting foreigners to the guild from following their trade in the city or suburbs. The guild is to pay 2s. annually to the crown beyond their ancient fee of an ounce of gold and 5s. The Bailiffs are to appear before the King on Feb. 9 to answer for any neglect of this order.
On 18 July these injunctions were once more repeated. (fn. 359) Only two names are left on record as being connected with the leather trade in the reign of Edward III, viz. John Peggy a cordwainer, and John a tanner. (fn. 360) But that there were many more than these is shown in the reign of Richard II by the poll tax records of 1380, where there are mentioned twelve tanners, twelve cordwainers, twenty skinners, and four saddlers. (fn. 361)
Burford had by this time taken up the leather industry, as is proved by the mention of John Dyze or John Dye in the years 1378 and 1385. (fn. 362) Almost a hundred years later, in 1481, William Kempe, a leather-dresser, held a tenement in Burford. (fn. 363) The trade, however, still flourished in Oxford during the same period. In 1432 William Michel was a skinner; in 1439 William Chynnour is mentioned as engaged in the same craft; in 1442 John Barton was a 'corvysere,' and William Wykeham a skinner; in 1451 Gye Capellyn was a shoemaker; in the same year Thomas Martin was a 'corsere,' and in 1458 Thomas Awfyn, 'corveyser,' was a surety for Plomer Hall. (fn. 364) In 1512 the craft of cordwainers was still in existence, as seen by an award of that year, (fn. 365) and also by the fact that Richard Balle, a tanner, was possessed of lands in Oxford in 1514. (fn. 366) The saddlery trade continued, and in the Lay Subsidy Records of 1524 there are three men recorded as engaged in this business. (fn. 367) Henley, though by no means particularly famous for the leather industry, had at this time a tanner of its own. (fn. 368)
It was during the seventeenth century that Oxford and Oxfordshire became noted for their leather goods. Within the city the leather industry led to municipal honours on many occasions. In 1604 the mayor, Thomas Cossham, was a cordwainer; (fn. 369) in 1607 Richard Paynter, a fellmonger, was elected bailiff; (fn. 370) in 1624 Robert Wilmott held the same office, (fn. 371) and so also Thomas Tredwell in 1633. (fn. 372) Matthew Langley, a tanner, was bailiff in 1644, (fn. 373) and was succeeded by John Newman, saddler. (fn. 374) In 1648 Richard Mellor, fellmonger, became bailiff, and mayor in 1652. (fn. 375) In 1654 Anthony Kendall, (fn. 376) and in 1658 Richard Philipps, (fn. 377) both engaged in leather, became bailiffs of the city. These lists of city honours in themselves prove how popular the leather industry was, and by the time of the Restoration Oxford had a great reputation for its leather work, but in particular for its saddles. (fn. 378)
Burford, however, was soon to take away from Oxford its celebrity for saddles. Even at this time it was known for the excellent make and pattern, and Plot says in 1677, 'Burford has been famous out of mind for the making of saddles.' (fn. 379) The pride of the Burford people in their chief industry was exemplified on two occasions. The first was in March, 1681, when Charles II was going to a race-meeting. On his way he visited the ancient borough of Burford; he was met by all the members of the corporation and solemnly presented with a rich silverlaced saddle, holsters, and bridle. (fn. 380) The second occasion was in 1695. At this time one of the inhabitants of the town was reputed by the English to be the best saddler in Europe. 'Two of his masterpieces were respectfully offered' to King William III, 'who received them with much grace and ordered them to be specially reserved for his own use.' (fn. 381) Chamberlayne in 1700 (fn. 382) noted that Burford was famous for saddles, and in about 1730 Cox (fn. 383) remarks the same.
Meantime Bampton and Witney had become well known for their leather-dressing. At Witney in 1677, Plot says that there were a great many Fell-mongers out of whom at the neighbouring Town of Bampton there arises . . . considerable trade, the Fell-mongers' sheepskins, after dressed and strained, being here made into wares, viz. Jackets, Breeches, Leather linings, etc., which they chiefly vent into Berkshire, Wiltshire, and Dorsetshire, no town in England having a trade like it in that sort of ware. (fn. 384)
In the eighteenth century Cox says that the leather was dressed by means of a kind of amber that was found in the quarries at Bladen and Water Perry. (fn. 385) But the leather trades of Oxfordshire lost their celebrity as the century drew to a close, though between 1791 and 1798 there were in Burford several fellmongers. (fn. 386) Certainly a saddlery business belonging to Mr. Minchin was founded at Chipping Norton in 1795 and continues still; so also in the 1806 edition of Gough's Camden's Britannia, Burford is said to be famous for saddles, but the industry was then very different from what it had been in former times. In Oxford itself Mr. J. R. Green records the existence of the Cordwainers' Company as late as 1720, but it was a relic of the past. (fn. 387) A cordwainer of the name of John Ducker held four messuages in the parish of St. Ebbe's in Oxford in 1773, (fn. 388) but now tanning in Oxford has become a bygone trade, though some dozen saddlers at the present time help to keep up the old fame of the city for its saddlery and harness, while over a hundred boot and shoe shops and warehouses carry on a trade which has been so long established there.
Many of the inhabitants of the county of Oxford are still interested in the making of gloves. The industry is of the greatest antiquity, probably going back to Anglo-Saxon times. At the present day Woodstock is the centre of the manufacture of these particular articles, but that ancient royal manor has only been connected with the making of gloves since the sixteenth century. (fn. 389) For many hundreds of years before that time the city of Oxford itself was busied in the glove industry, and several of the city officials were 'gaunters' or glove-makers.
From the Hundred Rolls of the year 1279 it is evident that glove-making was practised, if not actually within the city walls, at least close by, for Adam the glove-maker is shown to be living within the parish of St. Clement's. (fn. 390) Thirteen years later there were regular glovers' shops established within the city itself, and these were attacked by an unruly mob, described as 'rude varlets.' The cause of this outrage is not, however, clear. (fn. 391) The gloving industry was not checked by this riotous conduct, and under the regulation of the market in 1318 the glovers were granted a regular position for the sale of their wares. (fn. 392) 'The sellers of gloves and whitawyers,' we are told, 'shall stand between All Saints' church and the tenement which was sometimes John le Goldsmyth's.' The exact spot indicated has been identified as being very near to the present Mitre Hotel. At this period, however, gloving does not appear to have been taken up by any great number of the inhabitants, and there are but few scattered references to the trade, as for example the mention of one John the glover in 1358. (fn. 393) And even at the time of the Poll Tax in 1380 there were apparently only eight men engaged in this occupation, (fn. 394) one of whom, at any rate, seems to have been a man of property, as in 1381 he was engaged in a suit for the recovery of land. (fn. 395)
Brighter times dawned for the glovers in the fifteenth century, although two only are actually mentioned, namely, in 1439 David Clowdesley, and in 1450 John Karyn; (fn. 396) yet their numbers were evidently on the increase, and by the first year of Edward IV they had become sufficiently important to form a gild of their own. (fn. 397) Still, their success is a mere matter of speculation, and there is a blank in the records of gloving until the Tudor period, except for the fact that the manorial records of Bicester state two prices for gloves during the fifteenth century; one pair of gloves cost 20 pence, while twelve pair, evidently of a poorer quality, were purchased for 5s. (fn. 398) That Oxford gloves were well known and valued is evident from a reference in January, 1512, in the king's Book of Payments, where it is recorded that a scholar bought Oxford gloves valued at 6s. 8d. (fn. 399) It is possible that these were made by John Palmer, one of the glovers of the day. (fn. 400) This man must have either given up business or died before 1524, because in that year he is not mentioned as a glover in the records of the Lay Subsidy, the only three glovers being John Brigeman, John Hulckyns, and John Pye. (fn. 401) Fifteen years later the mayor of Oxford was one John Berry or Barry; he was a native of Eynsham, and carried on the industry of gloving. (fn. 402)
After the accession of Queen Elizabeth, John Redshaw was one of the Oxford glovers, and practised his craft in St. Ebbe's between 1568 and 1585. (fn. 403) Glove-wearing now appears to have become more common than ever before; the gloves were heavily scented, and were frequently given as gifts. Thus Sir Thomas Pope and his wife were on several occasions presented with gloves by the university. (fn. 404) The city accounts illustrate this same practice:—
Item, payed to Wylliam Asley for v payer of gloves, viz. iij payer for Sr Fraunces Knolles and two payer for the Quene's soliceter, delivered to Mr Mayer, xxxs. (fn. 405)
In 1575 a rather cheaper kind of glove was presented 'unto my Lord Dallawar's sonn.' (fn. 406) That Oxford gloves varied very considerably at this time both in price and in material is shown in a letter written by Owen Lloyd to William Pryse, on 13 October, 1580. The latter is desired to send sixteen pair of Oxford gloves of the very finest kind. They are to cost from five to six groats each, and are to be made of 'double chevrell.' Six pair are for women and six for men, while the remainder are for 'very ancient and grave men spiritual.' (fn. 407) This should be compared with a reference in the city records where the prices mentioned are very different, and where it is evident that gloves were regarded as well worth keeping. On 2 July, 1583, it is recorded:
At this Counsell was delivered unto Mr Baylie Lane and Edmunde Barton iiij payre of gloves of viijli and one payre of a marke, to be safelie kepte or solde to the best advantage and to thuse of this Cytie. (fn. 408)
Meantime these good prices seem to have brought the glovers' gild into notice once again. On 19 June, 1562, it was enacted by the whole of the city council that the town seal should be put to the book of the Mystery of Glovers so that the same should be allowed before the justices of assize. (fn. 409) From this date up to 1581 there are more frequent references to the glovers themselves, such as William Asheley, Rowland Barber, William Inglesbe, Henry Wylkes, Robert Andros, Jenken Appowell, and Reynold Savige. (fn. 410)
It has been shown by Anthony Wood why it was that Oxford was so celebrated for its gloves. Writing in the latter part of the seventeenth century, he says definitely that the industry was largely due to the excellence of the water of the Cherwell.
'Besides also,' he writes, 'it hath soe great vertue therein that all skins of a more delicate kind (as it hath bin generally observed) are soe well seasoned with it for the making of white leather that none whiter, softer or better is hardly found.' (fn. 411)
It is probable that there were other reasons, not the least being the nearness of the Cotswold sheep, the wool of which went to the woollen districts, but the skins were sent into Oxford. The deer of Wychwood Forest also supplied much of the material, and at this period the forest borders came within easy reach of the city. Although in Wood's time there was still a master glover in the person of Mr. Harrison (fn. 412) at Oxford, yet there can be little doubt that the real centre of the glove industry had passed from the university city to the royal borough of Woodstock, situated on what were then the confines of Wychwood. Even as late as 1677 Plot speaks of Oxford and Bampton as being celebrated for gloves, and Cox says the same at the beginning of the eighteenth century, (fn. 413) but Woodstock had now become the headquarters of the trade.
Dr. Brewer, in his topographical account of Oxfordshire, (fn. 414) speaks of the glove industry as being introduced into Woodstock about the middle of the eighteenth century. He has either omitted an important reference to an earlier period, or perhaps means that the industry was taken up on a particularly large scale. As a matter of fact from a view of frankpledge as early as the year 1580 it is very evident that gloving was well known at Woodstock, and had probably been practised there for some time. In that year, 1580, it was laid down—
That no glover dwellinge within this toune shall from henceforth have above twoe buyers uppon any markett or fayer daye, and that no foren glover shall have anye buyer but himself or one for him, and non of them shall buye anye fell or fells before they be brought into the markett place appointed for the same (that is to saye) betwene the corner of Richard Lowe's house, the markett stone pitched against the Guild Hall unto the upper end of Crowne Lane, uppon payne to forfett for every offence to the contrary iiis. iiijd. (fn. 415)
Gloving having been once introduced into Woodstock, it has remained there with fluctuating fortunes to the present time. It is most likely that the gloves presented to James I by the university in 1616 were made in Woodstock, though there is no absolute proof. (fn. 416) Throughout the eighteenth century Woodstock was the chief centre of the industry; it was, however, surrounded by many rivals. At Oxford, for example, there was one Jenks a glover in 1721, and at Burford Jabez Wall & Son were glovemakers as early as 1755, (fn. 417) while the trade also continued at Bampton, but here it was fast decaying.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century Arthur Young remarks upon the trade at Woodstock, only bestowing upon it a cursory glance and noting the fact that twenty or thirty dozen pairs of gloves were made every week within the borough and the neighbouring villages. But he pointed out what a great increase there had been between 1803 and 1813. In the latter year sixty to seventy men were regularly employed as 'grounders' of leather and cutters of gloves; their wages ranged from £1 1s. to £1 10s. a week. At the same time there were between 1,400 and 1,500 women and girls earning a weekly wage of between 8s. and 12s. He remarks that the particularly famous glove was one of doeskin, which would still be in a good state after using it regularly for driving for a whole year, and only cost 5s. The output was between 360 and 400 dozen pairs. The principal manufacturers were Mr. Cross, Mr. Dewsnap, and Mr. Eldridge. (fn. 418) But there were many others, as, for example, James Benham, Sarah Cross, Sarah Green, Joseph Groat, W. Hedges, J. Mears, N. Money, T. Morley, Nolder & Baughen, T. Taylor, J. Willis, and W. Windus. (fn. 419) The fame of Woodstock continued to spread, (fn. 420) but besides the industry gaining in notoriety, (fn. 421) it also played an important part in staving off the fear of 'unemployed' in the district. Thus in 1818 there is an entry in the vestry books of Burford to this effect: 'Agreed that a person shall be engaged to learn (sic) one person in every poor family to make gloves.' (fn. 422) But while the industry increased in some parts it steadily decreased in others. Between 1841 and 1851 the populations of Charlbury and Wootton increased considerably, and the census return of that period puts this increase down to the fact that people were attracted by the glove industry. (fn. 423) On the other hand in Bampton in the year 1848 there was only one glove-maker left, whereas in previous times there had been several. (fn. 424)
About the year 1850 the gloving industry at Woodstock was extremely thriving. The weekly output was 500 dozen pairs, and the numbers employed were about 100 men and 1,500 women. (fn. 425) At this time amongst other firms there were those of Money and also of Godden, two firms that exist in the present year, and have been in Woodstock for close on a century. In the following year Edmund Webley started his business, which still continues. At this time the 'splitting' was done almost entirely by hand, and practically no machinery was used. The period spent in learning the trade was longer than at the present time, for five years' apprenticeship had to be served to learn the most difficult process of the trade—cutting. It was probably a few years before this period that what is now known as the Manor Farm, Old Woodstock, was used as a glove factory. (fn. 426) Woodstock has ever had its rivals. There were two glovers at Banbury in 1852 and two also at Witney. (fn. 427) The present firm belonging to Mr. Pritchett at Witney was one of these. It was founded from 80 to 100 years ago by Mr. Pritchett's great-uncle. The founder had learnt his trade at Woodstock, then almost at the height of its fame, and had migrated to Witney. (fn. 428) Another important firm in the county for almost the last hundred years is that of Messrs. B. Bowen & Son, glove manufacturers, at Chipping Norton. (fn. 429) It was founded in 1825 by the father of the present senior member of the firm, who has been mayor of Chipping Norton on more than one occasion. The Historical Gazetteer of Oxfordshire for the year 1852 reports that a very large quantity of gloves were made at Chipping Norton by this firm, the fame of which had been spread throughout the country by their exhibits of gloves.
The gloving industry of Oxfordshire is at the present time scarcely as flourishing as it was fifty years ago. At the right time of year, however, the hedges are still covered with sheepskins and goatskins bleaching in the sun, while at the cottage doors both at Woodstock and in the neighbouring villages the women may be seen plying their needles. (fn. 430) This practice is more common in the Stonesfield district than elsewhere, for in the neighbourhood of Witney machine sewing is most general. (fn. 431) In 1904 it was estimated that about 2,000 women and girls worked at gloving (fn. 432) in this part of the county. At the glove-factory at Witney the chief manufactures are buckskin (made from reindeer-skin), imitation buck, doeskin (made from sheep and lamb skins dressed in oil), and driving gloves (made from tanned sheepskins imported from Cape Colony). In addition to supplying the home trade various kinds of gloves are manufactured for export to the colonies, the Continent, Japan, and the United States of America. The hands actually employed on the premises in Mr. Pritchett's works are about sixty, but from 200 to 300 makers and finishers are also continually busy in Witney itself, and in such villages as Hailey, Leafield, North Leigh, Fulbrook, Ducklington, and Finstock. Nearly all the work in this neighbourhood is paid for by 'the piece,' and the rates average about the same as those paid in other gloving districts in England. One great advantage of the gloving industry is that it is a very healthy one for those engaged in it, and accidents are practically unknown. (fn. 433)
At Chipping Norton the gloving is still carried on by two or three firms, (fn. 434) the chief one being that of Messrs. Bowen & Son, already mentioned. In the factory here, which is situated in the High Street, the most approved and modern developments in machinery and appliances are to be seen. The leather used by this firm for making their gloves is of their own dressing in the tanyard and dressing works near the parish church. The gloves are sewn and finished by hand, and consist principally of patent cut driving and military gloves. (fn. 435) At Charlbury there is (in 1905) a factory belonging to Messrs. Fownes, and in all the neighbouring villages lying on the borders of the forests of Cornbury and Wychwood the industry is still carried on. (fn. 436) Here the women buy their own machines, making five dozen pair of gauntlets and earning about £1 per week. (fn. 437) Besides the firms already mentioned as existing at Woodstock, there is also the factory of R. & J. Pullman, Limited. This firm succeeded about sixteen years ago to the business of Messrs. Russell & Sons. They prepare their own leather, having two mills at Godalming, where they are known as leather-dressers. Both English and foreign skins are used, but 1905 was a rather bad year for gloves, as the skin market was extremely high. Messrs. R. & J. Pullman make all kinds of gloves, real buckskin, mock buckskin, Cape gloves, and particularly all classes of athletic gloves. Their goods are sent from Woodstock all over the world, and every attempt is made to keep up to date. The number of hands employed is about sixty in the factory and from 150 to 200 in the villages. (fn. 438)
The chief difficulty in the gloving industry is to get good cutters. The cutter is he who cuts out from the leather the 'trank'; he then forms the 'fourchette' or slip between the fingers, and also the 'quirk' or gusset near the thumb. The tan driving gloves are made with the greatest care and prepared by a peculiar method in which the yolk of eggs imported from Normandy, Ireland, and even Russia, plays an important part. (fn. 439) Every piece of the glove is numbered, and carefully fitted. The machine sewing is wonderfully accurate, and machines have now been invented to execute every kind of stitch. In all the factories in the neighbourhood a very perfect system of supervision is exercised, and it is impossible for anything of an inferior description to leave any of the establishments.
Malting and Brewing
The county of Oxford has been time out of mind celebrated for its brewing, and to-day the fame of Oxford ales is still widespread. The industry has been carried on in most of the towns, but in particular in Oxford, Witney, Henley, Banbury, and Deddington. In the city of Oxford itself the trade of brewing has been long established, but it was conducted under somewhat unusual circumstances. The brewers of the city were forced to compete with the private college breweries, and were at the same time under the strict surveillance of the university authorities. Although most of the colleges had at one time or another their brewhouses, yet the breweries of New College and of Brasenose College will ever remain the most famous. The latter ceased to brew in 1889 when the new buildings necessitated the removal of the brewhouse, but the remembrance of former days has been perpetuated by the collection of verses which were annually presented on Shrove Tuesday by the butler of the college. (fn. 440)
The brewing carried on in colleges can, however, only be regarded as a private undertaking, and not as an industry of the county. In 1240 Ralph the brewer was a man of substance, and land was conveyed to him by the prior and convent of St. Frideswide. (fn. 441) The price of beer about this time was determined by the assize of ale of 1251. In cities two gallons of beer were to be sold for a penny, while about half the price was to be charged in country districts. A strict watch was kept upon the brewers, and by an order of 1255 all men making beer for sale were to expose a sign, failing which they were to lose their beer. (fn. 442) Already there was an ancient brewhouse within the castle, for it is mentioned in Wood's City of Oxford for the year 1267. (fn. 443) The methods of the brewers do not appear to have been altogether exemplary, for on 21 May, 1293, they were forbidden to use the 'corrupt water' of Trill Mill Stream. (fn. 444) As in the case of the other industries brewing also fell under the ordinance of the market, and in 1318 the sellers of beer were to dispose of the liquor between St. Edward's Lane and the Chequers Inn. (fn. 445)
It is interesting to notice that the great fight in the streets of Oxford in 1354 between 'Town' and 'Gown' arose from a dispute between a scholar and a taverner over a quart of wine. The great feature of the affray as far as brewing was concerned lies in the fact that the powers of the university authorities were extended, and as an outcome of the riot the king granted 'to the Chancellor of the University, excluding the mayor entirely, the complete supervision of the assize of bread, ale and wine, and all victuals.' (fn. 446) About 1356 the assize of beer was issued and two gallons of beer were to be sold for a penny. If, however, malt rose in price twelve pence a quarter the price of beer was to rise or fall accordingly one farthing a gallon. (fn. 447) This interference on the part of the university did not in any way check the brewing trade. At this time Henry and Aubrey his wife are recorded as brewers in Cheney Lane, and in 1331 William Pirye had a brewhouse near St. Mary's Church. (fn. 448) In 1380 there were no less than thirty brewers in Oxford. (fn. 449) Twenty years later Mr. John Sprunt brewed ale in Shoe Lane. In 1405 he was fined for throwing out dirty water and ashes, and when he died in 1419 his will was found to contain a list of taverner's plant consisting of vessels of wood, lead, and brass. He was evidently a wealthy man, for he possessed houses in the parishes of St. Michael's and St. Mary's. The brewers once again do not seem to have practised their trade with strict honesty, for in the Munimenta Academica for the year 1434 it is recorded as follows:—
Seeing how great evils arise both to the clerks and the townsmen of the City of Oxford, owing to the negligence and dishonesty of the brewers of ale, Christopher Knollys, commissary, assembles the brewers together in the Church of the Blessed Mary the Virgin and commands them to provide sufficient malt for brewing; and that two or three shall twice or thrice in the week carry round their ale for public sale under a penalty of 40s.; and John Weskew and Nicholas Core, two of their number, are appointed supervisors of the brewers. (fn. 450)
Some years later the brewers again supplied poor ale, and in 1449 they were forced to swear to let their ale stand for twelve hours before sending it into college. (fn. 451) The manorial records of Bicester for the reign of Henry VI show that brewing was carried on during that period in that town. On one occasion 132½ gallons of beer were bought from John Spinan, Alice Bedale, and other brewers, and for this large quantity the astounding sum of 4s. 10d. was paid. (fn. 452) A common trouble at this time was the refusal of the brewer to brew unless it suited him. This refractory conduct was generally punished by suspending the offender from practising the trade of brewer, and this was what happened to Alice Everarde in 1439. (fn. 453) A few names of brewers in Oxford during this century have been preserved. In 1447 there were Thomas Whithicke, John Clif, John Keele, Robert Wode, John Wilmott, Agnes Treders, John Walker, Henry Ffelipe, William Hans, Ricard Coore, John Milton, Thomas Bertone, William Hanell, Thomas Hanell, John Blakethorne, John Belymasone, John Skynnere, Thomas Sherman, William Dagvile, and Henry Barwike. (fn. 454) Several of these in 1449 were accused of violating the assize and of making their beer weak and unwholesome. (fn. 455)
In 1452 W. Angle is recorded as a 'brewer,' (fn. 456) and in 1458 the name of John Bek or Beek occurs as a brewer and surety. (fn. 457) Nicholas Bishop was a wealthy brewer at this time and flourished between the years 1429 and 1460. He is famous as desiring to be a historian, as he prepared a treatise on the subject of North Gate Street. (fn. 458) In 1460 Robert Heth was one of the chief brewers in the city; (fn. 459) but he, like all the others, was not able to regulate the price by open competition, but had to abide by the price fixed by the commissary. This official in 1462 was David Husbond, and he fixed the price on 12 November at 19d. 'pro quarter melioris cerevisiae.' (fn. 460) The appointed officers for the regulation of beer were then sworn in; they were ordered to test the quantity and quality of the beer in the colleges and halls; and it was further ordained that the beer shall be allowed to cool before being sold. (fn. 461) From documents preserved at All Souls College, it is evident that there was a brewery in St. Mary's parish, which on 1 September, 1466, was leased by the college to Richard and Joan Frier, together with all the utensils required for brewing. (fn. 462) The parish of St. Mary's, however, was not the head-quarters of this industry in the fifteenth century, but Grandpont Street during this period was the chief situation for the Oxford breweries, two of which in the reign of Henry VII had in previous years been residences for scholars, the one Trill Mill Hall, the other Woodcock Hall. (fn. 463)
At the beginning of the reign of Henry VIII the best-known brewers were George Havile, (fn. 464) who had a brewhouse in Broad Street, and Robert Dynham, (fn. 465) but the trade was now under the double restriction of the Vice-Chancellor of the University and the Brewers' Corporation.
On 22 February, 1513, the vice-chancellor held a court at the house of the Master of the Brewers' Corporation, and there certain ordinances for regulating the brewing of beer in Oxford were confirmed by the university. (fn. 466) But these were not sufficient, and in 1525 it was ordained that sixteen brewers were to brew in Oxford and no others. (fn. 467) The brewing craft had thus become a monopoly, and the gild did its best to shut out any who wished to brew. In 1530, when William Frear the mayor was a brewer, (fn. 468) the commissary of the university complains of the restrictive principle, and he remonstrates against the conduct of some of the members of the gild, pointing out that Mychaell Hethe and other of the brewers of Oxford, will let no man entre unto the crafte of bruers, unlese all or the more parte of the said craft will agree thereunto. (fn. 469)
It was probably due to such complaints as these that the town council in 1534 agreed that brewing was to be done under the fixed scale of the town. (fn. 470) On 23 November, 1533, Thomas Munday, butcher, took up the trade of brewer, as on that day All Souls College sold to him the implements of their brewhouse in the parish of St. Peter le Bailey. (fn. 471) Between 1545 and 1552 the three brewers recorded were Ralph Flaxney, who had a brewhouse in the parish of St. Michael, (fn. 472) Richard Gunter, (fn. 473) and John Brooks. (fn. 474)
Brewing had been carried on in Witney for some time, (fn. 475) but in the reign of Edward VI definite laws were laid down in that town for the regulation of the trade. Thus in 1549—
At a cortt holden ye 19 day of April hytt ys agred byffore ye Cort, ffor ye assysse of ale, to sell ytt yff hytt be good and holssomly brewed to be rated at 20d. ye dossin.
A order taken at ye same courte ffor ye assise of alle. Item ytt every brewer sshawle brew good and holssom alle, and to ssell from and after this day by order of the same courte, every dossen of alle beynge brewed, ye som off 2s. 1d. ye dossen, and ye typlar to sell one thurdyndale (3 pints) off good alle at ½d.
Item, also ytt is agred by order of the same courte ytt every brewer shall provide for ye comfort of ye pore people, good and holesome drynke, and to allow a gawne and a half for a 1d., and every brewer to allow of small drynke ffor ye brewyng off a quarter of mawlt 12 gawnes. (fn. 476)
In 1552 brewing was still further restricted in Witney. In that year a decree was made at this Courte that all brewsters in this toune, shall sell a dozen of ale not above 11s. viiid. and the ganyker (innkeeper) shall sell a thurdyndale for a penny, as well within the dore as wt owte the dore.
In 1558 it was ordered that every brewer and tippler that breweth ale to sale, shall send, and give sufficient warning to the ale taster, at every time of their brewing to taste their ale under payne of forfeyting iiis. ivd. (fn. 477)
The brewing at Witney does not seem to have affected that industry in Oxford. Christopher Arundell brewed in the parish of St. Peter-leBailey in 1558, his landlord being the college of All Souls. (fn. 478) In 1562 a brewhouse existed in the parish of St. Thomas, (fn. 479) but the brewers were still liable to annoying restrictions, as, for example, the order laid down in 1568 that all Oxford brewers were bound to have their grinding done at the old Castle Mill. (fn. 480) For their better protection on 4 February, 1571, the ordinances of the Company of Brewers were enrolled by Nicholas Todde, the mayor, and the rest of the council. The supplication of the brewers to the City for their establishment consisted of seventeen articles. The following six are the most important:— (fn. 481)
On 16 February, 1571, the Brewers' Corporation was confirmed and sealed, (fn. 482) and on 30 October of the following year the town clerk was appointed to act as their solicitor. (fn. 483) The brewers were by no means freed from the authority of the university. In 1574 the Earl of Leicester, as chancellor, ordered ale to be sold for 3d. 'the gallone and not above uppon (payne) of forfetting of every such mesure.' (fn. 484) The formation of the Brewers' Corporation proved a mistake. It was viewed with jealousy on all sides, and in May, 1575, it was brought to an end because it had been—
newly devysed to the disturbance of the liberties of the Universitie, is and hath bin one of the chief and originall causes of the variance and strife betwixt the Universitie and citie. (fn. 485)
Their great rival in the regulation of brewing having been done away with, the university authorities continued to set the price of ale, and in May, 1579, the vice-chancellor decided that best strong ale should be sold at 3s. 4d. a kilderkin, best double beer at 3s., best single at 1s. 6d. (fn. 486) The retail price per gallon was to be 4d. (fn. 487) Still further commands were issued in 1581 by the university, and certain days were appointed for brewing. It is not surprising to find that one brewer at least refused to obey, and for his refusal Thomas Smith of St. Aldates was imprisoned in the castle. (fn. 488)
At the end of the sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth centuries Henley commenced its celebrity for malt and brewing, which it has retained to the present day. In 1587 one Evans Arderne, described as a gentleman, 'was authorized and allowed to be beerebrewer, and to brew good and holsome drink for man's bodye' in the town of Henley. (fn. 489) On 23 December, 1608, orders were issued in Henley concerning the price of the beer. Barrels of the best beer were to be sold at 8s., and small beer was priced at 5s. a cask. A full quart of best ale was to cost 1d., while two quarts of small ale were to be sold at the same price. (fn. 490) From a letter written by Sir Bulstrode Whitelocke in 1637 it is evident that the Earl of Berkshire was a man of some inventive genius, and while possibly hoping to benefit himself he also proposed a scheme for the assistance of the Henley brewers. Whitelocke, however, did not approve either of the inventor or of the scheme, and wrote:—
The Earl of Berks hoping to repair his indigent fortune by setting on foot and engaging in new projects and monopolies, had gotten a patent from the King for the sole making of a new kind of kiln, for making of malt, and laboured to bring the same in use, particularly in Henley, a great malting town; and he was to have money of all those who got up the new kiln. The better to persuade those of Henley to make use of his new kiln, which he pretended woul. save them much money in expense of firing: he offered me a share in his project, that by my interest in Henley it might have the better reception. But I looked upon such projects as dishonourable and illegal and little better than cheats. (fn. 491)
Dr. Plot, writing in 1677, had evidently heard of some such contrivance as the one proposed by the Earl of Berkshire, and there is reason to suppose that the invention had been taken up by some of the inhabitants of the town, for Plot wrote—
The malt kilns of Henley are so thriftily contrived that the kiln-holes are placed in the backs of their kitchen chimnies, so that drying their malt with their wood the same fire serves for that and all other uses of their kitchen beside. (fn. 492)
He regarded the malting industry of Henley-onThames at this time as very considerable.
From the lists of mayors and bailiffs of Oxford during the seventeenth century, brewing and malting must have been the most popular trades of the time. In 1603 Richard Hans was a brewer and bailiff; (fn. 493) in 1615 and 1618 William Blake and William Willis were the same. (fn. 494) Oliver Smyth, a brewer, was mayor in 1619, 1624, and 1631. (fn. 495) Henry Bosworth, a brewer and maltster, waselected mayor in 1625. Thomas Wicks was a brewer in 1628, (fn. 496) and William Dewy is mentioned of the same trade in 1635. (fn. 497) Oliver Smyth's son Thomas not only followed his father in the brewing industry, but was also elected mayor in 1638 and 1643. Another son of Oliver, John by name, was a maltster, and succeeded as mayor in 1639, one of his bailiffs being Walter Cave, a brewer, who became mayor in 1650. (fn. 498) In 1643 Ralph Chillingworth was a brewer; (fn. 499) in 1657 Francis Heywood was a brewer and bailiff, and he was succeeded by Thomas Tipping. (fn. 500) Arthur Dimock was the next bailiff connected with the trade in 1661, and three years later the mayor was John Wyhte. (fn. 501) In 1671 Francis Heywood, a former bailiff and brewer, was appointed mayor. (fn. 502) About this time a brewery belonging to Mr. Carpenter stood in Brewers Street, and a brewhouse and malthouse were also situated in Paradise. (fn. 503) In 1678 and 1685 the bailiffs were selected from the maltsters; in the first case Badger and Fertrey, in the second Walker and Neale. As bailiffs for the year 1688 Richard Carter, brewer, and John Willer, maltster, were appointed, the former being elected mayor in 1690. (fn. 504)
Meantime the university continued to exercise its authority over the brewers of Oxford. In 1615 the price was once again altered by the then vice-chancellor, Dr. Goodwin, and he ordered that a barrel of double beer was to cost 10s., while a quarter of ale was priced at 5s. 4d. (fn. 505) The university seems to have struggled almost in vain for the production of good and wholesome ale, and although Dr. Plot says that the 'maulting trade of Oxford' was considerable, yet the brewing industry does not seem to have been carried on to the advantage of the consumers. This is particularly clearly shown by the notice issued by Vice-Chancellor Bathurst on 22 June, 1676:—
Whereas it hath been observed yt the Common Brewers of this place consulting more yr own private gain than the health and benefit of others, have not of late years made ye beer and ale of equall goodness with that in former times: And whereas severall complaints have been made to me of the unwholsomness both of beer and ale, occasioned chiefly by the rawness of such worts as were never boyled (the alebrewer (as I am informed) not boyling his first and the Beer-Brewer his 2d wort) Whereby a mixture of crude and sweet with bitter wort, both become less wholsome for man's body. For remedy whereof these are straitly to require and command all the public Brewers of this place upon forfeiture of their respective Licenses, That after the 24th day of this instant moneth of June, they and every of them well and sufficiently boyle or cause to have so boyled, all their several worts for the making of double Beer, middle Beer and Ale: and that they also take particular care, yt the said sorts of Beer and Ale in all other respects be made good and wholsome and agreeable to the assize which from time to time be printed and presented them.' (fn. 506)
It is interesting to notice how the university kept to the same price for beer. In 1615 the price had been, as shown, 10s. a barrel. In November, 1701, Roger Mander, the vicechancellor, issued an order—
that no public Ale Brewers nor Beer Brewers within the precincts of this University, presume to sell their double Beer or Ale for more than ten shillings the Barrel (besides the duty of Excise) and so proportionately for any other vessel. (fn. 507)
At the beginning of the eighteenth century Henley is as famous as ever for its malt industry, (fn. 508) and Burford had now a large malting business, and it was here that malt mills of stone were first made by Valentine Strange. (fn. 509) One name left on record as a brewer at Henley in the eighteenth century is that of John Blackman, who is mentioned in the minutes of the corporation for 1721. (fn. 510) The next year Henry Stevens, a brewer, died in Oxford, but little or nothing is known of him. (fn. 511) But by this time a wellknown brewery had been established in Oxford itself, known as the Swan's Nest Brewery. From the original deeds still in the possession of Hall's Brewery this old firm was in existence in 1718. (fn. 512) Its name was probably due to its situation, for close to the castle where the brewery afterwards stood there was a place called the Swan's Nest, which is mentioned for the years 1571 and 1576. It is probable that the city kept a flock of swans at this point, and bred them for the table. (fn. 513) The brewery continued to flourish, and malt-making was also carried on to a very considerable extent, the malt being conveyed by barges to London. (fn. 514) Some time previous to 1780 the Swan's Nest Brewery passed into the hands of Sir John Treacher, (fn. 515) who was both an alderman and mayor of Oxford, and came of a well-known Oxford family. (fn. 516) In 1795 Mr. William Hall purchased the brewery from Sir John Treacher, and many of the old public-houses that had been connected with the old brewery, and some, indeed, that had been licensed as far back as the seventeenth century, now became connected with Mr. William Hall's firm. In the first year of Queen Victoria's reign the brewery passed to Henry Hall, and in 1860 it came into the hands of the father of the present manager. On 15 December, 1896, the Swan Brewery, that had so long retained at least part of its ancient title, was converted into a company, under the name of Hall's Oxford Brewery, Limited, with its head offices at the Swan Brewery. During the year, the firm purchased Wootten's Brewery in St. Clements, and on 25 January, 1897, they also completed the purchase of Weeving's Eagle Brewery. By 1898 they had added Hilliard's Brewery of Wallingford and Shillingford's brewing business at Bicester. On 2 February of that year they purchased the City Brewery. (fn. 517) This had been founded at the beginning of the nineteenth century by David Hanley of Oxford. Under the management of his two sons Charles and Edmund Hanley a new brewery was built. It was turned into a limited company about 1890, (fn. 518) and then became the property of Hall's Oxford Brewery, Limited. This firm, made up of so many amalgamations, has a share capital of £300,000; the debenture stock is £250,000. The chairman of the company is Mr. A. W. Hall, and the managing director Mr. A. N. Hall. (fn. 519)
Previous to the purchase of the Old Swan's Nest Brewery by Mr. William Hall, there were several brewers in Oxford of some repute. One of these was Henry Drought, while Benjamin Tubb, whose relatives were closely connected with Oxford, had a malthouse in Grandpont. (fn. 520) At this time the price of beer went up, and Mr. J. R. Green records the fact that in 1793 there was a meeting of the bursars of the different colleges for taking into consideration the advance of 2s. per barrel laid on beer by the Oxford brewers. (fn. 521) Amongst these brewers would be the already-mentioned Sir John Treacher, and John Archer, Edward Tawney, Thomas Sutton Hood, and Anne Turner. (fn. 522) It would appear that at this time there were few maltsters in Oxford, for in the Directory for 1791–8 there only occur the two names of William Burrows and Thomas Ward. (fn. 523) Soon after the beginning of the nineteenth century the brewery now known as Morrell's (Trustees) Lion Brewery, in High Street, St. Thomas's parish, came into existence. It then belonged to Mr. James Morrell, and he, together with Mark Morrell, are recorded as partners in 1823. (fn. 524) It has always been in its present situation, and it is said to be one of the largest single-handed breweries in England. (fn. 525) In 1807 a brewery is recorded to have been under the control of a Mr. Davis, and both Hall's and Archer's breweries were flourishing concerns, the former in St. Thomas's, the latter in St. Aldates. (fn. 526) In 1823 two new names appear amongst the brewers of Oxford, namely, Edward Micklem in Brewhouse Lane, and James Wicken in Corn Market. (fn. 527) Malting again seems to have revived, (fn. 528) and several maltsters are recorded, such as Thomas Baylis, William Burrows, William Rowland, William Sheldon, and Henry Ward. (fn. 529) The last of the Oxford breweries to be mentioned is that of W. G. Phillips & Sons, Limited, who have carried on for some years the industry at the Tower Brewery.
Meantime brewing was a flourishing industry in other Oxfordshire towns. About 1756, the present firm of W. H. Brakspear & Sons, Limited, came into existence under the title of Messrs. Hayward & Brakspear, in connexion with the old Henley bank of Messrs. Hayward, Fisher & Brakspear. This brewery has been famous for many years for the excellence of its beer, owing to a most interesting reason. The water from which the beer is brewed is obtained from a well of very great depth situated on the premises. The water closely resembles the Burton water in its constituents and purity. The firm is also very careful to purchase only the very best bred barleys and finest hops, thus ensuring that the beers shall be of the purest possible character. (fn. 530) In 1823, besides Messrs. Brakspear's firm, there were two other brewers, Joseph Appleton & Co. in New Street and Henry Byles in Friday Street, and at the same time there were eleven maltsters. (fn. 531) In 1852 the brewing firms in Henley were Brakspear's, and those of Edmund Chamberlain, R. Cox, and Messrs. Byles & Sons. (fn. 532) Later on, the firm of Messrs. Holmes & Steward were engaged in brewing at Henley, but their business was taken over by Messrs. W. H. Brakspear & Sons, about 1896. (fn. 533)
About the end of the eighteenth century Deddington was famous for 'the goodness of its malt liquors,' (fn. 534) and in the early part of the nineteenth century the two maltsters residing here were J. Arlidge and G. Petty. (fn. 535) Chipping Norton was also famous for its ale, and as early as 1796 the firm of Hitchman & Company Limited was founded. Their premises at Chipping Norton, known as 'The Brewery,' occupy a wide area of ground, and steam-power machinery and the most modern improved appliances are employed. The brewing industry affords a good deal of work for those who live in the ancient town. (fn. 536) Besides the business of Messrs. Hitchman & Co. there were two other maltsters in Chipping Norton in 1823, namely T. Mathews and J. Phillips. (fn. 537) Witney is also celebrated for its brewery. At the beginning of the nineteenth century there were five maltsters in the town, one of whom was Mr. J. Clinch. (fn. 538) Giles in his history of Witney speaks of Mr. Clinch's famous brewery in 1852, and it still continues to flourish. (fn. 539) Bicester has been a centre for brewing and malting for many years. In 1823 there were two brewers of the names of J. Bache and W. Phillips, (fn. 540) besides seven maltsters, and later there was the brewery of Messrs. Shillingford taken over by Hall's Oxford Brewery in 1898.
In Banbury and its neighbourhood brewing has been carried on for many years. In Banbury itself in 1823 there were three maltsters, (fn. 541) and by 1852 these had increased to fourteen. (fn. 542) Meantime in or about 1840 Mr. Thomas Hunt founded a brewery upon a still more ancient private brewhouse attached to one of the old inns at Banbury. Shortly after the foundation, Mr. Hunt was joined by Mr. William Edmunds, and these two successfully carried on and largely increased the business. In 1896 it was converted into a limited company under the style of Hunt, Edmunds & Co., Ltd., and the buildings of the brewery now cover about 6 acres of ground in Bridge and Fish Street, Banbury. (fn. 543) At Shutford, near Banbury, a brewery was founded by Mr. George Cross in 1840. It was successfully conducted by his son Mr. V. G. Cross and is now in the hands of the grandson of the original founder. (fn. 544) In 1849 Mr. John Harris established the Hook Norton Brewery, which was rebuilt according to modern requirements in 1899. In the following year the business was converted into a limited liability company with a share capital of £67,000. It employs about 50 men, and is under the management of three directors, one of whom is the son of the original founder. (fn. 545)
The ancient town of Burford had for many years a reputation for its malting business, but at the end of the eighteenth century this industry seems almost to have died out, and by 1799 the malting houses of Burford appear to have been in a state of decay. Certainly in 1823 there were still two maltsters left Mr. W. Arthur and Mr. J. Tuckwell, (fn. 546) but by 1891 all the members of the old trade had gone. Since that date, however, some of the bygone industry has been restored by Messrs. Garne and Sons, brewers, who have established their business in the town of Burford. (fn. 547)
The county of Oxford is peculiarly rich in stone-quarries, and materials for building abound in all districts. Quarries of freestone are very numerous; limestone is plentiful, and slate is found in several places. The antiquity of these quarries is well established, and their importance has been recognized from very early times. It is extremely probable that the remnants of AngloSaxon buildings that still exist are composed of stone that came from the neighbouring quarries. In fact the stone used in the tower of St. Michael's, and in the early portions of St. Peter's in the East, together with the Norman foundations of Carfax Church, came from a very ancient quarry at Chilswell. (fn. 548) In 1303 there was a quarry of some repute near Wheatley, known as 'Cherlegrave,' (fn. 549) and here quarrying was carried on for some considerable time. But this quarry was quite overshadowed by the far more important quarries of Headington near Oxford and Taynton near Burford. These two quarries have continued up to the present time as valuable depositories of stone. That Taynton stone was used very early in Oxford itself has been proved by the library building account of Exeter College, in which it is recorded that 'William the mason' was paid 'for stone from Teynton 12 marks 7 sh.' There is, too, another reference showing a large purchase of stone—'carriage of stone from Teynton £7 0s. 10d.' (fn. 550)
During the fifteenth century the quarry-owners of Oxfordshire were particularly busy, as, during this period, there was a great demand for stone, both for the building of the colleges, and also for the erection or restoration of certain churches in the county. Between the years 1437 and 1442 (fn. 551) the college of All Souls was built from the two chief quarries of Headington and Taynton. On 26 October, 1438, Edmund Rede sold to John Dinell, master of the works of All Souls College, part of his quarry at Hedendon.' (fn. 552) In 1442 Thame Church building account affords an excellent insight into the current prices for stone, and also shows from what parts the stone came. Headington stone was used chiefly, but for carvings and ornaments the church builders fell back upon the less perishable stone of Taynton. From the following selections some idea of the prices may be obtained: (fn. 553) —
The steady demand for Headington and Taynton stone continued. Merton College purchased in 1449 a very large quantity from both quarries. Taynton supplied 1,200 square feet, and 159 loads were ordered from Headington. The Taynton stone cost £10 10s. 6d., the carriage being 2s. a load; the carriage from Headington was naturally much less, varying from 5d. to 5½d. a load. The wages for the quarrymen were from 4d. to 4½d. per day, and the total wage bill was £12 13s. 2d. (fn. 554) The Manorial Records of Bicester in the reign of Henry VI also show the price of stone during that period, for the following entry occurs: 'To William Skerne and his fellows hired to dig stones for the walls at the quarry beyond Crokkewell 23s. 4d. (fn. 555) Magdalen College was the next great purchaser from the Headington quarries. In 1467 the outer walls of the college were built from material that came from the quarry. (fn. 556) Six years later stone for the college itself was obtained from the same spot. There seem to have been three quarries then in use. One of these was royal property and rented by the college from the king; a second was rented from Sir Edmund Rede; a third was owned by the college itself. These three, however, were not sufficient, and stone was also brought from Wheatley, Thame, and Milton, the last of which is well known at the present time. (fn. 557) In 1495 Magdalen College had still the ownership of the quarry at Headington, and an agreement was drawn up on that subject between the president and scholars of the college and the prior and convent of St. Frideswide. (fn. 558)
The early part of the sixteenth century still witnessed a considerable demand for stone for college buildings, and the ownership of Headington quarries remained in several hands. Among the muniments of Magdalen College there is a quaintly worded document of 1513 that illustrates this fact. Several men from Oxford walked out to 'Hedington Quarry, and called all the said men working in diverse men's quarries together, and they all sat down upon a green bank and did drink a pennyworth of ale.' (fn. 559) These 'diverse men's quarries' at Headington supplied stone to Cardinal Wolsey when he began to build Cardinal College, and the stone used for Christ Church came not only from Headington but also from Burford, Taynton, and Holton, near Wheatley. The lime that was also necessary was brought into Oxford from the neighbouring villages of Beckley and Stanton St. John. (fn. 560) About the same time a quarry was also worked in North Hincksey. (fn. 561) Two or three decades later Leland refers most probably to the quarry at Taynton or at Upton when he remarks, 'There is a notable quarry of fine stone about Burford. (fn. 562)
Although there were so many quarries in Oxfordshire, yet the Headington quarries held their own against the many competitors, partly because of their proximity to Oxford, and partly owing to the ease with which the stone was worked. Thus, early in the seventeenth century, Merton College purchased stone from Headington for the Fellows' quadrangle, which was built between 1608 and 1610; (fn. 563) and in 1613 Wadham College was erected, and is regarded as one of the best examples of a building made from Headington stone. (fn. 564) Stonesfield was at this time the district from which slates were procured, though University College in 1635 employed Robert Perry, of Burford, as their 'slatter,' paying him for the slates and the labour 16s. a hundred. (fn. 565) A new quarry had by this time come into existence at Handborough, where stone is still obtained. As early as 1619 stone from this quarry had been brought into Woodstock, at 2s. a load. (fn. 566) The Burford and Taynton quarries during the latter part of the seventeenth century were probably more famous than at any other period either before or since. Wood speaks of the Taynton quarry as the 'Leper's Quarry,' and the quarries half a mile south-west of Burford were called Christopher's or Kitt's quarries. It was from these quarries that Sir Christopher Wren is said to have obtained much of the stone for the re-building of St. Paul's Cathedral after its destruction in the Great Fire in 1666. It was here, too, that one of the master quarrymen, named Kempster, having made sufficient money in his transactions with Wren, built a large stone house in 1698. (fn. 567)
Dr. Plot, in his Natural History of Oxfordshire, published in 1677, supplies more information than any other historian on the subject of Oxfordshire quarries. Writing of Headington quarry, he says:
Of the stone afore-mentioned consists the gross of our buildings; but for Columns, Capitals, Bases, window-lights, door-cases, cornishing, mouldings, etc., in the chiefest work they use Burford stone, which is whiter and harder and carrying by much a finer arris than that at Heddington: but yet it is not so hard as that at Teynton, nor will it like that endure the fire of which they make mault kills and hearths for Ovens; but then they take care to 'surbed' the stone, i.e., set it edg-ways contrary to the posture it had in the bed, for otherwise there will be some danger of its flying.
Besides the fire it endureth the weather, for of this mixed with another sort dug near Whately on the Worcester Road side as it passes betwixt Holton and Sir Timothy Tyrrils, are all the oldest colleges in Oxford built, as Baliol, Merton, Exeter, Queen's, Canterbury (now part of Ch. Ch.) College, Durham (now Trinity) College, New College, Lincoln, All Souls, Magdalen, Brazen-nose, and the outermost quadrangle of St. John Bapt. Coll. Yet it endures not the weather so well as Heddington, by reason, I suppose, of a salt it has in it which the weather in time plainly dissolves, as may be seen by the Pinnacles of New College Chapel made of this stone and thus melted away. . . . Other quarries there are also of considerable use, as Bladen, Little Milton, Barford, and Hornton, whereof the last has the best firestone of any in the county. . . . At Cornbury Park there was a sort of stone, the quarry whereof is now quite exhausted, that never would sweat in the moistest weather, of which the pavement of the Hall in the house there still remains as sufficient testimony. (fn. 568)
Dr. Plot speaks of the well-known slates of Stonesfield, an industry which at that time was far greater than it is now. There are still pits in the neighbourhood, and slates are still obtained in much the same way as that described by Plot, but it is only on a small scale. One of the best-known buildings roofed by these slates is a portion of Balliol College, which work was carried out in 1856. (fn. 569) Writing of the method of obtaining the slates, Plot says that the stone
is dug first in thick cakes about Michaelmas time or before, to lye all the winter and receive the frosts, which make it cleave in the spring following into thinner plates, which otherwise it would not do so kindly. But at Bradwell they dig a sort of flat stone, naturally such, without the help of winter, and so strangely great that sometimes they have them of 7 ft. long and 5 ft. over. (fn. 570)
During this time limestone was quarried at Charlton, Langley, Little Milton and Shotover. At Bletchingdon a grey marble was obtained which was used for the making of chimneypieces, and 'the pillars of the portico at St. John's College.' (fn. 571) At Clifden Hampden a peculiar stone of the 'pyrites aureus' character was also found. This struck fire very plentifully, and was sought after for 'carbines and pistols, whilst wheel-locks were in fashion.' (fn. 572) Another and very peculiar form of quarrying is recorded by Dr. Plot at Kidlington. He gives the following account, and says that
the scarcity of firing has induced some people to burn a sort of black substance. . . . called Lignum fossile . . . . it consumes but slowly, and sends forth very unpleasant fumes: it is found in a pit or quarry called Langford Pitts, in the parish of Kidlington, not far from Thrup, about 18 ft. deep under the rock, where it lies in a bed about 4 in. thick. (fn. 573)
The Taynton quarry was used very extensively for the building of Blenheim Palace between 1710 and 1722, (fn. 574) but the great buildings of Oxfordshire were now almost complete, and there is little further mention of that quarry. During the eighteenth century a stone pit was opened at Hardwick and worked by the parish. It was, however, used up by the year 1855. (fn. 575) In 1748 there is evidence of a quarry at Breck, near Banbury, but no returns are available. (fn. 576) Throughout this period the old quarries continued to be worked, and at the beginning of the nineteenth century Headington was used for both freestone and ragstone. It cut 'soft and easy' when in the quarry, but hardened on exposure to the weather. In 1813 the vein was from 12 to 14 ft. deep, but at the bottom the stone was found to be too soft and sandy for use. This stone then, as now, was too coarse and porous for ornamental work; it varied much in quality, both soft and hard stone lying indiscriminately mixed in the quarry. (fn. 577) In 1852 the Headington quarries were worked by Mr. Thomas Snow, (fn. 578) but at the present time they are but little used. This is not the case in other parts. From Banbury there still comes the famous limestone locally known as 'Banbury marble,' and a somewhat similar coarse marble is found in the Forest of Wychwood. (fn. 579) The Milton quarries mentioned by Plot in 1677 are still worked, and it is from these that Portland stone (fn. 580) is obtained, and has been used to reface parts of the colleges where the Headington stone has been weather-worn. Great as was the work in the Oxfordshire quarries during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, yet now the business is a declining one. At the present time there are thirty-nine quarries in Oxfordshire, but only 127 quarrymen in the whole county to carry on what was formerly a celebrated and important industry. (fn. 581)
Iron Ore Industry
The workable iron ores of Oxfordshire belong to the marlstone rock of the middle Lias, and this is extremely well developed in the country round Banbury, being met with as far south as Fawler, and stretching out of the county to the west to the Edge hills. (fn. 582) By the year 1850 it was thought that the available supplies of raw material for the iron and steel industry were well ascertained. With regard to large supplies this was certainly the case, but it is since that date that the iron ore of Oxfordshire and of a few adjacent counties has been worked as a profitable business. (fn. 583) The iron ore at Fawler and at Adderbury has been obtained intermittently ever since the year 1859, but since the opening of the Banbury and Cheltenham railway line the ore has been worked regularly at both Hook Norton and Adderbury. (fn. 584) In 1874 the brown hematite got out at Adderbury was valued at £7,721, and weighed 36,808 tons. In 1879, however, there was a falling off, for only 1,233 tons were worked, and these were valued at £266. (fn. 585) Since that period Hook Norton has been the scene of a busy industry. The ore obtained in this neighbourhood at points where the beds come to the surface is in most cases a hydrated peroxide of iron or brown hematite. The metallic iron in the workable ore varies from about 18 to 32 per cent.; the richer ore in most cases being more siliceous than the poorer stone, which contains much lime.
Owing to the high percentage of moisture which this ore contains, and also because of the heavy railway rates, it has been found advisable to calcine it before sending it away. For this purpose, during the last seven years, calcining kilns have been erected at Hook Norton by Lord Dudley and the Brymbo Steel Co. Three of these kilns are still at work, those of the Brymbo Steel Co. being fired by produce-made gas. This is a very important matter for the company concerned, as by this means the ore is reduced in weight for railway carriage, and the percentage of iron is increased.
The majority of the ore from Oxfordshire is sent to the blast furnaces of South Staffordshire and North Wales, but the industry is not as fully developed as it might be owing to the heavy railway rates. Nevertheless, about 150 men are being employed, and the output from the mines is fairly considerable. (fn. 586) The government returns are, however, only available for Oxfordshire and Rutland taken together, and the amount in 1904 was 132,579 tons. (fn. 587)
Agricultural Machine-Making and Iron-Founding
Banbury, situated in the northern portion of Oxfordshire, stands supreme as the home of agricultural machine-making in this county. Mr. Beesley in 1841 records in his history of Banbury that that ancient borough had already some reputation for machine-making. He says, 'Various patent turnip-cutting machines, a patent land-presser or roller made on the lever principle, a patent drill on the same principle, a steel drill, a cake crusher, and a hand-threshing machine, all by Banbury inventors,' were fairly well known at this date. (fn. 588) It was, however, due to Sir Bernhard Samuelson rather than to anyone else that Banbury obtained its industrial character. In 1841 the population of the town was only 7,241, while twenty years later it had increased to 10,238. During this period Banbury, a dormant borough, had blossomed into an active centre of industry, and had gained for itself a notoriety among engineers. Sir Bernhard Samuelson was not only the man who founded Banbury's present prosperity, but he has been well called 'its presiding genius for half a century.'
The development of Banbury as a centre for agricultural machine-making was due in part to the French Revolution of 1848. Owing to the disturbed state of France, Sir Bernhard Samuelson found it quite impossible to carry on the railway works which he had established at Tours in 1846. For this reason he returned to England and found that a small implement factory at Banbury was for sale. For some years previous Mr. James Gardner had carried on with success the manufacture of agricultural implements, particularly the 'Banbury' turnip-cutter, which was his own invention, and owing to which he had won a considerable reputation. Mr. Gardner died and his business was put on the market at exactly the moment that Sir Bernhard Samuelson required an opening. The business was at once bought, energy was devoted to the concern, its operations were extended, and the 'Britannia Works' were founded. At first the works that did so much to transform Banbury were of a very humble character, and Sir Bernhard was his own manager, his own correspondent, and even his own commercial traveller. It is recorded that his wage bill for the first week was £32 paid to twenty-seven employés. This was only for a time, because the proprietor saw the needs of the agriculturists, and by patience and skill soon succeeded in producing those laboursaving machines which have so ably assisted the English farmer. So rapidly did the works expand that it is said that if necessary 120 reaping machines could be laid down and finished in one day. In the year 1872 the Britannia Works produced the enormous number of 8,000 reaping machines. (fn. 589) Sir Bernhard devoted his attention for a good many years to the development of this business, and many of the implements still made owe their existence to his inventive genius. At first mowers, reapers, and automatic sheaf-binders were the firm's specialities, but in later years the list of the manufactures of the firm has been extended in several other directions. In 1887 Roots blowers were taken in hand, (fn. 590) and the various parts of these and the exhausters are now fitted with the most perfect mathematical precision. The internal beaters have to be so adjusted that barely a sheet of ordinary notepaper can pass between them as they revolve. (fn. 591) The Roots blower was followed by the Longworth patent pneumatic hammer, moulding machines, and other types of agricultural machinery. Another special feature of the Britannia Works is roller milling machinery. In this connexion, however, the firm does not manufacture for the consumer direct, but only for the well-known firm of Messrs. Briddon and Fowler of Manchester, to whose designs the machinery is made. (fn. 592) In 1888 the concern was converted into a limited company, the shares being privately held; it is now under the management of a board of directors, which was presided over, until his death in May, 1905, by the Rt. Hon. Sir Bernhard Samuelson, bart.
The extensive Britannia Works occupy three sites, known respectively as the 'Upper' works, the 'Canal Side' works, and the 'Lower' works. All these are connected by a tramway, which affords convenience for the transport of machines. The 'Upper' works consist of a group of buildings ranged round the original shop, extensions having been made as the necessities of the business outgrew the existing accommodation. In these works are the lathe and drilling shop, the erecting shop, the mowerfitting shop, the beam shop, the binder and reaper erecting shop, the blower shop, and gallery, &c. In the 'Canal Side' works there are long lines of sheds, providing ample accommodation for stocking all kinds of machinery, the smithy, the engine shed, grinding, fettling, and carpenters' shops, the stores, and foundry. In this last are annealing furnaces, capable of producing about ten tons per week, for a large quantity of malleable castings is used by the firm. In the 'Lower' works several thousands of machines are stocked awaiting the season's trade. (fn. 593)
The firm of Messrs. Samuelson & Co. is by no means the only one in Banbury. Other agricultural implement makers have carried on their industry with success. In 1852 Mr. Charles Lampitt was engaged as an iron-founder at the Vulcan Foundry, Neithrop, and Joseph Parnell and William Riley, are recorded as agricultural implement makers. (fn. 594) About fifty years ago Mr. Barrows established the firm that is now known as Messrs. Barrows & Co. Ltd., engineers and boilermakers. The particular work carried on by this firm is the construction of portable engines, mortar machines, water carts, and threshing machines. A great deal of the machinery that is here manufactured is exported abroad, particularly at the present time, to Greece, India, South America, and Australia. This firm has supplied the government departments of the War Office and the India Office; and has gained prizes and medals not only in the United Kingdom, but also in France and Germany. (fn. 595)
Banbury is not the only place in Oxfordshire where iron-founding and agricultural machinemaking are carried on. In the city of Oxford itself there are a few firms that are engaged in these industries, and one is at any rate of some antiquity. The firm now known as W. Lucy & Co. Ltd. was first of all founded as far back as the year 1760. The headquarters of the business are in the Eagle Ironworks, near Walton Street. The present company was formed in 1897. The work in this case is not agricultural machine-making, but rather iron and steel bookcases, and some of these are in the Bodleian Library, the Cambridge University Library, the Patent Office, and His Majesty the King's private library at Windsor. But besides bookcases this firm makes a very large number of lamp posts, both for are lights and incandescent gas; the former have been supplied to numerous places in the United Kingdom, and to Port Elizabeth; while the latter are common throughout England, and have also been exported to Johannesburg. (fn. 596)
The Oxfordshire Steam Ploughing Company is another important firm in Oxford, having its headquarters at Middle Cowley. The business was founded in 1868, when agriculture was in an extremely prosperous state, and when there was a considerable demand for steam-ploughing. From 1868 to 1878 the business became one of importance purely as a steam-ploughing concern. After the very wet season of 1879 there was a falling off in steam-ploughing, and this lack of demand continued until 1886. At that date more energetic management was introduced, and the business has gradually developed, not only in steam-ploughing and in steam-rolling machines, but most particularly in the engineers' department. The works at Cowley now cover three acres of ground, and are complete with every modern appliance necessary for the building of ploughing or traction engines. The number of those employed is considerable, for 200 hands are engaged in the industry. The business, the sole proprietor and general manager of which is Mr. John Allen, of Iffley, has fulfilled several contracts for the government, and during the late war considerable orders were placed with this firm by the War Office. (fn. 597)
The numerous industries carried on in Burford have for the most part disappeared, but bellfounding, for which the ancient town had formerly some reputation, still continues. Bellfounding has not been a very considerable industry in Oxfordshire, because most of the bells of this county, or at least of the northern portion, owe their origin to the famous foundry of the Bagleys just over the border in Northamptonshire at Chacombe. (fn. 598) During the reign of Charles I there was, however, a bell-founder of repute at Burford, Henry Neale by name. He was buried in Burford Church, and the north transept still preserves his memory under the title of the Bell-founder's Aisle. (fn. 599) Henry Neale recast the bells of Burford in 1636, and the churchwardens' book of that date contains the accounts for this work. (fn. 600)
Chardges layed out for the new casting of four bells as followeth:
At the time of the Restoration bell-making was still an industry in Burford, (fn. 601) and probably the name of Simon Neale, which is inscribed on the tenor bell at Milton, (fn. 602) records a relative of the Henry Neale of that ancient borough. During the nineteenth century the firm of Mr. Henry Bond continued Burford's celebrity for bellcasting, and in 1885 they recast the fourth bell of Witney Church. (fn. 603) From that time to the end of 1905, Mr. Bond continued his work, which only ceased with his death; the firm, however, is stated to be likely to continue an industry which, though perhaps not of great size, is at least historically connected with that interesting town.
Bell-casting was by no means confined to Burford, for the industry was carried on both at Woodstock and in Oxford. Lukis, in his 'Account of Church Bells,' speaks of Richard and James Keene as having a foundry at Woodstock which flourished between 1626 and 1681. (fn. 604) There is evidence, however, to show that the foundry continued at least as late as 1686. (fn. 605) These two bell-founders were celebrated throughout the county, and cast many of the bells for the Oxford churches. (fn. 606) On the fourth bell of King's Sutton Church there is the following inscription:—
Know all men that doth me see That James Keene made me.—1626.
One of the bells at Kidlington was cast by Richard Keene in 1661, (fn. 609) and he also made the sixth bell at Thame in 1664, as evidenced by the inscription: 'Richard Keene cast me, 1664.' (fn. 610) The fifth bell at St. Michael's, Oxford, the first and second at Holywell Church, were cast by Keene in 1668 and 1677. (fn. 611) This same Richard Keene in 1679 received £89 8s. for 'new casting the bells of Carfax and adding mettle to make the five bells six, and for making the frame for them and hanging them up.' (fn. 612) Richard Keene's last work in this neighbourhood would seem to be in 1686, when he received £19 18s. for casting a bell for Stow-on-the-Wold. (fn. 613)
Before closing this account of bell-casting a few notices which concern the industry in Oxford itself may here be briefly mentioned. In 1611 and in 1619 the bells of Yarnton were recast in Oxford. (fn. 614) But the Keene foundry seems to have had most of the work in the southern part of the county, and the next bellcaster to be heard of in Oxford was William Rose, who during the period of 1791–8 was engaged in this industry as well as that of brassfounding. (fn. 615) At the beginning of the nineteenth century bell-founding was carried on in the city by Messrs. W. and J. Taylor, brass, iron, and bell founders. Their works in 1823 were situated in St. Ebbe's, (fn. 616) and one of these Taylors is recorded to have recast the bells of Enstone in 1831. Since this period, bell-founding, which was never very extensive, has been steadily on the decline in this county.
The steel-work of Woodstock had in former years considerable notoriety, and the excellent workmanship was known in many parts of England. Small portions of this type of industry are still in existence, as for example very beautifully executed swivels for watch-chains; but all these must have been created before 1850, (fn. 617) as no steel-work has been done since that date in Woodstock or the neighbourhood. The remarkable feature of the articles of polished steel lies in the fact that they were entirely made from the old nails of horse-shoes. These were formed into small bars before being applied to the various purposes of the delicate workmanship. The lustre of the different articles that were thus tediously wrought was eminently fine, and the polish was restored at a trifling expense. The neatness of the execution, the cleverness of the design, and the ingenuity of the designer were all remarkable. There can be but little doubt that this industry was of considerable antiquity, dating at least as far back as the reign of Queen Elizabeth. It has been proposed by one writer that the date of this work can only be traced to the third decade of the eighteenth century, (fn. 618) but this is an obvious error, for in 1598 there is a clear reference to this steel-work in John Marston's Certaine Satyres. He is anxious to describe the ruff of a beau of his day and says:
His ruffe did eate more time in neatest setting Than Woodstocke work in painfull perfecting.
Mr. T. Warton (fn. 619) in discussing this matter says of Marston's description: 'The comparison of the workmanship of a laced and plaited ruff to the laboured nicety of the steel-work of Woodstock is just.' It is presumed that the work was continued in the seventeenth century, and certainly it was in full swing in 1720, when it was under the management of Mr. Metcalfe, who has been regarded by some as the inventor of the trade. There, are, however, practically no records concerning the industry, but it is well known that the prices obtained for some of the specimens of the Woodstock steel were very considerable. These prices convey perhaps better than anything else the skill and labour bestowed upon the small bars before they became ornamental and useful articles. In 1813 Mr. Brewer records that a chain weighing only two ounces was sold in France for £170 sterling. A box in which the freedom of the borough was presented to Lord Viscount Cliefden cost thirty guineas; and for a garter star made for his grace the Duke of Marlborough, fifty guineas were paid. (fn. 620)
From a reference in the Gentleman's Magazine it is obvious that the trade still continued up to 1820, (fn. 621) but from that time it began to disappear, and had entirely ceased to exist before the middle of the nineteenth century.
The Oxford Mint
The history of Oxford previous to the Norman Conquest is for the most part shrouded in the mists of antiquity. It is almost impossible to find anything concerning the ancient trades of this city before 1066, and it is only by studying the history and progress of the moneyer and his 'pennies' that imagination can be drawn upon to furnish some idea of the extensive trade that centred in Oxford. Fortunately the study of the moneyer and his handicraft in Oxford has been considerably lightened and the path made clear by Mr. C. Stainer's excellent work on 'Oxford Silver Pennies.' (fn. 622) The first pennies that have been found and are known to have been minted in Oxford are for the reign of Athelstan. At the beginning of this reign, about 925 to 930, there was possibly only one moneyer in this city, (fn. 623) but in the later portion of the reign there were eight men who carried on this industry, their names being, Ingelri, Mathelwald, Raegenward, Sigeland, Eardulf, Uthelric, Wynelm and possibly Othelric. Under Edmund there were evidently moneyers who lived in Oxford, the only name left on record being that of Reingrim, who is also to be found in the reign of Eadred with a co-worker Wynnelm. Suddenly between the years 955 and 959 there is a gap in the history of minting in Oxford. This gap is probably due to the fact that no pennies have been discovered for the reign of Eadwy, it being most unlikely that the moneyers' industry had been checked by any sudden stoppage either in the national progress or in the commercial advance of Oxford itself. From 959 to 975 Edgar was ruler of all England and his pennies were coined at Oxford as elsewhere, the moneyers being Æthelwine, Leofsige, and Wulfred, the latter extending his work into the reign of Eadweard II.
The evidence afforded by the number of Oxford pennies that were minted in the reign of Æthelræd II and still exist, should show that the city was advancing and taking up an important position in the country. There are no fewer than sixty-one of these Oxford pennies for this reign mentioned in Hildebrand's Catalogue of the great national collection at Stockholm, besides others in Copenhagen, Christiania, Helsingfors, the British Museum, and the Bodleian Library. These pennies were minted by numerous moneyers, and several names have been preserved, though sometimes it is extremely likely that the same name occurs in a varying form. The names known are as follows, Ælfmaer, possibly the same as Æthelmaer; Æthelric or Æthlric; Alfwold; Brihtwine or Brihtwin or Brihtwen or Bryrhtwine or Byrhtwne; Coleman; Eadwi; Godine; Leofman or Leoman; Leofwine, and Wulfwine. There are no pennies of the reign of Edmund Ironside, while those of the reign of Cnut appear to be most common though rarely found in England. In Hildebrand's Catalogue the number of Oxford pennies is fifty-eight, the moneyers being more numerous than in the reign of Æthelræd; and, excluding the same names as those already mentioned, although they need not have been the same men, there were in Oxford Algelric, Coleman, Edwig, Godman, Godwine, Lifinc, Saewine, Sibwine, Wulmaer and Wulwi. Under Harold Harthacnut and Edward the Confessor the industry continued, and during the reign of the last of these kings the legend Pac or Pacx first occurs on a penny. This is said to refer to the great meeting of the Witenagemot which was held in Oxford in a.d. 1017–18. Mr. Keary remarks that:
The terms of this agreement of Oxford were to a certain extent embodied in a series of statutes identical with or similar to those which bear the name of Cnut in the collection of Anglo-Saxon laws. We may assume that the coins with the legend 'pax' have some reference to the agreement at Oxford, or to the promulgation of Cnut's laws, and to the theory that the peace of Edgar had been re-established. (fn. 624)
At the period of the formation of Domesday, minting was still carried on at Oxford, but it appears that there was no profit attached to the work. In the reigns of William I and II Æglwine and Ægelwi and probably about the same time also Brihtred and Godwine were moneyers. (fn. 625) The mint continued up to the reign of Henry III and then ceased. (fn. 626) Sagrim and Sawi were the moneyers under Henry I. The latter was probably followed by his son, and the name survived in Sewy's Lane. Sweting struck Oxford pennies for Matilda. Gahan or Gihan, Sweting, and Walter minted in the city during the reign of Stephen, while Adam, Ashetil, and Rogier did the same under Henry II. Geoffrey de Stockwell, Henry Simeon, Adam Feteplace, and William le Saucer were all moneyers in the reigns of John and Henry III, and they all appear to have held at one time or another high official positions in the city. (fn. 627)
A very considerable period now elapsed before Oxford was again famous for its mint. The Civil War, of Parliament against the king, broke out in September, 1642, and Charles I was driven to make his head quarters in the loyal city. Here in January, 1643, a mint was erected for turning into money for the payment of the soldiers all the plate from the different colleges, and this mint was situated at New Inn Hall. (fn. 628) The mint had been originally established, on the outbreak of the war, at Aberystwith. (fn. 629) Thomas Bushell was master of that mint and lessee of the silver mines there. It was then moved to Shrewsbury, where a good deal of the university plate was turned into coin.
But for want of good workmen and instruments it was found that only £1,000 a week could be coined here, and so the mint was removed to Oxford. (fn. 630) Here it was placed under the direction of Sir William Parkhurst and Mr. Thomas Bushell, and the regular workmen of the mint were brought to Oxford. (fn. 631) It had been agreed that all coins made at Aberystwith should have the plume on both sides, but this does not seem to have been very strictly adhered to, though when the mint was removed to Oxford the minters retained this peculiar mark. (fn. 632) But there were, of course, variations, for the plumes on the Shrewsbury coins sprang from a large coronet with no bands under it; those on the Oxford ones from a smaller coronet with bands. It is most likely that no gold coins were minted at Shrewsbury, but at Oxford between 1642 and 1644 £3 gold pieces were regularly issued. (fn. 633)
The coin peculiarly called the Oxford crown [says Hawkins], is very beautifully executed by Rawlins, with great spirit and attention to details; underneath the horse is a view of Oxford with its name oxon. and R, the initial of the artist's name. (fn. 634)
One of the mint masters was Mr. Robert Hunt, who died on 19 October, 1643. (fn. 635) In this year what were called Oxford double crowns were issued, but all forms of coins down to pennies were minted in New Inn Hall. (fn. 636) The workmanship of the latter part of 1643 was very superior to that at the beginning of the year. In 1644 the gold coins were marked with OX and the date was placed below; but in the following year the letters OX were omitted. In 1646, however, the OX marking was once again instituted, but on coins of this year the date is placed above the letters and not below. (fn. 637) As Oxford surrendered to the Parliamentary forces on 24 June, 1646, the royal mint naturally came to an end, and the history of minting at Oxford ceased for ever.
Tiles and Bricks
From very early times tiles have been made in Oxfordshire, and thirteenth-century tiles were discovered amongst the foundations of Carfax Church. (fn. 638) In 1380 there were apparently four tilers in Oxford, as is shown by the poll-tax of that year. (fn. 639) From the manorial records of Bicester, in the reign of Henry VI, tiling seems to have been carried on at Banbury, for there is the following entry: 'To John Coventry of Banbury, tiler for roofing . . . £4:0:1.' (fn. 640) During the same period the cost of tiles at Oxford was 2s. 6d. a thousand.
Brick-making is not so old an industry in the county as tile-making, but it is now carried on in many parts. In 1604 bricks at Woodstock cost 10s. a thousand, (fn. 641) and from this time onwards brick-kilns and clay-kilns seem to have existed. Between 1642 and 1644 the clay at Shotover does not seem to have been used so much for bricks as for making tobacco pipes for the king's soldiers then quartered at Oxford. (fn. 642) The clay, too, at Marsh Baldon and Nuneham was, according to Dr. Plot, used for making some kind of pottery, but he remarks that it was abandoned before his time. In 1677, however, he records two places where bricks were made.
About Nettlebed [he says] they make a sort of brick so very strong that whereas at most other places they are unloaded by hand, I have seen these shot out of carts, after the manner of stones to mend the Highways, and yet none of them broken.
At Caversham they also made bricks at this period, and these were of a somewhat peculiar shape, being 22 in. long and 6 in. broad; they were called Lath bricks. (fn. 643) At both these places brick-making continues to be carried on, together with the manufacture of tiles and drain-pipes.
In 1852 it is recorded that at Nettlebed 'are manufactured by steam power every description of sanitary stone-ware pipes, pipes for agriculture, tiles for roofing, etc.' At this time the business was under the management of Mr. William Thompson. At Leafield, too, there were potteries worked by Mr. Philip Franklin, and in Banbury there were as many as ten brickmakers. (fn. 644)
Clay is dug for brick-making in the neighbourhood of Bicester, at Finmere, Goring, Long Handborough, and at Caversham and Nettlebed. The kilns and brickworks at the latter place are known as the Soundless Kiln, and were until a short time ago under the superintendence of Mr. George Eustace. Besides these there are also brickworks at Sandford-upon-Thames, belonging to Messrs. Benfield & Loxley; at Wheatley, belonging to Messrs. J. A. & J. Cooper; at Headington Quarry, Milton-underWychwood, Deddington, Shiplake, Culham, Wolvercote, Banbury, and Great Milton.
There are but very few references to this industry, which has now entirely disappeared. It is first mentioned by Dr. Plot in 1677, who records the fact that glass was made at Henley by a Mr. Bishop and then by a Mr. Ravenscroft. The learned historian describes the materials used by these glass-makers—
The materials they used formerly [he says] were the blackest Flints calcined and a white christalline sand, adding to each pound of these . . . about two ounces of niter, Tartar and Borax. (fn. 645)
Between the years 1700 and 1720 Cox, in his account of Oxfordshire, seems to have known of these glassworks at Henley. He speaks of a certain sand at Nettlebed being sent to the glasshouse at Henley. He also records that sand for glass-making was to be found at Finstock, Ledwell, and Shotover. (fn. 646) When the glassworks at Henley came to an end seems to be unknown; certainly in 1861 there was no trace of this glass-making business, though the tradition of it still lingered, as Burn says that the glass-making of Dr. Plot's reference was probably carried on at the north end of Bell Street. (fn. 647)
The county of Oxford being situated as it is with regard to England's greatest river, there can be little doubt that the art of boat-building must have been known to the very earliest inhabitants. That boat-building was a necessity is obvious, and that many barges and lumbering boats plied between Oxford and the metropolis in very early times is shown by petitions from the merchants to Edward I or Edward II. (fn. 648) But the very fact that boats were common was sufficient for their history to have been placed on one side, and there is little or nothing to show that there was any real boat-building industry in Oxford or the riverside towns previous to the end of the eighteenth century.
Between the years 1791 and 1798, Stephen Davis is recorded as a boat-builder of Oxford, (fn. 649) and either he or his son probably entered into partnership about the beginning of the nineteenth century with a Mr. King. After a time the firm became that of Isaac King only, and in 1858 Mr. John Stephen Salter purchased the business. Meantime there was another firm belonging to Mr. Hall, and this was also purchased by Mr. Salter in 1870. In 1874 the firm was known as John Salter, but since 1890 it has been known as Messrs. Salter Brothers. In past years this boatbuilding firm executed orders for both the University crews, and for seven or eight years in succession they built the boats used in the Interuniversity Race. Besides building all sorts of pleasure boats, they now build motor, electric, and steam launches of both steel and wood, and they have recently constructed a steel sternwheeler for the Congo Mission. At the present time they have an order for fifteen boats for the Orange River Colony, and in the past they have sent many boats to India, Ceylon, and China; but in the last two cases there is no longer so great a demand for English-built boats, as the natives have learnt to construct them on the same lines. One of the chief parts of the business of Messrs. Salter Brothers is the running of pleasure steamers from Oxford to Kingston during the summer months. These steamers are built by the firm at Folly Bridge, Oxford. (fn. 650)
In 1871 Mr. Clasper established a boat-building business in Oxford, which was taken over by Mr. F. Rough in 1883, in whose hands it still continues. At the works, near Long Bridges on the towpath, Mr. Rough constructs rowing boats, but a speciality is made of racing craft, both for the college rowing clubs and also for purchasers in Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Australia, and America. Mr. Rough has also invented and patented an improved method for making joints water-tight, and this is especially used in carvel-built boats, ships' decks, and punts. Besides these two firms at Oxford there are several other boat-builders who carry on the industry. (fn. 651)
Oxford is not the only town in the county celebrated for boat-building, for there are firms at Goring, Shiplake, and Henley. Saunders's Patent Launch Building Syndicate, Ltd., have their chief, works at Cowes in the Isle of Wight, but they also build at the Springfield Works, Goring. These are situated on the Thames, about half a mile above Cleave Lock, and about one and á half miles from Goring station, with 500 ft. frontage to the river. They have a wellequipped and powerful slipway, capable of dealing with craft from 25 to 30 tons. The business was originally established in 1830, but the firm of Saunders was started some thirty-five years ago by Mr. S. E. Saunders, who is the inventor and patentee of the sewn construction. Four years ago the firm was formed into a syndicate for the purpose of extending and fully exploiting the patent. This patent system of construction consists of either two, three, four, or more skins, the total thickness being from one-eighth of an inch upwards. First the stringers are placed in position, then a skin is placed diagonally, then a fabric waterproofed with the firm's own solution; next, a reverse diagonal skin is put in position followed by another solutioned waterproofed fabric; lastly (in the case of three skins) the outer skin or planks are placed horizontally. All these are sewn together with specially annealed copper or bronze wire, with stitches varying from half-inch pitch upwards, and are countersunk by a process which is part of the patent. The result of the whole is a hull of uniform strength, which, while possessing great elasticity, is free from vibration. All the launches and boats (up to 60 ft. in length) are built at the Springfield works bottom up. When the skin is sewn they are turned right way up for finishing. The firm have carried out contracts for the King, the Admiralty, the colonies, Trinity House, the Eastern Telegraph Company, and many yacht clubs. (fn. 652)
The firm at Shiplake is that of East's Boat Building Co., Ltd., but its head quarters are not in Oxfordshire, being situated at Reading, where it was founded some twenty-eight years ago. Since 1890 the firm, which then belonged to Mr. A. H. East, established a branch at Shiplake, and eight years later the business was turned into a limited liability company. Boats have been dispatched to every part of the world, and all kinds of launches and boats are constructed.
This industry is not of any great size, but affords a certain amount of employment in the eastern and south-eastern portions of the county. As early as 1380 one chairmaker is recorded as having his business in Oxford. (fn. 653) The history of the industry is, however, a blank from this time until the nineteenth century. Pigot, in his Commercial Directory, gives the name of J. Langbourne as a chairmaker at Henley in 1823. (fn. 654) At Kingston Blount, Chinnor, Oakley, and Stokenchurch, chair-making was carried on in 1852, (fn. 655) and about the same time Thame had some celebrity for its beechen chairs. The principal centre of the industry is now at Stokenchurch, though it is also carried on at Chinnor, Watlington, and Caversham. The chief types of chairs made are low, plain wooden chairs with rush seats, and a large number of church chairs are also manufactured.
Banbury is perhaps best known to the commercial world as a centre for the manufacture of agricultural implements, but to the ordinary man it is most celebrated for three things—the Banbury Cross, Banbury cakes, and Banbury cheese. Ever since the days of Queen Elizabeth Banbury has been famous for its cakes. (fn. 656) In 'a treatise by T. Bright, doctor of physic, 1586', the following paragraph proves how early Banbury cakes were known to the outside world, though probably they had long been familiar to the inhabitants of that town.
Sodden wheate [wrote Dr. Bright] is a grosse and melancholie nourishmente, and bread especiallie of the fine flower unleavened: of this sorte are baggepuddings or panne puddings made with flower, frittars, pancakes, such as we call Banberrie cakes, and those great ones confected with butere, egges, etc., used at weddings. (fn. 657)
Philemon Holland, the celebrated translator, (fn. 658) records in his edition of Camden's Britannia, 1609, that Banbury amongst other things was celebrated for its cakes. Thus early was the cake trade connected with the town, and it is evident that the connexion was sufficiently appreciated in England, because Ben Jonson in his Bartholomew Fair in 1614 introduced a character formerly a baker of Banbury. Thus the baker's enemy is made to say—
I remember that too; out of a scruple he took, that in spiced conscience, those cakes he made were served to bridalls, maypoles, morisses, and such profane feasts and meetings. (fn. 659)
In 1615 Richard Braithwait published A Strappado for the Divell, and compared Banbury to Bradford and mentioned the cakes. (fn. 660) In the next year title-deeds were drawn up that prove the shop now in Parsons Street to have existed as early as 1616, and it is most probable that cakes were made in what is now a parlour, but what was then perhaps a bakehouse. (fn. 661) Whether the cakes were made here or in another shop, they are mentioned in 1627, and again in 1636 by John Taylor the Water Poet. (fn. 662) The industry undoubtedly continued with variations and fluctuations, and it would be gathered from Addison in the Tatler in 1710 that the cake trade was not as flourishing as it had been at the beginning of the seventeenth century. (fn. 663) But on 10 March, 1711, Hearne remarked that Banbury was celebrated for its cakes and that the judges, when on the Oxford assize, were presented with a cake. (fn. 664) During this century the White family were the celebrated cake-makers, and towards the close of the century Betty White was perhaps the most famous of all cakemakers, her reputation and name being still well remembered in Banbury. (fn. 665)
During the nineteenth century the cake trade flourished even more than ever before. In 1838 the fame of the cakes was spread abroad by a consignment being sent from Banbury to India. The shop that had previously belonged to the White family passed into the hands of Mr. Samuel Beesley, and in 1840 he sold 139,500 of the twopenny cakes, and during the month of August they were sold at the rate of 5,400 weekly. Besides this wonderful output, it is noticeable that some cakes were sent to America and Australia. (fn. 666) So famous had the cake trade become, and so small was the agricultural machine-manufacturing business, that in 1847 Banbury is recorded as being principally known for its cakes. According to the Directory of Oxfordshire for the year 1852, there were two well-known cake-makers living in the town, Mr. Claridge and Mr. William Betts, the grandson of Betty White. Mr. Claridge was said at that time to be the oldest cake-maker. His business was very extensive, for besides having a contract for a weekly supply of cakes to the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park in 1851, he also had to satisfy the demands of about 150 sellers in London, and others in the principal towns, and at the same time he exported 150 boxes of these articles of pastry to Calcutta. (fn. 667) The coming of the railway must have benefited the cake-makers very considerably. The trade still continues in Banbury, there being three chief cake-makers, two of the name of Betts, and one of the name of Brown at 12, Parsons Street, which house, according to Mr. Evans, is said to have been the 'original cake shop.' (fn. 668)
The celebrity of Banbury for its cakes still remains as widespread as in the past, but this is not the case with regard to Banbury cheese, which was once so famous, for now the industry has practically disappeared. From the corporation books of Banbury it is evident that the Banbury cheese was well known in 1556, and 8s. were paid for 'vj copull of ches yt wer sennt to London.' (fn. 669) Camden speaks of the town as being famous for its good cheese in 1586. To the playgoers of the Elizabethan period the Banbury cheese must have been a familiar object, for Shakespeare in The Merry Wives of Windsor makes Falstaff's companion, Bardolph, compare Master Slender with a Banbury cheese. (fn. 670) This reference is somewhat elucidated by another in Jack Dunn's Entertainment where the phrase 'You are like a Banbury cheese, nothing but paring,' is introduced. (fn. 671) As a matter of fact the cheese for which Banbury was so justly celebrated was a rich milk cheese about an inch in thickness. (fn. 672) Philemon Holland, in his edition of Camden's Britannia, also mentions Banbury's famous cheeses, and in this he is followed in 1636 by John Taylor the Water Poet. (fn. 673)
Burton, in his Anatomy of Melancholy, bestows upon the cheeses of Banbury a high encomium when he says, 'Of all cheeses, I take that kind which we call Banbury cheese to be the best.' (fn. 674) In 1677 the studious Dr. Plot refers to the cheeses of Banbury just as he does to so many of the industries of the county. (fn. 675) As late as the eighteenth century Banbury still retained its fame. In 1700 Chamberlayne remarks that 'the rich and fine town of Banbury' is celebrated for cheese; (fn. 676) and a few years later Defoe writes, 'Banbury has a considerable trade, especially in cheese.' (fn. 677) A recipe for making this particular cheese is to be found in the MS. Sloane, 1201, fol. 3. (fn. 678) The fame of Banbury cheese slowly disappeared, and by the middle of the nineteenth century it had entirely gone, though another kind of cheese was made about 1841 which, to a certain extent and for a short period, replaced the old kind. This was a very rich kind of cheese made at a late season, never before Michaelmas. It was called 'latter-made' cheese, and cost from 1s. 6d. to 1s. 10d. a pound. (fn. 679) In the sixteenth century the name of Banbury at once brought to the mind of the hearer the famous cheeses, but in the twentieth century this is no longer the case.