Bucknall, Jowett, lace, Nottingham

Workday Wednesday – Nottingham Lace Makers

If you have traced your ancestors back to Nottingham in the census years of 1841 to 1911, it is highly likely that you will have come across lace making as an occupation.

My three main lace making families are the Oldhams, who worked in Calais during the 1860s as well as Nottingham, the Jowetts and the Bucknalls.

Looking through the census returns for these families, they did many different jobs within the lace industry, such as; ‘mender’, ‘threader’, ‘draughtsman’, ‘clipper’, ‘manufacturer’, ‘winder’, and ‘warehouseman.’ Not having any personal knowledge of the industry, I wasn’t sure exactly what these different jobs entailed, so I was delighted to find a book of memoirs written by a local author, Mark Ashfield, who was employed in the lace industry.

I found it a very enjoyable read, with detailed description of life in a Nottingham lace factory – the hours, conditions, skills and works outings. It’s available here both in paperback and for Kindle.

Another book which I’ve found really useful is Sheila Mason’s ‘Nottingham Lace 1760s – 1950s’, my Oldhams even get a small mention!  It’s available both via Amazon and Abebooks unfortunately at quite a price.  There may be reprinted copies available at the Nottingham branch of Waterstones, where I found my copy, for £25.

I think genealogy can be so much more than just gathering a list of names and dates.  If you can fill in the background, where they lived, how they worked, it can give you a much fuller picture of their lives.

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