The Founders of the Cordwainers Society

Sixteen men met at ‘Betty Lawton’s’ on 5 March 1747/8 to create the Cordwainers Society. I have listed them below in alphabetical order, though it is most likely that Richard Lawton (innkeeper and cordwainer by trade) was responsible for the society’s name, while Richard Chappell and Gervase Rooke gave the society financial stability and middle-class backing. There were actually only two confirmed cordwainers among the sixteen, possibly a third not attributed as such, so the name of the Society had nothing to do with membership, which was open to those from any trade able to pay the regular monthly subscriptions.

  1. Matthew Ant, Collier

Matthew Ant was a founder member on 5 March 1747/8, entered in the register on page 10. John Ant followed him into the society two weeks later on 19 March and was entered on page 20. Thomas Ant joined 4 April 1752 and was entered on page 41.

The name ‘Ant’ (spelled variously Ante and Antt) was not especially common in the area during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. There were isolated references in Darton, Cawthorne and Worsbrough. There appear to have been two families in Silkstone: Robert Ant of Stainborough and John Ant of Dodworth.

Robert Ant married Grace Fretwell in Cawthorne in 1715 and baptised children in Darton (John Ant, 2 December 1716, Kexborough) and Silkstone (Robert, 9 January 1719 and Francis, 10 January 1721, both at Stainborough). Anne Ant married in Worsborough in 1727. The family of John Ant of Dodworth is the most likely antecedent.

Matthew Ant, son of John Ant, was baptised in Barnsley, 15 November 1732. If this Matthew Ant is the one who helped form the Cordwainers Society on 5 March 1748, he would have then been about 15 years old. John or Jonathan Ant married Mary Hill 4 December 1718. A still-born child was buried 3 October 1719. John was baptised 10 January 1723/4, the son of John Ant of Dodworth. A daughter Elizabeth was baptised 19 May 1726. It can reasonably be assumed that the Matthew baptised in Barnsley in 1732 is the correct person, Dodworth being but two miles away. There are no other references to a Matthew Ant during the appropriate period, so he may not have been married.

Matthew was paid benefits of 8 shillings for two weeks on 6 February 1754. A funeral payment of £2.17s.6d was paid in his name on 20 April 1777, when he would have been aged 44. However, there is no matching record in the local parish registers for Barnsley or Silkstone (which covers Dodworth).

There is no indication in the society records that he ever served as a warden, though he may have been an official in another capacity.

John Ant, wood collier, who joined the society on 19 March, was probably Matthew’s older brother. Matthew was a witness (along with John Hill) at the marriage of John Ant (of Barnsley, wood collier) to Mary Wells in Darton on 14 July 1754. John claimed 8 shillings benefit for two weeks on 3 May 1755. He died in Pogmoor, aged 75, on 15 August 1796. As no funeral benefit was paid, it must be assumed that his membership had lapsed. His widow, Mary Ant, died aged 81 on 5 September 1809.

Thomas Ant, collier, joined 4 April 1752. There is no reference in local parish registers to his birth or to a marriage. He died 7 October 1776 and was buried two days later. His family received £2.17s.6d funeral benefit.

  1. John Bocock, Husbandman

John Bocock (also listed as Bowcock), was a founder member on 5 March 1747/8, entered on page 12.

It has not proved possible to find a John or Jonathan Bocock being baptised in the Barnsley area during the decades prior to 1734. There are people of this name registered as baptised elsewhere in Yorkshire in the early 1700s – Methley (Leeds), Kildwick (Keighley) and Whitgift (Goole). The name does not appear locally before the 1730s and we should therefore assume that John Bocock was an incomer. This appears to be borne out by the presence of the name in Darfield (David Bocock married Margaret Silcock; they had several children in the 1740s-1750s, and lived and died in the township of Great Haughton). All seem to be associated with husbandry, such as the James Bocock of Kirkheaton, husbandman, who married Sarah Sykes in Darton 6 July 1773.

According to Barnsley records, a John Bocock of Barnsley married several times. He married Sarah Bolton in Cawthorne on 19 December 1734. Sarah was baptised the daughter of Thomas Bolton of Cawthorne, 10 April 1708, and would have been 26 at the time of the marriage. Sarah was buried 30 March 1745, aged 37. No children survived from the first marriage. Anne, baptised 8 Sept 1735, was buried 10 October 1738; a child ‘G’ was buried 22 May 1743; a daughter Sarah was buried 7 October 1744 (baptised Sarah Boocock 8 February 1740).

John Bocock married a Frances Woodcock on 29 May 1745 at St Mary’s, Barnsley, and she in turn died and was buried 6 August 1750. If she was the Frances Woodcock, daughter of Thomas, baptised 5 May 1705, she would have been 40 at the marriage and 45 at her death[1]. From this second marriage, Elizabeth, baptised 3 March 1747, survived. Her brother John, baptised 16 March 1749, also survived[2]. Richard, baptised 26 April 1750, was buried 17 May 1751, a few months after his mother. In the midst of all this personal turmoil, John joined the Cordwainers Society at its foundation in 1748.

John Bocock married Martha Downing 1 November 1750 and she in turn died and was buried 14 August 1755. Martha Downing may have been the daughter of Thomas Downing of Thurgoland, baptised 16 April 1734, and aged 16 at the time of the marriage. From this third marriage, Alexander was baptised 2 September 1751 and was buried 14 September 1752; David was baptised 9 December 1753 and buried 16 May 1754. No children survived from this marriage.

John must have married again, for another child, Mary, was baptised 20 November 1756. She also died and was buried 14 April 1761. He himself died and was buried in Barnsley 26 December 1756, shortly after the birth of his last child. His fourth wife, Elizabeth, outlived him substantially and was buried 17 March 1789. The marriage to an Elizabeth (c 1755) needs to be confirmed.

John Bowcock (sic) received several payments of benefits, but no funeral payment. Eight shillings was paid for two weeks in November 1756, sixteen shillings on 1 January 1757 and a further eight shillings for two weeks on 5 February 1757. However, his funeral date preceded the last two of these payments. As no funeral benefit was paid, it is possible that these payments were post-mortem relief payments to the widow, amounting to six weeks benefit (the remnant of November and December during which he was presumably laid off sick).

  1. Richard Chappell

No trade or profession is given for Richard in the Society records and he is referred to as ‘Mister’, which suggests that he was regarded as a ‘gentleman’ in the same way as Gervase Rooke. No direct family connection to Rooke has been identified.

His financial role regarding the Society is confirmed by references in the Accounts. He paid £1 interest to the society on 3 July 1756. On 29 October 1757, he paid £1.10s interest for £30, for fifteen months at 4 per cent. He was acting as banker and the amounts he was holding are suggestive of the funds that the Society had built up in its early years of existence. That two men of means were acting in support of the Society indicates the value placed upon it by at least a section of the local gentry.

The surname ‘Chappell’ occurs in several different spellings (Chapel, Chapell, Chappel and Chappell), but was well established in Barnsley since the late sixteenth century, with indications also in neighbouring parishes. Mr. Richard Chappel senior was buried 3 July 1748. He was already a widower; his wife Mary having been buried 22 January 1739. Their eldest son, Richard Chappel was a baptised 3 September 1724. Elizabeth Chapel was baptised 14 November 1726, and buried 24 November 1726 (as Eliz: Chappel). Anne Chappel was baptised 13 November 1727 and buried 11 March 1747. John Chappel was baptised 27 May 1731.

It was Richard, the son of this family, who supported the Society in 1748, at the age of 23. Richard Chappell, Gentleman of Barnsley, married Mary Siddell in Darton on 1 October 1761, in the presence of Robert Ditch and Jonathan Heron. His daughter Ann was baptised in Barnsley on 20 December 1761.

Among the small number of references to committee members in the First Book, ‘Mr. Chappel’ was a Warden in 1762 and 1764 and was serving as Master Warden on 8 July 1762. Unlike Gervase Rooke, he seems to have taken a full and active part in the work of the Society despite his social rank. Richard Chappel died 3 September 1766. The sum of £2.17s.6d was paid out for his funeral expenses on 6 September 1766. He was therefore treated exactly the same as any other member at that time, regardless of his means.

  1. Robert Coward, Wiremaker

The name Coward had a long pedigree in Barnsley, stretching back to the late sixteenth century. Robert Coward was baptised in Barnsley 4 October 1705, the son of another Robert. On 31 December 1729, he married Lidia Pigate (baptised Lydia Piggot, 6 August 1702, daughter of Thomas Piggot). Two sons were born: William, baptised 4 October 1730, and John, baptised 11 August 1734.

In turn, William married Martha Priestley on 30 May 1757, witnessed by Jonathan Holden and Thomas Turner. John married Susannah Taylor on 16 November 1758, witnessed by Thomas Crawshaw and George Strafford. William was described as Blacksmith and John as Wiremaker, like his father. Neither of the sons joined the Society and there are no connections through brides or witnesses. Both sons raised families in Barnsley.

Robert Coward received several benefits from the Society. He was paid £1 for five weeks on 1 May 1756 and a further 8 shillings on 5 June (presumably for two weeks).  On 3 June 1758, he was paid four shillings for one week. No funeral benefit was paid.

There are records of two burials in Barnsley for a Robert Coward – one on 1 November 1761 and the other on 3 December 1765. These may be father and son respectively. The widow, Liddy Coward, was buried 14 April 1777.

  1. Thomas Garlick, Collier

Thomas Garlick was a founder member, recorded on page 17 of the First Book. The family remained in contact with the Society for more than 80 years.

Thomas Garlick was born circa 1703[3], dying in Barnsley on 18 February 1793 aged 90, and being buried two days later on 20 February. His family were paid £3 for funeral expenses from the Society funds. Garlick had been paid out several times during 1754 for sickness: 16 shillings for one month on 2 Feb 1754, same again 2 March, another £1 for five weeks on 6 April and 4 shillings for one week on 4 May.

He married circa 1735 and baptised several children in Barnsley.  There was a marriage between Thomas Garlick and Edith Rhodes, 6 January 1735, at Methley. No marriages closer than that have been discovered. Methley was a former mining village in the Calder valley, ten miles south of Leeds. Anthony was baptised 4 February 1737, William 16 December 1739, Edeth 13 July 1742, Thomas 9 April 1745 and Elizabeth 24 November 1748. An un-named child was buried 21 January 1751. Edith Garlick, widow woman, died 24 April 1796 aged 86, and was buried on 27 April[4]. She was almost certainly Thomas’ widow.

Thomas’s eldest son, Anthony (husbandman in Darfield), married Mary Bentley (from Silkstone) in Barnsley on 26 December 1758 and subsequently baptised several children. Anthony (by then classed as a farmer) was buried 29 April 1804, aged 72. His son William went into the linen trade, married Mary Stocks in 1795 and was buried 9 October 1809 aged 35. Several of their children were buried in the neighbouring parish of Darton between 1797 and 1804.

Anthony Garlick joined the society, like his father, and served as Warden in 1770, his father serving at the same time. Thomas junior joined in 1779. Jonathan Garlick, a bleacher in the linen trade, joined in 1824. He was the son of Thomas junior, baptised 2 March 1807.

  1. David Hurst (Hirst), Collier

David Hurst was a founder member, listed on page 13 of the First Book.

David Hirst was baptised 23 May 1723, the son of Thomas. He would have been 25 when he joined the Society. He married Eleanor Kay on 20 May 1753, at the age of 30. Eleanor was several years his younger. The first child, Martha, was baptised 2 June 1754. Maria was baptised 24 February 1756, but died in infancy and was buried 11 March 1756. Thomas was baptised 4 March 1758, Amelia on 26 May 1760 and Margarett on 1 January 1763. David was baptised 11 October 1765, Benjamin on 12 July 1767. George (Hirst) was baptised 6 October 1773. Mary was baptised 25 September 1776, but died in infancy and was buried 23 October 1776. Finally, Nelly Hirst (daughter of David and Nelly) was baptised 9 February 1780.

This is a remarkable period of fecundity, lasting over 24 years and encompassing 10 children, possibly more. There is a gap in baptisms between 1767 and 1773. However, there are baptisms in that period to a David Hurst. Joseph (Hurst) was baptised 7 March 1769, but buried the same day. Hannah (Hurst) was baptised 27 March 1769. Sally (Hurst) was baptised 16 June 1771.

All three of these children may be children of David and Eleanor Hirst, with the surname incorrectly recorded. If Joseph and Hannah were twins, the gap between baptisms could easily be explained by the fact that Joseph was weak and unlikely to survive the day, so he was baptised in a hurry, while Hannah was baptised later.

However, by coincidence, a David Hurst, weaver, married Matty (Martha) Gee on 13 February 1769. Martha Gee had given birth to an illegitimate child, baptised David 6 May 1768. But there are no other records to their origins or what happened to them later. The likelihood is that they left the area in pursuit of David’s trade. It is unlikely that Martha would have been able to give birth to another child within a year of her son David.

David Hirst, then living at Pogmoor, Barnsley, died 22 January 1792 and was buried on 23 January aged 69. The sum of £3 for funeral benefit was paid by the Society on 29 January 1792. He was a member for almost 44 years. He was paid 4 shillings in benefit on 5 October 1755. There is no record of him serving on the committee.

His widow, Ellen Hurst (sic), died 31 March 1811 and was buried 2 April, aged 79. She would have been born about 1732 and was therefore about 9 years younger than David.

  1. Richard Lawton, Cordwainer

Richard Lawton was baptised 26 March 1702, the son of Joseph Lawton. He married, around 1731, to someone called Eleanor, but a record of the marriage has not yet been traced. Their daughter Anne was baptised 26 December 1732, but died in infancy and was buried 27 July 1733. Betty was baptised 20 July 1734, Richard 30 March 1737, Joseph 3 February 1740, ‘Mar’ [possibly Margaret] a daughter 1 March 1743, and William 8 December 1745. A daughter Eleanor was baptised 24 February 1748 and buried the following day, but another daughter was given the same name at her baptism on 28 June 1749. Dorothy was baptised 9 October 1751. Richard’s wife, Eleanor, died and was buried 4 August 1768. Richard Lawton, shoemaker, died 21 December 1787 aged 85 and was buried on 24 December. The family were paid £3 funeral money from the Society. Richard had been paid 12s for three weeks sickness on 2 September 1758.

Richard’s son Joseph, also a cordwainer, married Betty Ellison on 13 May 1770 and Richard was a witness along with Potter Ellison. Richard’s sons Joseph and Richard, junior, both became members of the Society. Richard was serving as assistant warden to the Society in 1762, 1764 and 1766, signing various records.

Richard Lawton’s association with the Society may have been more substantial than first appears. The Society met at Elizabeth (Betty) Lawton’s hostelry and an entry in the accounts for 6 April 1759 has Richard Lawton paid £2 11s for meat, the date being close to the society’s annual feast. He was almost certainly the actual licensee, but the premises were named after his daughter, Betty, who was a mere 13 years old when the Society was founded. She died, still a spinster, on 1 April 1803.

The combination of trades between cordwainer and licensed victualler was common. John Bashforth of the Jolly Sailor Inn at Cawthorne was later President of the Society and also combined these trades. Richard Lawton was listed in the surviving returns of Alehouse Keepers for the Staincross Wapentake for 1771, 1773, 1778 and 1781, as having premises in Barnsley[5]. Richard’s son, Joseph, appears in the equivalent list for 1783 and was a Society member from 1758 along with his brother, also called Richard. Unfortunately, the lists do not indicate exactly where the various alehouses were located in Barnsley.

  1. Arthur Liddle (no trade given)

There are very few records in Barnsley for this surname or its variants, of which there were many: Liddy, Liddey, Liddell, Liddal, Liddall, Lydale, Lyddall etc.

Arthur Liddall was baptised 7 February 1706, the son of Thomas. Later in the 18th Century, the name was connected with the wiredrawing or wiremaking trades, or that of blacksmith. An Elizabeth Liddall, wife of Arthur, wiremaker, died 28 February 1793 aged 66 and was buried 2 March 1793. This could very well be the wife of the society member, and she would have been born c 1727.

The confusion over the correct spelling of the name makes identification of any children of the marriage difficult, and no marriage is recorded in the Barnsley registers or parishes around. Thomas Liddy was baptised 3 July 1735; William Liddey 22 August 1740; Elizabeth Liddy 27 November 1744; Arthur Liddy 23 August 1747; Sarah Liddy 20 May 1755. Arthur Lyddale, son of Arthur, was buried 26 February 1769.

Arthur Liddell signed various records as warden in 1762, 1766 and 1770, and as Master Warden in 1764. Payments for sick benefit were paid 6 March 1756 to Arthur Liddell 4s for ‘not being well’; 19 April 1756 of 4s to Arthur Liddey for one week; 3 July 1756 4s for one week; 7 August 1756 8s for two weeks; 6 November 1756 4s for one week (the last three to Arthur Liddell).

According to the Society accounts, £3 was paid in funeral expenses in respect to Arthur Liddle on 3 January 1794, which would make him almost 88. An Arthur Lydall, farrier, aged 89, died 2 January 1794 and was buried in Barnsley on 4 January 1794 – yet another spelling, but at last a trade and certainly the correct man.

  1. Gervase Rooke, Mister

Gervase Rooke came from a well-established Barnsley family, though the name is variously spelled: Rooke, Rook, even Rock. He was financially sound and seems to have acted as banker to the Society from the outset. In this sense he was a patron, as was Richard Chappell.

Gervase and his brother Michael made petition to the West Riding Quarter Sessions at Doncaster, 20 January 1747/8 with regard to the provision for the poor of Barnsley a few weeks before the Society was established[6].

Upon the Appeal of Michael Rooke and Gervas Rooke Inhabitants of the Township of Barnsley in the said Riding against an Assessment made for the Relief of the Poor of the Sd. Township the nineteenth day of May One thousand seven hundred and fforty seven. It is ordered, That the said Assessment be quashed and that a new Assessment be made upon the Inhabitants of the said Township and as well upon personal as upon real estates therein and in a fair & equal manner according to Law.”

Gervase Rooke clearly had a personal interest in the application of rates for poor relief, especially as, at this time, there was a serious problem for livestock farmers due to the spread of disease among cattle. Poverty was rife in Barnsley and its surrounding districts.

Gervas Rook [sic] was baptised 8 October 1705 in Barnsley, the son of Mr John Rook Junior. He was the second son of this name, a previous one dying in infancy in 1702. Gervase Rooke married Elizabeth Ramsden on 2 January 1739. A daughter, Betty, was baptised 27 December 1746, but died and was buried 15 October 1747. Mr Gervas Rook [sic] was buried 5 June 1763. Mrs Elizabeth Rooke, widow, was buried 24 February 1774 aged 66 (she would have been born circa 1708). Gervase Rooke would have been 33 when he married, and his bride 31. The lateness of their marriage may explain problems in producing surviving children.

Gervase’s brother, Michael, was buried 12 December 1775 aged 72 (he had been baptised 11 May 1703, the son of Mr John Rooke). There is no record of Michael being married or having children baptised in Barnsley.

The father, Mr John Rook, had land interests in Green Foot, Barnsley and in the Old Town and Monk Bretton. Within the family there were links to a variety of trades – apothecary, tailor, cordwainer, collier, linen weaver, wiremaker, coal miner, dyer and warehouseman. The Rooke family was fairly extensive. Not all would have been accommodated by inherited wealth.

In the first book of the Society, Gervase Rooke is recorded as the first member in the list. Although he was awarded and entitled to 4s payment on 2 April 1757, he returned it to the Box. He was paid interest of £1.4s.0d on 4 March 1758 and 1.12s.4d on 5 May 1759. No funeral payment was made. Unlike Richard Chappell, he does not seem to have taken an active part in Society affairs beyond his financial and moral support.

  1. Thomas Tomlinson, Wiremaker

Establishing the correct Thomas Tomlinson from parish registers is complicated by an overlap of at least three possible people by this name, and multiple marriages. No baptisms for a Thomas Tomlinson have been traced in the area for the most likely period [1700-1730].

A Thomas Tomlinson married Elizabeth Parkin on 4 October 1723. They had several children before Elizabeth died and was buried 17 October 1737. This seems to be too early, although possibly the same Thomas Tomlinson married Mary Taylor on 17 July 1738. No baptisms followed that marriage in close order in Barnsley.

The most likely person is the Thomas Tomlinson who married Anne Wilkinson 25 April 1750, by which time he was already a Society member. His wife, Anne, died 6 May 1773, by which time there had been several children – though identifying the correct ones from the register is not definitive. The best guess is as follows: Thomas baptised 15 Jan 1751; Anne baptised 2 May 1752 (buried 8 October 1752); Mary baptised 26 December 1753; George baptised 12 October 1756 (buried 30 November 1756); Elizabeth baptised 17 October 1757. Beyond that date the constant overlap of first names suggests more than one family and even these may not be from one marriage.

On 30 November 1789, Thomas Tomlinson, wiredrawer, married Mary Crashaw (or Creshaw). Thomas died 16 January 1795 and was buried 18 January 1795. £3 was paid towards funeral expenses on 16 January 1795. Tomlinson does not appear to have served in any official capacity in the Society and the only other recorded payment was 4s 0d in June 1760 for a period of sickness.

  1. Martin Truelove, (no trade recorded)

Martin Truelove was the cousin of William, see below. He was the third name on the membership list.

Martin Trulove (sic) was baptised 25 November 1716, the son of Martin Trulove and the second child to bear that name (the original was baptised 15 November 1713, and buried four days later). Marton (sic) Truelove married Elizabeth Ditch on 14 November 1742. She was the daughter of William Dytch, baptised Barnsley on 9 June 1715.

A son, William, was baptised 16 March 1745, but died and was buried 3 April 1746. A daughter, Eleanor, was baptised on 8 November 1746. The daughter, Ellen (sic), was buried 27 February 1761, aged 15. Neither of these two children recorded in Barnsley survived. A third child, also called William, was baptised 25 August 1748 and may have been the one of that name who followed into the Society later in the century (4 February 1792, cordwainer), given his father’s central role in Society affairs.

Martin Trulove was buried 4 January 1767 at the age of 50. The sum of £2.17s.6d was paid in funeral expenses. Elizabeth Truelove, widow woman, was buried 4 January 1796 (died 2 January aged 80).

Martin Truelove was one of the earliest people to act as Beadle, and may have been the original person to hold this office. On 15 April 1754, the sum of £1.2s.5d was paid to him for the purchase or making of a coat, which was his sign of office. It may have been made by his wife, Elizabeth, as she was also paid (when widowed) the sum of 2s 6d for the back part of a waistcoat. Women often supplemented family household income with the making of clothing or laundry.

  1. William Truelove, Smith

William was the cousin of Martin, see above. He was sixth on the membership list.

William Truelove, son of Samuel, was baptised 27 April 1721. William Truelove married Mary Linley 12 December 1751. She was possibly the daughter of Edward Lindley, baptised 27 October 1723.

A daughter, Anne, was baptised 22 November 1752, Mary on 7 November 1756, Dorothy on 9 June 1760 and Betty on 26 April 1763. Samuel was baptised 22 May 1767, but was buried 31 January 1768. Meanwhile Betty died and was buried 4 June 1767.

William Truelove, blacksmith aged 59, died 3 October 1780 and was buried two days later. There is no record in the local parish registers of his wife Mary’s death.

William was very active on the Society committee, appearing several times as signatory to decisions of the Society in 1762, 1766, 1770 and 1772. An entry in the Accounts indicates that in 1758 he served a term as Master. He was given 8s 0d on behalf of William Steel, perhaps to pass on, or perhaps as recompense for money he had paid out of his own pocket. He claimed himself several times during 1759: 4s 0d on 3 February, and 8s 0d on 3 March and 2 June.

  1. George Wadsworth, Collier

The Wadsworth name is not proper to Barnsley before the 1780s. However, it sometimes corresponded to the name ‘Wordsworth’, pronounced with a Barnsley accent. A George Wordsworth was baptised 21 November 1725, the illegitimate child of Mary Wordsworth. (Her possible sister Elizabeth seems to have been equally promiscuous).

George Wordsworth married Damaris Linley on 26 December 1747. Damaris Linley was the daughter of William Linley, baptised 15 March 1719. She already had an illegitimate daughter, Hannah, baptised 5 July 1740. Two children of the marriage were baptised in Barnsley – Anne on 11 June 1750 and George on 27 July 1754. However, George died as a child and was buried 8 September 1757.

George Wordsworth, collier, died 1 June 1794 aged 69, and was buried the following day. His wife, Denaris Worsworth (sic) had died 8 May 1779, aged 60.

George Wadsworth/ Wordsworth was ninth on the list of members. He served as assistant warden, signing with his mark (he was illiterate) decisions made on 28 April 1764 and 6 February 1766. He was paid £1 benefits on 6 December 1755. £3 was paid 2 June 1794 towards funeral benefits.

  1. William West, Roper

William West, the son of John West, was baptised 18 September 1726, the first child from his marriage to Frances Lawton on 1 December 1725. There is no record of a William West being married in Barnsley, or baptising children before 1780, at which time he would have been 55 years old.

A certain William West married Frances Mitchell on 7 June 1780. John West was baptised 21 October 1780, Ann on 24 March 1783, Martha on 6 September 1786, Frances on 5 November 1796 and Mary on 27 December 1799. Frances was buried, aged seven, on 6 May 1804.

It is equally likely that William West did not marry at all. In the Society Accounts, there are plenty of references to him serving as a warden, but none for any payments whatsoever. He was a warden in 1762 and 1764, at which time the Society agreed to pay £3 to the wife or family of a member who died, or to a nominated person if the member was single at the time.

William West, yeoman, aged 78, died 18 March 1803 and would have been approximately the correct age corresponding with the 1726 birth. He was buried two days later. No payment was recorded in the Accounts, so it is possible that his membership had lapsed. However, the John West who joined in 1800 may have been his son and the surname continued to be associated with the Society in subsequent decades well into the 19th century.

There is not necessarily a conflict between William’s original trade as ‘roper’ and later being classed as ‘yeoman’, i.e. farmer. Making rope took a sizeable amount of land and would not have been of itself necessarily a full-time occupation in the late 18th century – though demand would have soared during the French Wars. Combining farming with a trade was common practice in the 18th century and early 19th century.

  1. Richard White, Collier

The name White has a long pedigree in the area, stretching back into the early 17th century, and is also a fairly common name. The most appropriate candidate in the Barnsley records is Richard White who married Mary Bradshaw on 10 January 1737. He is most likely to have been the Richard White, son of Richard White of The Old Town, Barnsley, baptised 7 March 1707.

There are no children of a Richard White recorded as being baptised in Barnsley, nor any being buried. Richard White of The Old Town, Barnsley, died 14 December 1779, aged 75 (approximately correct) and was buried two days later. A payment of £3 was made on 14 December 1779 towards funeral expenses.

Mary White, widow woman, aged 81, died 24 May 1795 and was buried the following day. She would have been born c 1714 and 23 at the time of marriage.

These records seem quite likely to be correct, but are rather sparse to be certain of the correct identification.

Richard White was eighth on the membership list. He served as warden, signing with his mark on documents in 1770 and 1772. He was paid 4s 0d for one week pay on 4 June 1757 and 7 April 1759.

  1. Thomas Woodcock, Cordwainer

The Woodcock name has a long pedigree in the Barnsley area. There were several of the name Thomas Woodcock born in the early part of the century who could have been the early member of the Cordwainers Society. The most likely candidate, however, would be Thomas Woodcock baptised 27 August 1726, the illegitimate son of Rachel Woodcock. He would have been 21 at the Society’s foundation, sixteenth on the list.

[There was also a Thomas, son of Thomas Woodcock, baptised in Barnsley on 5 February 1732, who would have been 16 at the time of the Society’s foundation.]

Thomas Woodcock died on 29 July 1781 aged 55 and was buried in Barnsley on 30 July 1781. A payment of £3 for funeral expenses was paid in respect of Thomas Woodcock dated 5 May 1781. [The original records need to be checked because of the discrepancy between these dates.] It is possible that this had been the Thomas Woodcock, shoemaker, who married Hannah Swift in Barnsley on 13 July 1768.

[A daughter Fanny was baptised 21 March 1769, but could be from another marriage. Two daughters to a Thomas Woodcock of Cathill were baptised in Silkstone in the years immediately after 1768. This may have been the Thomas Woodcock, husbandman, who was an early member but was very soon afterwards excluded from the Society.]

Thomas Woodcock was on the Society committee in 1770. He was paid several amounts for sickness: 4/- on 6 January 1759, 16/- on 3 February 1759 and a further 4/- on 3 March 1759.

He may have been related to the Richard Woodcock, also a cordwainer, who joined the Society two weeks after the foundation on 19 March 1748 and died 3 February 1770, a funeral payment being paid. The relationship has not been directly proven and he is more likely to have been cousin rather than brother.

[1] Thomas Woodcock, husbandman, joined the society in 1752 and was excluded the following year. Richard Woodcock, cordwinder, was a member from 19 March 1748. The third son was called Richard.

[2] John Bocock and his wife Martha bapised children in Royston parish in the 1770s-1780s when living in Carlton, Burton and Monk Bretton.

[3] A Thomas Garlike was baptised in Kirkburton 6 September 1708, son of William Garlike. This is the closest local match.

[4] Edith Rhodes was born in Barnsley, 21 December 1711 and baptised at St Mary’s on 27 December.

[5] West Yorkshire Archives, Wakefield, QE32/60, 61, 62 and 63.

[6] West Yorkshire Archive Service, Wakefield: West Riding Quarter Sessions Order Books QS10/20/ page 87