Warrington Shoemakers

It’s often difficult to identify ancestors in the 18th century with any certainty. The most likely candidates for the parents of Thomas Tickle from my earlier post are William Tickle, a shoemaker, and his wife, Mary. They lived in Burtonwood, Warrington and had nine children baptised in St Elphin, Warrington. I believe their oldest son was the Thomas who married Martha Hayes.

The chart below shows the descendants of William & Mary Tickle of Burtonwood, Warrington, Lancashire that I have identified to date. The information for William & Mary is very speculative. It is based on records in the Lancashire Online Parish Clerks, which may or may not be for them. I’ve included it simply as a basis for further research. If you can add to or amend any of this data, please get in touch with me.

I’m grateful to Michael Larsen, a descendant of Hannah (Ann) Tickle, b. 1788. His research into marriage records has identified a number of links between members of the family. Thomas Tickle was a witness at the marriage of Joseph Ellis to Ann Tickle in Daresbury in July 1812, and Joseph Ellis was a witness at Thomas & Martha’s wedding in Farnworth later that same year. Joseph and Ann had a daughter, Hannah, who was a witness at the wedding of her uncle, William Tickle, b.1802 to Ann Rogerson. You’ll see these people and marriages in the chart above.

There are other clues which make William and Mary likely as parents. Thomas and Martha named their oldest son William. It was traditional to call your first son after their paternal grandfather, pointing to Thomas’s father being a William. Like William Tickle, John Hayes (Martha Hayes’ father) was a shoemaker in Warrington. It’s quite possible that the two men knew each other or even worked together and this is how their children met.

Investigating this family I found that there were several Tickles who were shoe makers in Warrington. You’ll find some details of them at the end of this post.

Shoemaking in the 18th and early 19th century

Before the mid 19th century, all shoes were hand-made. Shoemakers (who were nicknamed ‘snobs’) usually specialised in making either men’s or ladies’ shoes, as the techniques differed. Some shoe makers worked at home or in their own premises, but many were employed in large workshops, often with dozens of shoemakers and apprentices, each of whom would handle part of the process of making the shoes. Master shoe makers would cut the leather, while journeymen and apprentices would sew the parts together and fasten the leather to the sole.

It took around 12 hours to make a complete pair of shoes. Wealthier customers would come into the workshop, be individually measured, and return to pick up their new shoes the following day. Ordinary people bought their shoes from warehouses or shops, and tried on several shoes to find a pair they liked that fitted them. The price for a pair of shoes was about a day’s wages for the average journeyman.

Up to about 1850 shoes were made on straight lasts, with no difference between the right and the left shoe. They had to be ‘broken in’ to fit the appropriate foot. Although this may have caused some initial discomfort, the natural leather from which shoes were made at the time would have quickly conformed to your foot and been extremely comfortable. This wasn’t the case if you were poor and had to rely on second-hand shoes that had already formed themselves to an earlier wearer’s feet.

One interesting fact I discovered is that shoe makers were generally well educated and literate,, and often took a strong interest in politics. Many were freethinkers and dissenters from the Established Church … this might explain why some baptism and marriage records are not easy to locate.

Shoemaking flourished in the 18th and early 19th century, but it then became more and more mechanised, with shoes being produced in large factories. Normally one would expect sons to follow their father’s footsteps in terms of their trade. However, as shoemaking was being transformed by the introduction of machinery, It’s possible Thomas decided he would have a better future in the glass industry than in shoemaking.

More Warrington Tickle Shoemakers

I believe both William and Mary Tickle died prior to 1841 (there are prospective death dates for them in the chart) but I’ve identified three other Tickles in Warrington at the time of the 1841 census who were shoemakers. I will investigate them further at some point in the future.

  • Richard Tickle b.1764 and his wife, Ann, b.1786, living at Town Hill, Warrington
  • William Tickle b.1802 and Ann Rogerson b.1807, living at Collins Green Lane, Burtonwood (I believe this William to be Thomas’ brother shown in the family tree above)
  • Thomas Tickle b.1811 and Catherine (possibly Rutkin) b.1816, living at Orford Street, Warrington

As always, if you are connected to any of these families and can add information, I’d love to hear from you. Please email me or leave a comment. I will return to these Warrington Tickles in a few months but my next posts are going to follow the adventures and exploits of Thomas and Martha’s son, Peter Tickle, who emigrated to Australis.

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