One of the main industries of the town was that of the wool trade, from those that worked hands on with the sheep and the wool to those that were the merchants and traders dealing with the end products. The weekly market held on a Wednesday comprised mainly of yarn [Atkyns 1711]. As the industrial revolution took hold across the country Tetbury was unable to provide facilities for mechanisation of the processes used in fulling, carding and weaving, mainly due to the lack of a water source. The valleys - Stroud and others - were developed as textile mill centres and the industrial revolution passed Tetbury by. Changing trends also led to the demise of the wool market and the last payment received for weighing wool was in 1815.
Jackson's Oxford Journal carried the following announcement on Saturday, June 1, 1811:
Caution to Wool Growers
From the great carelessness and palpable neglect, in the management and winding of Wool by suffering the tails, dags, pitch, and dirt to remain on and be folded up in the insides of the fleeces, it may be supposed that many of the Wool Growers are quite ignorant of the existence of penal Acts of Parliament, for the prevention of such abuse, and of the penalties to which they are liable for the infraction of them.
By the Act of 28 Geo. III Cap. 38, which refers to Acts of 18th of Elizabeth, and 23 Henry VIII, it is enacted, “That no manner of person do wind, or cause to be wound, in any fleece, any sand, tails, deceitful locks, cots, lambs’ wool or any other thing whereby the fleece might be made more weighty, to the deceit and loss of the buyer, upon pain, the seller of any such deceitful wools shall forfeit, for every such fleece, Two Shillings, to be paid to the finder and prover of the same deceit; and the offences shall and may be proceeded upon, heard, and determined by and before any one Justice of the Peace in a summary way.”
After this public notice, the Woolstaplers of Cirencester, Tetbury and Gloucester, and of the county in general, having been themselves threatened with prosecutions under the aforesaid Acts, for the fleece wool they have resolved to enforce in the several districts, the fair and honest winding of wool, by availing themselves of the provisions of the Acts, for their own protection, in cases which shall henceforward require it; for it been more carelessly made up than those of surrounding counties, and that its wool trade has thereby suffered.
May 27, 1811
The table below gives the names of those known to be working in the wool trade, the known active dates, and biographical information.
Name/dates known to be in the trade/biographical details
Woolstapler; daughter Elizabeth married Hopeful Lockey
Worsted and Woollen yarnmaker
Matthew Paul Bamford
Woolstapler; died 1790
Woolstapler; married Ann Byam of Cirencester 1776; when her father, Joseph Byam died 1791 he names his nephew William Byam, woolstapler of Tetbury and his daughter Ann, wife of said William. In 1794 he sold 'messuage or tenement, garden and premises' situated on Long Street with stables for 13 horses, coach house, with warehouse and lofts for use in the wool trade (Gloucester Journal 15/12/1794); January 1796 bankrupt
'the younger' declared bankrupt 'sieve maker, wool stapler, dealer and chapman' to appear at the Three Cups Tetbury
Woolstapler; mentioned in the will of Matthew Paul Bamford 1790; took an apprentice, James Fry, in 1791; advertising for position of travelling salesman in the clothing business (Gloucester Journal 23/9/1799 )
Woolstapler; born c.1731, died 1784; sons Joseph and Thomas also woolstaplers
in the will of Hopeful Lockey
Woolstapler; married Miss Fush 1791; died 1805
John Overbury and son
Woolstapler; John junior died 1823
woolstapler; mentioned in the will of Thomas Pike jun.
'Woollstead' comber died 1679 leaving a will
Woolstapler; died 1795
Thomas Pike sen.
Thomas Pike jun.
Woolstapler; son of Thomas sen.; daughters married into Wood and Bamford families; had warehouse; codicil added 1814 names son in law as Joseph Overbury for whom he had been acting as an agent in the Spanish Wool business
Walter Wiltshire Pike
Woolstapler; died 1786
Josiah Paul Tippets
Woolstapler; mentioned in the wills of Walter Wiltshire Pike 1786 and of Matthew Paul Bamford 1790
Edward & John Tugwell
Woolstaplers; Edward married to Diana Hughes of Hawkesburywho died in 1777; Edward died c.1788; John was Edward's son born 1758, died 1790.
Robert Maskelyne Warman
woolcomber when married
Woolstapler; mentioned in the will of Edward Tugwell 1788