Thomas Staniforth & Co. Sickle works at Hackenthorpe.
Thomas Staniforth was baptised on the 13th September, 1721 to Samuel Staniforth and Mary Tompson of Hackenthorpe. He was baptised at St. Mary’s Church, Beighton, the parish church for the village of Hackenthorpe and like his four brothers, he was raised by his father as a Sicklesmith.
Thomas is most notable for building and setting up the workshops that stand at the end of Main Street in the village with his brother John. Thomas is also the namesake for the company, Thomas Staniforth & Co. His company would be passed down through the generations, exporting sickles, scythes and gardening tools around the world for the better part of 237 years.
As the company itself has already been written about in this article , we will focus on the man himself.
Thomas would have grown up with his father at his smithy in the village. We know that Samuel rented a grinding wheel on the Shire Brook and it is likely that Thomas would have accompanied his father on journeys to and from the brook, back to his smithy.
Thomas married Sarah Holmes, a woman from Treeton, in June 1745. Very little is known about Sarah, there is no baptism for her on the Treeton parish records, there is however a Sarah Holmes baptised to a Thomas Holmes in Rotherham on the 1th January 1721, this could very well be the same Sarah.
The couple would have five sons, however only four survived infancy, and three daughters. Various publications and researchers have questioned whether George Staniforth, the future wife of Ann Barker was another son of Thomas, however there is no record of his baptism at Beighton along with Thomas and Sarah’s other children. It is quite likely that this George is the one baptised at Eckington on the 6th March 1751 to another Thomas Staniforth, whose line descends from Robert Staniforth, Tanner of Ford.
The children of Thomas Staniforth and Sarah Holmes were:
- Mark Staniforth, baptised on the 22nd May 1746, he would only survive a year, being buried on the 21st June 1747.
- Stephen Staniforth, baptised on the 30th December 1747, it is uncertain as to why Stephen was not considered a candidate for taking over the business, he was already married by the time of Thomas' death and may have shown no interest, although he did work as a Sickle smith.
- Elizabeth Staniforth, baptised 1st November 1751
- Luke Staniforth 26th May 1754
- Thomas Staniforth 22nd July 1756
- Sarah Staniforth, 28th September 1758
- Amos Staniforth 11th August 1760
- Mary Staniforth 17th July 1762
When we look at Samuel’s life in the village of Hackenthorpe, in Beighton parish, he would appear to have lived a typical Sickle smith’s life. He spent his day in his smithy, while also running his farm in the off months.
Thomas Staniforths sickleworks as it appeared in October 2017.
After marrying Sarah the two resided at Hackenthorpe where Thomas oversaw the running of his new sickleworks. Thomas would only go onto live for 55 years, and it is quite unclear as to what his ailment was. The winter of 1775/6 was unruly, thick ice would have left the brooks and rivers frozen and farmland would have been under thick snow. On the 24th of March 1776 he wrote his will and he died at the end of the same month. His burial in St. Mary’s Churchyard is dated 31st March 1776.
In his will, which can be read here, he leaves his business to his wife Sarah, as Thomas his son had not reached adulthood. He leaves his ‘wheel situate on woodhouse common’ and his tools, trade stock and debts to Sarah and instructs ‘she to continue my trade of Sicklesmith in her own name’.
This shows that Thomas clearly felt his wife was strong willed, and was a knowledgeable woman, and although there doesn’t seem to be a surviving record of her burial, in 1781 their son Thomas gains his freedom from the Cutlers company so it seems likely the company was being ran by him from this date.
Sarah was also left a seat in Beighton St. Mary’s in a gallery, however this was removed during renovations in the 19th century.