Thomas Staniforth & Co. Sickle works at Hackenthorpe.
Thomas' mark on his will dated 1808Thomas Staniforth II of Hackenthorpe was baptised on the 22nd of July 1756. He was the son of Thomas Staniforth and Sarah Holmes. Thomas’ father was the founder of the Thomas Staniforth & Co. Sickleworks which operated in the workshops on the corner of Main Street, Hackenthorpe.
Based on the apprentice records, Thomas Staniforth, son of Thomas Staniforth of Hackenthorpe took out his freedom as a Sickle smith in the year 1781. By the time the younger Thomas took over the running of the Sickle works on Main Street the business was already well established. Although it isn’t exactly clear when the running of the business was passed down to Thomas from his mother Sarah, we do know that he would have been running the business by the end of the 18th century, and due to Thomas not only gaining experience during his apprenticeship, but also growing up in an environment where his father would be constantly making the journey back and forth from the Shire Brook back to the sickle works, he would have been very experienced by the time the running of the business was passed to him. Rosamund Du Cane paints a great image in her publication, in which she describes the rutted lanes to the Shire brook bustling with the traffic of carts taking sickles and materials in opposite directions, when looking at the present day Main Street it might be hard to imagine such a rural environment however the area surrounding the street in 18th Century Hackenthorpe would have been filled with the sound of steel being worked, men shouting and perhaps swearing and of course the rhythmic sound of pack horses and mules.
In 1782, the year after Thomas became a freeman, he married Sarah Hurt. Sarah, who was baptised at St. Mary’s Beighton on the 3rd April 1763 was the daughter of Joseph Hurt, the same man that appraised Thomas’s grandfather Samuel’s inventory. The marriage took place on the 23rd July 1782 and the two witnesses listed are John Hurt, Sarah’s brother, and John Rowbotham who was very likely to be the same John that married Ruth Staniforth, Thomas’ aunt.
By the end of the 18th Century, business was flourishing at the Sickle works and in 1790 Thomas is listed as an Overseer of the Poor. This seems to have been a theme with the Staniforths as many references to the Poor can be found in various wills throughout the years, including earlier wills at Ecclesfield and Wincobank. Thomas would have had a lot on his plate when working in this position as he was literally the ‘go-to’ man for all the poor in the area, and it was very likely Thomas saw some very interesting scenes perhaps including drunken mobs, mothers with bastard children etc.
A document from this time period exists at the Sheffield Archives in which Thomas signs his name along with John Marshall, also an Overseer of the Poor and John Jermyn from Drake House. This document announced that they had a ‘Temporary Place of Confinement’ and gave their intentions to ‘put into proper repair as soon as proper materials can be provided’. It should be noted that the Parish constable from this time was John Rowbotham, the same man that witnessed Thomas’ marriage. John Jermyn would die three years after this document being created, however this is a great piece of evidence to show just how much Thomas and his peers cared for the local community.
By 1793 Thomas was an Assistant at the Cutlers Company at the Cutlers Hall in Sheffield. It should also be noted here that just over a century earlier a James Staniforth was master cutler and so it is highly likely that the surname would have been well regarded with the Cutlers Company at this point. Based on Enclosure Maps that had been drawn up from this time, with some controversy it should be said, Thomas is shown to have a number of plots of land in the centre of Hackenthorpe, most of this was land that had been passed down from his father, grandfather and great grandfather.
In 1803 Sarah’s Brother John Hurt who married Mary Staniforth, II’s sister passed away, and her second brother William Hurt who witnessed her wedding follows with his burial registered 29th November 1818. It should also be noted here that a sister Mary Hurt married John Staniforth, this John was the son of William Staniforth and Mary Westby who in turn was son of William Staniforth son of Samuel Staniforth. We will trace this line in future chapters. Thomas himself also died young, with his burial being recorded 10th February 1808, this mirrors his father who also died in his early 50s.
Thomas Staniforth & Co. Sickleworks in October 2017.
Sarah Staniforth herself would live for another few decades, by the time of the 1841 Census Sarah Staniforth, a widower appears to be living at Hackenthorpe with her daughter Sarah Staniforth who married William Ward. Sarah was also a widow at this point as her husband had passed away the year before the Census. Sarah passes away in 1843 at the age of 80.
Over the course of their marriage, Thomas Staniforth II and Sarah Hurt had a total of nine children, four sons and five daughters:
- Margaret Staniforth, baptised on the 5th February 1789, she did not survive a full year and was buried on the 11th October 1789
- Jane Staniforth, baptised on the 26th of May 1791, she would go onto marry William Cardwell, a farmer from Handsworth. They had three sons together, Richard, John and William
- William Staniforth, baptised on the 3rd November 1793, he married Isabella Gordon in London, they had two daughters, Sarah born 1824 and Isabella born 1832. His buriel date is recorded as 13th December 1853 in Westminster, London.
- John Staniforth, baptised on the 26th May, 1805, he moved south with his brother William and are recorded as living together on Census records. William, a widower is noted as being a Tea Dealer with John in Marylebone. He outlives his brother, and appears to be caretaker to his deceased brothers two daughters in 1871, he dies in 1885 in Croydon.
- Ann Staniforth, baptised on the 1st April 1796, she never marries and is buried on the 28th October 1818.
- Elizabeth Staniforth, baptised 15th March 1798, she is burted on hte 25th July 1825, also never marrying.
- Sarah Staniforth, the aforementioned daughter who is living with her mother by the time of the Census, was baptised on the 20th April 1800.
- Martha Staniforth, baptised on the 15th August 1802 marries John Ward, a butcher from Handsworth, son of William Ward and Catherine Hibbard. Martha and John Ward had a number of children including Emily Ward who would go onto marry Thomas Staniforth, a descendent of George Staniforth and Ann Barker.