Updated 8th February 2006

North of Astbury, within twenty miles, are Macclesfield and Knutsford.  Several families settled here, the earliest births I know of, from censuses, being Thomas 1801 and Edward 1805, respectively.   Thomas in 1841 and 1850 Macclesfield directories was a baker in Park Lane.  In 1896 Alfred was a Tailor at 5 Hibel Road.  In a Knutsford  directory for 1874 we have two in King Street.  Thomas a watchmaker, silversmith and jeweller.  John Joshua, born 1841 in Macclesfield, is a cooper, prize churn and dairy utensil manufacturer, brush, basket and toy dealer.  In 1896 he is listed as a cooper and basket maker.   In the same street his son Hugh has a china shop and in Brook Street his son Joseph  has established The Knutsford Mineral Water Works.

Joseph was “May Queen” [Ellen] Nellie’s  brother.  He had married Sylvia HAMMAN in 1889 and they had a daughter Sylvia aged 8 in 1901.  Later, in 1906, she was also May Queen of Knutsford.:

On an earlier Mayday John Joshua’s shop was photographed.  The caption to the photo says that the child held by her mother is Sylvia.

Susan HILDEBRAND in Germany, a great great grandaughter of John Joshua has been handed down this descrption: “By all accounts he had a flourishing business in Knutsford: making barrels for breweries as far away as Liverpool, dairy equipment e.g. butter churns and making baskets (for potatoes etc.,). He employed seasonal workers from Ireland to make the baskets and rented a lake from the Egertons at Tatton Hall to soak the willow to make it supple. He also hired the church hall in winter to store the barrels his coopers made in the winter so that he had enough for the breweries in spring.  Hugh was also a cooper and worked for him”.

Hugh was Susan’s great grandfather and she tells me that  “Isaac” started to teach her grandfather, John William [born in 1890], the cooper´s trade even before he was old enough to be apprenticed.  Susan had noticed that there is no Isaac in my list of forenames which throws an interesting light on oral history.  Everything she tells me points to John Joshua as being “Isaac”, yet another indirect descendant living in the area has never heard that name applied to him.   Since recounting that, Susan has found the Indenture of John William - on 16th March 1906 he was apprenticed to J Gidman & Son, being John and Arthur.   It was to last five years with a wage rising from six shillings to 12 shillings per week.  John William agreed not to “absent himself from his said masters service day or night unlawfully”

Here is a photo of the men who worked at the rear of the shop -

The three photos are from “Looking back at Knutsford” by K Goodchild, P Ikin and J Leach.

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