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Messrs J. W. & H. SHAW

The company of J. W. & H. Shaw was established in about 1840 by partners John Shaw, William Shaw the Elder, Henry Shaw, and William Shaw the Younger. They were manufacturers of and dealers in woollen thread and cloth. They built Victoria Mill at Rashcliffe, Huddersfield, and operated it until November 1856, at which time it was sold. After that they appear to have limited their activities to dealing in wool and operated from a warehouse in St. George's Square, Huddersfield, until this too was closed down in 1873 upon F. H. Shaw's retirement. Victoria Mill no longer exists although the location is apparent from the stone walling in Victoria Road, Rashcliffe. A school stands on the site today. I have yet to identify the warehouse in St. George's Square, which may also have succumbed to town centre redevelopment.

The sale notice gives us an excellent view of the size and scope of the manufacturing side of the business. The sale notice states:

Lot 1. All that modern and substantial stone-built WOOLLEN MILL, four stories high, and attic, known by the name of the VICTORIA MILL, situate at Rashcliffe, near Huddersfield, aforesaid, and now or lately in the occupation of messrs. John, William, and Henry Shaw, measuring in length forty-five yards, and in width fourteen yards, within the walls; also the DYEHOUSE, TENTER-STOVE (sixty yards long,) WOOL DRYING STOVE with perforated iron flooring, RAISING SHOP, WOOL WAREHOUSE, TWO COTTAGES, STABLE, and other outbuildings adjoining thereto, and occupied therewith. Together with the STEAM-ENGINE of 30-horse power (but indicating 80-horse power). One MULTITUBULAR BOILER of 60-horse power, and one CORNISH BOILER with double flue of 40 horse power, Gasometers, Gas Retorts, Steam Tenters, Stone Oil Cistern (capable of holding five tons of oil), Weighing Machine for Carts, TEN DOUBLE FULLING STOCKS, Steam Pipes, Shafting and Going Gear.

This Lot is Leasehold, held under two leases from the proprietors of the Lockwood Estate, dated respectively the 14th October 1840, and the 20th August 1844, for terms of 999 years respectively, at yearly ground rents, amounting together to £72 11s. 5d., and comprises an area of 5798 superficial square yards, or thereabouts.

The purchaser of this Lot will have the option of taking and purchasing at a valuation all or any part of the valuable first class woollen machinery and other fixtures and effects in and about the same, comprising a large number of Scribblers, Carders, Billies, Brushing Mills, Lewis Machines, Mules, Power-looms, Presses, Washing and Steaming Machines, Cisterns, and other machines and effects whereof a list will be produced at the sale, and which, if not taken by the purchaser, will be offered for sale by public auction in or about the first week of December next, of which due notice will be given.

Lot 2. All those four Stone-built COTTAGES, situate near to the Victoria Mill above mentioned, and known as "The Cottages outside the wall," now in the occupation of William Horsfall and others, as tenants to the said Messrs. John, William, and Henry Shaw, being tenant-right, and held at will under the proprietors of the Lockwood Estate, at the yearly ground rent of £6 12s. 3d.

Lot 3. All those ten COTTAGES, situate at Taylor-hill, near Huddersfield, aforesaid; and also all those three CLOSES of LAND, and Mistal*, near thereto, at Taylor-hill aforesaid, now in the occupation of the said Messrs. John, William, and Henry Shaw, or their undertenants, the whole containing by estimation five acres or thereabouts, and being tenant-right, held at will under Sir John William Ramsden, Bart., at the yearly ground rent of £8 9s. 6d.

Lot 4. THIRTY-SIX BANK SHARES in the West Riding Union Banking Company.

This most valuable mill property is situate near the turnpike-road leading from Huddersfield to Lockwood, within half-a-mile of the town of Huddersfield, and presents an opportunity to capitalists and manufacturers of acquiring an extensive and first-rate woollen manufactory such as can rarely be met with. The trade buildings are capacious, conveniently arranged, of modern construction, abundantly supplied with water (from wells sunk on the premises) and replete with every convenience for manufacturing purposes.

This has described a substantial and well equipped manufacturing estate, so it is interesting that the business was closed down and sold after only 16 years in operation. There appears to have been nothing in the local press indicating problems with the business, but there was an advertisement in The Times, March 22, 1850. This was addressed to the shareholders of the Oxford, Worcester, and Wolverhampton Railway Company, and discussed the list of defaulting shareholders including Messrs. William Shaw, sen., Henry Shaw, and William Shaw, jun., who appeared as the holders of 40 unpaid shares. This advertisement was placed by solicitors for the Shaws and stated:

We think it due to our clients to state that none of these shares have been in their possession since the month of November 1845, and that after they had endeavoured (in vain) to trace the shares, with a view to induce the purchaser either to pay the calls or to return the certificates to them, they wrote to the secretary, and afterwards to the solicitors of the company, offering to pay the calls if the company would forfeit the shares and issue fresh certificates, but the only reply vouchsafed to their application was "… that the directors were advised not to forfeit the shares for the convenience of parties situated as Messrs. Shaw were."

Had the shares been forfeited (as under the circumstances they ought to have been), Messrs. Shaw would have paid the calls, and then sold the shares, whereby they would have relieved themselves from further liability.

In July 1875, The Yorkshire And Leeds Intelligencer published a report on a creditors' meeting in the estate of Messrs. John William and Henry Shaw. The following day they published a correction - without any appology - to the effect that they had confused the firm of Messrs. John William and Henry Shaw with the firm of Messrs. William Shaw & Co.

The mistake arose in consequence of the names of the partners in the latter firm (John William Shaw & Henry Shaw) being the same as the title of the firm of Messrs. John William & Henry Shaw.

The confusion is one thing, but which of these firms and people are our Shaw family and which are not?! Were there two firms of similar name with the same Shaw partners involved? There is no clarity about any of these questions.

This confusion may well continue. In December 1873, a case came to court where a warehouseman named Lockwood was prosecuted with helping himself to a large amount of woollen cloth over a significant period of time and selling it for his own benefit, this being the property of "John Wm. Shaw and Henry Shaw of Wood-street, woollen merchants." We know of John Wm. and Henry but this is the first we hear of a premises in Wood Street. The report goes on to say that the stock was stolen from "… Wm. Shaw, Son, and Company," and this name is also new to us. Further, Henry Shaw is given as being "… of Imperial-road, Edgerton," (a suburb of Huddersfield, and just half a mile from 'Inglewood'). Shaw is a common name in this part of the country and while there is sufficient to think that this may be our family, there is enough difference to raise doubt. Incidentally, prosecutor and witness Henry Shaw requested the bench to deal with the case summarily, rather than sending it to the assizes. Lockwood was committed for six months' hard labour.

With regard to premises in Wood Street, on the death in 1902 of Frederick Henry Shaw an obituary refers to the flag being flown at half mast in St. George's Square. So it seems that the family continued to maintain a business in Huddersfield into the 20thC.

In the report of the Huddersfield Examiner on the funeral of Frederick Henry SHAW, there is reference to further partners in the firm, including: "… Mr. B. Eastwood (a late partner of the firm of the deceased gentleman), and Mr. H. B. Hope. Mr. F. Varley and Mr. D. F. Eastwood (present partners)."

* Mistal - (dialect) cow shed; byre, (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved October 29, 2016 from website

Shaw family page set


I am very much indebted to Danika Lloyd, who undertook the research to discover the history of the Shaw family. I am also most indebted to Mrs Elizabeth Knights for bringing the Metchley Visitors Book to my notice and for sending it to me.

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