Widford Papermill, Widford, Oxfordshire (formerly Gloucestershire)

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Looking North to Widford Mill, Widford, Oxfordshire

Location 

Situated on the River Windrush in Widford, Oxon. Harris (1976) gives the location of Widford Papermill as SP 273118 and states that it was at that time part of Widford Mill Farm (SP2711 at www.geograph.org.uk). It therefore appears to be the range of buildings pictured above. You can find more information about the village on the Widford, Oxon page.

Wilfred Foreman notes that the mill worked from a large pond and that Davis' map of 1797 shows two mills worked in tandem (Foreman, 1983 Pg 120). 
 
On the 1st series OS maps only the building above is shown and it is described as a Corn Mill.

Buildings and lands

Oxford Historic Environment Record PRN759 states that most of the current buildings are of 19thC origin. Widford Mill from the East Widford Mill viewed from the West Widford Mill

The sundial below is on the south wall of the Mill. There is also a victorian post box set in the wall.
Sundial on the wall of the mill

The mill race starts a couple of hundred meters to the west of the Mill. A weir maintains an artificially high  river level and provides a spillway for the excess water.  In the picture below the race is to the right and the wier is straight ahead.
Where the leat parts company with the Windrush

The Burford Enclosure award of 28 Feb 1795 mentions 'one public Bridge Road and Private Carriage Way of the like breadth of twenty feet leading out of Shilton new inclosure and extending Northward to High Park ground for the use of all persons resorting to and returning from the Mill at Widford' (Gretton, pg 685)

History (from 1755 until 1816)


Widford Mill started life as a fulling mill and was later converted to paper production.

In 1755 Thomas HATTON insured the Widford Mill against fire (ref not available - probably Sun Fire Insurance - index to policies at Guildhall Library, City of London.).

On 5 Oct 1757, Thomas HATTON witnessed the of Thomas WOODINGTON & Mary KEMPSTER at nearby Swinbrook, Oxon.

On 11 Oct 1779, Thomas HATTON of Widford, papermaker, was buried at Swinbrook, Oxon.

On Oct 1 1797, William LEECH, of Widford Mill, and Mary his wife christened their son Peter. The LEECH family were later corn millers. So this suggests that two mills were in operation at this time, or a temporary reversion to use for corn.

On 7 Jan 1801 John HATTON of Widford, papermaker, and his wife Sarah christened a daughter Esther at Widford.

On 31 May 1802 John JUSTER and his wife Mary, paperworkers, christened their son John at Widford.

On 12 Jun 1802, the following appeared in the classified advertisments section of Jackson's Oxford Journal:
FLED FROM JUSTICE
Whereas, Richard Freeman, of Asthal, in the County of Oxford, Labourer, stands charged on Oath, before one of his Majesty’s justices of the Peace of the county of Gloucester, with feloniously stealing, taking, and carrying away a Quantity of LINEN RAGS, from the Warehouse of John Hatton, or Widford, in the said County of Gloucester, Paper Maker, and hath lately absconded. The said Richard Freeman is about sixty-seven Years of Age, grey haired, dark Complexion, uncommonly hairy on the Hands, about five feet five inches high, stoops in Walking, and goes forward at Knee; has been seen in London a few Days since.
Whoever will apprehend the said Richard Freeman, and deliver him to the Constable of Widford aforesaid, or lodge him in one of his Majesty’s Gaols, and give Notice thereof to the said John Hatton, or to John Jordan Ansell, of Burford, in the County of Oxford aforesaid, Solicitor, shall receive TEN GUINEAS Reward; and whoever will give Information of the Accomplice or Accomplices of the said Richard Freeman, shall, upon Conviction, receive the like Reward.
4th June, 1802.
JOHN HATTON.
JOHN JORDAN ANSELL.
[Jackson's Oxford Journal (Oxford, England), Saturday, June 12, 1802; Issue 2563. Transcribed by R I Kirby]

A reference to J HATTON as paper maker at Wittford in 1803 has been found amongst the private papers of William BALSTON, of Springfield Mill, Maidstone, Kent ( Harris, 1976; Shorter 226).

On 2 Oct 1804 John HATTON of Widford and his wife Sarah christened a daughter Martha at Widford.

On 27 Mar 1809 James SMITH, papermaker, was buried at nearby Swinbrook, Oxon.

On 11 Mar 1811 John HATTON, papermaker, was buried at nearby Swinbrook, Oxon, aged 61.

On 26 Dec 1811 Mary JUSTER, widow of John JUSTER, papermaker, was buried at nearby Swinbrook, Oxon, aged 63.

In 1811 John HATTON died and in his Will he instructed that his property be sold.

On 1 Jul 1825 Thomas GREEN, papermaker, and his wife Mary-Maria christened their daughter Mary-Maria at Widford.

In 1813 the FREEMAN & MITFORD families of Morton in the Marsh obtained title to a paper mill in Widford (see GRO, Batsford Park Estate papers. Ref D1447/1/260)

In 1816 an Excise list identifies Sarah HATTON at Widford Mill. Although the Mill appears to have been sold it seems that John's widow Sarah may have been left in charge. (From 1712 duty was charged on paper and in 1816 the Excise decided to issue lists of paper makers.)

In 1825 Jackson's Oxford Journel carried an advertisement for the sale of nearby Upton Mill which referred to a Mrs HATTON, Widford, near Burford.

The Parish Records and 1841 Census for the local parishes give a glimpse into who might have have been paper making in Widford and when. Text in italics is background information from other sources.

On 8 Oct 1828 William HART, papermaker, and his wife Elizabeth christened their daughter Susanna at Widford.

On 7 Nov 1830 William HART, papermaker, and his wife Elizabeth christened their son Francis at Widford.

On 13 Apr 1834 William HART, papermaker, and his wife Elizabeth christened their son Enos Sellers at Widford.

On 4 Jun 1837 James HOLLIDAY, papermaker, and his wife Ann [nee TURNER], christened their son Michael at nearby Swinbrook, Oxon.

On 3 Feb 1839 Robert HOLLIDAY, papermaker, and his wife Leah christened their son John Mark at nearby Swinbrook, Oxon. (recorded in the Widford parish records)

On 7 Mar 1841 Robert HOLLIDAY, papermaker, and his wife Leah christened their son William James at nearby Swinbrook, Oxon. (recorded in the Widford parish records)

The 1841 Census for Widford lists:
On 27 Nov 1842 Robert HOLLIDAY, papermaker, and his wife Leah christened their daughter Sarah at nearby Swinbrook, Oxon. (recorded in the Widford parish records)

In 1844, Pigot & Co.'s Directory of Berks, Bucks etc... lists William HART as paper manufacturer at Widford.

On 20 Feb 1845 Robert HOLLIDAY, lab, and his wife Leah christened their son Robert at nearby Swinbrook, Oxon. (recorded in the Widford parish records).

By 1846 Henry WARD appears to have taken over at the mill, for the LONDON GAZETTE for Friday, March 20 1846 carried the following, under the title Bankrupts:
Henry Ward, Widford Mill, near Burford, and Ludgate-street, paper-
manufacturer, March 31, at 2 o'clock, May 4, at 11 o'clock, at the Bankrupts'
Court; solicitors Messrs. Mardon and Co., Newgate-street; official as-
signee, Mr. Graham, Coleman-street.

The Times, Saturday, Mar 21, 1846; pg. 4; Issue 19190; col A


The Jurist, Vol. 10, Part 2, 1846, carried, on pg 225, the following entry “Hen. Ward, Widford-mill, near Burford, Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, and Ludgate-st., London, paper manufacturer, June 25 at 1, Court of Bankruptcy, London, aud. ac.”  

In 1850 a Fourdrinier continuous paper making machine was installed (Foreman, 1893, 71).

On the 1851 Census one William LEECH, 45, born Widford, Oxon, is listed as Miller at the Corn Mill in Widford. Robert HOLLIDAY is list immediately following him and as an Ag. Labourer, but with a paper maker called Thomas BARKER lodging with him.

In 1852 the entry for Widford in the History, Gazetteer & Directory of Oxfordshire, lists one Samuel MILBOURN, paper maker, Widford Mills. It notes 'Widford Mills, for the manufacture of paper, are fitted out with some splendid machinery, and worked by steam power. The manufacture of this article at these mills, is carried on to a great extent by Mr. Samuel Milbourn.'

In 1854 the Post Office Directory of Berks, Northants etc... described it as a 'very extensive paper mill, which is fitted up with moderm machinery worked by steam power, belonging to the Widford Paper Mill Company'. Amongst the few traders are listed Edwin Newman FOURDRINIER, Esq. at Widford Mills and the Widford Paper Company, paper manufacturers at Widford Paper Mills.

In 1876 the Harrod & Co.'s Directory of Beds, Bucks etc. makes no mention of paper making at Widford.

People

Thomas & Elizabeth HATTON, papermakers

The first evidence of Thomas Hatton as a papermaker comes from the occupation given on his marriage licence, dated 1748 it gives his place of residence as Upton, location of Upton Papermill. Thomas Hatton appears to have left Widford Mill to his son John Hatton. He is buried in nearby Swinbrook.  In his 1778 Will Thomas Hatton provided 5 at age 14 for four of his Grandsons (the four sons of his Son Edward who was a paper maker at Quenington Mill) to be 'put apprentice'. More information on may be found on the biographical page for Thomas Hatton.

John & Sarah HATTON

John died in 1811 and in his will he instructed that his property be sold. In 1813 the FREEMAN - MITFORD families of Morton in the Marsh obtained title to a paper mill in Widford (see Oxfordshire Records Office, Batsford Park Estate papers. Ref D1447/1/260). From 1712 duty was charged on paper and in 1816 the Excise decided to issue lists of paper makers. The 1816 list identifies Sarah HATTON at Widford Mill. Although the Mill appears to have been sold it seems that John's widow Sarah may have been left in charge. More information on may be found on the biographical page for John Hatton.

John & Mary JUSTER

No information at the moment.

James & Ann SMITH

John HATTON's grandmother was a SMITH so a family connection cannot be ruled out.

Thomas & Mary Maria GREEN

Thomas GREEN appears to have married  Mary-Maria PYTTS in 1821 in the nearby village of Taynton. 

William & Elizabeth HART

William may have married Elizabeth SELLARS on 23 Mar 1813 in North Newington, Oxford (in 1873 there was another William HART married an Elizabeth SELLARS but this time in Broughton). Elizabeth was born in Broughton, Oxfordshire in abt 1795 and the family christened s daughter, Elizabeth, in that village in 1816 and a son, William, in 1819.
The 1851 census shows that they bore two further children in that village Sarah in abt 1823 and John THOMAS in abt 1826
In abt 1828 their first child was born in Widford.
By 1851 William HART was still paper making but had moved to the High Street at Witney, Oxon.

James & Ann HOLLIDAY

James appears to have married Ann TURNER.

On the 1851 Census there is a family group at Swinbrook, Oxon., comprising

Robert  & Leah HOLLIDAY

Robert HOLLIDAY was born abt 1802 in Swinbrook, Oxon., and so probably served as an apprentice in one of the local Paper Mills, possibly even Widford. His wife Leah was born locally in Leafield (abt 1806). On the 1851 Census Robert was still Paper making, but is listed at the Corn Mill at Widford, Oxon, with his wife Leah, several children and a paper maker called Thomas Barker who is described as a lodger.

Samuel MILBOURN

On 29th September 1846 a Scotish patent was granted to one Samuel MILBOURN, of St Mary's Cray, in the county of Kent,
paper-maker, for " improvements in the manufacture of paper." [Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, 42:194]

Bibliography

I should like to acknowledge the assistance of  Jean Stirk of the British Association of Paper Historians who kindly provided some of the data on this page.

Copyright R I Kirby 2011 unless stated otherwise.