I have just read online the excellent article by Daven Chamberlain in Vol. 6 no 4 of your BLHA newsletter Summer 2013, as my 4 x g grandfather Thomas DURRANT (1776/7-1853) was a papermaker, possibly in Bedfordshire, and I am looking for further information about him. I appreciate that you are not a family history organisation, so I am not looking for such information from you.
First of all, I am trying to find out how Thomas became a papermaker in the first place. Thomas was born in Studham, Bedfordshire, where his family had lived for over 50 years, having moved from Ivinghoe in Buckinghamshire. He was the eldest surviving son. I presume he would have started work around 1790 but Langford Mill would have been a long way for him to go. Do you know of any other papermills that would have been nearer Studham? I have not seen any evidence that anyone else in his family was a papermaker.
By 1810 he had married Sarah and their son was born in St Neots, Huntingdonshire. By 1822 they had moved to Two Waters, Hemel Hempstead, where he was described as a ‘papermaker’ and by 1841 they had moved to Dartford where he was also described as a ‘papermaker’.
If he had been at Langford Mill originally, presumably he would have lost his job when the mill went into bankruptcy and then he could have gone to St Neots.
It is, of course, possible that he did not originally start working at a papermill until he went to St Neots but if he had merely been a labourer in Studham it is unclear why he went there at all. I cannot find out where or when he got married, or Sarah’s maiden name, as his banns were not read in Studham. So he must have already moved away.
I do hope you can locate some other papermill where he might have worked.
Antonia Stickland email: firstname.lastname@example.org