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Author Topic: Freemasons in the Glass Industry  (Read 286 times)

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Offline neilh

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Freemasons in the Glass Industry
« on: January 14, 2018, 12:07:10 PM »
I've being going through the Freemason records online to see which names crop up for the glass industry. The records cover 1760-1920, therefore covering some time periods outside of the usual census lookups. The names that crop up are a mixture of manufacturers, merchants, cutters, and even a few glass mould makers. For example, Birmingham mould maker William Reading, who is believed to have imprinted "WR" on some of the early 1830s pressed glass plates, can be seen at the Birmingham lodge in the 1860s.

There are over 500 entries for people with "glass" in their profession, and we can only cover those, and try to list the main names, so there will be plenty of omissions. A few interesting trends came out of the data. Firstly, some of these people enter the lodge after their father had died, keeping in it the family. Secondly, some only enter the lodge on moving up to manufacturer status, as though it conferred advantage in some way. Thirdly, there's one factory in particular which had a run of masonic owners, I will discuss at the end.

Some names then - NorthEast:

William Henry Heppell
Joined Newcastle lodges at various times, 1873,1874,1882 (aged 35 on the last one)

Thomas Davidson, age 29
Joined Gateshead lodge in 1890

There are also several Sowerbys but there is not enough info to identify them for sure


John Walsh Walsh
Joined Walsall lodge in 1854 (but residence in Birmingham)

Benjamin Richardson, age 34
Joined Stourbridge lodge 1894

John Thomas Haden Richardson, age 53
Derby lodge 1888 (residence Burton on Trent - glass manager) - Tutbury glass?

Now to Manchester names:

Richard Burtles, age 23
Joined Middleton lodge 1875 (residence Miles Platting)

Charles Burtles, age 46
Joined Manchester lodge 1921 (on the death of his father)

John Derbyshire, age 35
Joined Eccles lodge 1873 (on becoming a manufacturer), left 1877 presumably due to his bankruptcy

Edwin Henry Downs (glass dealer, registered a couple of pieces and took over Derbyshire works)
Joined Manchester lodge 1868

Thomas George Webb, age 27 (of Webb brothers, not Molineaux Webb)
Joined Manchester lodge 1873

Warrington names (seems a hotbed of masonic activity!):

Owen Ellis, age 26 (glass maker)
Joined Warrington lodge 1816, transferred to Manchester in 1828 (after co-founding Molineaux Webb)

John McGinnis, age 22 (glass cutter)
Joined Warrington lodge 1820
Was in short term partnership with father William McGinnis (Molineaux Webb co-founder) and the Perrins which folded 1832 Manchester

John Alderson, age 23  (presumably part of Alderson, Perrin and Robinson)
Joined Warrington lodge 1819

Joseph Perrin, age 30
Joined Warrington lodge 1820

Josiah Perrin, age 25
Joined Warrington(?) lodge 1825, residence in Manchester
In Warrington lodge 1837 and working as a glass dealer

Thomas Kirkland Glazebrook, age 23
Joined Warrington lodge 1802

Edward Bolton, age 33
Joined Warrington lodge, 1856

Peter Robinson, age 40
Joined Warrington lodge, 1856

This last set of three is interesting because it threads through the same glassworks. Glazebrook was the main runner of the Orford Road glassworks up to 1829, then it becomes Robinson & Co. Glazebrook dies in 1855 and then it becomes Robinson and Bolton, both of whom join the masons around this time, at a later age than is usual. 

So the upshot is that the Orford Lane glassworks was run or overseen by freemasons most or all the way from 1802 to 1871.

Someone with a knowledge of Warrington history visited the masonic lodge in Warrington recently and they have a small museum which contains a few pieces of glassware given by Robinsons, though apparently nothing of special interest.


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