Paper-Mills and Paper-Makers in Wales 1700-1900


Alun Eirug Davies, National Library of Wales journal. 1967, Summer Volume XV/1

Extracted onto the pages of GENUKI with the kind permission of the National Library of Wales

This is a complete extract of this article (Gareth Hicks April 2003)

JOHN Tate, a 'citizen and mercer of London', is considered to be England's first paper-maker. Paper made at his mill in Hertfordshire was used by Wynkyn de Worde to print an English edition of Anglicus Bartholomaeus' book De Proprietatibus Rerum in 1495. A paper industry, however, did not emerge until the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth centuries. As far as is at present known, the industry grew up still later in Wales --- as late as the eighteenth century. In his study of the historical geography of the industry, A. H. Shorter has noted the existence of a paper-mill in the Principality as early as the year 1706 ---at Halghton in Flintshire.   1  That there were other mills operating in the eighteenth century is also known, although the evidence for their existence is very scanty.

Until the end of the seventeenth century, the bulk of the paper used in England for 'wrapping, writing, and printing' 2  was made on the Continent. 3  Italy and France were the main suppliers in Tudor times. During much of the seventeenth century France had a virtual monopoly of the English market. The last few decades of the century, however, marked a 'turning-point in the history of the paper-supply to this country', 4  for England now drew her supplies from the growing home industry. Italian, German, Dutch and small amounts of French paper from the Netherlands were also imported. By 1720, the industry was firmly established, and England produced the greater part of her total home consumption, although paper of high quality continued to be imported from the Continent.

Since the existing evidence relating to the early history of paper-mills and paper-makers is scanty and scattered, this article outlines the principal facts concerning the industry in Wales before the year 1900. Monmouthshire is not included in the survey as A. H. Shorter has already traced the history of paper-mills in that county. 5

From the beginning of the period, the industry was concentrated in certain areas--- Holywell, Caerwys, and Wrexham in the North; Haverfordwest, Crickhowell, and Cardiff, later in the nineteenth century, in the South. That there were mills at such places as Hope, Chirk, Llanrwst, and Llanrug in North Wales; and Carmarthen, Llandeilo Tal-y-bont, and Llangyfelach in South Wales, is also certain.

As would be expected, nearly all the early mills were, located along river valleys, close to clear and swiftly-flowing streams, for exceptionally large supplies of clean water, both for power and as a raw material, were basic requirements for paper-making. A plentiful supply of linen..................

............. rags was another factor determining their location, so that many papermills were established near towns and villages, where such material was available. A more important factor in the development of the modern paper-mill was easy access to esparto grass and wood pulp, for after 1860, these materials replaced rags as the primary raw material. Hence the need for good harbour and transport facilities.

The paper industry in Wales was never at any period large and it does not seem likely that the total number of mills in existence at any time exceeded twenty. One of the reasons for this was that 'papermaking', as Coleman observed, 'was essentially a mill industry. The paper-mill belonged to a family which included the corn-mill, the fullingmill, the slitting mill, and others less plentifully represented in the English countryside before the Industrial Revolution. The combination of skilled labour, water-power, and the need for some minimum of buildings in which to carry on the processes of manufacture precluded any possibility of the industry assuming the well-known shape of the 'domestic system'. The techniques of cloth-making were ideally suited to a division of labour which allowed the 'putting out' or 'domestic' system to flourish; those of paper-making demanded centralized work. This in turn implied that a paper-mill represented a more substantial concentration of capital than did the weaver's cottage and loom'. 6

In the year 1816 there were at least fifteen paper-mills in Wales. The evidence for their existence is derived from the Customs and Excise Authorities General Letter for 1816, which gives the collection of Excise in which the mills were located, the numbers allotted to the mills, and the names of the paper-makers and mills. Those for Wales are listed in Table I:   7




                Paper-Maker                                         Paper-Mill                                                Location

  • 39      Samuel Price                                          Hope                                             Hope, Flintshire
  • 40      Richard Hughes & Co.                           Esless                                            Wrexham, Denbighshire
  • 41      William Harris & Co.                            Esclusham                                     Wrexham, Denbighshire
  • 42      Samuel Adams                                       Upper Mill                                     Halghton, Hanmer, Flintshire
  • 43      Benjamin Bates                                      Sarn                                               Worthenbury, Flintshire
  • 45      John Lewis                                             Buckley                                          Buckley, Flintshire


  • 440      James Window                                  Llangenni                                         Llangenni, Brecknockshire
  • 441     William Spencer                                Pandy                                               Cadle, Llangyfelach,Glamorgan
  • 442     Thomas Rowland                               Monks Mill                                      Llandilo Tal-y-bont, Glamorgan   


  • 443     John Haslam                                     Bodrual                                             Llanrug, Caernarvonshire
  • 444     William Smedley & Co.                   Wheeler                                             Caerwys, Denbighshire
  • 445     Robert Wynne                                   Porth-llwyd                                       nr. Llanrwst, but on the
                                                                                                                                  Caernarvonshire side of the River


  • 446    Thomas Lloyd & Co.                          Haverfordwest                                   Pembrokeshire
  • 447             ,,                                                          ,,                                                         ,,
  • 448     David Charles                                   Carmarthen                                         Carmarthenshire  

The following mills were listed as new mills in later Excise General Letters: No. 508, Owen Lloyd, Gyffredin (Wales North Collection), 1819; No. 193, William Hill, Greenfield (Wales North Collection), 1821; No. 501, John Mather, Senior, John Roberts, John Mather, Junior, Afonwen mill (Wales North Collection), 1822; No. 524, William Harris and William Dick McMurdo, Bersham mill (Chester Collection), 1823; No. 525, James Winder and Robert Walker, Esless mill (Chester Collection), 1823; No. 216, Benjamin Harvey, Haverfordwest (Wales West Collection), 1842; No. 551, John Green, James Hyndford Rawlins, Richard Champion Rawlins, Cefn-y-bedd (Chester Collection), 1842.

The returns for the number of pounds weight of paper made in each Excise collection from 1831 to 1834 (Appendix I) also give a general indication of the distribution of the industry for those years. The figures are not complete, for several mills were included in the Chester Collection. The mills in the Wales North Collection were the largest from any point of view.

By the middle of the century, a number of mills, particularly those in the remoter districts, had disappeared. The 1851 Parliamentary Return of paper-mills gives a total of eight in operation. (Table II)





       Mill                            Number of Beating Engines                 [Location]

  • Cefnybedd                                    3                                        [Wrexham]


  • Goldengrove                                1                                         [Llangenni]
  • Llanroyney                                   1                                        [Glangrwyne]


  • Afonwen                                      3                                         [Caerwys]
  • Greenfield                                   5                                         [Holywell]
  • Wheeler                                       3                                         [Caerwys]


  • Haverfordwest                            2
  • Millbank                                     4                                         [Haverfordwest]

    Source: House of Commons Papers, 1852, 51, No. 128.

It is apparent from this that the greatest number of mills operated during the early decades of the nineteenth century. This was also a period of mechanisation in the industry. In 1821, for example, William Hill, paper-maker of Greenfield, Holywell, was granted a licence to install a Fourdrinier machine in his mill. 8  Mechanisation, however, had not had a very great impact before 1830, and when its effects were fully felt, the number of mills declined, although the size and the output of individual mills increased. The handiwork of the paper-maker was being replaced by machine-made paper from factories. The mills that remained working after 1850 were those close to other industries and served by adequate transport facilities, as in Flintshire and Wrexham. Other mills in the remoter districts remained much as they had been for decades. In Brecknockshire, for example, the industry was still important in at least two villages in 1850 --- partly, perhaps, owing to the abundant water power, and partly to the purity of the water. The Llangenni, Millbrook and Glangrwyne mills all had the advantage of Grwyne water. Whereas the continued importance of the industry at Haverfordwest owed more, perhaps, to the tradition of paper-making in the area, although by 1870 it showed signs of decay.

The names of paper-mills and paper-makers culled from various paper directories of the late nineteenth century may be summarised as follows:



1876                County                                      Mill                                               Owners

  •             Brecknockshire              Golden Grove Mill, Llangenni                   James Jacob and Co.
  •                                                    Millbrook Mill, Llangenni                         William Parry
  •                                                    Glangrwyne Mill, Glangrwyne                  William Parry
  •             Denbighshire                  Turkey Mill, Wrexham                               H. M. Greville
  •             Flintshire                       Abbey Mill, Holywell                                Grosvenor, Chater & Co.
  •                                                   Afonwen Mill, Caerwys                              John Roger Jones
  •                                                   Hope Mill, Hope                                         J. H. R. Rawlins
  •                                                   North Wales Paper Mill, Oakenholt            North Wales Paper Co. Ltd.
  •             Glamorgan                     Ely Paper Mill, Cardiff                               Ely Paper Co., Ltd.
  •             Pembrokeshire              Cleddau Mill, Haverfordwest                      Samuel Read & Co.

    Source: The Paper-Makers' Directory and Diary, 1876. By T. Craig, London, [1876].

         TABLE IV         

1885                   County                                      Mill                                                   Owners

  •            Brecknockshire              Golden Grove Mill, Llangenni                      James Jacob & Co.
  •                                                   Millbrook Mill, Llangenni                            F. C. Gwynne
  •                                                   Glangrwyne Mill, Glangrwyne                     F. C. Gwynne
  •                                                   Glanaber, Crickhowell                                 T. A. Compere
  •            Denbighshire                  Turkey Mill, Wrexham                                  H. M. Greville
  •            Flintshire                        Abbey Mill, Holywell                                  Grosvenor, Chater & Co.
  •                                                   Afonwen Mill, Caerwys                               Johnson Roger Jones
  •                                                   North Wales Paper Mill, Oakenholt             North Wales Paper Co. Ltd.
  •            Glamorgan                      Ely Paper Works, Cardiff                             Evans & Owen
  •            Pembrokeshire                Cleddau Mill, Haverfordwest                      Samuel Read & Co.

        Source: Directory of Paper-Makers of the United Kingdom, London. 1885.

                 TABLE V 

1894                   County                                      Mill                                                    Owners

  •         Brecknockshire                    Usk Paper Works, Crickhowell                  Beckwith and Co.
  •                                                     Millbrook Mill, Llangenni                          Breconshire Millboard Co.
  •         Denbighshire                       Turkey Mill, Wrexham                                H. M. Greville & Son.
  •         Flintshire                             Abbey Mill, Greenfield                              Grosvenor, Chater & Co.
  •                                                     Afonwen Mill, Caerwys                              Johnson Roger Jones
  •                                                     North Wales Paper Mill, Oakenholt            North Wales Paper Co. Ltd.
  •         Glamorgan                           Ely Paper Mills, Cardiff                             Thomas Owen & Co. Ltd.

    Source: Alphabetical List of Paper and Millboard Makers in the United Kingdom, etc. [Edinburgh, 1894]

The establishment of these mills in Wales in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries did not produce an upheaval in the social life of the localities comparable to the changes which accompanied the growth of the factory system. The paper-mills were widely scattered and very small. Out of a total of 5,762 engaged in paper-making in ......................

............................ England and Wales in 1841 only 136 were employed in the Welsh papermills, and many of these were boys and girls. According to the Census Returns, the number of persons engaged in manufacturing paper in Wales from the middle of the century (by decades) was as follows:



                   South Wales           North Wales

  • 1851            44                      113
  • 1861            31                      158
  • 1871            87                      158
  • 1881          157                      245
  • 1891          143                      271

It was not until the last quarter of the century, with the rise of Cardiff as a paper-manufacturing centre, and the expansion of the industry in Flintshire, that the numbers began to increase. The number of persons engaged in paper-making between 1851 and 1901 in Flintshire and Glamorgan is recorded in the Census Returns as follows



                            Flintshire          Glamorgan

  • 1851                    66                      3
  • 1861                    73                      5
  • 1871                  106                    65
  • 1881                  186                  120
  • 1891                  228                  116
  • 1901                  277                  301

After 1830, when mechanisation began to make a greater impression on the industry, more and more women, and children to the year 1867, were employed in the mills. (Tables VIII and IX). The number of females was greatest between 1871 and 1881 and coincided with the use of esparto grass as a raw material in the industry. After 1881, the numbers diminished for the making of paper from wood-pulp enabled machines to be worked, thus replacing both male and female labour in the mills. But the increased demand for paper and the consequent expansion of some of the mills in the late nineteenth century meant that more male labour was required by paper manufacturers.



                 Males           Females

  • 1851            102             55
  • 1861            109             80
  • 1871            160             85
  • 1881            235           167
  • 1891            269           145

TABLE IX     9


                Under 5 yrs         5        10      15      20      25      35      45      55     65     75 +

  • 1851        -                1        12      25      25      30      19      90      11      8       6
  • 1861        -                -         15      30      36      38      23      23      17      2       5
  • 1871        -                I         20      63      27      49      40      21      14      9       1

In his Report to the Children's Employment Commission of 1843, H. H. Jones said that 'No child examined in the paper-mills of North Wales was under eight years of age, and the majority were eleven and upwards'. 10  At the Turkey Mill, Wrexham, for instance, the workers were mostly boys and girls, and the mill foreman was only twenty-three years of age. Women and girls did most of the rag-sorting, cutting and dusting. Children worked at the glazing as well, while boys maintained the beating engines and called themselves engineers. The more skilled jobs were carried out by men. Children under the age of sixteen continued to work in the mills until 1867.

To the question what did the persons working in the paper-mills earn in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries it is impossible to give a satisfactory answer. It is only with the appearance of the Children's Employment Commission Reports of 1843 that documentary evidence becomes available. These reports contain the minutes of evidence for the Turkey Paper-Mill at Wrexham (Appendix II). Thirteen workers at the mill were interviewed in all, their ages ranging from twelve to twenty-three. At the time, they all worked a 12-hour day and included in this was time for meals. Overtime was common---particularly night work. Rag-grinding was often carried out on Sundays. The wages earned by children engaged in rag-cutting, sorting, and other sundry jobs in the mill were as follows

  • Paper glazer, 12 years of age, female       1s. 6d. to 2s. per week
  • Paper glazer, 17 years of age, female       2s. per week
  • Paper sorter, 17 years of age, female       3s. per week
  • Paper sorter, 16 years of age, female       2s. 6d. per week
  • Rag cutter, 17 years of age                       3s. 6d. to 4s. per week
  • Engineer, 13 years of age                         2s. per week

The mill foreman, who earned 24s. per week, started working at the mill at the age of ten. Then, he earned 2s. a week for picking bits of dirt out of the vat. It is unfortunate that no evidence exists to indicate the wages of the various skilled and semi-skilled men who were concerned with the main production process at the mill.

The Turkey paper-mill emerged from the Children's Employment Commission Inquiry of 1843 with a satisfactory record. The workers were reported to be 'healthy, well-clothed and very respectable', although they were considered to be 'very ignorant, except in what relate[d] to their own occupations'. Nevertheless, it was not until the Factory Acts were applied to the paper-industry in 1867 that conditions improved in the paper-mills.

What follows is a survey of the evidence for the existence of papermills and paper-makers in Wales to the year 1900.



There was some paper-making in Llangenni in 1790 *. A. H. Shorter has noted that 'George Window, paper-maker, took an apprentice, William James' 11  in that year. The mill was held by George Window after  1800 and it was oil paper supplied by the concern that William and George North printed the first volume of Theophilus Jones' History of the County of Brecknock in 1805 : 'Mr Jones, in the patriotic ardour of his heart, caused not only the printing of his book, but even the manufacture of the paper to be carried out in his own county, the latter being executed at the Llangenny Paper Mills'. 12  The mill was also known to Walter Davies in 1814 when he referred to the manufacture of brown paper 'at Glan Grwyney, near Crickhowell'. 13  In 1816 the mill held by James Window was listed as No. 440 in the Customs and Excise General Letter Book. 14

* (There is in fact good evidence to suggest that this mini-industry was in place here a good deal earlier. In Llangenny Parish records there are burial records of 1734 and 1737 which accord the title ‘paper-man’ to those named and a similar title to a father ‘Thomas PORIGO’ in a 1713 baptism record. There are three further 1740 records which indicate a continuation of activity.
This implies that paper works here are nearly contemporary with the working at 1706 @ Haighton, Flint - noted by Houghton as being one of the earliest operations).- Submitted by Roy Davies 6/2020)


The Llangenni paper-mill survived the post-war depression under different ownerships. After 1840 it became known as the Golden Grove Mill and under the style of James Jacob and Company, it turned to the manufacture of millboards. 15  They were the mill's chief product in 1802 when the owners agreed to experiment with the manufacture of millboards from spent hops at the request of the Mayor of Burton-on Trent, who intended setting up the industry in his home-town. The Mayor received the following report from James Jacob & Son:   16

Golden Grove Millboard Mills,

Llangenny, near Abergavenny,

14th June, 1892.

To his Worship the Mayor of Burton-on-Trent.

Sir, --- In accordance with an arrangement made with Mr. Woolrych, we have tested the value of spent hops (as specially prepared) in the manufacture of millboards, and herwith submit our report on the same. We received a truck load of the hops from Burton-on-Trent on Monday, the 23rd May, and were requested to make three qualities of boards, one to contain forty, another fifty, and a third seventy-five per cent of the hops. Our first trial was with the smaller quantity of hops in combination with the other ingredients, and the board produced therefrom is a remarkably good one. Our second experiment was with fifty per cent. of hops, and the board in this case is little inferior in quality to the first. The remainder of the hops at our disposal were insufficient for a third trial, but had it been otherwise we should have hesitated to use them, as they appeared to be going mouldy and bad after lying so long. From the experiments we have already made we are of opinion that a board infinitely superior to the foreign straw boards can be made by using a still greater proportion of hops. If considered necessary we will make further experiments in this direction. Appended you will find details of the cost of producing the boards (samples of which are enclosed) and their values upon the mill board market when so manufactured. One of our partners, Mr. Mason, of Cardiff, submitted a sample of the No. 2 quality to one of the largest houses in South Wales (Messrs. Daniel Owen and Co.) and we append their report, together with an order to be supplied with a ton at £18. We should like to point out that, if you propose to enter into competition with the English manufactured boards, you will find the market somewhat limited, but, if your aim is to compete with the foreign straw boards, the demand is practically unlimited. You could do this with the No. 2. quality of board and still leave a substantial margin of profit. At its value of £13 you might dispose of some ten tons per week, but, if you put the same board in the market at about £7, there would be no difficulty in disposing of a hundred tons per week; for the large towns in close proximity to Burton-on-Trent --- such as Nottingham, Leicester, and Birmingham --- would alone take a considerable quantity for their book-making trade. --- [Here follows a tabulated statement showing that the cost of one ton of boards of No. 1 quality would be £7. 7s. with a market value of £16;  No. 2 quality costing £3. 18s with a market value of £13 per ton. ---]. We are, dear sir, yours truly, Jas. Jacob and Son.

There is no further reference to the experiment. The mill, however, probably moved to Cardiff in 1893, although it was still listed in the 1894 Paper Directory under Brecknockshire.


No definite date can be given for the establishment of the Millbrook Mill. In 1850 William Parry manufactured blue sugar and brown papers for handwriting, drawing and book purposes. 17   Fifteen years later, he converted it into a millboard mill. The mill then passed through several hands --- F. C. Gwynne (1885), the Breconshire Millboard Company (1894), and W. G. James after 1895. The latter occupied the mill for ....................

...................... producing air-dried boards for book-binding purposes, leather boards for soleing slippers, and trunk and engine boards.


Paper-making had established itself at Glangrwyne by the middle of the nineteenth century. 18  Located on the site of an old iron-forge erected by Walter Watkins of Dan-y-graig, Llanelli, the mill was worked as a paper-mill by Messrs. Window and Parry for the production of brightly coloured shop or grocery papers in 1850. Owing to the purity of the water from the river Grwyne, the mill became famous for the brilliant colour of the paper produced. It changed hands several times in the second half of the century, and the Glangrwyne paper industry was clearly declining. It was not until Beckwith and Company took the mill over in 1888 that the work regained its former prosperity. Under the style of the Usk Paper Works, the mill abandoned the production of grocery papers for rope browns. The mill was renovated. Lofts were installed for the air-drying process. The old water-wheels were replaced by turbines and in 1900 steam-power was used.


The 1885 Paper Directory lists another mill at Crickhowell --- that held by T. A. Compere at Glanaber for manufacturing hand-made millboards, but it soon disappeared. 19



In the early decades of the nineteenth century paper was manufactured on a small scale at Llanrug. Five loads of paper were sent from Caernarvon to Liverpool in the year 1808. 20  Edmund Hyde Hall confirmed this a year later and included 'a few bales of paper made in Llanrug ...' 21  in Caernarvon's lists of exports. Of Llanrug itself, he observed, 'Here are a corn, a fulling and a paper-mill. The last may be remarked as being the only one in the county, and from it is sent by way of Caernarvon enough of the manufacture to make some figure in the table of exports'.   22   J. Evans in 1812 also referred to the mill: 'A paper-mill has been set up in the parish, and at present is the only one in this department of North Wales'. 23 ; A certain Thomas Grice was employed at the mill in 1815   24  and he was still there five years later. 25  The master paper-maker or owner was John Haslam and the mill was known to the Excise authorities as the Bodrhaul Mill (No. 443). 26  Thomas Lloyd held the mill in 1821. 27  The industry, however, never established itself in Llanrug and it soon disappeared.


A. H. Dodd has traced the existence of a paper-mill near Llanrwst to the year 1814. 28  In December of that year, the mill was offered for sale and the following advertisement appeared in the North Wales Gazette : 29


At the King's Head Inn, in the town of Llanrwst, in the county of Denbigh, on Tuesday the 6th day of December, 1814, subject to conditions then to be produced:---All that undivided Moiety or half Part or Share of, and in all those new erected Water, Corn, Grist, and Paper Mills, situate on the Carnarvonshire side of the Vale, within six miles of the large corn market town of Llanrwst, and five of the town of Conway, called Porthllwyd Mills: the river which works the same affords a regular and incessant supply of water, even in the very driest summer, sufficient to work a wheel of any power whatever, distant only about 100 yards from the navigable river Conway, so remarkably convenient for shipping the Flour and Paper for Liverpool, Chester, &c.; there is also a road down to the river, and a boat for conveying the Flour, &c., to the Denbighshire side. The Corn Mill consists of two pair of Stones, one for Wheat and the other for barley. The whole of the Wheels and respective Machinery are perfectly good, new, and complete. The Water Wheel is of 40 horse power. The internal Wheels are all of cast-iron, and work both Corn and Paper Mills either together or separately, as occasion requires.

The Paper Mill Engine, and the goodness of the water will answer well to make writing paper, and paper of all descriptions can now be made there.

The Premises are leasehold for 3 young lives, of the respective ages of 8, 11 and 13 years, and the life of the survivor of them; with 31 years certain, commencing November 1810, in case all the lives should happen to die in the meantime, subject to the ground rent of £15. 15s. d per annum, and to the covenants in the lease.

The additional ground comprised in the lease, is extensive enough to erect a Cotton Factory, and there is an additional fall of water for that or any other purpose, as well as for erecting additional buildings.

The tenant will shew the premises, and for further particulars apply to Mr. Griffith, Solicitor, Llanrwst.'

Excise Letter of 1816 lists the Porth-llwyd Mill (No. 445) in the occupation of Robert Wynne. 30  The mill was worked by three partners in 1819 - Edward Mather, Senior, Edward Mather, Junior and John ................

 ................  Lloyd ; 31  in 1820 the Mather brothers. 32  The mill was reported to be in the possession of John Lloyd in 1842, 33 and was still held by him in 1846.   34



1734/35. Will of Francis Selman, paper-man of Cydweli. 35


The first reference to a paper-mill in Carmarthen is contained in the Heol Awst Chapel Register, where it is recorded that Rachel, daughter of Samuel Davies, Paper-Mill, was baptized in 1799.  36

The first Excise General Letter Book for the Wales West Collection gives the Carmarthen mill, No. 448, in the occupation of David Charles, paper-maker. David Charles was also a rope-maker and one of Wales' 'sweet singers' and author of the famous hymn 'Rhagluniaeth fawr y nef', etc. He served a period of apprenticeship in Bristol to perfect his craft, but it is not certain whether this was for paper-making or for rope-making. On 10 February 1821 his paper-mill was destroyed by fire. 37  His son, also David Charles, carried on the business as late as the year 1844. 38  By the middle of the century, the mill had closed down.



It was not until the early years of the nineteenth century that the Wrexham area developed into an important paper-manufacturing centre. A. H. Dodd notes that 'a water-driven paper-mill at Esclusham (near the Bersham furnace) dates back to the Restoration'.   39  The equipment in the same mill was insured in 1798 by the owner, Edward Bozley, paper-maker of Esclusham Below. 40  Bozley owned the Esclusham and Esless Mills in the early years of the nineteenth century 41  and the two paper-mills were still operating in 1816 on the banks of the stream known as the Clywedog which runs through Bersham and Esclusham, as the Excise List indicates: 42


40. Richard Hughes & Co.        Esless

41. William Harris & Co.        Esclusham

#The following two references were kindly supplied by Mr. Michael C. S. Evans:
Carmarthen Record Office, Cawdor 1/13/378. An account of wood sold between 1724 and 1730 to Mr. Solomon, a tenant of the paper-mill at Cydweli.
N.L.W. MS. Brigstocke Collection. 'Thos. Selman Forge Papermaker' mentioned in the list of burgesses of Cydweli for 1 October 1731.

William Harris and Company took over the Esclusham Mill on the death of Bozley in 1814. Meanwhile, the Esless Mill was purchased by two partners, Richard Hughes and Phillips, who traded under the name of Richard Hughes and Company. Richard Hughes was born at Adwy'r Clawdd, Denbighshire, in 1794. After serving as a clerk in a bank at Wrexham, and later as an accountant in one of Bozley's papermills, he became a paper-mill owner. He opened a paper-store in Bank Street, Wrexham, in 1820, but soon abandoned paper-making for publishing and printing. 43

The Excise Letter of 1823 lists the Bersham Mill (No. 524) as a new mill and worked by William Harris and William Dick McMurdo. 44  It is only Harris' name that is recorded in the 1825 Excise Letters. 45  In the meantime, the Esless Mill (No. 525), also listed as a new mill in 1823, had changed hands and was working under the names of James Winder and Robert Walker. In the 1830's the mill was sold to William Harris and Company, who now had three mills on the Clywedog---Bersham, Turkey and Esclusham mills. At mid-century, another member of the Harris family, George Frederic Harris, of Harrow Park, Middlesex, purchased the entire Harris property in Esclusham and sold the Esless mills for £850.   46

The Turkey mill was acquired by Henry Methold Greville of Worcester, who operated the mill under the style of H. M. Greville and Son. 'The Old Turkey Paper Mill', as it was known, specialised in the production of extra superfine hand-made bank-note and cheque papers of all descriptions. Indeed, the mill became famous for its production of bank-note paper and was contractor to the Government Stationery Office. It had four vats. Steam and water-power were used to drive the machinery. At the death of H. M. Greville, the business was carried on by his widow and son.

The Turkey paper-mill was burnt down in April, 1897. The fire was considered by the Prince of Wales Volunteer Fire Brigade to be 'among the biggest conflagrations attended' 47  by the brigade. It was rebuilt and sold to R. H. Done of Wrexham, who formed a company --- the Henry Methold Greville Company Limited --- to work the Bersham Paper Mill, as it was now called.


'In the vicinity of Chirk are several paper manufactories, the Ceiriog supplying abundance of water, for giving motion to the necessary machinery; where paper is made of divers qualities, from the coarsest wrapping to the finest writing'. 48



The first paper-mill recorded in Wales was started in Flintshire about 1706. Dr. Shorter's findings may be tabulated as follows : 49

1706 Thomas Downward, paper-man.

1726 Edward Jones, paper-maker (died 1743).

1761 Paper-mill was insured by John Rowley, stationer, of Chester.

1766 George Jenkins, apprentice to James Adams, paper-maker (died circa. 1788).  50

The mill was known to the Excise authorities in 1816, when Samuel Adams was the master paper-maker. 51 No further reference to papermaking at this mill has been found.


A paper-mill was operating in Flintshire at Sarn, Worthenbury in 1790, with Simon Hope, the master paper-maker. 52  In 1816, the proprietor or master paper-maker was Benjamin Bates. 53


1811. 'Bankrupts. H. Crompton, Cyman, Flint, paper-maker.' 54


1816. John Lewis, paper-maker. 55  1825. Edward Tomkins, paper-maker. 56


A paper-mill at Greenfield, Holywell, dates back to the year 1770 and probably earlier. 57  Built on the site of a Cistercian corn-mill, a copy of an assignment, dated 17 July 1779, indicates that paper was being produced there from 1771 onwards. 58  Writing in 1796, Thomas Pennant refers to the mill in his History of Whiteford and Holywell: 'A pin-mill was built in 1764, for the use of James Eden, pin-maker, who occupied it about two years, and then failed. The next occupier was Mrs. Chambers, who converted it into a coarse paper-mill, and continued the use of it till 1783, when it fell into the hands of the cotton company.' 59  There are further references to the mill in Clarke's Tour through ... Wales in 1791 and in Aikin's England Described in 1818.   60

In 1821, William Hill of Greenfield, was granted a licence to erect a Fourdrinier machine in his two-vat mill. 61  The mill was known to the Excise Authorities as Mill No. 193. 62  William Hill and Richard Unsworth worked the mill in 1822, 63 and only the latter name appeared in......................

........................ 1824.   64  Richard Unsworth manufactured paper and millboards by patent machinery. Samuel Lewis in his Topographical Dictionary reported in 1833 that: 'a manufactory for paper by patent machinery has been recently established in which more than forty persons are regularly engaged'. 65  By 1844 there were two mills at work in Holywell --- Simpson, Tidyman and Company (patent) and Charles Stevens (Abbey mill). 66  The Parliamentary Return of 1851 however gives one mill, that of Greenfield with five beating machines at work. It was the largest mill in Wales at that time.

The turning point in the fortunes of the Abbey-Mill came in the year 1854, when it became the property of an old London firm---Grosvenor, Chater and Company --- in whose possession it has remained to this day. 'Greenfield was chosen because there was a never-failing supply of suitable water --- even in the driest weather --- from the stream issuing from St. Winifred's Well. The old Abbey mills, formerly an old copper forge, provided a convenient skeleton framework; and there was plenty of coal near by at Englefield colliery; there were excellent communications both by rail and river; and finally there was a chemical works at Flint recently acquired by Messrs. Muspratt Bros. and Huntley, whence cheap supplies of bleaching powder and other chemicals could be got when required'. 67  The firm described themselves as paper-makers and wholesale stationers, and specialised in the production of engine-sized writing, envelope, news and printing papers. The works were increased in size in the 1870's.   68

In 1882 it was converted into a private limited company. Twelve years later on 30 November, the mill was destroyed by fire. 'The fire broke out about half past six o'clock in an extensive range of corrugated iron buildings, in which were stored some hundreds of bales of esparto grass and a large quantity of rags ... The building was practically destroyed, but by great effort the fire was prevented from extending to the main portion of the mill. The damage is roughly estimated at about £1,000, which is covered by insurance'. 69  Despite this setback, the mill's production of rag and esparto writing, envelope, news and printing papers increased steadily with modern machinery.


A paper-mill was erected on the banks of the river Wheeler at Caerwys in Flintshire in 1786 at a total cost of £1,346 13s. 3d. 70  On 13 November of the same year, Robert Lloyd was appointed 'over looker or clerke' to the concern at a salary of £20 for the first year and the first sheet of paper was made on 18 November.   71  The first duty was levied by Mr. Reynolds, the exciseman, on 14 December and the paper was available to local customers the next day. 72  A certain Robert Williams was associated with the mill in 1788, 73 but little is known about it until 1809, when ..............

.................. Mr. Rigby, the owner, purchased a water wheel from Wilkinson, the ironmaster. At the time of the first Excise List, the Wheeler mill (No. 444), was worked by William Smedley and Company. 74  It was also known to the Excise authorities in 1822, but now in the possession of Thomas Harrison, Jane Smedley and John Roger Jones. 75  The latter name only appears in the Excise Letter of 1829. 76

A second mill began making paper at Caerwys in 1822 ---- mill No. 501 in the Excise Letter with John Mather, Senior, John Mather, Junior and John Roberts in occupation. 77  It was known to the authorities as the Afonwen Mill. Both mills had three beating-engines at work in 1851.

Sometime in the 1850's, the Afonwen Mill (No. 501) ceased to produce paper. On 26 July 1867, it was decided to let the mill, as the following advertisement indicates : 78

'To Paper Makers, Capitalists, and others.
With immediate Possession.

The Afonwen Mill, Caerwys, near Holywell,, Flintshire, is close to a good turnpike road and to the Mold and Denbigh Railway. It has three Rag Engines, Two Cylinders and an Attach with three Glazing Rollers, Steam Boiler, etc. The Machine makes paper sixty inches wide. There is water-power to turn out, for at least nine months of the year, three tons of paper weekly. The stream is remarkably clear, even after a heavy fall of rain, and runs only a mile from the fountain source to the Mill. A few acres of land some cottages let with the Mill. Address: J. Lardner Green, Tisbury and Salisbury, State. the amount of Capital ready, and give references'.

 In the meantime, the mill owned by John Roger Jones continued to produce paper. The concern. was extended in the 1870's, and although fortunes fluctuated, the production of hand-made writing and account-book papers in which the mill specialised increased steadily. The next reference to the paper-mill is taken from the Paper Record. 79

'This mill is situated in the valley of Clwyd, and is one of the cleanest and neatest mills I have ever seen. They have nearly water power enough for four vats, and there is a steam engine to assist. This mill was one of the first to use a preliminary rag washer. The late manager was a good paper-maker; very particular in all his ways, and turned out paper which would bear comparison with nearly any paper sent to London.

I have no precise data regarding the establishment of the Afonwen Mill, but it must be pretty old, as some parts of it are very low compared with modern built manufactories. There is plenty of room for extension, however, and perhaps the present proprietor, being young, may see his way to enlarge what I consider a very well worked and most promising property'.

The mill continued to produce paper as late as 1918.


The earliest reference to a paper-maker at the Hope Paper-Mill is in 1811. 80 The 1816 Excise General Letter confirms this and gives the Mill (No. 39) in the Chester Collection in the occupation of Samuel Price, paper-maker. 81  By the 1820's the mill had disappeared.

The Hope Mill at Cefn-y-bedd, near Wrexham, was listed in the Excise Letter of 1842 as a new mill. 82  It was worked by John Green, James Hyndford Rawlins and Richard Champion Rawlins. John Green's name did not appear in 1846 and the Rawlins brothers operated the mill until the 1890's. The mill specialised in the production of small hand, fine and unglazed papers as well as blue and brown papers for bags. It had two machines producing paper 60-ins. in width.

The mill was sold on 6 November 1890, by Hamer, of Blackburn, to Edward Ratcliffe, a broker of Hawarden, for £1,050.   83 The machinery was offered for sale by auction on Thursday, 11 November:

'The sale was conducted according to original catalogue, the whole of the machinery, stock, etc. (with exception of electric light installation, which had been disposed of privately), bing intact. There was only a very moderate attendance of buyers, and, beyond various sundry articles, little else changed hands; the machine cutters, beaters, engines, boilers, etc. being bought in, and may now be tested for privately.
There was not much in the style of any of the machinery to attract attention from modern paper-makers, but if the contents of the mill had been sold piecemeal, when first put up to auction, when there was a more numerous company present, no doubt better prices would have been realised, and the greater part have found purchasers ... The paper machine is in fairly good condition.' 84


Yet another paper-mill was established in Flintshire, at Oakenholt, near Mostyn, in 1870, by Messrs. McCorquodale, a famous paper-making firm of Liverpool and Newton. 85  Natural conditions were almost as attractive as those at Greenfield : there were railway facilities and a plentiful supply of clear water. But more important was the proximity of the Alkali works of Messrs. Smith and Mawdsley. The mill was known as the North Wales Paper Mill.

When the business was started in 1871, the raw materials used were entirely straw and esparto, but these were soon abandoned in favour of chemical wood pulp. At first, the mill specialised in the production of news, white and coloured printings, but towards the end of the century, a better class of printings was manufactured. In 1880 the mill had a second machine, thus increasing the size of the plant. In 1891, it was reported in the Paper Record that the Company had decided to erect new buildings and install a causticising plant for the purpose of adopting Messrs. Brunner, Mond and Company's process. This action was taken in order to counteract the influence of the Alkali Union, which maintained .....................

............... the high price of caustic soda. The action of the company was commended by the editor of the Paper Record who urged the other mills to do likewise, in order to restrict the Union's home market:

'We recommend this action to the favourable consideration of the trade. Monopolies, from their very notion, are fraught with evil to the industry in which they are formed, and any action which tends to check them, especially when it meets them on their own ground, as in the present instance, is a distinct gain to the community, and should also be welcomed as an economic boon. Were the papermakers throughout the country to endorse the proceedings of the North Wales Mill, the home market of the Alkali Union would be so considerably restricted as to seriously affect its income, although the Union pretends to ignore the home trade.' 86

 The company continued to expand its premises in the late 1890's.


Work was begun in 1897 on the erection of a vegetable parchment paper-mill at Flint on the banks of the little stream known as the Swinchet. 87  The choice of location was decided by the water supply, the railway facilities and the success of the Oakenholt Paper Mills at Pentre, Flint. The mill did not operate for long and in 1903 it was converted into a textile factory. 88



1738 Thomas Selman, paper-man of Llandeilo Tal-y-bont, Glamorgan was prosecuted by Swansea Corporation for refusing          to pay for the 'keyage' for the importation of goods. 89

1760? The mill is shown on Emanuel Bowen's Map of South Wales. 90  No further reference to this mill has been found up to the beginning of the nineteenth century, when it was held by Miss Selman. 91  In 1816 it was known as Monks Mill with Thomas Rowland as the paper-maker or owner. 92


1764 Richard Jenkins, paper-maker of Llangyfelach, was granted permission by Elizabeth, Duchess Dowager of Beaufort,          to divert water from the stream called Lliw Isaf for the use of a paper-mill at Ystrad Llawrnant. 93  It appears that          Richard Jenkins died in the 1780's.   94

 The next owner or master paper-maker was William Spencer of...............

..................... Swansea, 95  and it is probable that the following advertisement in the Swansea Cambrian refers to his mill:   96

Wanted immediately, a Person who perfectly understands the making of Brown Paper to act as Foreman in a Mill. Apply to Mr. John Williams, Market Place, Swansea; or to Mr. John Child, Neath, Glamorganshire.

The Pandy Mill, Llangyfelach, was still working in 1816 but under the supervision of Thomas Rowland. 97  This is the last reference to the mill.


Paper was manufactured in small quantities in Cardiff by Messrs. Ely, Brown and Evans in the early 1870's. In 1876 a three-machine mill owned by the Ely Paper Company turned out printing, news, shop and brown papers. 98  The mill, however, was reported to be 'badly arranged and in a wretched state of repair' 99  and the Company soon went into liquidation.

Paper-making was put on a firm basis in Cardiff when two partners, Samuel Evans and Thomas Owen, took over the existing Ely Paper Works in 1877. Neither Evans nor Owen had any previous experience in the industry, but the success which they had in their other business interests attended them as paper-makers. They owed much of their early success to the energy and ability of their manager, Albert E. Reed, a Devonshire man, who had spent most of his working life in paper-mills. Reed was given a free-hand in the day-to-day running of the mill and a large outlay of capital. The business prospered and when Reed resigned after a dispute with Thomas Owen in 1889, the mill was producing between 145 to 150 tons of paper per week.

Samuel Evans, the senior partner, died in 1885, and Thomas Owen decided to concentrate his businesses and devote all his attention to developing the Cardiff paper-mill. Owen, the son of a yeoman farmer, was born in 1840 at Bwlch, near Machynlleth. He married in 1868 Elisabeth, daughter of Charles Todd of Bacup, Lancashire, and was Radical Member of Parliament for the Launceston division of Cornwall from 1892. The paper-business flourished and in 1892 it was converted into a private limited company, under the style of Thomas Owen and Company, Limited. In the following year, The Paper Record described the paper-mill as follows :   100

'The Ely Paper Works are about one mile and half from Cardiff, and are literally on the river Ely, for the stream runs through the buildings. In other ways the position is eminently adapted for a paper-mill. As it is the works are spacious and well-arranged, and should further extension of the factory be deemed desirable there is still about thirty acres of vacant land around the mill for building purposes...............

............. Private sidings give direct communications with the Great Western, Taff Vale, London and North Western, and Midland Railways. The solitary defect of the locality from the paper-maker's point of view has been remedied. Until recently the supply of water was not everything that could be wished, but some deep well-borings have been highly successful, and the Ely Works have now a plentiful supply of pure water. It is no news to the trade that this is one of the largest concerns on news and printings in reel and ream in the world. It employs 400 hands, and machines running up to 106 inches in width. The speciality of the company is news for rapid rotary machines, and the standard quality gives such satisfaction at home, in the colonies, and elsewhere abroad, that the extension of the works is in almost constant operation. Large additions are continually made. Two new machines have been projected recently, and other improvements are still in progress. The company own a large mill in Norway, and ship their raw material from it to Cardiff, which, of course, is an exceptionally well-placed port for imports of esparto, straw, ropes, coals, and the rest of the paper-makers' requirements. Vessels of large burden are chartered continuously for the various shipments from Norway and other countries. The possession of their own pulp works puts the company in an independent position whenever outside causes suddenly increase the price of raw materials.

Indeed, the mill was so successful that in 1894 it had seven machines - producing 56, 74, 79, 84, 90, 96 and 106 inches of news mainly in web or reams. 101



A. H. Shorter mentions two mills operating at or near Haverfordwest in the later decades of the eighteenth century --- the Hartsore Mill in the parish of St. Martin and the Haverfordwest Mill in the parish of St. Thomas. 102  There is only one reference to the first mill. A corn mill, a snuff mill, and a paper mill were for sale in 1771. The Haverfordwest Mills, which included a corn mill and a paper mill, were ordered to be sold by the assignees of Anne Rhode, a bankrupt. They were let to David Morris. Whether he was a paper-maker is not known. As the mills were let to various paper-makers from time to time, James Albart (1781) and Anne Evans (circa. 1791) probably occupied the mills at some period in the late eighteenth century.

The Haverfordwest Mills subsequently found their way into the hands of Thomas Lloyd, paper-maker of Haverfordwest. One of the earliest references to his name is contained in the Catalogue of Books belonging to the Pembroke Society, 1791. 103 This book was printed on paper made at the mills and the name Lloyd is recorded on the paper. In 1798 the mills were to be let and in the advertisement it was stated 'that the trade had long been established and the workmen' had 'settled at the place about twenty years.'   104 The paper-mill had three vats 105  and was one of the biggest in Wales at that time. The mill concentrated on producing brown paper. 106.........

 ................... No further reference to paper-making at the Haverfordwest Mills has been found up to 1815, when John Phillips of Haverfordwest, a draper, formed a partnership with Thomas Lloyd in the business of paper-making and corn grinding at 'certain Paper Mills and Water Corn Grist Mills commonly called known by the sev'l Names of the Priory Mills and the H. West Mills ...' 107  Profits, losses and expenses were to be shared equally. The management of the business, however, was the responsibility of John Phillips, who was also directed to find a 'convenient and suitable Room in the Town of Haverfordwest for selling Paper, storing Junk, Linen Rags, other materials for the making [of] Paper . . .' Because of these added responsibilities, he was to receive a yearly salary of £ 100 in addition to his share of the profits. At the same time Thomas Lloyd promised not to convert any of his mills or premises in the Parish of Prendergast into Paper Mills or Corn Mills as this 'might affect or prejudice the Profits of the said Copartnership ...'

The Excise General Letter of 1816 records two mills in Haverfordwest in the occupation of Thomas Lloyd and Company. In 1830 the owner was Benjamin Harvey. 108  A third mill was started by the latter in 1842 --- Millbank Mill (No. 216). 109 Harvey continued to operate on a small scale until 1874, when the mills were sold to Samuel Read and Company. The Company described itself as a manufacturer 'of rope browns and manilla papers for steel, iron, japan and bright goods, grocers' and drapers' papers'. 110  Two years later only one mill was working. 111  The business was not very successful, and in 1891 the premises were leased to the Breconshire Mill Board Company. David Oliver Evans owned the mill in 1895, but it is doubtful whether it was used much for papermaking in the late 1890's. In fact, a committee of inspection was appointed to enquire into the value of the estate including the paper-mill. 112 This is the last mention of the mill though the precise date of its disappearance is unknown.




I should like to thank those who permitted me to consult records in their custody; to the Commissioners of Customs and Exise for permission to read in their library, and to the Librarian and staff for their assistance; to the staffs of the British Museum, National Library of Wales and the Library, University College of Wales, Aberystwyth for their help.


Not extracted - this is a Return of the Number of Pounds Weight made in each Collection of Excise split into Wales-East/Middle/North/West and shows 1st, 2nd (Qualities) & Amount of Duty for the years 1831/2/3 and 1835.


C hildren's Employment Commission: Appendix to the Second Report of the Commissioners.Trade and Manufactures. Part II. Reports and Evidence from Sub-Commissioners. House of Commons Papers, 1843, XV, pp. t. 3-6.

H. H. Jones, Esq. -

    Evidence on Manufactures in The North Wales District: Turkey Paper-Mill, Wrexham. - 28th April.

No. 5. Amelia Howard, aged 12, paper-glazer.

How long have you been working? A year.

Were you much tired at first with working? Yes, at first.

How many hours were you at work? Twelve hours.

What time is allowed for meals? Only while we are eating breakfast, and an hour for dinner.

Where do you eat your meals? I eat my breakfast at the work and go home to dinner.

What wages have you? From 1s. 6d. to 2s. weekly.

Have you night-work? Yes, sometimes.

When do you begin work at night, and when do you leave off? We begin at six in the evening and leave off at six in the morning, and stop twice to eat.

Who receives your wages? I do myself, and give them to my mother.

Can you read and write? Yes, I was two or three years at school before I went to work. I can write my name and write a copy.

No. 6. Ellen Howard, aged 17 last October, paper-sorter.

How long have you been at work? Between 5 and 6 years.

What are your wages? 3s. a-week.

How many hours a-day do you work? Twelve.

How long is allowed for meals? An hour for dinner and a short time for breakfast.

Is there a room and convenience for washing? No.

Is there a medical man to attend the mill-workers? No.

Is there a school in or belonging to the mill? No.

Were you ever at school? Yes, before I came to the mill. I was at a school about half a mile off.

Who paid the teacher? My mother.

Were you long there? About 2 years.

What did your mother pay the teacher? 2d. a-week.

What did you learn? To read and sew.

Can you read? A little in the Testament.

What school were you at? The school belongs to the Calvinists.

Is the teacher a woman? Yes.

Were prayers said in the school? We had prayers at night.

Can you write? I can't write my name.

Can you sew? Yes, I can sew.

Is there in the mills any system of giving rewards to those who do well, or punishment for doing wrong? No, there are neither fines or punishment, or rewards.

Are you much tired after work? No, not much.

Could you go to an evening-school? Yes.

Would you like to go? Yes, I should.

Are there many men at work in the mills? No, chiefly boys and females.

Are you well treated? Yes, very well.

Do you work at night? Yes, sometimes.

No. 7. Sarah Roberts, aged 16 last January, paper-sorter.

How long have you been at work? Five years at paper-making.

Were you ever at school? Yes, at the free-school at Pentre-by-chan.

What were you taught? We were taught reading, sewing, and Catechism.

Can you read? I can't read well.

Is there bad and improper language made use of in the mill? I never hear bad language in the mill.

Are there any fines, punishment, or rewards? No, none.

What are your earnings? 2s. 6d. a-week.

What is your work? Sorting paper.

Do you attend divine worship? Yes, I go to the Calvinistic chapel every Sunday, and attend the chapel school..

Do you attend chapel on week-days? Yes, in the evening as often as there is preaching.

Are any holidays allowed in the mill? Very seldom.

Are there none on Good Friday or at Easter? No, None.

Do you work on Sunday or at night? Never on Sunday; I have worked at night for the last year.

Who gets your wages? My mother.

No. 8. Maria Williams, aged 17, paper-glazer.

How long have you been at work? I have been about 12 months.

Are you in good health? Yes.

Do you work at night? Yes I began a week ago.

Tell me how the system of work is carried on? We come at six and stay till six, whether it be day or night work; one set works by day, another by night; The set that works by day this week comes on for night-work at six o'clock on Sunday evening, and the night-set of this week begins day-work at six on Monday morning.

Do you go to school? I only go to a Sunday-school.

Can you read? A very little.

Do you attend divine worship, and where? I attend the Calvinistic chapel.

What are your wages? About 2s. a week.

Does that keep you? No, I live with my parents, and they have my wages.

Is there any improper conduct or bad language in the mill? I never hear or see anything very wrong.

No. 9. Elizabeth Baker, aged 17 last May.

How long have you been at work? Five years.

Are you healthy? Yes.

What is your work? Cutting rags.

Do you find the work too hard for you? No.

What is the greatest number of hours you have worked at one time without going home? A day and a night with no more time to rest than that allowed for meals.

Have you done so often? No very often.

What do you earn in a week? From 3s. 6d to 4s.

Will that keep you? I live with my parents.

Can you read and write? Yes, a little.

Where were you taught? In the free-school at Wrexham.

Do you attend church? I did when I was at school.

But not now? No, not now, I go to the chapel of the Wesleyans and to Sundays-chool.

Do they instruct you in anything besides religion? No only religion and spelling words.

No. 10. Sarah Prince, aged 21.

    Has been eight years at work in this mill; is healthy now, but has been two or three times ill with inflammation of the stomach; was attended by the parish doctor; masters allowed nothing for medicine or wine, or any comforts; had 2s. a-week from the parish; can't say whether the illness was brought on by working. Earnings won't support her; gets about 4s. a-week; Can read but not write; learnt in Sunday-school; goes to Calvinistic chapel every Sunday, and attends the Sunday-school, where reading and spelling, and the Bible, are taught by some of the congregation; old people as well as young are taught.

No. 11. Thomas Price, engineer.

How old are you? Thirteen last March.

What is the greatest number of hours you have worked in the mill without sleep? Thirty-six hours; I began at five in the morning and worked till night the following day.

How often did you eat during that time? Seven times.

Was your food warm and plentiful? Yes.

Do you go home to eat your meals? I went home to some, but not to all.

What intervals for rest were you allowed during the whole time? None, except for meals. Sometimes the water was scarce, and the wheel would stop, and then I got a little rest.

How long did this continue? I worked in this way, except for a short while, a whole year. I got four nights' sleep in a week, and worked every day (except Sunday) and three nights.

Is there ever any work carried on in the mill on Sunday? Yes, grinding rags.

When you worked night and day, what were your earnings? From 3s, to 4s. a-week.

Did you feel very much fatigued and exhausted when you left off work for the night, after being 36 hours at work? Yes, at first; but I soon got used to it.

Is any one now worked in that way in the mill? No, not now.

What wages do you earn by the day? 4d a-day.

Can you read and write? No, I can't write; I read a little in the Testament.

Do you go to any school? I go to Sunday-school.

Do you attend church every Sunday? I go to the Methodist chapel.

Is there any system of rewards or punishment? No, none.

Are wages paid regularly? Yes.

No. 12. Edward Davis, 12 years old.

Has been at work three years. He verifies the evidence of the last boy examined, in all the particulars of working 36 hours formerly, without going home to rest; at other times 24 hours ; and always 12 hours a-day. His wages are 2s. a week. Has good clothes, and plenty to eat. Can't read or write.

No. 13. George Meads, Robert Davies, John Griffiths, and Daniel Roberts were all examined.

They confirm the evidence previously taken. Wages of the boys are from 2s. to 7s. a-week, regularly paid every week.

[The workers in this mill appear healthy, well-clothed, and very respectable. Generally they are very ignorant, except in what relates to their own occupations].

No. 14. John Matthews, foreman.

How old are you? Twenty-three.

How long have you been in paper-works? Thirteen years, and always in this work.

What was your first work? I began in the picking engine.

Describe to me the work you performed? I picked bits of dirt out of the pulp as it was turned in the vat by the engine.

What wages had you? 2s. a week.

What number of hours did you work? I worked 24 hours, and remained off work for 24 hours, which made six days of work in the week. Sometimes I worked on Sunday the same as any other day.

Were there many boys and girls employed in the mill at that time? Not so many as now; the work is enlarged.

Are wages much the same now as then? Yes, just the same.

What are your wages as foreman? 24s. a-week.

What number of hours are you in the mill daily? I generally come at six, and don't leave it before nine at night, except that I go home to my meals.

What number of hours do the boys and girls work? Twelve hours, except that they have half an hour allowed for breakfast, and an hour for dinner.

Do they go home to meals? Yes, except the two boys who are with the engine, and two others who are with the machine.

Have these four boys no time allowed for eating? Their parents bring them their victuals, and they eat where they are stationed, and at the same time as the others; but they return to their stations as soon as they have finished their meals.

Who hires the boys and girls? I hire them.

Are they all paid by the day? No, some by the piece.

Which are paid by the piece? The glazers and rag-cutters.

Is there much difference in their earnings? Yes, those by piece earn from 1s. to 1s. 6d. a-week more.

With whom do you agree for their services? With the children themselves.

To whom are the wages paid? To the children themselves.

Is there a poundage on, or reduction from, the wages to pay a medical attendant, or for any other cause? No, none whatever.

Is there any night-work in the mill? Yes; a man and a boy work all night at each engine, and there are three engines. There are two sets of hands (one by day and the other by night), and they change every week; the night set of last week is the day set this.

Do the other boys and girls ever work over-time? No, not now, except now and then a little.

Do they work on Sunday? No, except those with the engines.

What is the greatest number of hours that any of the boys and girls have worked within the last year, without rest or recreation? Twenty-four, except that they have gone home to meals.

Can most of the boys and girls you employ read and write? Most of them can read, and many can write.

How did they learn? Most have been at some school before beginning to work, and have gone to Sunday-school afterwards.

Are there schools in the neighbourhood? Yes, at Wrexham, which is a mile and a half off. There are two dame-schools a quarter of a mile distant from the work, and a small night-school not far off.

Do many of the boys and girls go to the night school? No, but few.

Does it make any difference to you or to the masters of the mills whether the children you employ can or cannot read and write? It matters but little in their work; but it would be better if they could, as the paper is ticketed, and it would be well if they could understand the ticket.

Do you know whether all or any of them regularly attend public worship? But few go to church; all or most of them go to dissenting places of worship, and they attend Sunday-school in those chapels.

Are the boys and girls orderly, well-behaved and easily managed? Not very. I have a good deal of trouble in keeping them steady to their work. If I did not look very sharp after them they would neglect their work; and, through carelessness, damage a good deal of paper.

Do you punish them on such, or any other occasions? We sometimes discharge them, but we have no other punishments.

Do the men and the boys behave with propriety and civility to the girls? Oh, yes.

Is there any bastardy amongst the girls in the mills? Sometimes, but never by men in the mills.

Do you discharge the girls on such occasion? No.

Is there more or less of bastardy now than formerly? I can't say. I have not made enough of observation to be able to inform you.

Is paper-making a healthy occupation? Oh yes.

Have you ever known the health suffer by many hours' continued work? No; the boys and girls are all healthy; perhaps the raggers are less so than others; the dust sometimes causes them to complain of the chest being affected. There are, however, no raggers under 16 or 17 years old.

Do the children get good food and sufficient clothing? Pretty well for that.

What does their food usually consist of? Bread, bacon, potatoes and milk.

Are their houses good, and well furnished? The houses are, I think, but indifferent; but the furniture is tolerably good. In most of the cottages there is a clock and a chest of drawers; and indeed they live tolerably comfortable.

Are the children generally very ignorant? No; they are tolerably clever and quick, but they want schooling and education.


1. Alfred H. Shorter, Paper-mills and Papermakers in England, 1495-1800, 1957, p. 257.

2. D. C. Coleman, The British Paper Industry, 1495-1860, 1958, p. 4.

3. E. Heawood, 'Sources of Early English Paper-Supply', Transactions of the Bibliographical Society, X (1929-30) 282-307. 427-54; 'Papers used in England after 1600' XI (1930-1) 263-99, 466-98.

4. ibid., XI, 488.

5. Alfred H. Shorter, 'Paper-mills in Monmouthshire', Archaeologia Cambrensis, CII (1953) 83-8.

6. Coleman, p. 39.

7. Customs and Excise: General Letter Book, No. 4, ff. 24, 36-37.

8. Coleman, p. 197.

9.The total number employed in 1851 does not exactly coincide with the total in Table XI. One worker was not allotted to an age-group in the Census Returns.

10. Children's Emloyment Commission. Second Report of the Commissioners. Trade and Manufactures. B.P.P., XII, 1843, p. 14.

11. Alfred H. Shorter, p. 256.

12. Edwin Poole, The Illustrated History and Biography of Brecknockshire, 1886, p. 304.

13. Walter Davies, General View of the Agriculture and Domestic Economy of South Wales, 1814, II, 447.

14. Customs and Excise: General Letter Book,No. 4, f. 36

15. Papermakers  Directory  and Diary, 1876, p 14. 

16. Papermakers' Monthly Journal, July 15 1892, p. 200.

17. Theophilus Jones, A History of the County of Brecknock, 1911, III, p. 150.

18. ibid., pp. 149-50.

19 Directory of Paper Makers of the United Kingdom, 1885, p. 9.

20 North Wales Gazette Shipping Intelligence, 1808.

21 Edmund Hyde Hall, A Description of Caernarvonshire (1809-1811). Edited by Emyr Gwynne Jones, 1952, p. 195.

22 ibid., p. 181.

23 J. Evans, The Beauties of England and Wales, Caernarvonshire, 1812, p. 343.

24 N L.W. MS. Bishop's Transcripts of Parish Registers, Parish of Llanrug.

25 ibid.

26 Customs and Excise: General Letter Book, No. 4, f. 36. The name should read Bodrual, and it was known to later Excisemen as Bodrhual mill.

27 Customs and Excise: Excise General Orders, 1819-23, I, 329.

28 A. H. Dodd, The Industrial Revolution in North Wales, 1951, p. 247n.

29 North Wales Gazette, 1st Dec. 1814.

30 Customs and Excise: General Letter Book, No. 4, f. 36.

31 Customs and Excise: Excise General Orders, 1819-23, I, 13.

32 ibid., 183.

33 Customs and Excise: Excise General Orders, 1837-43, IV.

34 Customs and Excise: Excise General Orders, 1844-53, V.

35 N.L.W. MS. St. David's Probate Records. Will of Francis Selman, 27th Jan. 1734/35.

36 N.L.W. MS. Heol Awst Chapel Register.

37 Cambrian, 17th Feb. 1821. 'We regret to state, that the paper-mill and carding-manufactory of Mr. D. Charles, near Carmarthen, were totally destroyed by fire on Saturday morning last'.

38 Pigot's Royal National Commercial Directory,1844, p. 28.

39 Dodd, p. 26.

40 Alfred H. Shorter, p. 257.

41 Alfred Neobard Palmer, The History of the Parish Church of Wrexham, 1886, p. 112n.

42 Customs and Excise: General Letter Book, No. 4, f. 24.

43 Thomas Bassett, 'Braslun o Hanes Hughes a'i Fab Cyhoeddwyr Wrecsam,' Atodiad i'r Journal of the Welsh Bibliographical Society, 1946, pp. 9-10.

44 Customs and Excise: Excise General Orders, 1819-23, I, 517.

45 Customs and Excise: Excise General Orders, 1824-1830, II, 125.

46 Alfred Neobard Palmer, History of the Thirteen Country Townships of the Old Parish of Wrexham, 1903, p. 6n.

47 A. H. Dodd, editor, A History of Wrexham, Denbighshire, 1957, p. 136.

48 J. Evans, The Beauties of England and Wales: Denbighshire, 1812, p. 573.

49 Alfred H. Shorter, p. 257.

50 N L.W. MS. Chester Wills, 1788. James Adams of Halghton in the County of Flint, Paper-maker.

51 Customs and Excise: General Letter Book, No. 4, f. 24.

52 Alfred H. Shorter, p. 257.

53 Customs and Excise: General Letter Book, No. 4, f. 24.

54 North Wales Gazette, 17 Jan. 1811.

55 Customs and Excise: General Letter Book, No. 4, f. 24.

56 Customs and Excise: Excise General Order, 1824-30, II, 154.

57 Alfred 11. Shorter, p. 257.

58 N.L.W. MS. Coleman Deeds, DD1351.

59 Thomas Pennant, The History of the Parishes of Whiteford and Holywell, 1796, p. 203.

60 Quoted by Alfred H. Shorter, p. 257.

61 Coleman, p. 196.

62 Customs and Excise: Excise General Orders, 1819-23, I, 233.

63 ibid., 456.

64 Customs and Excise: Excise General Orders, 1824--30, II, 29.

65 Samuel Lewis, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales, 1833, under.

66 Pigot's Royal National and Commercial Directory, 1844, P. 32.

67 P. T. Williams, 'The Industrial History of Flintshire in the Nineteenth Century'. An unpublished dissertation submitted for the M.A. degree of the University of Liverpool in 1933, pp. 181-2.

68 Flintshire Observer, 3 May 1872.

69 Paper Record, 8 Dec. 1894, p. 204.

70 N.L.W. MS. 10345 B.

71 ibid.

72 ibid.

73 N.L.W. MS. 6052 E. Caerwys Parish Registers: 'John son of Robert Williams Paper Man baptised', 1788.

74 Customs and Excise: General Letter Book. No. 4, f. 36.

75 Customs and Excise: Excise General Orders, 1819-23, I, 419.

76 ibid., 1824-30, II, 332.

77 ibid., 1819-23, 1, 455.

78 Flintshire Observer, 26 July 1867.

79 Paper Record, 17 Dec. 1886, p. 254. The Afonwen mill, of course, was not located in the Clwyd Valley.

80 North Wales Gazette, 14 Nov. 1811: 'Thursday week, at Gresford, Mr. S. Price, paper-manufacturer, of Hope-mill, to Miss Anne Done, second daughter of Mr. John Done, of Burton hall'.

81 Customs and Excise: General Letter Book, No. 4, f. 24.

82 Customs and Excise: Excise General Orders, 1837-43, IV.

83 Paper Record, Nov. 1890, p. 718.

84 ibid., Dec. 1890, p. 761.

85 Flintshire Observer, 8 July 1870. 'Flint, - The mercantile position of our borough town is rapidly advancing . Near Pentre, about a mile from Flint, on the Chester Road, a site has been purchased by Messrs. M'Corquodale, the well-known railway printers of Liverpool and Newton, for the erection of large offices and a paper mill, and we are given to understand that the building has been commenced'.

86 Paper Record, April 1891, pp. 911-12.

87 Flintshire Observer, 30 Sept., 1897.

88 ibid., 21 May 1903.

89 William Henry Jones, History of the Port of Swansea, 1922, p. 49.

90 N.L.W. Emanuel Bowen's Map of South Wales, 1760.

91 Alfred H. Shorter, p. 257.

92 Customs and Excise: General Letter Book, No. 4, f. 37.

93 N.L.W. MS. Badminton Papers 988. Indenture 31 Oct. 1764.

94 Alfred H. Shorter, p. 257.

95 ibid.

96 Cambrian, 5 Sept. 1807

97 Customs and Excise: General Letter Book, No. 4, f. 37.

98 Paper Makers' Directory and Diary, 1876, pp. 18-9.

99 Paper Record, 8 June 1893, p. 564.

100 Paper Record, 8 Mar. 1893, pp. 410-11

101 Alphabetical List of Paper and Millboard Makers in the United Kingdom, 1894. For further information about the Ely Paper-mill, see John Ballinger, editor, Cardiff: an Illustrated Handbook, 1896, pp. 200-202.

102 Alfred H. Shorter, p. 258.

103 E[van] D[avid] J[ones] 'Pembrokeshire Printers' Journal of the Welsh Bibliographical Society, June 1913, I, pp. 152-3.

104 Alfred H. Shorter, p. 258.

105 ibid., p. 258.

106 Walter Davies, General View of the Agriculture and Domestic Economy of South Wales, 1814, II, p. 447.

107 N.L.W. MS. Eaton Evans and Williams Deeds 3690.

108 Pigot's National Commercial Directory, 1830, p. 838.

109 Customs and Excise: Excise General Orders, 1837-43, IV.

110 Kelly's Directory of Monmouthshire and SouthWales, 1895, p. 56.

111 Paper Makers' Directory and Diary, 1876, pp. 28-29.

112 Paper Record and Wood Pulp News, Sept. 1895, XI.