According to Bulmer’s History and topography of Northumberland, Messrs Saint and
Son are said to have established a “woollen trade” in the town in 1749 which was
still being run by the same family in 1886, and this assertion is supported by the
names in the Militia Lists of 1769 where a Joseph Saint gives his profession as
a Dyer. Three other men from Haltwhistle appear on the list as dyers, William, Thomas
and George Carr so it seems likely that there was a thriving business or businesses
in the town at this time.
The Saint family seem to have lived in interesting times- or perhaps just in an interesting
place for in 1788, Joseph Saint, Dyer, William Saint, Dyer and John Saint, Bleacher,
were all accused of riot and assault to one William Brown. Ten years later William
was in trouble again, this time ably assisted by his wife.
“William Saint late of Haltwhistle in the said county of Northumberland, dyer and
Marjory his wife ….. with force of arms…. did make an Assault, and the said William
Carr then and there did beat, wound and ill treat so that his life was despaired
of, and other wrongs to the said William Carr then and there did, to the great damage
of the said William Carr and against the Peace of our said Lord the King, his Crown
Could William Carr be the same man who appears alongside Joseph Saint on the Militia
list: a dyer from a rival business perhaps?
In 1837, seventy years after Joseph Saint was recorded on the militia list, another
Joseph Saint, Dyer, wrote in a letter to his new landlord, the Lord of the Manor:
“We as a fameley has livd under your frends the Cuthbertsons for Abought four score
years and for many years had the Townfoot farm with this place”.
The Cuthbertsons held the Manor from the mid 1700s until the death of the unmarried
Elizabeth Cuthbertson in 1836, the year before this letter was written. Joseph Saint’s
words would appear to settle conclusively that the Saints worked the dye-house and
mill at Town Foot from the mid 1700s and, indeed, they can be found living in the
premises in every census until 1901- 150 years in the Woollen business on the same
An interesting aside to the Saint story and one which brings them vividly to life
is found in Joseph’s letter. He complains of the terrible state of the buildings
“the roof of the dyehouse has fallen in this Spring and the Mill and Millhouse is
in a bad state almost Dangeres for men to work in”
He asks “if any repairs can be made, as we cannot do work to perfection in our present
state” It would appear that the Saint family had been undertaking the repairs of
the building for the past forty years, a responsibility which should have been shouldered
by the landlady of the time, the Lady of the Manor, Elizabeth Cuthbertson.
Elizabeth Cuthbertson became Lady of the Manor in 1796 at the age of 42. She was
a very eccentric woman and chose to live in the second story of her house with the
door almost always locked and windows bricked up. Her obituary in the local paper
notes, “Here she lived alone and the wealth with which she was blessed and which
might have been a source of blessing to all around her, was allowed to accumulate,
as she invariably refused all applications to improve the estate or render those
around her more comfortable.”
“She kept no steward or servant or anyone to manage her affairs or property and consequently
much inconvenience was sustained by all the neighbourhood. Towards her tenants she
behaved in a very peculiar manner. It was said there were some who had not paid any
rent for a great number of years, there were others who paid a portion of the rent
due only, both of these descriptions of tenants she allowed to live upon the respective
tenures they occupied because they owed her money but those who paid the whole of
their rents she immediately discharged.
“It is said by those who had occasional access to her that she had a fine intelligent
countenance but it was clouded with austerity and a little more cleanliness would
have made it more agreeable. During the last few years of her life she declined transacting
any business in the most positive manner, and no inducements or persuasions could
prevail upon her to abandon her system of non-intercourse with the world.” Elizabeth
Cuthbertson died in December of 1836 after 40 years as Joseph Saint’s landlady. No
wonder he wrote to his new landlord asking for repairs.