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History

Messrs Saint and Son.

 

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 and Dignity.”

 

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 site.

 

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.

 

Read the whole text of Joseph Saint’s letter.

 

Miss 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.

 

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Find out about The Town Foot Mill buildings

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