A Settle Draper’s Shop in 1686

Mary Slater
 North Craven 
 Heritage Trust 

On the 8th December 1686 John Hargreaves of Settle, a draper, was buried in Giggleswick. He left behind his wife Margaret and four small children - John aged five, and three younger daughters. His will was drawn up nine days before, in which real estate and chattels at Settle, Earby and Hallfield were left to his wife, making provision for the future education of his son and for the welfare of his mother and the three girls, leaving each of the latter £80 when they reached twenty years old. His brother Thomas, and his father-in-law, both described as gentlemen, were to see that this was done. However Thomas, described elsewhere as a doctor, died shortly afterwards and was buried the following April - his own will drawn up in February 1687 provided for his mother as well as for his brother John’s children, leaving them shares in land at Carleton. John, his nephew, was bequeathed books to help him in a future school career.

Home life

John Hargreaves’ will and its accompanying probate inventory show that he was well placed socially and economically. In his ten-roomed premises, plus stable and brewhouse, his household effects included all the usual things - chests, cupboards, tables and chairs, together with cooking, milk and brewing gear and household linen of various fabrics and qualities. There were six beds with a variety of bedding, so it seems that Hargreaves may have liked to entertain, for income or otherwise, as the bodystead (main room) contents included twelve large pewter dishes and sixteen plates, twelve porringers, a dozen pewter spoons, a table with seven chairs and a form - or possibly he also had apprentices to house and feed. There was, however, also a parlour chamber, clearly a family room of some gentility, housing items including one round table and five chairs, a close stool (commode), a side table with plates and glasses on it, two carpets (table coverings), a glasscase and a large seeing glass (mirror). This latter novel, fashionable and expensive item, together with another in the parlour and a clock and case in the bodystead, is an indication that Hargreaves was reasonably prosperous and upwardly aspiring, one of the ‘middling sort’ increasingly aware of social appearances and the importance of business time-keeping. The family linen included sheets (both linen and canvas), towels and pillow cases, five tablecloths and a couple of dozen napkins. As did many others, Hargreaves kept a few animals - three horses, a pig and three cattle.

The shop

There is no hint in the will of the detail of his draper’s business - for that, one must look at the probate inventory, drawn up by appraisers two days after his burial. This was closely written in two columns on each side of a single long sheet of parchment. After revealing the contents of the house room by room, the stock of his draper’s shop is listed in the greatest detail. The latter may be assumed to be up-to-date goods, as Hargreaves must still have been trading, being the father of such a young family. The expertise to assess this stock-in-trade was provided by Leonard Carr (a merchant of Langcliffe and with a shop in Settle), William Taylor (a woollen draper), William Paley and William Preston. Household goods were assessed at £70, shop goods and fittings at £303, good debts due to the deceased £172, bad debts £21, and he owed £465 (this would be to his suppliers) plus legacies.

The stock

The stock appraised ran to 203 items for which present-day spellings will be used for clarity in this article: technicalities of wool and weave will not be gone into, especially as a named fabric could, over time or in another area, be defined differently. Lengths of fabric were measured by the piece or yard. First listed were the broadcloths (Kentish - from the Vale of Kent and the much cheaper Yorkshire, and also Spanish - including Spanish wool). Then came the narrower, slightly less hard-wearing coarse cloths made from short wool known as kerseys, of many colours including sad (a dark sombre colour), gray, blue, red and mixed, including one whole 20-yard piece. Piece lengths varied, partly with the place of origin and partly because poor kerseys shrank badly after over-stretching on the tenters. Baize (a plain loose-woven wool stuff) was next listed, coloured and plain, and, curiously, this section includes 1 ream 8 quires (700 sheets) of ‘cap paper’, used for wrapping or writing. Serges followed, both milled and otherwise. Serge was a hard-wearing light woollen or worsted fabric (worsted being a superior woollen from long wool). Under the serge heading were included Dutch, shalloon (fine quality, probably originating in Châlons-sur-Marne, France), padua from Italy, semp, short for sempiternum (a durable serge) and tanton (from the Taunton area). There was a small quantity of broad say, this being a fine variety of serge. Paragons (pure worsteds) and damaselleys (perhaps a type of damask, or reversible patterned fabric of some combination of silk, wool, cotton or linen) were listed separately. There were sections for tammies (glazed worsted fabrics) and camlets (mixed materials of various combinations of hair, silk and wool), but Hargreaves’ stock seemed to be mixed under these headings - items included broad tammy, Turkey tammy, shag (a shaggy cloth of worsted, hair or silk) and prunella (a type of coloured serge often used by the clergy), satin (a smooth, glossy fabric usually of silk) and flowered satin, broad crape (a thin worsted, or a crimped gauze for mourning), silk crape and fishscale (a name perhaps indicative of its woven pattern), and there was a small quantity of hair camlet as well as single and double camlets. The inventory continued with a column of miscellaneous fabrics including printed woolsey (a contraction of linsey-woolsey, a wool and linen weave), swanskin (a flannel-like fabric), lengths of expensive satin velvet and silky farantine (possibly faille de Chine - a rich soft silk material), white and tufted fustian (a strong, cheap fabric of mixed linen and cotton or wool), white and coloured calico (an imported plain close-woven lightweight cotton), buckram (a coarse linen or other fabric, sometimes stiffened with gum), sacking and more.

Then followed haberdashery or small-ware items - threads measured by the pound and many types of button by the gross, ribbons and tapes of a wide variety, from inkle (a cheap linen tape) and gimp (twisted thread with a wire running through) to satin and taffeta ribbon of different widths listed together with galloon (a close-woven ornamental trimming braid), ferret (a stout cotton or silk tape), gold and silver lace, whalebone, some yards of tabby (a kind of watered silk taffeta) and even worsted stockings and hats, listed by length, quantity or weight. The accurate recording (presumably at the cost price to the draper) of so many items of various lengths and at a range of costs, involving pounds, shillings, pence and fractions of pence elicits admiration, even among those of us brought up to £-s-d calculation, especially as it appears to have been done on one day. However it is possible that ‘ready reckoner’ tables were used, such as Webster’s Tables published in 1634. Prices are generally in whole pence with the occasional halfpenny, but fractions of a yard produce monetary values including ha’pence and farthings. There must have been a shortage of copper coinage in Settle as elsewhere in the seventeenth century, and we know that tradesmen issued their own tokens of pence and ha’pence value, to be exchanged for silver or in payment in the future. A 1668 penny token issued by William Taylor, the Settle woollen draper mentioned above, is recorded by Brayshaw and Robinson. (Another such token was found recently - see the article by Barry Forster and Anne Read in this 2015 Journal).

It is perhaps no surprise in Yorkshire to find that many of the piece goods listed were woollens or wool mixes, but in fact many of the fabrics had not traditionally been made in the north until the 1500s, or were made elsewhere. Up to the mid-1500s the better broadcloths had been made in the south of England, northern manufactures being of coarse wool, poor quality and not for export. Parliamentary Acts were introduced to improve broadcloth standards of, for instance, length and breadth, weight, additives and price, and by the mid-century specifically included the northern trade. More exports of northern woollen goods such as kerseys, friezes (a coarse woollen with a nap on one side) and ‘cottons’ (the name then for wool cloths with a warp of hemp or flax) to France, Spain and Portugal resulted. (Production of cotton cloth as we know it, made from the white fibrous substance surrounding seeds of the cotton plant, probably started in the reign of Elizabeth I).

After 1600 little further change was made to regulations for the northern trade. Twenty years into that century, it was reported that northern clothiers were not only making cloth from northern wool alone, but also some with a third or half of southern wool, and some from southern wool only, the latter making the cloth more durable and saleable. What were known as the New Draperies (lighter-weight fabrics like serge and baize which mixed wool and other yarns and fibres adding lustre and resilience, lighter to wear and easier to wash) were first made in England in the later 1500s having been introduced by Flemish refugees to the south-east. These stuffs cost a fraction of broadcloth prices and so were attractive to ordinary people. This price differential can be seen in Hargreaves’ stock. Different towns in the south produced their own specific variations of the New Draperies and Hargreaves stocked ‘Tanton’ (Taunton) serge at a third the price of broadcloth. The New Draperies also included fustians and smallwares such as tapes and ribbons. Locally, Kendal had long used poor local wool to produce coarse cloth, but took up the New Draperies to produce fustian and linsey-woolsey.

The English East India Company, founded in 1600, soon started importing all-cotton cloths. Varying in price and quality, they could be used by all levels of society, blurring social boundaries previously accentuated by clothing. They came to be seen as a severe threat to the traditional wool industry. Perhaps that is why Hargreaves stocked only a small quantity of calico. Eventually, in the early 1700s, legislation was brought in banning imported cottons, though their popularity then encouraged a growth in home manufacture using colonial raw cotton.

The competition

We know from a variety of sources, including Giggleswick parish registers, a list of seats in the church, deeds and wills, that there were a number of drapers in and around Settle during the end of the seventeenth century and the beginning of the eighteenth century. For example, in 1646 a will mentions Thomas Barrow, draper of Settle, and the aforesaid William Taylor, woollen draper, is mentioned in records throughout the period from 1661 to 1688. William Tully (specifically a linen draper) and John Foster (draper) left wills in 1664. William Hall appeared in the list of seats in Giggleswick church compiled in and after 1677, and William Preston is called a draper in a deed of 1682. Drapers were protective of their profession and John Kidd of Settle, a clothier, was accused in 1680 of illegally trading as a woollen draper, probably not having served the requisite apprenticeship. William Moone of Settle died in 1696, and we have the inventory made after his death showing his shop stock of fabrics and haberdashery, though he is not actually described as either draper or mercer. Mercers were originally general merchants, but the term came to mean textile dealers at the supposedly better end of the market, dealing for instance in silks and satins (though they could sell other valuable goods such as dried fruits and spices) and there were also a number of these, so named, in Settle. Moone’s inventory is less extensive than Hargreaves’, listing 119 items, and its layout and the accounting is less easy to follow, but his appraisers include men associated with the trades - William Taylor again and Bryan Cookson, mentioned in a deed of 1711 as a Settle mercer. Moone’s stock includes a wider variety than Hargreaves’ of small ready-made items, such as caps, tippets (shoulder capes), gloves, bodies (bodices), whisks (low, wide, lace collars) and masks (to protect the face), and even books (probably cheap, popular rhymes, folk tales or almanacs). His shop books show he was owed £280 which with bad debts, shop and household goods gave him assets of £513. However, he owed £404 to several persons in the trade, which together with some other debts, including funeral expenses, meant he owed the greater sum of nearly £535.

The supply chain

Town drapers and mercers bought goods for resale from wholesalers and clothiers (the cloth manufacturers and dealers). There were big cloth markets in London (Bartholomew’s Fair and Blackwell Hall), Leeds, Wakefield and elsewhere, and fairs were also a source of supply for town shopkeepers. Packhorses were used for long-distance transport of the goods. These were small but sure-footed, often known as galloways. A packhorse could probably carry at least 2cwt. Kendal and area had the longest packhorse route in the country - 263 miles to the south of England. Packhorses in teams of perhaps 20, led by a bell-horse, could take two weeks to get to London, at perhaps 20 - 30 miles a day, often travelling in single file on the awful roads. In the early 1690s four teams based in Kendal and one in London worked the route, to a regular timetable. As the woollen trade depended on transport both before and after the production of the actual cloth, some bridge rebuilding (wood to stone), and repair of highways by townships had taken place in Yorkshire’s West Riding during the seventeenth century, but it was not until 1691 that there was an Act of Parliament requiring minimum standards for roads leading to market towns - they were to be level, even and at least 8ft wide, with paved horse causeways at least 3ft wide. Traffic was still almost all by horse or foot, not wheeled wagons which required large teams of draught animals to cope with the conditions. Shop goods, including draperies and haberdashery items, either originating in or transitting through London, were sent all over the country by packhorse carrier. John Taylor’s The Carriers’ Cosmography of 1637 listed carriers and in which towns and inns they were to be found, and there were wayside packhorse inns with extensive stabling, and roadside smithies. It is known that goods were carried from Kendal to London via Keighley, so no doubt via Settle and in the reverse direction. One operator had around 60 horses, carrying locally manufactured cloth and stockings from Kendal, but silk, tabby, taffeta, ribbon, lace, cambric (fine white linen), holland (hard-wearing linen), diaper stuffs (linen with a diamond weave) and hats came the other way from London - this was one list of items stolen in 1665. Loads did go missing - advertisements were placed in newspapers such as the London Gazette describing goods lost or stolen and in 1684 it advertised for two loads which had gone astray (possibly a draper’s order?) between London and Stratford upon Avon. These loads consisted of a parcel of 33 yards of black tiffany (thin silk) for mourning scarves, small quantities of ribbons, a gross of gimp (coarse, wire-based) lace, a gross of silk buttons, a dozen jet necklaces, three remnants of hair shag totalling 17¾ yards, and another parcel of two pieces of striped and two non-striped silk Norwich crape (a reversible crape made in that city). Packhorse trains would not begin to give way to broad-wheeled wagons in Yorkshire until the introduction of turnpikes there in the 1730s. Land transport was relatively cheap for lighter goods including most cloth and wool, whilst heavy goods went by sea to a nearby port. The cost of land transport was less on the more expensive cloths; for example a long broadcloth weighed the same as four kerseys, but could be valued at more than four kerseys, and land transport was necessary to get access to the fairs, markets and town shops where ordinary folk got their goods.


Once the town draper had his goods, he either sold retail or on to others. It seems clear from the wide extent and variety of items listed in Hargreaves’ shop in Settle, a small market town, that he had not only a cross-counter retail trade, but some degree of wholesale trade in small quantities. He will probably have supplied, for instance, chapmen, or hawkers or pedlars who sold door-to-door. Pedlars were not popular in towns where there was a restrictive attitude, and some retailers would not supply them, but they provided a valuable service to remoter customers. Chapmen sometimes became quite wealthy. After a small start carrying their own goods in a pack, they might accumulate enough to be given credit, to buy a horse, then a cart, and then perhaps a shop to supply other chapmen. In The National Archives there are records of annual licences granted to hawkers and pedlars at the end of the seventeenth century: the cost of a walking licence was £4, but £8 if they had a horse. In 1698 more than twenty hawkers were trading out of the woollen marketing centre of Kendal together with Penrith, but only one, the sole woman hawker, paid for a horse. There were numerous packhorse routes on roads and smaller tracks, and there were almanacs available listing places and dates of fairs, so their routes would be determined by these events. In 1675 John Ogilby published his Britannia, a popular road atlas of the day, describing principal highways including that through Settle. They would have regular picking up points en route to renew stock, and Settle could well have been such a place. There is a probate inventory for one Patrick Turnbull of Ingleton in 1684, consisting of parcels of small ready-made goods and oddments plus a saddle panel (a cloth or pad to go under a saddle) - so he had probably been a chapman, selling door-to-door, providing the extras to enhance basic homemade garments. He owed money to suppliers in London, Kendal and elsewhere to the tune of £38, but was owed £57 by a long list of customers Hargreaves’ listed goods were heavier in nature on the whole, not including some smaller popular items often carried by chapmen, so possibly he supplied packhorse traders. Moone, on the other hand, with the more extensive list of small items amongst his stock mentioned above, might have supplied a wider range of door-to-door traders, with or without a horse.

End products

Having considered where Hargreave’s goods may have come from, and to whom, apart from his retail customers, he might have supplied them for onward sales, what would the fabrics and other items be ultimately used for? Accounts of what people wore, of what their clothes were made, and the costs are numerous and there are many examples in museums such as the Victoria and Albert of garments and other items. The account book of the young Sir Francis Throckmorton, meticulously kept by his steward James Smyth between the years of 1654 and 1660, or of the diary of Samuel Pepys, a man with an eye for fashion, reveal such references, though it must be remembered that these gentlemen were moving in rather more exalted circles than most of the inhabitants of rural Settle. Advertisements in the London Gazette of the last twenty years of the century which list missing persons and stolen goods sought, are a treasure trove of detailed descriptions of clothing and textiles at all levels. Wills sometimes mention specific items of clothing and household textiles to be bequeathed, usually identified by colour or condition but occasionally by fabric, and therefore wills in the ancient parish of Giggleswick area should be considered when considering local trade. Thomas Barcroft, a gentleman and clothier of Colne, kept an account book in the 1690s, listing amongst other things his outlay on some items of clothing for his son Ambrose. Hargreaves’ shop could have provided the materials for the sort of garments and furnishings described. (A much extended version of this paragraph, with detailed examples, is given in the website version of this article).


So the varied stock available at a Settle draper’s shop could provide all the materials and haberdashery extras needed to make the elegant clothes of the Restoration period if required, as well as a stock for pedlars, but the preponderance of coarser woollen fabrics reflected the hardier nature of northern country life. It must have been a profitable trade to be in, as shown by the details of Hargreaves’ will - he had real estate in several places yielding rents and he had fashionable items of value in the house. His parlour chamber demonstrated the newly fashionable and less communal way of living of the middling sorts. With no banks in existence locally at this early date he would not have wanted quantities of spare money lying around and his shop stock and good debts owed to him roughly balanced what he himself owed. Let us hope the young family managed to continue its comfortable life despite the untimely death of its breadwinner, John Hargreaves, draper.


To Sheila Gordon for transcriptions of the Moone and Turnbull inventories.


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