Quenington Paper Mill

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John Cowley
James Edgington
Ernest Maslin
Joseph B Palser
John W Peters
Joseph Pember
Edmund Preater
William A West

Introduction and Summary

The Quenington Paper Mill (or perhaps Paper Mills, as it tended to be referred to in the local press) was located next to the River Coln and near the village church. It was presumably one of the two mills registered in the Domesday Book of 1086, the other being the corn mill on the river nearer the village centre both later associated with the Knights Hospitallers. It was originally a fuller mill but by the nineteenth century had become a paper mill. Towards the end of the nineteenth century it became a dairy farm, a situation that might have continued for two or three decades. At some time during the interwar years in the twentieth century it began to be used as a private house, which is its position under the name Knights Mill. In the nineteenth century it provided employment for some 20 villagers.

Names associated with it during the dairy-farm era are The Hardings and Ivy Grove. .

This paper deals with the period since the 1770s when fuller details of owners and tenants become available. It shows known proprietors and tenants. There is also a list of the paper-making equipment there when it closed as a paper mill in 1875 and a description of the house and land when it became a dairy farm a few years later. The main sources are local tax records, parish records, the ten-yearly censuses. electoral registers, newspaper items, local school records and various documents held at Archives.

Paper Mill

The study was carried out in 2020 and progress has been badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, which caused the closure to the public for long periods of Gloucestershire Archives, where much of the material is held. However, their on-line catalogue indicates that there is more material yet to be studied.

Paper Mill

The sources start with the tax records in 1787; perhaps it was already a paper mill then. Some earlier history is summarised in https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/glos/vol7/pp121-129.

The mill was then owned by John Raymond Barker of the manor of Fairford and occupied by Joshua Carby and then Joshua Carby Radway. The records suggest that Radway became the owner but this is at variance with other records. Radway was also the tenant, presumably farming, of the village glebe land.

Joshua Radway died in 1840. However, an item in the London Gazette reports that he had disposed of his assets by indenture in 1834 as a trust in favour of Thomas and Richard Pinnell, farmers in Oxfordshire and relatives of his wife. There is a report that the two Pinnells were running the mill until 1841 but nothing has been seen to indicate that they lived in Quenington. In fact they were not there on census day in 1841, at least one being at his farm in Oxfordshire.

There was a brief interlude, with a James Edgington, a labourer, newly a paper-maker, occupying the mill in 1841. He was soon replaced by Joseph Bence Palser, from a paper-making family in Wotton-under-Edge, who had arrived in Quenington by 1843. Palser was there for about a decade after which he emigrated to the United States to pursue his career and to write papers and take out a patent relating to the treatment of paper. He was followed briefly in Quenington by a John Cowley in the 1850s (dates 1853-57 are recorded), who disappears from the record at the time of receiving summonses to the county court for non-payment of bills (and not appearing to answer the summons).

The last of the papermakers was William Alfred West in the 1860s and 1870s. He would seem to have been a man of some ability, and well off judging by his background. He took part in village affairs, among other things in attending the Vestry Committee and serving a term as Overseer of the Poor. He will have left Quenington in or soon after 1875 when the mill was closed.

The mill would seem to have been quite successful at least during the Palser and West managements, providing employment for some 20 villagers, and at one of West's Christmas parties for which a report is available some 60 people sat down, presumably including the families of the staff. West at least seems to have been a good and sympathetic manager.

The mill had closed by 1875 with the sale by auction of the contents in September of that year, the reason being that the proprietor was relinquishing the business. The list of things to be disposed of was extensive and included a a millwright's and blacksmiths on the premises. The auction was carried out by a London company rather than local, reflecting the fact that West has returned there,

Dairy Farm

In 1877 there was an advertisement for leasing a water mill in Quenington for light work (see table below) It was placed by an iron works in Gloucester, presumably on behalf of the owner Bazley of Hatherop Castle. The available power and area of land differs from those in an advertisent in 1895. In fact they are nearer that of the corn mill but the latter is accounted for at this time. The iron works is the one later in contact with Bazley in relation to the mill wheel. The leasing offer was perhaps unsuccessful as he building was probably unoccupied in 1879 and certainly in 1881. Then Edmund Preater, whose father had farmed locally, was there by 1885, dairy farmer for about a decade. At one point his address was given in a local newspaper as Ivy Grove. In 1893, perhaps on Preater's departure, there were exchanges between Bazley of Hatherop Castle and an engineer in Gloucester about specifications for a water wheel; these documents await further analysis (was it intended to refurbish and reopen the mill?).

In 1895 the establishment was advertised to rent, described as premises with a waterwheel, and the site of a papermill, consisting of a dwelling house, sheds, 3.75 acres of land and waterwheel equal to about 6hp. Application was to be to the Hatherop Castle Estate. It was taken by Ernest Maslin, a blacksmith from Coln St Aldwyns who had been in Quenington since probably 1892. He would be in Quenington until the end of World War 1, though whether at the mill throughout is not known. Maslin used the mill for dual purpose operations. At least initially he combined his occupation of blacksmith with that of a dairy farmer. Sons also became blacksmith and carpenter.

A tax document of 1899 shows Maslin in occupation of a house, land, papermill owned by Bazley. The name Ivy Grove reappeared in 1906 as the address of a daughter registering as a pupil at Queington school.

Detail so far
This table contains the list of people assocated with the mill up to the end of World War 1, thus before and after it was decommissioned as a mill. More detailed accounts of some of the people can be found at the end of the paper.
In col 2 er=voters' lists (early form of electoral register), cen=census, dir=commercial directory (eg PO, Kelly etc), t=land tax records, Lg=London Gazette, gro=central record of bmd, US=US documents, pre=local newspapers
1787-1797 t Joshua Carby owner John Raymond Barker of Fairford
1798-1831 t Joshua Carby Radway owner John Raymond Barker of Fairford
1830 dir Joshua Carby Radway paper maker at Quenington mill
1834 lg Joshua Carby Radway notice assigning away all effects to Thomas and Richard Pinnell
1835-1841 ? Thomas and
Richard Pinnell
(reference needed)
1836 er   no reference to paper maker
1840 gro Joshua Carby Radway death registered Cirencester 2nd quarter
1841 cen James Edgington paper maker, living at the mill, near the rectory
1842 er   no reference
1843-50 er Joseph Bence Palser occupier of mill and land, Quenington Mill
1844 lg Joseph Bence Palser partnership with John William Peters to be ended
1846 par Joseph Bence Palser 10 Sep, marriage in Fairford to Sarah Matilda Reeve, see below
1851 cen Joseph B Palser paper manufacturer living at the mill, employer of 20 labourers
1852 US Joseph B Palser emigrated to the US
1853,56 dir John Cowley paper maker
1857 pre John Cowley paper maker in Quenington. On 17 Jan and 14 Feb was sued in Cirencester County Court by ironmonger and grocer for non-payment of bills. Did not appear and judgement given against him
1859 er   no reference to paper maker
1861 cen William Alfred West paper manufacturer living at the mill, employer (7 men, 5 labourers, 2 firemen, 2 carters, 6 women, [4] girls and 1 boy)
1863,70 dir William Alfred West paper manufacturer
1864 er William Alfred West occupation of mill and land, paper mills
1871 cen William Alfred West paper manufacturer living at the mill
1875 pre   2 Sep, contents of paper mill to be auctioned as proprietor relinqishing business. Auction conducted by London agent
1877 pre   watermill in Quenington available for light work, apply Iron Works Gloucester, see below
1879 er   no record of occupant of mill
1881 cen   no record of mill, presumably unoccupied
1891 cen,pre Edmund Preater dairy farmer, living near the church; village flower show held in grounds of Ivy Grove "by kind permission of Mr E H Preater"
1893 doc   letters to Bazley relating to water wheel at Quenington paper mill. Includes specifications supplied by Summers and Scott, engineers, of High Orchard Iron Works, Gloucester. 7 documents not yet seen.
1895 pre   site of paper-mill to be let, by Hatherop Castle Estate agent, dwelling house, sheds, 3.5 acres of land and waterwheel equivalent to about 6hp
189x-1918 various Ernest Maslin occupying paper mill owned by Bazley, variously dairy farmer and blacksmith. Daughter registered at Quenington school in 1906 with address Ivy Grove.
Marriage of Joseph Palser, 10th Sep 1846 in Fairford
Joseph Bence Palser, full age, paper manufacturer, residence Quenington, father Joseph stationer
Sarah Matilda Reeve, full age, no occupation, residence Fairford, father Samuel Vine, gentleman
witnesses Samuel Vine and Elizabeth Parsons
advertisement March 1877. To be let for the manufacture of pine, elastic web, silk or other light work, a water mill of about 12hp at Quenington. There is a good dwelling house wit 20 acres of land. The premises would be altered and machinery provided to suit a tenant. Apply to Messrs Savory and Son, High Orchard Iron Works, Gloucester

After World War 1

The position after the first war is unclear. The interwar electoral registers for Quenington are poor in the provision of personal addresses and the occupants of the mill are known from this source only in 1929-1934 and 1939. In the first period Joseph and Edith Maude Pember were at Paper Mill House with probably single men Andrew Brace in 1929 and Stewart Buxton in 1934. Their occupations are unknown. The special register of 29 September 1939 includes Knights Mill, now named as such, showing the head of household as a married woman (Alizha M McLaren, 29), together with probably a relative (Amy Mary Maddox, 34) and her son (Colin McLaren Maddox, 3), a woman of independent means (Katherine Cummings, 69) and a probable servant (Rachel Joyce Alder, 17). Apart from the servant, a local girl, no more is seen of any of these in Quenington, including in the 1939 electoral register six months earlier.

After World War 2 the mill continued as a private residence. It was first occupied by its owner, Sir Thomas Bazley of Hatherop Castle. It was listed in the electoral registers as The Old Mill, at first with Sir Thomas and presumed servant Sarah Taylor, and then with his new wife Carmen from 1947. His own residence, Hatherop Castle, had been leased as a girls' school. The Bazley's stay was brief. By 1952 they had moved to nearby Easington, where they would be at least through the 1960s.

In 1952 and 1953 William H and Iris Gifford occupied the mill, again listed as Knight's Mill. Nothing more is yet known of them. They were in turn replaced by Kathleen L I Bellamy, with daughter and mother, renting from Thomas Bazley. She was of the Earl of Harewood family, her father Sir Alfred George Lascelles. She was divorced, her ex-husband Robert Hugh a much decorated military man who reached the rank of Brigadier. She stayed for a decade or so and then must have moved to Coln St Aldwyns, where she died in 2003.

The next occupant was Major John Nevile Gwynne, a former solicitor and ex-soldier who had been an active member of the Special Operations Executive in World War 2 and operated behind enemy lines, apparently an active man (huntsman) and cultured, with an interest in old music. He was there from the mid-1960s to his death in 1981 and is buried in the village cemetery.

After Major Gwynne Knight's Mill was used by Charles Douglas Home, the editor of the Times newspaper in the 1980s, perhaps as a country retreat. He died in London in 1985 and is buried in Quenington cemetery.

Some occupants of the paper mill

John Cowley
John Cowley was the miller between at least 1853 and 1856 following Joseph Palsor's departure. All that is so far known of him is his failure, just before his disappearance, to answer two summonses at Cirencester Crown Court with respect to monies owed to an iromonger and a grocer.

James Edgington
A curious case of a labourer who became a paper-maker for a brief period of time. James was a Quenington man, born in about 1809 and who lived in Quenington throughout. In the 1830s he was a labourer. In 1841 he was living at the mill as a paper maker, with wife and children. This would have been very brief, as his successor Joseph Palser had arrived by 1843. James was still working as a papermaker in 1851 but now living elsewhere in the village and no doubt an ordinary worker at the mill. James was an agricultural labourer again by 1861 and this would be his condition until his death in 1884.

Ernest Maslin
Ernest Maslin was born in Whelford in 1863. He lived in Coln St Aldwyns in 1891, and by 1894 he was in Quenington, married and with children. Over the years he was variously a blacksmith, dairyman and farmer living at the papermill near the church. He left the village immediately after World War 1 and was farming and a landowner in the area east of Quenington and Bibiury. He died in the Cirencester area in 1945. Fuller details can be found in the Farmers section of this site.

Joseph Bence Palser and John William Peters
Joseph Palser was a paper-maker before going to Quenington. He was one of the very many of that surname who appear in the parish records of Wotton Under Edge in Gloucestershire, some of them also payers of land tax at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth centuries. There was at least one paper maker (Thomas) in 1841 and Joseph himself was also a paper maker then, still at home with his probably widowed mother. He was born and baptised in Wotton-under-Edge in 1811, Gloucestershire, his father Joseph a stationer. He was first identified in Quenington in 1843, a paper-maker, and he married Sarah Matilda Reeve in 1846 in her home town of Fairford, her father a 'gentleman'. He was there for about a decade and then emigrated to the United States. There are many documents relating to him there. but it has not yet been possible to access these other than in summary in a few cases. What is known is that he emigrated in 1852, took US citizenship in 1864, married in New York the same year and died in New Jersey in 1880. He wrote papers and took out a patent on the subject of manufacturing and handling paper pulp.

An announcement in the London Gazette in January 1844, just after Palser had arrived in Quenington, concerned the dissolution by mutual consent of the partnership between him and John William Peters, paper makers. Peters was a dissenting (ie non-conformist) minister who lived with his family in Quenington between at least 1836 and 1850. At first he was sharing the occupation of farmland with its owner farmer William Clarke, and from 1841 in a freehold house. He was still there in 1850, an executor in the will of John Newman, agricultural labourer. But not, apparently, the following year when probate was carried out by the other executor (John Simpson) alone.

Joseph Pember

Joseph Pember was born in 1881. In the 1920s he was living in the Enfield area of London, a confectioner. He married Edith Maude Felstead in 1927 and they moved to Quenington where they occupied Paper Mill House between 1929 and 1934, occupation unknown. They were next in Wiltshire in 1939, he a licensed victualler.

Edmund Preater
Edmund Preater was born in Wales of a family originally from Coln St Aldwyns. He was in Quenington in 1881 working as an agricultural labourer probably for his father. From 1885 he was a householder in his own right, a carrier in 1885 and by 1891 a dairy farmer and living next to the church. He had left by 1895 for Wiltshire where he died in 1912. Fuller details can be found in the Farmers section of the site.

William A West
William West was baptised in St Pancras Middlesex in about 1817. He was at home there in 1851, his occupation accountant from Hill Treasury. In 1861 and 1871 he was at the paper mill in Quenington with wife and daughter and two servants, a paper manufacturer living near the church. There are reports in subsequent years, for example in the press, confirming him at Quenington papermills.

He took part in village life quite early on, attending, perhaps as a member, the Vestry Committee, essentially the local government of the village, on a number of occasions between 1864 and 1875. He was also one of the two Overseers (of the poor) in 1862 and 1863. He played a part in the establishment of the rural hospital in Fairford in the 1870s. Following the closure of the mill he had left Quenington by 1881, when the mill was unoccupied on census day. A report on the death of his daughter in 1886 placed him at an address in Camden, London and he died there in 1891, survived by his wife Frances. Reports on his activities at the Quenington Papermills have all the feeling of a good employer.

15th July 2021