In this month’s ‘Family Tree’ magazine (October issue), an article about tracing your knitting ancestors.
If you have any ancestry in a fishing port, or along the rivers and canals and inland waterways of the UK… this may be for you!
I took a stroll (metaphorically) through the Dales village of Hawes, (and the Cornish village of Polperro) on the night of the 1841 Census. And there I found ‘knitters’, ‘fancy knitters’, ‘hand knitters’ and ‘knitsters’. And this soul, in Aysgarth:
“Jane Asbridge, 70, Knitting Stockings”
Censuses were done of a Sunday evening. I could imagine the Enumerator knocking on the door and Jane coming to answer with her knitting in her hand (easier to carry it with you if you have a sheath tucked in your belt and maybe a clue holder about your person too!)
Hopefully, in the article, I’ve given a few pointers as to finding your knitting ancestors.
I have only one known ancestor who is actually listed by a Census enumerator as a knitter. She was my first cousin 3 times removed, Lillian Stephenson who was 12 in 1891 and down on the Shipley census as ‘Stocking Knitter’. Lillian lived with her Westmorland-born grandfather, a carpenter – and hosiery knitting was strong in Westmorland, so I’d imagine that was how a little girl growing up in Shipley, Yorkshire, at the end of the 19thC was hand knitting so actively she had it listed as her job!