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British Industrial History

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John Nowill (1818-1900)

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John Nowill (1818-1900) of John Nowill and Sons

1818 Born in Sheffield the son of John Nowill and his wife Elizabeth Spencer

1844 Married(1) in Wortley to Ellen Oakden Bradley (1824-1862) and had seven children

1851 Living at Spring Vale, Nether Hallam: John Nowill (age 33 born Sheffield), Merchant and Manufacturer of Cutlery. With his wife Ellen O. Nowill (age 26 born Bradley, Dby.) and their two children Ellen O. Nowill (age 3 born Sheffield) and Charles R. Nowill (age 11 Months born Sheffield). One servant.[1]

1876 Married(2) in Denbighshire to Elizabeth T. Nowill and had nine children

1891 Living at 94 Ivy Park Road, Upper Hallam: John Nowill (age 73 born Sheffield), Manufacturer of Cutlery and Electric Plate. With his wife Elizabeth T. Nowill (age 41 born Staffs) and their four children; Vernon S. Nowill (age 12 born Sheffield); Hereward V. Nowill (age 7 born Sheffield); Herbert J. Nowill (age 5 born Sheffield); and Kenneth N. Nowill (age 1 born Sheffield). Two servants.[2]

1900 February 21st. Died at Sandygate House, Eccleshall, Sheffield.


1900 Obituary.[3]

Many of our readers will hear to-day with extreme regret tho death of Mr. John Nowill, which took place his residence, Sandygate House, on Wednesday. Mr. Nowill, who was senior partner in the firm Messrs. John Nowill and Sons, Scotland Street, has been indifferent health for some time, and his decease, at the advanced ago of 82, will excite more sorrow than surprise.

He was one of five brothers who have been in partnership in the cutlery and electro-plate business all their lives. The firm of Messrs. John Nowill and Sons is a very old one. The trade-mark was granted by the Cutlers' Company to Mr. Nowill, the founder of firm, on the 26th of April, 1700. The business was carried on in Meadow Street, and afterwards removed to Scotland Street, where it has remained ever since.

In "Hunter's Hallamshire" the firm is incidentally referred in the course of an account of the cutlery trade. In that article, alluding to Messrs. Joseph Rodgers and Sons, it is — "The firm of long establishment, and the same family have been cutlers for about two centuries, as they can prove. Their business was formerly carried on in Hollis Croft, and they received their trade-mark from the Cutlers' Company in 1764. Supreme, however, as they have become their particular branch cutlery, they were not always distinguished 'vixere fortes ante Agamemnona,' and a knife made by Nowill and Company had a reputation within the memory of living cutlers which has not been surpassed."


1900 Obituary.[4]

The death occurred on Wednesday of Mr. John Nowill, of Sandygate House, at the age of 82 years. For the last nine months Mr. Nowill's health had been failing. It gradually became worse, until about three weeks ago it was seen that there was hope of his recovery. On Tuesday night he went to sleep and never awoke again, dying about half-past nine the next morning of senile decay.

Mr. Nowill was senior partner in the firm of John Nowill and Sons, cutlery and electro-plate manufacturers, Scotland Street, Sheffield.

On the death of his father in 1860 he succeeded to the business in partnership with four brothers, the firm still retaining the old title of Nowill and Sons. The five brothers continued in partnership as long as they lived and now there is but one of them living – Mr. Henry Nowill of Worksop. The oldest sons of the five partners are now in partnership and continuing the business.

The firm is perhaps the oldest business of its kind in Sheffield, the well-known trade mark – the ‘D’ star and cross-keys – being granted to Thomas Nowill on the 26th of April 1700. The business has remained in the possession of the family ever since that date. Before they took the premises in Scotland Street, the firm occupied building in Meadow Street.

Mr. Nowill was a member of the Roman Catholic Church and took a great interest in his religion. He is survived by nine sons and two daughters. His remain will be interred at Fulford on Saturday afternoon.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1851 Census
  2. 1891 Census
  3. Sheffield Evening Telegraph - Friday 23 February 1900
  4. Sheffield Independent - Friday 23 February 1900