William HOWARD, papermaker, Hemel Hempstead, late 18th century


Paper Making

Hemel Hempstead

March, 2016

Martha Spindler Brown noted that a papermaker, William Howard, is mentioned in the Militia Lists for Hemel Hempstead and thinks that her great, great grand father was his son and left England in 1794 for a new life of paper making in America on the Brandywine River in Wilmington, Delaware.  This man, also William Howard, married Rebecca Jordan, and had a son, William Jordan Howard who later became the 13th mayor of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The family established a well-known paper business in Pittsburgh.

I don't know if you had noticed that there was a known like between the paper makers of Hemel Hempstead  and the Brandywine River in Delaware (see John Dickinson & the Brandywine) so your ancestor's story could be of particular interest to the people running the Paper Trail - a museum which celebrates the paper making history of the Hemel Hempstead area. Any information from the American end of the story suggesting that the first paper makers from Hemel Hempstead arrived in the Brandywine areas in the late 18th century would be of interest here.

However the surname Howard is quite common, and Christian names often ran in families, so one needs to be very careful when researching your ancestors because there were often a number of people in the same area with the same name, and if you haven't already done so read the information page Right Name, Wrong body.

As it happens there is a very good example of this relating to the Howard family in the Hemel Hempstead baptism register of 1784.

As you can see William Augustus Howard, son of William & Mary Howard, was born on April 15th and baptised on May 30th, while William Howard, son of William and Sarah Howard was born on the May 30th and baptises on June 8th. Either of the two William Howard senior could be the William Howard listed in 1782 as a paper maker at Burymill End and/or the William Howard listed in 1784 as a paper maker at Two Waters.

A William Howard, corn dealer, was living in Hemel Hempstead in 1851 (age given as 69, born Watford, Herts)  and 1861 (age given as 72, born Bedfordshire) and died at Hemel Hempstead later in 1861 aged 73. In view of the uncertainties in census records could he have been one of the two William Howard born in 1784 or was he just a third  William Howard associated with Hemel Hempstead who was born in the 1780s.

I would not expect a boy of 10 or 11 to have significant skills in papermaking or to travel to America on his own. What is more likely (if the link can be definitely established) is that the William Howard, paper maker, listed in the militia list went with his family.

William Howard married Mary Green at Hemel Hempstead in 1780. For the other couple the most likely is the William Howard who married Sarah Redford in Luton, Bedfordshire in 1780 - but this is only a guess at this stage, as there are a number of possible William and Sarah marriages.

If you can add to the information given above tell me.

March 2016   Page created