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Wales Cottage

William and Martha Wale were engaged in the Framework Knitting business from this cottage on Elder Lane. They lived here with their 3 children, Mary, Annie and John.


It is an interesting story about the head of a family who moved from Pegg’s Green to Griffydam in the early 1850’s and used his entrepreneurial skills to make a life for his family and to became a property owner.

In the 1841 Pegg's Green census, William Wale, aged 25, is living with a Framework Knitter (Henry Knight ??) and William's profession along with another person in the household appears to be 'Joining'. This may mean seaming the pieces of hosiery together off the framework knitting machine. There is another Framework Knitter living there also.

By 1843, William had become married to Martha and by 1951 had 3 children, Mary, Annie and John. This appears to have been the catalyst for William to start his own hosiery cottage industry in Griffydam.


He was clearly an entrepreneurial gentleman as the census statements for Wales cottage demonstrate how his occupation evolved to adapt to the times:-



  • 1851 census William Wale aged 35 occupation Stocking makers, cotton and thread, his wife Martha was a stocking seamer finishing the garments along with their 2 children Mary aged 8 and Annie aged 6. The description of their trade suggests that they were buying and selling thread and owned the frames that the garments were made on.

  • 1861 census William has further diversified describing his occupation as Family Hosier and Designer, employing four men and is now engaged in retail. Daughter Mary aged 18 is listed as a stocking framework knitter and son John a scholar. Annie had sadly died at the age of 8.

  • 1871 census, William now 55 is listed as a Druggist and Licensed Pharmaceuticals but still there is a stocking seamer and Framework Knitter living at the property. There is no further record of their daughter Mary living at the property and their son John had left to become a school master.

  • 1881 now 65 William is described as a Chemist.  Presumably his frame work knitting activities had come to an end by then. At the time doctors were only affordable by the rich, and Dr Wale, as he was known, would have supplied an affordable alternative. William and Martha were now living on their own in the cottage.


Evidence suggests that William had become a sub-agent by 1861 as the three adjacent terraced cottages all had people involved with the profession living there, either as framework knitters or seamers. It is believed that William became the owner of the block of four terraced cottages which were left to his son John when William died.

The following paragraph comes from an article in the Coalville times dated 28/7/1978:-


A  Mrs. Pearl Walker, who lived in Kingsway, Tynemouth, Tyne & Wear at the time the article was written, was born in Wales Cottage in Griffydam. She was a distant relative of John Massey who was her grandmother’s uncle. She was also the great grand-daughter of “Doctor” Wale who was known around the district for his herbal cures.


The title “Doctor” was purely a courtesy one it seems, for the healer had no recognised qualification. He had however, a widespread fame for his skill and his kindness to people in sickness and in trouble.

William Wale died on July 29th 1888 at the age of 73 which was recorded in the obituaries columns of the “Chemist & Druggist Magazine”. His wife had died 15 years earlier on Feb 13th 1873 aged 65.


William and Martha Wale, daughter Annie, daughter Mary's husband William Stinson (who died aged 28), and Martha's mother Hannah Wright are all buried in Griffydam graveyard.

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