Monday, February 13, 2017

The Family of John Fryer 1777- 1841

In a continuation of my book about my ancestors who hailed from Winster in Derbyshire, here is my page about my 5x great grandfather John Fryer who was a shoemaker like his father before him.
Interestingly he moved away from Winster, but his daughter Ellen Fryer married back into the village!

This one was a bit hard to complete as I knew so little about him. Thankfully we are now moving toward the time of better records and John lived just long enough to be part of the 1841 census, and he did appear in the 1835 Pigots Directory for Derbyshire.


John Fryer was the eldest son of Henry Fryer and Ann Twigg. He was baptised at St Johns in Winster on March 14th 1777. Like his father took up Shoe making as an occupation.
This is proven by the 1841 census where he, aged 64 (his age in the census is rounded down) is still working in the industry.
According to the 1835 Pigots Directory of Swanwick John and his son Joseph were both working as Shoemakers in the Village of Swanwick Derbyshire.
Though born in Winster, at some point before 1798 when he married Ellen Vickers, he moved to Edensor, Derbyshire which is about 9 miles from Winster..
His eldest child Joseph was born there, but later the family moved elsewhere in Derbyshire as subsequent children are born in Pentrich, and then Alfreton which close to Swanwick where the family were living in 1841.]
I have only confirmed the birth of 6 children to John and Ellen. I believe the Ann Fryer aged 20 living with the family in 1841 is the illegitimate daughter of Mary Fryer.
The two younger Joseph Fryers I assume are also grandchildren.
John Fryer would have been an artisan making new shoes as this was the definition of a cordwainer.

In the mid-1800s shoemaking was still very much a cottage industry. Shoemakers worked individually, collecting raw material from a manufacturer and then returning the finished product in return for payment. The work was carried out by hand, usually in a workshop in the shoemakers’ own home. Other family members, including wives and children, were often engaged in assisting the shoemaker. As the sewing machine was not invented until 5 years after John Fryer died, all the shoes he made would have been hand stitched.


John died on the 3rd September 1841 and was buried 2 days later at Alfreton Derbyshire. His wife Ellen died just 15 months later, and also is buried at Alfreton.

Though John himself left Winster, his daughter Ellen was to return when she married Thomas Boam, continuing the family history in the village which had for so many generations been home to her ancestors.