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Barratt, (Arthur) William (1877–1939), shoe manufacturer and retailer, was born on 8 October 1877 in Ethel Street, Northampton, the fourth of seven sons of John Barratt, a shoemaker, and Eleanor, née Yeomans. William Barratt, as he was always known, came from a working-class background, and after attending the local elementary school he worked as a shop assistant selling shoes in ...

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Timothy Bennett (1676/77–1756) by James Macardell, 1752 (after G. Budd) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Bennett, Timothy (1676/7–1756), cordwainer and public access campaigner, is of obscure origins; details of his birth, family, and upbringing are unknown. On 19 July 1716, at All Hallows, London Wall, he married Katherine Magitt (1673/4–1749), of Kingston upon Thames, Surrey; the parish register—which also gives his wife's name as ...

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William Stephens Clark (1839–1925) by William Strang, 1912 Clarks International

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Clark, William Stephens (1839–1925), shoe manufacturer and retailer, was born on 22 February 1839 at Street in Somerset, the third of fourteen children of James C. Clark (1811–1906), rug and shoe manufacturer of Street, and Eleanor, née Stephens (1812–1879), of Bridport. He was educated at ...

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Colman, Cecil (1878–1954), shoe manufacturer and retailer, was born on 30 May 1878 in Bournemouth, one of nine children of the Revd Robert Colman, Baptist minister, and his wife, Sophia (née Allen). His father was the son of a partner in the mustard firm of ...

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Copping [Coppin], John (d. 1583), shoemaker and religious radical, is of unknown origins. By 1576 he was living in Bury St Edmunds where, with his companions Elias Thacker, a tailor, and one Tyler, he proved a thorn in the side of the ecclesiastical authorities in the diocese of ...

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Edward, Thomas (1814–1886), naturalist and shoemaker, was born on 25 December 1814 at Gosport, Hampshire, one of several children of John Edward, Fife militiaman and weaver, and Margaret Mitchell of Aberdeen. His early years were spent at Kettle, Fife, and at Aberdeen. From childhood he was passionately fond of animals, bringing home so many ‘beasties’ that he was frequently flogged and confined to the house. Utterly unmanageable, by the age of six he had been expelled from three schools because of his zoological pursuits and truancy. Abandoning school, he found employment at ...

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Thomas Edward (1814–1886) by Sir George Reid Scottish National Portrait Gallery

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Gee, Henry Simpson (1842–1924), shoe manufacturer and businessman, was born on 6 April 1842 at Lowerhead Row, Leeds, the eldest son of George Walker Gee, linen draper, and his wife, Ellen, née Simpson. He was educated privately at Grange School, Thorp Arch, near ...

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Harris, Benjamin Randell (1781–1858), soldier and shoemaker, was born in 1781 in Portsea, Hampshire, and was baptized on 28 October 1781. He was the eldest of the two sons of Robert Harris, a shepherd, and his wife, Elizabeth, née Randell (d. 1788)...

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Hewes, George Robert Twelves (1742–1840), cordwainer and revolutionary activist in America, was born on 25 August 1742 at the sign of the Bull's Head and Horns, Water Street, Boston, Massachusetts, the sixth of nine children of George Hewes (1701–1749), tallow chandler and erstwhile tanner, and his wife, ...

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Lobb, John (1829–1895), maker of bespoke boots and shoes, was born on 27 December 1829, at Tywardreath, near Fowey, Cornwall, where his father was a farmworker. John would probably have followed him, had he not suffered an accident which broke his leg in several places. The leg was badly set and he was left with a permanent limp. Thus barred from agricultural labour, he was apprenticed to a local shoemaker with whom over the next five years he acquired considerable skill. He then decided to try his luck in ...

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Manfield, Sir Moses Philip (1819–1899), shoe manufacturer and politician, was born on 26 July 1819 in Bristol, son of Moses Philip Manfield, a shoemaker. He came from a poor working-class household, and was supported by his mother after his father was paralysed. Unitarian in religion, his mother educated him herself until he was apprenticed at the age of twelve as a boot closer in a shoe manufacturing business, rising to become a manager....

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Odger, George (1813–1877), shoemaker and trade unionist, was born in Roborough, south Devon, the son of John Odger, a Cornish miner. After attending the village school, he became a shoemaker at an early age, tramping about the country before settling in London, where he became active in the ...

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George Odger (1813–1877) by W. H. Midwinter © National Portrait Gallery, London

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O'Neill, John (1778–1858), shoemaker and writer, was born in Waterford city, Ireland, on 8 January 1778, the second son of Thomas O'Neill (d. c.1810), a poor shoemaker, and his wife, Jane, née English (1756/7–c.1828). John O'Neill finished his formal schooling at the age of nine and was largely self-educated. He worked as a shoemaker in ...

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John O'Neill (1778–1858) by unknown engraver, c. 1842 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Pounds, John (1766–1839), cobbler and ragged-school teacher, was born in St Mary Street, Portsmouth, on 17 June 1766, the son of a naval dockyard sawyer. With little education, Pounds was apprenticed at the age of twelve to a shipwright. The turning point in his life came in 1781 when he was permanently injured by a fall into a dry dock. Left permanently disabled, ...

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Rogers, Zebedee (bap. 1774, d. 1833), missionary to seafarers and shoemaker, was baptized at Strood, Kent, on 10 April 1774, the son of John and Elizabeth Rogers. He is recognized as the originator of the historic seafarers' emblem known as the Bethel flag. His given name (that of the father of the seafaring apostles ...