Family History

If your relatives lived in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire or Leicestershire during the last 100 years then it is quite likely that some of them were involved in the textile trade. They may have helped to design and build or operate the powered knitting, lace and embroidery machines. We hope this page will be of use to those undertaking family history research.


If you are researching your family history you may have come across the letters ‘FWK’ on an official document or census record denoting occupation. If you have then your ancestor was a framework knitter. A visit to the museum is the ideal way to learn about the working and living conditions your ancestors may have experienced.
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Sharing Your Research

Do you have any letters, postcards, drawings and patents, examination papers, machine catalogues, apprentice indentures etc. relating to the frames and the industry? These might be of interest to other researchers. We would be happy to share some on this webpage. Please contact us to discuss your findings.
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Our Researchers

The museum employs volunteer researchers who are undertaking research into the lives of local frameworkers and related tradesfolk. We update this page regularly to share our research. We hope the the documents on this page will be of some use.
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Latest Local Framework Knitter Research

This information about Frederick Pembleton was sent to us by Gavin Ranson from Cumbria

On 20th November 1799, Mary Hervey married Theophilus Pembleton (b1776) in Papplewick. They were my 4 greats grandparents, and settled in Bulwell, Nottingham, where they had 9 children between 1800 and 1819. One of these was a son Frederick, baptised on 25th January 1807. Frederick married Sarah Smith in Arnold on 22nd April 1828, the daughter of William and Sarah Smith of Arnold.

Frederick and Sarah had 7 children in Arnold: Samuel (1830), Elijah (1831), John (1833), Frederick, who died in infancy (1835) and Sarah Ann (1837). The next child Frederick, my 2 greats grandfather, was born at the White Hart Hotel, Daybrook, Notts on 5th September 1838. Its reported in the family that Frederick either managed or owned the hotel at that time. A final child Hannah was born in 1841. By then Theophilus, Frederick and at least three of his brothers were working as Frame work knitters in Arnold. The knitting frame was a hand powered knitting machine, mainly used in domestic properties at that time, and used to make stockings, gloves, socks and vests. Theophilus died aged 70 in 1846 and Mary in 1856, aged 76. Both were buried in Arnold.

Frederick Pembleton clearly had further business ambitions. By 1851 he had become a farmer, and the family lived in Church St, Arnold, not far from the Worrall’s. By 1861, Frederick and Sarah are in Folly Road, Arnold with their children John and Sarah, and a granddaughter Sarah, aged 6, probably a daughter of Sarah. His older sons Samuel and Elijah were by this time married and settled with families in the Arnold area. Frederick was then a publican and a farmer of 63 acres. He employed 70 men and 10 boys. Frederick’s daughter Sarah died aged 30 in 1866, leaving her parents to look after her daughter.

However, by 1863 Frederick had sold his farm, probably to John Worrall his neighbour and relation by marriage. He started a hosiery manufacturing business. Frederick Pembleton is listed as a hosiery manufacturing agent in Wright’s 1862 directory for Nottingham. By the 1871 census he employed 30 men and 15 boys, living at Red Hill, Arnold with his wife, son John, and granddaughter Sarah, now 16. The Red Hill works probably consisted of a workshop housing a series of knitting frames attached to Frederick’s home, which served as an office, and including a seaming room for joining the garments together. The knitting frame struggled to compete with the steam powered Lancashire cotton mills, but was more profitable when worked on a larger scale. The business ran for about 30 years.

In 1863 Frederick’s son Samuel, also a hosier at the time, was declared bankrupt, with the notice appearing in the London Gazette. Frederick was appointed trustee, responsible for taking over Samuel’s effects and administering the proceeds to the creditors. It’s possible he acquired further knitting frames at this time.

Frederick Pembleton Jnr (b1838) married Hannah Bella Worrall in 1859 at Burford registry office. Their eldest daughter, Hannah Elizabeth was born on 10th October 1860 and at the 1861 census the family of 3 were living at No2 Front St, next door to the Worrall’s. Sarah Susannah was born on 20th October 1862, John Adamson on 14th April 1865, Frederick Paul on 22nd January 1867, Mary Isobel (Meg) on 5th September 1869, William Worrall Pembleton in 1873 who lived only a few weeks, and finally Frances Annie Pembleton, my great grandmother, on 22nd December 1876. All the children were born in Arnold. The PO directory for 1876 lists Pembleton & Son, Hosiery manufacturers at Red Hill Works, just North of Arnold.

Sarah Pembleton died aged 74 in 1883 and Frederick (Snr) died in 1889. In 1871, Frederick’s son John was a farm servant aged 36, and by 1881 was a farmer. He died aged 50 in 1883.

Frederick’s Snr’s brothers Joseph (1811-1898), Charles (1814-1886), and Noah (1817-1902) lived in Arnold and worked as a frame work knitters all their working lives. Charles and Noah each married twice, and had 9 children in Arnold. Joseph had 11 children, of which 6 died in infancy. Their sister Mary worked as a seamer and married the Arnold Shoemaker, John Williamson. They had 8 children. Through genesreunited I have been in touch with Noah’s 2 greats grandson, Robert Pembleton, and Mary’s descendant John Mellors..

By the 1881 census Frederick Jnr (b1838) was living at 20 Front St., still a hosiery manufacturer. His son John was also working in the business. However, by 1891 following his fathers death, they had moved to 336 Alfreton Road, Radford, Nottingham, and Frederick describes himself as a “Silk and Cotton Commissioning agent”.

Wright’s 1898-99 Nottingham Business directory lists Frederick Pembleton of 183 Arkwright St, as the manager of ER Fox & Co. Yarn manufacturers. The mechanisation of hosiery with steam power had been introduced, which led to the disintegration of the domestic frame system. It’s no surprise that Frederick had stopped manufacture himself by then. There were 44000 Knitting Frames in the East Midlands in 1844, but only 5000 by 1892.

Frederick Jnr died in 1899, aged 60, and with him the family interest in hosiery ceased. At the 1901 census Hannah was a widow living with just 2 of her daughters, Hannah and Francis Annie, together with 3 boarders, at 58 Willand Grove, Nottingham. One of the boarders was Samuel Fish, a widower, who 2 years later married Hannah (Jnr), when he was 49 and she 42. My father remembers attending Sam Fish’s 80th birthday party in 1934. Hannah (Snr) died in 1906, aged 65.

Unfortunately, none of the Arnold properties lived in by the Pembleton’s and Worrall’s survive. Front Street is the main street in Arnold, and nearby is Worrall Avenue, which probably gets its name from the farming family. According to a 1973 letter from Frances Annie’s niece Mabel Freeman (nee Gibb), the Worrall’s are buried at Arnold St Mary’s, and the Pembleton’s at Daybrook, near Arnold.

 This information about the Stevenson family was recently sent to us by Nicholas Heaton-Harris

My wifes third great grandfather was Thomas STEVENSON born 1817 in Bradmore, Ruddington. From at least 1851 to 1871 he was a Framework knitter (cotton) in Ruddington. His family lived at 19 Shaw Street, Ruddington the census results below.

1851: Address Red Lion Street, Ruddington STEVENSON THomas     Head     Married   33   b 1818    Frame Work Knitter   Bradmore, Notts STEVENSON Sarah          Wife       Married   30    b 1821                                    Ruddington,Notts STEVENSON Charles       son                           7    b 1844    Winder of Cotton      Ruddington, Notts STEVENSON Eliza           Daughter                   5    b 1846      Scholar                   Ruddington, Notts STEVENSON Ellen          Daughter                     1    b 1850                                   Ruddington, Notts 1861: Address 19 Shaw Street, Ruddington STEVENSON Thomas       Head       Married    44  b 1817   Framework Knitter Cotton       Bradmore, Notts STEVENSON Sarah          Wife        Married     40  b 1821    Seamer                               Ruddington, Notts STEVENSON Charles       son      unmarried     17  b 1844   Framework Knitter Cotton      Ruddington, Notts STEVENSON Eliza           daughter                 15   b 1846   Seamer                                Ruddington, Notts STEVENSON Ellen          daughter                  11  b 1850   Seamer                                Ruddington, Notts The 1861 census look for Stevinson as it was transcribed incorrectly. Living next door were other Framework Knitter families. 1871: Address Shaw Street, Ruddington STEVENSON Thomas       Head      53        b 1818       FWK                Nottingham STEVENSON Sarah          Wife       50        b 1821                              Notts STEVENSON Eliza           Daughter 25        b 1846         Seamer          Notts STEVENSON Frederick Grandson    3          b 1868                              Notts In 1881 census Thomas is an Agricultural Labourer but his wife is a Semstress and they still live at Shaw Street. In 1891 census Thomas is still in agriculture and Sarah is a stocking Seamer and they still live at Shaw Street. In 1901 census Sarah is a widow, Thomas died 1899, and she is a Hosiery Seamer. They now have Albert HOLT b.1873 Grand son living with her and her Nephew Edward Clarkson. Albert Holt is Eliza Stevenson son. She married James Thomas Holt in 1872 and in the 1881 census she is a Seamstress living in Easthorpe st, Ruddington.