How to find hat-makers in your family history

By Guest, 13 November 2018 - 3:11pm

In the latest episode of Made in Great Britain, the team discovers Luton's hat-making history. Nell Darby picks the best online resources to find your own hat-making ancestors

Made in Great Britain Luton hat making
On this week's Made in Great Britain , the team learn about hat-making in Luton. L-R: Claire 'de Lune', Charlton Nicoll, Katie Ventress, Jason Stocks-Young (Credit: BBC/Endemol Shine UK/Rudi Gordon)

Made in Great Britain will return after a week's absence on Friday 16 November at 9pm on BBC Two.

In the latest episode, Steph McGovern and her team of modern-day craftworkers head to Luton.

There, they discover the city's glamorous secret past - it once led the world in hat-making.

Bedfordshire was a centre of hat-related industries from the 17th to the 20th centuries.

Your ancestors might have been involved in different ways, from plaiting straw for hats, to making them, or selling them!

Look out for various hat-related occupations listed in the census, including trimmers, blockers, finishers and sewers.

You can also find out more about your hat-making ancestors with these resources:

 

Bedfordshire Archives and Record Service

Bedfordshire Archives hat-making

The online catalogue for Bedfordshire Archives and Record Service lists documents relating to hat-makers - including an early 18th century defamation suit involving a hatter's wife!

 

Historic England

Historic England women hatmaking

Historic England has a useful section on the history of Bedfordshire hat-making, including women's roles in the industry. There are also good links to other resources.

 

The National Archives

The National Archives

The National Archives has various collective agreements for regional hat-makers in the mid 20th century - see, for example, reference LAB 83/1474.
 

 

Don't miss Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine November 2018 for more expert family history advice

 

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