[My Chamber of Textile Thoughts. No: LXII | By Viveka Hansen]
Over time between 20 to 30 women worked in the millinery trade in the last two decades of 19th century Whitby, some as employed and others as apprentices or shop-keepers. The Misses Stangoe can be traced via censuses and regular advertisements in Whitby Gazette during twelve years, where it is possible to get a glimpse of their daily working life, what types of goods they had for sale and when apprentices were needed or any other event of importance took place. This small case study is part of a comprehensive study of the town’s milliners – published in my book Textile History of Whitby 1700-1914 – and here added with a few more details about these particular female shop-keepers’ situation.
Many small female businesses seem to have been worked from home or in an adjoining shop judging by comparison of census returns and directories. This circumstance also fits into the 41-year old Ann Stangoe and the 35-year old Dorothy living at 12 Flowergate; together with the older sister Catherine (43) as Housekeeper, their retired father (88), a grandson (8) and a 16 year old servant as listed in the 1891 census. In the 1881 census only the youngest sister Dorothy (26) of the two milliners was present, but the family at that time already lived at 12 Flowergate.
The sisters repeatedly advertised through appeals for apprentices in the style of ‘Apprentices Wanted’. The Misses Stangoe of Flowergate ran a ‘Millinery Establishment’ from at least 1880 to March 1892 when they were on the point of closing their business; they also sold corsets and other clothing accessories. The many tourists in the coastal town were without a doubt an important part of their clientele, judging by the spring and summer advertisements in the Whitby Gazette.
Bulmer’s directory of 1890 gives a detailed additional list of milliners and dressmakers who either worked on their own or employed other similar workers. The directory marks their shops or workshops ‘d.’ for dressmaker or ‘m.’ for milliner, while several names are unmarked to indicate both activities. In this list of 27 establishments ‘m. Stangoe Misses Cath., Annie, and Dorothy, 12 Flowergate’ was included. Given proof for that the oldest sister Catherine, listed as housekeeper in the census one year later, also took part in the daily run of the family business.
The Misses Stangoe’s last advert was placed on March 15th, 1892. Despite the detailed information, it has not been possible to clarify the reason for their hurry to close the business.
Misses Stangoe will offer their Entire Stock
For Sale as below
All the best corsets, piece velvets, plushes, silks, satins, ribbons, laces, flowers, feathers
&c. Marked in red ink at thirty per cent under cost price: and other stock of all
kinds much below that namely evening dress
and tea gown trimmings and many things suitable for bazaar work.
All must be cleared out within a very short time.
Sale to Commence Saturday 19th March 1892
The Premises to Let. with early possession. – Apply W. Harrison, Esk House.’
Previous post in this series:
- Hansen, Viveka, The Textile History of Whitby 1700-1914 – A lively coastal town between the North Sea and North York Moors’, London & Whitby 2015. For full list of Notes & Bibliography, pp 404-423. (Additionally: Research material from the period 2006-2014, including surplus photographs and various facts not possible to fit into the book)
- Whitby Gazette, 1880-1892 (Whitby Museum, Library & Archive).
(The monograph The Textile History of Whitby 1700-1914 is available here: The IK Foundation)
PLEASE REFERENCE AS FOLLOWS:
- Hansen, Viveka, ‘The Misses Stangoe – Milliners in Late Victorian Whitby’, TEXTILIS (May 18, 2016); http://textilis.net/ (Accessed: Day/Month/Year)