Trading Stories, Working Lives

Trading Stories, Working Lives: the trial of John Collis, engineer’s patternmaker

We follow the trial and punishment of John Collis – an engineer’s patternmaker in Georgian Leicester – in our latest Trading Stories, Working Lives article.

It’s Monday 20 October 1823. My ancestor John Collis – foreman patternmaker at Cort’s iron foundry – appears before Edward Goulburn, the Recorder at Leicester Borough Sessions. Despite being of otherwise good character, he stands accused of stealing tools from his long-time employers in readiness for joining another foundry. His future hangs in the balance.

A report of the case runs to a full column in the Leicester Chronicle. Tracking it down – thanks to the British Newspaper Archive online – was one of those joyful moments we family historians experience from time to time. Here we have an unexpected glimpse into an ancestor’s life that helps add context and colour to the family narrative.

Sadly, the trial doesn’t go in favour of John Collis and he’s sentenced to twelve months’ hard labour at Leicester Bridewell.

Download the full story here: the trial of John Collis, engineer’s patternmaker

You might also like to take a look at the other articles in our Trading Stories, Working Lives series:

George and Anne Waldram, yeoman farmers of Barrow upon Soar

James Powell, an angola spinner of Loughborough

Mary Jane and Clara Bramley, Victorian school mistresses and governesses

Len Collis, a professional musician

John George Collis, a publican in the news

John Collins, a Victorian woolcomber and taxidermist

Naomi Cave, a purse-maker, pub landlady and devoted mother

The Barker brothers in WWI

The Caves of Leicester – Tories or Whigs?

William and Samuel Whittle, yeoman farmers and rabbit warreners of Charnwood

Nathaniel Orringe, miller and baker of Shepshed

Tom Crew, football referee and broadcaster

Samuel Taylor, beadle of Loughborough

Thomas Norman, elastic web weaver

John W Barker & Son, painters and decorators

Mary Ann Norman, Victorian laundress of Paradise Place

John Collins, Victorian fishmonger and game dealer

John and George Firn, monumental masons

Polkey boatmen of Loughborough

The Harrisons: gardeners, nurserymen and seeds merchants

George Robinson, Victorian letter carrier

One reply on “Trading Stories, Working Lives: the trial of John Collis, engineer’s patternmaker”

[…] Following Elizabeth’s death, John Collis re-married – to Matilda Russell, nee Harrison (from which marriage we are descended) – and all was well until a crisis struck the family in 1823. John was accused of stealing patternmaking tools from Cort’s foundry, found guilty and imprisoned in Leicester Bridewell. You can read the full story here in my Trading Stories, Working Lives series: the trial of John Collis, engineer’s patternmaker. […]