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Old Today, 01:08 PM   #271
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Tyneside. North-East England
Posts: 118
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Hello Jim. That is precisely what I was looking for; I was wondering where I might find some early German sword history; thank-you.
So we can ignore the Archduke and the Passau guilds… good! Talismanic and mystical origins are so much more desirable.

To SB:
Between Oley and Mohll, the blade business at SB prospered (especially, it would seem, once greedy outside merchants were taken out of the picture) at least until the early 1800s, despite common apocrypha declaring otherwise. Oley had taken over Mohll's business:
"Newcastle Courant (16th May, 1724) - "To be sold, a sword grinding mill with about eight acres of ground, a very good head of water situated on the Derwentwater in the County of Durham. Also a very good house etc., all now within possession of William Mohll at Shotley Bridge..."

The Oleys were doing very well, so much so that a leading, local engraving company, 'Beilby', sent Thomas Bewick (now a local engraving hero) to work directly under the Oleys. This from Richardson:
Thomas Bewick in his memoirs tells us that in 1767, one of the first jobs he was put-to was "etching sword blades for William and Nicholas Oley, sword manufacturers of Shatley Bridge" (sic).

Also this: a unique glass tumbler, now in the boardroom of Wilkinson Sword Ltd. London, was made by the Beilbys and it can be seen by the inscriptions on the glass that it was presented to William and Ann Oley in the year 1767. On one side of the glass is "Success to the Swordmakers" and on the other side there are the initials of William and Ann Oley with the date 1767 - in the same fashion as upon the wall of Cutler's Hall, built in the same year: 100 years after the arrival in SB.

Moving forward we have this – again from Richardson:
William died on 13th August 1810, three days after making his will. He left his sole possessions to his wife and in the event of her death he detailed all that would be left to his three sons - William, Nicholas and Christopher and to his daughter Mary Brown. Her share - in the case of her death - was to pass to her son, William Oley Brown. In the terms of the day and especially within the confines of a village, William Oley left a fortune. Besides houses - which were copyhold premises with workshops (three) together with land bounding up to the mill races, and a butcher's shop as well as other houses (tenanted) bordering on the Plantation he left amounts of money to each. I found the item, 'all my tools except the old bellows, which is to be shared equally' interesting and I also found most interesting, 'as well as the two old shops now in ruin' (Were these the derelict first sword mills?). Mention too is made of a 'Grinding mill and warehouse against the bridge with the ground above'.

Richardson doubts, however, whether the Oleys ever owned the pub, Crown and Crossed Swords, despite its name being changed to celebrate the family's alleged victory in the competition; why he should doubt this I do not know but hopefully I will find out when I gain access to the SB village archives this week. Its name-change does give weight to the story of the competition though.

Christopher Oley built, in 1814, a small chapel in his garden; subsequently enlarged in 1855 – probably by Joseph Oley – to "The Chapel on the Hill".

So, despite numerous chroniclers insisting that everything was in unstoppable decline throughout the first quarter of the 1700s, it would appear that certainly did not apply to the Oleys. However, prosperity was slow in coming, and many Oleys moved out of the area to find alternative employment; in particular one of the Richards (of which there were a few) who moved to Birmingham to begin work in 1724; taking, as I've already mentioned, much knowledge and expertise and, although Ibrahiim and I disagree upon this, the image of the family fox, rapidly purloined by the Harveys it seems. I need to find with whom Richard Oley was working.

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Old Today, 01:13 PM   #272
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Old Today, 01:48 PM   #273
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That is a great bit of research Keith... especially on the glass vessel. I think you are close to cracking the enigma on the ceiling artwork in the Cutlers Hall.. I reckon it was borrowed/ taken by Samuel Harvey shortly after it was placed on the ceiling thus events rolled up fast and furious...and the Shotley sword smiths never got a chance to utilize that mark... The chapel on the hill at the top of Kiln Street I think...that was closed.. The Hotel was two drinking houses and the two were amalgamated... One was The Commercial and the other The Crown and Crossed Swords. I believe that was a coaching House and it was called the Sword Inn ...changed as we were saying when the crown was won for top sword.
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Old Today, 02:41 PM   #274
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Bezdek doesn't list Richard Oley as working in Birmingham, I got that info from a source that needs to be verified (this week at SB again) unless anyone can help.

I need to find details of this competition: surely some record must have been kept somewhere. Who sponsored it? Was it the Tower? Was it the London Cutlers? Hmmm! Board of Ordnance is obviously favourite.

Nicholas Oley and all the Oleys interviewed in the 18/1900s insisted the story of the blade in the hat was true (well they would, wouldn't they?). My question is: what sort of a hat was it that could retain that degree of spring tension; unless the coil was fastened then placed in the hat... more likely. It was said a vice was needed to uncoil it and someone nearly lost their fingers trying.

Re. the chest of swords discovered in the 1850s: the museum denies all knowledge of them, so I am waiting on the return of the family at this week's end; maybe they are still hidden in the Priest Hole.

It's all slow but definitely real progress I feel.
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