Paper Mill



Yardley Mill powered by the river Tove, was at the northern extremity of Potterspury parish, almost into Grafton Regis. It was certainly in existence as early as 1252 when it would have been a corn mill. By 1736 it had become a paper mill and continued to be so until the mid 1880s (in the 1851 census there was a papermaker living there but by 1861 it was occupied by agricultural workers.) By 1875 there was only one cottage remaining, this was let to the Guardians of the Potterspury Union workhouse situated in Yardley Gobion, it was quite likely to have been used as an isolation ward as it was well away from any other habitation.

Information gained from ‘Potterspury’, A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 5: The Hundred of Cleley (2002) Click here to enter; the site and find out more, once on the site click on Yardley Mill.


Information received from Maurice Allen in 2013

I hope you can help us to put more flesh on what we already know about my wife’s RATCLIFF ancestors, who occupied the Yardley Gobion paper mill in the 18th century.

From a ‘pedigree’ written about 1833  [from the recollections of a son of the John Ratcliff next mentioned], it appears that about 1730, three brothers – James, William and John – inherited the mill on the death of their father, who is named as James with a wife Sarah.

By 1735 the brothers had parted, with James and William “each keeping a mill in Northampton”, while our John moved to take over the Cossington paper mill near Leicester.  However, “The History of the County of Northampton” Vol 5 [pp289-345 covering, Potterspury] quotes a John Ratcliff as dying in 1730, and as being succeeded by another John, who still occupied the mill in 1736, with occupancy passing to WilliamRatcliff only in 1750, and to yet another John, his son on his death in 1784.  The repeated use of the same forenames utterly confuses the issue and I have no faith in the accuracy of the pedigree as regards the dates, order of births or, indeed, the names themaelves.  But it is certain that our John took over the Cossington mill in 1739, as we have the Indenture for it.

What I am hoping is that you, or a member, will be able to sort out the facts of the occupants of the Yardley Gobion papermill.  That is :

-Who was the father of the three brothers, James or John?

-John was born c1710, when were William and James born; any other family?

-were there previous Ratcliff occupiers?

-What is known about the family around Yardley Gobion/Potterspury?

Hopefully you may already have undertaken a ‘papermill project’. Anything you can tell us will be most gratefully received and it, of course, follows that we would be happy to let you know what we about the tha desendants of ‘Cossington John Ratcliff’if that was of interest.