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Bancroft family business papers

1815-1902
 Collection
Accession: 1745

Abstract

The Bancroft family owned and operated the Joseph Bancroft & Sons Company, a cotton cloth manufacturer in Rockford, Delaware, beginning in 1831. The records document the activities of two generations of the Bancroft family in England and America and consist primarily of account books from the various family businesses, including the Todmorden and Brandywine woolen mills and the Rockford cotton mill.

Dates

  • 1815-1902

Creator

Extent

6 Linear Feet

Biographical Note

The Bancroft family owned and operated the Joseph Bancroft & Sons Company, a cotton cloth manufacturer in Rockford, Delaware, beginning in 1831. John Bancroft (1750-1833) was a chair manufacturer and timber merchant in Manchester, England. His son, John Bancroft (1774-1852), was born in Manchester in 1774 and was apprenticed in his father's business. In 1822, the family emigrated to the United States. John, the younger, established a woolen mill near Brandywine Bridge in Wilmington, Delaware, with his sons, John Bancroft (1802-1882) and Samuel Bancroft (1804-1891). The third son, Joseph Bancroft (1803-1874), remained in England to complete his apprenticeship at his uncle John Bright's cotton mill in Rochdale but joined the family in Wilmington in 1824.

In 1827, the family moved its operations to Upper Providence Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, and in 1831 they moved again to a site on Ridley Creek in Nether Providence Township. Here they built the Todmorden woolen mills and installed 2,400 spindles and thirty looms for blanket making. The family operated Todmorden Mills under the style of John Bancroft & Son until 1842 when they were sold on account of business depression. They were repurchased by Samuel Bancroft in 1854.

In 1828, Joseph Bancroft returned to Wilmington and, in 1831, established his own mill on the Brandywine at Rockford. This operation became Joseph Bancroft & Sons Company.

Scope and Contents

The records document the activities of two generations of the Bancroft family in England and America and consist primarily of account books from the various family businesses, including the Todmorden and Brandywine woolen mills and the Rockford cotton mill.

The Account books series includes information on customers, raw materials, and suppliers. Wage books include production records and tabulations of wages for weavers, time hands, spinners, shawl twisters, and wool sorters. There is some information on store accounts.

Volume 1 covers the Brandywine flannel mill of John Bancroft (1774-1852). John Bancroft used volumes 2, 3, and 4 to record his business as a lumber merchant, furniture maker, and woodworker in Manchester, England. He then brought them to America and used them to record his woolen mill business in Upper Providence Township, filling another twenty-seven volumes in this endeavor. Volumes 32 and 33 deal with Joseph Bancroft's Rockford cotton mills near Wilmington, and Volume 34 is a rent book (1895-1900) for workers' houses in Wilmington owned by Joseph Bancroft & Sons Company.

The Removals from the account books series consists of 380 items that were found laid-in to the ledgers. Among the loose papers removed from the volumes are wage records from the Todmorden Mills, label cards for Todmorden shawls, and a rent roll (1902) for Joseph Bancroft & Sons Company housing at Rockford at the Kentmere tenements.

The Joseph Bancroft's religious correspondence series consists of 230 personal letters dated between 1860 and 1868 of Joseph Bancroft, primarily developing his religious thought and his life in the Society of Friends. There are twenty-six correspondents; however, a majority (131 items) were received from Bancroft's brother-in-law, Abraham Lawton (1800-1882) of Athens, New York. Other exchanges are with relatives who remained in England, including William Darbyshire Jr., John Bright (1811-1889), and Thomas Bright (1814-1890). The letters discuss cotton manufacturing, shipping matters, the American Civil War, the assassination of Lincoln, and the Quaker's concern for abolition and peace, as well as family affairs. There are copies of religious tracts by Lawton and one by Joseph Bancroft seeking to promote unity between the Orthodox and Hicksite Friends. Thirty-two items are copies by Joseph Bancroft of his letters and minutes addressed to Friends within the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting concerning reconciliation. Among these are five minutes of Friends of Truth and five letters of advice on Quaker practice for Friends in business difficulties. The items were removed from eighty pockets within ledger 32 and have been kept in the order removed. A few pockets were empty, and a few items were found in-between pockets. The locations the materials were removed from are noted in the finding aid.

Access Restrictions

No restrictions on access; this collection is open for research.

These records are located in remote storage. Please contact staff 48 hours in advance of research visit at askhagley@hagley.org

Related Materials

Joseph Bancroft & Sons Company records (Accession 0736), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Bancroft Family papers (Accession 1115), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Joseph Bancroft & Sons Company memoranda books (Accession 1400), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Joseph Bancroft & Sons Company licensing records (Accession 1359-II), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Bancroft Family miscellany (Accession 1672), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Joseph Bancroft letterbook (Accession 1708), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Bancroft family account books (Accession 1736), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Bancroft Mills miscellany (Accession 2448), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Bancroft, Eddystone, Simpson miscellany (Accession 0940), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Language of Materials

English


Additional Information

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
Bancroft family business papers
Status:
Author:
Elizabeth C. Cook
Date:
1982
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Revision Statements

  • 2021: Ashley Williams and Laurie Sather

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Contact:
PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA
302-658-2400