Bednall's Leather Punch

The Bednall Archive

Last updated: 23/02/2010

Leather worker's hole puch by Bednall & Co., Sheffield. Now in the Bednall Collection, Macclesfield 2007.

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Leather worker's hole puch by Bednall & Co., Sheffield. Now in the Bednall Collection, Macclesfield 2007.


Leather worker's, no.8, spring loaded, hole punch manufactured and marketed by Bednall & Co., Sheffield. It's approximately 7" in length and carries the maker's name on the low jaw. The punch is made of steel and the lower jaw also carries a brass insert.

The  firm of "John Bednal & Co.", grindery merchants and manufacturers, was established in Sheffield, by John Bednal of Sheffield and James Wilton of Liverpool, sometime prior 1864 [1].  John Bednal was the son of Thomas Bednall, a Manchester shoemaker and his wife Hannah nee Morton. John, who was born  in June 1829, became a leather cutter and in due course moved to Leeds as a journeyman, sometime prior to 1851. About 4 years later, however, he is listed as "Bednall, John & Co. Eyre Lane, Sheffield -Sheffield spring knife cutler" and in 1862 as a "shoe awl manufacturer & grindery dealer". How and when he and James Wilton of Liverpool became partners is unknown but in August 1864, the partnership between them was dissolved by mutual consent. Subsequently Bednal carried continued in business on his own account, describing himself as a "manufacturer" in 1871[2].  His business premises were at 25 Change Alley, Sheffield in 1865 but by 1883 had moved to West Street Lane and was then describing himself as a "boot & shoe tool manufacturer"[3]. Whether or not he scaled down the business between these two dates is not known but in 1881 it appears to have been a small one for in the census return for that year  he was described as a "hardware manufacturer employing 1 man, 1 boy and 1 girl". [4] Sometime before 1901 John retired from business and the census that year finds him living on Kenwood Park Road in Eccleshall Bierlow with just one servant. He is described as a retired cordwainer although, in 1898, he was still listed as a director in Kelly's Directory of Directors. 

At some stage, presumably when John decided to retire from the business, the firm was combined with that of S. Thornhill & Co, trading under the name "Thornhill, Bednall & Co., general manufacturers and merchants carrying on business at 7 Sycamore Street, Sheffield [5].   This firm was still in business in December 1919 when the then partnership between Horace S. Wall and Howard J. Haslam was dissolved by mutual consent [6]. Under this agreement, Horace Sydney Wall was to carry on the business subsequently, trading under the same name on his own account.  A catalogue of the firm's products  gives this firm's address as "Crispin Works, Sheffield" and their products as "shoe tools"[7].

NB Confirmation of John Bednal's identity viz J. Bednal & Co. is provided by the list of subscribers to the book "Metrical Tales & Other Poems" by Mrs Leith Adams, 1st Series Edited by David Grant 1880, which states "Mr J. Bednal (J. Bednal & Co.) 44 Wostenholme Road, Sheffield".

Family Life

In 1860 John met and  married Annie Gillatt Hydes daughter of shopkeeper John Hyde of Harthill and the couple set up home at 64 Suffolk Road, Sheffield later moving to Wostenholme Road, Eccleshall Bierlow. [9] Annie died in 1897 and John ten years later. As no children are mentioned in any of the census returns in which he and Annie are recorded, they may have left no direct descendants. The census returns for John and his wife are, however, interesting  from another point of view because on two occasions relatives were staying with them when the census was taken. In 1901 one of these, a niece, was 38 year old, Harthill born, Josephine Annie Innocent, daughter of Joseph Innocent a Sheffield spring knife cutler who died in July 1862. It is thus possible that this family relationship played an important part in establishing John Bednal in business -certainly this connection is worth following up.

Family History 

John Bednal's father, Thomas, was a Staffordshire born man who had moved from Hanbury, Staffordshire to Manchester in the 1820s. His paternal family tree can be traced back to a William Badnall who settled in Hanbury sometime prior to 1660 and appears to be one of the children of Thomas Badnall and his wife Clare nee Broughton, of Standon, Staffordshire. William Badnall's paternal line can be traced back to a blacksmith, John Badnall, who first appears in Standon in the 1520s, The Badnall line before this is less well defined but appears to pass through a series of 15th century blacksmiths to a 13th century Lord of the Manor of Badnall in Eccleshall.  William Badnall's maternal line passes through via the Broughton family line to the Richard de Vernon son of Hugh de Vernon, Baron of Shipbrooke, in the 12th century.

[1] The London Gazette, Issue 22888, 26 August 1864. page 4178.
[2]Census of England & Wales 1851 PRO HO107/2319  fo. 247 pg.6 & Census of England & Wales 1871 PRO RG10/4674  fo.41, pg29  
[3]Post Office Directory of Sheffield & District 1865;  Birmingham, Black Country, Sheffield & Rotherham Commercial List, 1873 Seyd & Co., London;  Kelly's Directory of the Leather Trades 3rd Edition 1888, page 442; Kelly's Directory of Sheffield 1883.
[4]Census of England & Wales 1881 PRO RG11/4638 fo.  , pg.26. 
[5]Directory of Sheffield
[6] The London Gazette, Issue 31737, 16 January 1920. page  752.
[7] Leicestershire Record Office George Staynes and Sons Ltd, leather merchants, Leicester Price-list for Catalogues - ref. 16D69/230-294 . File: 16D69/251 Catalogue of Thornhill, Bednall & Co. [undated]
[9} White's Directory of Sheffield 1862 John Bednall & Co, 25 Change Alley, Sheffield, Shoe Awl Blade Manufacturer.

NB Bought in auction in 2006 and now forms part of the Bednall Collection.

AWBednall, Macclesfield 2004-2007