Willis Family -Thoralby Blacksmiths - Over 100 Years Smithy
The earliest evidence we have for a Blacksmiths in Thoralby is the will of John Matchell d. 1705, Thoralby, Blacksmith. He leaves “east Hallgarth … my House … shope or smiddy” firstly to his wife Maudlin and then to my son Robert.
The next evidence is in the Trade Directory of 1823 Baines, when Willis John, blacksmith is listed. The Willis family appear to have been Blacksmiths in Thoralby for over 100 years and they and other smiths appear in the 1840 Tithe Award for Thoralby and subsequent Trade Directories and Census Returns.
John Willis (1795-1875) at the time of the Tithe of 1840 and Census of 1841, John and his wife Eleanor and sons, Matthew 11, John 9 and James 6, were living at Grafton No.93 on the tithe (see below).
This photograph of the grocer’s shop predates the building of the Reading Room in 1887. To the right of the shop, where the Reading Room now stands, were stables belonging to John Sadler, a solicitor and landowner living at High Green House. Behind the stables was the smithy of John Willis. He and his wife Eleanor (see Tithe Award and 1841 census return). Below a 'close-up' of the smithy and horse being shoed.