2. W. & S.
the early nineteenth century, William and Samuel Butcher formed
one of the most successful partnerships in Sheffield.
Their business interests spanned steel, file, edge-tool, knife,
and razor manufacture.
men were born in Sheffield: William in about 1791 and Samuel in
about 1796. They were the sons of James Butcher, a cutler
in Charles Street, who had died in 1801, when his sons were
still children. Little is known of the brothers’ early
lives, though Samuel was apprenticed for seven years to Richard
Nayler, a razor maker.
An establishment date of 1725 was claimed in
later advertisements, but the partnership of William and Samuel
did not begin until the next century. The elder brother,
William, apparently took the lead. In 1819, he launched an edge
tool manufactory on a small plot of land in Eyre Street.
By 1822, as the small works expanded, he began melting crucible
business records have survived for Butcher and the early history
is sketchy. According to one account, a friend gave
William £100 credit in cast steel to launch the business, with
another backer offering the same (Sheffield Independent, 1
February 1873). In the local directory of 1822,
William was listed as a manufacturer of a wide variety of edge
tools and as a steel converter and refiner. Export markets
were already dominating the firm’s business, with shipments of
plantation tools to the West Indies and Brazil. Plane
irons and chisels were other specialties, which have survived in
some number in the hands of collectors and museums. They
are often marked ‘W. BUTCHER. WARRANTED CAST STEEL’.
Another firm appeared in the directory of 1822 –
Wade & Butcher – which traded from Arundel Street (on the other
side of the Eyre Lane block). One of the principals was
Robert Wade, who had been listed as a razor manufacturer in
Arundel Street since 1816. He was apparently the son of
Robert Wade, a maltster and corn factor, and Eleanor. He
became a captain of the local Volunteers, then a razor maker.
When he started with Butcher, they had only two hearths for
making razors (Sheffield Independent, 25 January 1873).
After 1825, Wade & Butcher disappeared from
Sheffield directories – apparently because Robert Wade had died.
An individual of that name, aged 54, was buried in St Paul’s
churchyard on 8 December 1825, though no details appear to have
been reported in the local press. The partnership with
Butcher ended. In 1828, only Mrs. Robert Wade was listed
as a razor manufacturer in Arundel Street (in one directory, the
listed name was Jane Wade). Finally, the local press
reported that Mrs. Robert Wade, the relict of Mr. Wade of
Arundel Street, had died near Sheffield on 14 July 1829
(Sheffield Independent, 18 July 1829).
1826, William and Samuel launched a new partnership. This
was Butcher, Brown & Butcher (with John Brown as the extra man).
The firm produced the same range of tools and steel from Eyre
Lane and Charles Street. In 1830, that partnership was
dissolved and henceforth the firm became ‘William and Samuel
Butcher’ (or more simply, ‘W. & S. Butcher’).
Between the 1830s and 1850s, the business
expanded steadily, as the Butchers acquired steel-making
capacity, workshops, warehouses, and steam grinding wheels in
Furnival Street and Eyre Lane. In the 1840s, the brothers also
invested in tilting, rolling, and forging capacity at
Philadelphia Steel Works, Neepsend, which was close to the River