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John Nowill & Sons, Sheffield.

     This family's earliest record is in the books of the Cutlers' Company on 27 April 1700, when a corporate mark D* was granted to Thomas Nowill (c.1676-1704). After Thomas's death, this mark passed in 1708 to his younger brother, William Nowill (b.1686). From William's marriage to Ann Carr in 1711, two distinct Nowill companies emerged: Nowill & Kippax amd John Nowill & Sons.
One of William's sons was David Nowill (c.1733-1775), to whom the D* mark passed in 1764. David's son, Thomas Nowill (1758-1836), was particularly influential in the subsequent expansion of business.
In 1825, Thomas Nowill retired and left the business to his sons, William Nowill (c.1785-1855) and John Nowill (1788-1850), who immediately registered a silver mark at the Sheffield Assay Office.
On 28 December 1836 Thimas Nowill died aged 78.
     In 1839, his sons separated: William set up in Rockinham Street; John continued in Meadow Street, but soon relocated to Scotland Street.
In an inauspicious start, in the 1840s John Nowill and John Rodgers & Sons were successfully sued by Joseph Rodgers & Sons for selling knives that mimicked the famous Rodgers' name. John Nowill's had more success with a trademark that was acquired legitimately in 1842 - crossed keys (pic.) and word "Krosskeys". The firm won a Prize Medal at the Great Exhibition in 1851 for an "assortment of knives for the Levant trade", and a selection of cutlery comprising ladies' and gentlemen's pocket knives, Indian hunting knives, cases of carved-pearl plated dessert knives abd forks, German smoking knives, and pencil knives. Nowill's also exhibited at the Paris Exhibition of 1855.
In the 1840s, the business was styled first "& Son" and then "& Sons". John Nowill retired from the business in 1847 - three years before his death on 24 October 1850. In 1811, he had married Elizabeth Spencer (1789-1844), which linked Nowills with the Pea Croft steel amd cutlery firm of Matthias Spencer. They had eight sons, five of whom were to play a role in the business: John (1818-1900), Henry (1819-1905), Thomas Matthias (1820-1892), Edward (1822-1871), and Arthur (1825-1896). After Edward's death in 1871, his four brothers continued to operate as a family team into the late 19th century.
     In 1928, John Nowill & Sons became a limited company.
     However, during the WWII, the Scotland Street factory was badly damaged in air raids.
The firm was sold to F.E. & J.R. Hopkinson Ltd and the company relocated to the London Road (Trimils Works). In the early 1950s, John Hopkinson (whose death was reported in February 1955, aged 63) controlled the company, besides owning the Hopkinson interests and Frank Mills. Trade knives and Bowies continued to be made at Nowill's into the 1960s, but slowly the firm wound down. Eventually, the Nowill and Hopkinson names were acquired by Jack Adams Ltd.

     According to the Tweedale's Directory of Sheffield Cutlery Manufacturers by Geoffrey Tweedale.


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