Joseph Hartill

Joseph Hartill was baptized on 11 Oct 1772 in St Thomas Dudley. His father John Hartill would appear to be a relatively wealthy and active citizen of the burgeoning industrial town of Dudley. It is reasonable to think that the John Hartill who leaves a will in 1812 is indeed his father. Here John Hartill appoints his son Joseph as executor and leaves money to his daughter Anne Cooke, wife of James Cooke. John Hartill’s profession is recorded as broker. Joseph Hartill’s mother was Margery Cartwright, possibly a relation of the Vicar of Dudley Joseph Cartwright (1743-1812).

Joseph Hartill was clearly brought up in Dudley and married Ann Pitt in St John’s Halesowen on 18 Aug 1800. Again we can surmise that the Pitt family from which Ann came is the same Pitt family mentioned in John Hartill’s will of 1812. He leaves a £100 legacy to his sister-in-law Elizabeth Pitt, who could be the aunt or even sister of his son’s bride. Elizabeth Pitt is the sister of John Hartill’s second wife, Charlotte. His  tomb in St Thomas’s would indicate that his wife who predeceased him in 1809 had borne him a daughter also Charlotte in 1805. The couple had married in St Martin’s Birmingham in 1802 and she must have been at least twenty years younger than him. The name Pitt is secured in the family history by its use as a middle name for Joseph’s granddaughter Hannah Pitt Showell in 1855.

In Pigots 1835 commercial directory of Worcestershire there is a Joseph Hartill of King Street, Dudley listed as a pawnbroker. By coincidence of trade, this must be the son of John Hartill, Broker, who dies in 1812. However the directory also lists the firm of John and Joseph Hartill also of King Street, manufacturers of steel, brass and cast iron and fire brasses.

St Thomas Dudley baptisms show that Joseph and Ann had three sons John (b 1801), Joseph (b 1805) and James (b 1808). It would seem that the iron and fender business was either set up or run by the sons.

Joseph’s middle son Joseph married Sarah Cheshire on 1 Nov 1831 and he moved to Oldbury and seems to have taken charge of the Cheshire family milling business as indicated in the 1841 census.

The 1841 census would indicate also that Joseph, senior died between 1835 and 1841. His widow, Ann Hartill, is recorded as living with her son James, fender maker in New Mill Street, Dudley

The 1835 directory had also listed an address in 148 Old Street, London as an address for the firm of John and Joseph Hartill. It would appear that after Joseph’s death the firm was largely run by John Hartill, based in London, and the third brother James. Documents would suggest that the business dabbled and dealt in a number of related trades, including cabinet making, perhaps befitting the broader epithet of ‘broker’.

A couple of legal cases from the old Bailey in 1835 and 1837 shed further light on the activities of this firm. A Martin Hartill, described as a hawker. was indicted and convicted for stealing the king’s copper and brass, whilst in the employ of John Hartill, fender maker of Old Street. We learn from the case that Martin is not a brother of John – so was more likely a cousin perhaps the son of John Hartill’s (snr) brother William. A number of other documents indicate that John Hartill had access to considerable sums of money and unlike his cousin kept clear of the law. In the 1861 census the two brothers, John and James have retired to Biggleswade.

If Joseph had helped set up this fender making business for his sons it was not entirely successful, but he must have had money to finance the premises in London and get the business going. His middle son Joseph died before he was 50 and his widow Sarah Hartill is listed as ‘Miller’ in her own right in the 1861 and 1871 censuses.

The will of Joseph Hartill from about 1839 has not been located.

Family legend and some other Victorian documents suggest that this Hartill family were related to the Hartills of nearby Willenhall. Joseph’s uncle, a threadmaker also called Joseph Hartill, would appear to have left a will in 1789 indicating considerable wealth – enough to suppose that he is the Joseph Hartill, who is listed as Mayor of Dudley in 1788. Much of the strength of the arguments above rests on the fact that this family is the only prominent Hartill family in Dudley in the middle of the eighteenth century. The names and surviving records by and large do all hold together.


  • Pigot and Co.’s National Commercial Directory: Worcestershire 1835 p637
  • Old Bailey reports 1835 and 1837