John MACKRETH Papermaker

by Annette Edwards.

John Mackreth was born 1816 in Kendal, he was the son of John Mackreth and Mary Gardner. His father was a paper mill worker.  On 29 July 1850 John married Catherine Lynch in Hexham, Northumberland, his wife was from Ireland. 

By 1851 they were in Humshaugh, just a few miles from Hexham, where James was a paper mill engine man.

They had 4 children by 1861 when they were in Chollerton, still very close by, but by 1871 the family had moved to Wales and were at Afonwen in the parish of Yscefiog.

John and his sons James aged 19 and John 15 were all paper makers, Mary aged 17 was also employed there. Catherine aged 12 was at school.

Only John and his daughter Mary were at Afonwen in 1881. His wife CatherineMackreth was in Little Vownog, Bersham with her son James and his family.  JOHN MACKRETH then moved to Wrexham and died of heart disease on 10 June 1889 at 10 Belle Vue Road. On 21 February 1910 his wife CATHERINE MACKRETH died at Belle View Road aged 79.

The eldest son James had married Catherine Creegan in 1873. Catherine had been born in York and was the daughter of Hugh Creegan and Frances Wilson, her father was an ordnance survey land surveyor and had moved to Wrexham by 1871. Hugh had been born in Ireland, Frances was from York.

In 1881 James was employed as a paper maker at the mill in Bersham.   He was living at Little Vownog. He was still there in 1891 and now had children James 16, John 15, Henry 14, Robert 13, Francis 11, Austin, and Winifred Mary aged 7.

 This was most probably the Turkey Mill.  By 1881 there were 74 employees under the manager James Matthews.  Charles died in 1894 and the business was continued by his sister, Emily, helped by managing director Robert Dover.

The mill burnt down in 1897 causing a huge loss of stock and great hardship to those employed there.

In February 1898 James was back in Afonwen, and this article shows that he was well thought of.

FUNERAL OF MRS MAIN, AFONWEN .On Tuesday last, the mortal remains of Mrs Main, the wife of Mr Main, the manager at the paper works, were interred in the parish churchyard. The funeral, which was private, left Afonwen about 2.30 p.m.  The following employees at the paper mill were the bearers Messrs Q Weeden, W Openshaw, E Elstone, A Parlett, A Dalton, J Mackreth, W Godwin and J Mason.

Their daughter   KATE (CATHERINE ELLEN) MACKRETH died 23 January 1889 at Afonwen, she was only aged 3.  She was brought back to Wrexham to be buried.

On 17 May 1895 James`s father in law HUGH CREEGAN died at Broughton Buildings in Wrexham and was buried in the same grave as John Mackreth.

In 1901 James and his family were still in Afonwen , their daughter Winifred Mary was at a convent school in Whitford.

His mother in law FRANCES (FANNY) CREEGAN was with them and died there on 13 February 1910. Just a few days later on 21 February 1910 James`s mother Catherine Mackreth died at Belle View Road. 

James and Catherine remained in Afonwen and in 1911 only son James 36 and still single, and Florence 13 were still at home. Both father and son were still in the paper mill. 

James eventually returned to Wrexham and lived at 33 Alexandra Road, his wife   CATHERINE MACKRETH died there on 14 December 1931, JAMES MACKRETH died at the same address on 14 April 1939, he was 89.  His son JAMES MACKRETH also died there aged 65 on 14 January 1940.

James`s daughter Winifred Mary had married Algernon William Smith in 1905 at Holywell.

In 1911 they were living in 41 Regent Street, Wrexham, Algernon was 31 and a photographer.

The Denbighshire Appeals were published on 13 October 1916, and Algernon was listed.

Algernon Smith (37), photographer, 41 Regent Street, (passed for sedimentary work), December 30, and to continue as special constable or join the V.T.C.

WINIFRED MARY SMITH died at Plas Derwen, Wrexham on 3 January 1961, she was buried with both sets of her grandparents. Creegans and Mackreth`s . AlgernonW Smith died on 19 May 1968 at 37 Park Avenue, Wrexham. He had become one of Wrexham`s most well-known photographer and died a wealthy man.   His grave has not been found.

John, the youngest son of John and Catherine married Annie Hampton in 1882, the marriage was at Maidstone. The family were in Kent in 1911, John was a paper mill worker as was his daughter Winifred Mary.  John died in 1932 in Dartford. Annie died in 1937 also in Dartford.

In 1939 WINIFRED MARY MACKRETH was still single, and she was still working in a paper mill in Dartford. She died 12 September 1944 aged 59 also in 33 Alexandra Road.

The three generations buried here had a long history in the papermaking industry.

Researched by Annette Edwards. July 2019.

Grave ref: Wrexham Cemetery B-00516

IN LOVING MEMORY OF KATE, DAUGHTER OF J & C MACKRETH, WHO DIED JANY 23, 1889. AGED 3 YEARS. ALSO JOHN MACKRETH, DIED JUNE 10, 1889. AGED 72 YEARS. HUGH CREEGAN, DIED MAY 17, 1895. AGED 21 YEARS. FANNY CREEGAN, DIED FEB 13, 1910. AGED 82 YEARS. C. MACKRETH, DIED FEB 16, 1910. AGED 82 YEARS. CATHERINE MACKRETH, DIED DEC 14, 1931. AGED 80 YEARS. JAMES MACKRETH, HUSBAND OF ABOVE, DIED APRIL 14, 1939. AGED 87 YEARS. JAMES MACKRETH, SON OF ABOVE, DIED JAN 14, 1940. AGED 65 YEARS. WINIFRED M. MACKRETH, DIED SEP 12, 1944. AGED 59 YEARS. WINIFRED MARY SMITH, BELOVED WIFE OF ALGERNON SMITH, DIED DEC 30, 1961. AGED 72 YEARS.

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