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Paulerspury was one of the more important local centres of pillow lacemaking. There was a lace-buyer named Thomas Ratcliffe in the parish in the late 17th century (fn. 580) and for much of the 19th century the trade was dominated by a dealer named Elizabeth Rose and her son Edward. (fn. 581) There were also at least two other lace-dealers in the village in the same period, Mary Smith and William Cross. (fn. 582) After his death in the 1870s Edward Rose's widow had no interest in continuing the business and lacemaking declined, for lack of a regular market. About the same time Isabella Harrison, the wife of the rector of Paulerspury, J. B. Harrison, (fn. 583) and daughter of Barwick John Sams, the rector of Grafton Regis, was struck by the contrast between the small close parish in which she had grown up and the poverty she found in a much bigger open parish with no resident squire. It occurred to her that a revival of lacemaking might help to alleviate the problem and she bought from Mrs. Rose her late husband's collection of 'parchments', the patterns from which the lace was made. Other designs were newly commissioned or collected on the Harrisons' continental holidays. The craft was revived with capital provided by Harrison, which made it possble for the workers to be paid for the lace as it was finished, rather than at longer intervals. Mrs. Harrison sold the lace at cost price and paid for its despatch to customers, making the whole exercise essentially an act of charity, rather than a business. She estimated that for many years about £600 or £700 passed annually through her hands into the parish.
Mrs. Harrison secured support from the wives of neighbouring gentry, clergy and farmers, (fn. 584) and organised a successful exhibition at Northampton in 1891, which was opened by Princess Mary of Cambridge and visited by the future Queen Mary. Another was later held at the Victoria & Albert Museum. There were then said to be between 130 and 180 people making lace in Paulerspury, (fn. 585) including someone in almost every cottage, although it was also claimed that the number employed might triple if a real revival took place. (fn. 586) As a result of the 1891 exhibition a Midland Lace Association was founded in an attempt to re-establish the craft more widely in Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire. This was largely unsuccessful, because of competition from cheaper machine-made lace, but Mrs. Harrison, who left Paulerspury after her husband's death in 1910, could claim to have eased the problem of poverty in the parish. (fn. 587) In the 1920s lacemaking was said still to employ about 100 people in the village, but by 1931 had once again almost ceased. (fn. 588) There were still two lacemakers in Paulerspury in 1955, one of whom could remember a lace school in the village, (fn. 589) and one in 1970. (fn. 590)
 [S380] Parish Register micro fiche