Well Kept

An Heirloom from Childhood in Nineteenth Century Morpeth

When 20-year-old Lincolnshire born woman Sarah Ingall (1829-1902) married at Morpeth in 1849, she probably accepted, as did most brides of her era, that motherhood would be her natural occupation. During her life Sarah gave birth to nine children, spending over twenty-five years pregnant, breast-feeding babies and raising children.

This fancy day cap, with its pale blue velvet trimming, was probably made for one of Sarah’s children in the 1850s or 60s. And it likely later warmed other little heads in the family too.

The cap’s elaborate style and valuable handmade guipure-lace-frill hints at the Sim family’s wealth. And indeed, 1860s newspaper advertisements reveal that, unlike working-class mothers, Sarah had the means to employ a cook and housemaid.

It was probably the thriving iron foundry business established by Sarah’s husband, Scottish-born Duncan Sim (1818-1892) that supported the family’s comfortable situation. Producing agricultural implements, machines, and hay transport wagons for the railway, Sim’s business in Swan Street, Morpeth became renowned across the district. And Sarah’s motherly work paid off too, with the Sim sons growing up to work alongside their father.

The Sims, who were highly respected in the Morpeth community, had eighteen grandchildren. One of them, Gladys Sim (born 1884), donated the precious cap to Morpeth Museum.