A Family Affair

THE ORIGINS OF THE STOUR VALLEY GLASS INDUSTRY

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The story of the glass industry in the west midlands area begins in the sixteenth century, with the arrival of families fleeing persecution in France. Their arrival coincided with changes in legislation which made the Stour Valley an ideal location.

In 1568 Thomas and Balthazar Hennezel came to England from their native Lorraine in France to make glass. One of the reasons they came was that, as Protestants, they were a minority in an overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country. They brought with them their relatives the de Tysacs, de Thietrys and the Bigots. We know the families by an Anglicisation of these names: Henzey, Tyzack, Tittery and Bigoe.

They used wood to fire their furnaces and started work in a woodland area, the Weald of Kent, but were intimidated by local workers and moved away. They were in Staffordshire by 1600 and worked on Cannock Chase, where an early furnace has been excavated at Wolseley near Rugeley. By 1612, they had reached the Stour Valley area, as the baptism of John, son of Paul and Bridget Tyzak, in Kingswinford church shows.

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