History of HAWKES & Co. and successor companies 1766 -1843
Dudley Flint Glassworks Ė Hawkes, 1766 - 1843
It has been speculated that Abiabhar Hawkes learned his trade from John Keelinge at Holly Hall Glassworks. Abiathar Hawkes established the Dudley Flint Glassworks in 1766 on King Street, Dudley. A larger glassworks with a 10-pot furnace was built at some point between 1781 to 1785 by Joseph Richardson. The glasshouse was built on Horse Pool Green on the corner of Stone Street and Priory Street, Dudley.
Hawkes Glass was known for high quality enameled ornamental ware and colored glass of the highest quality. In 1794, records indicate that Abiabharís oldest sons, Thomas and George Wright Hawkes now managed the firm. A price list of the day had 207 different products listed. In 1796, Hawkes & Co. were operating two glasshouses with 20 pots.
In 1800, Abiabhar Hawkes died and his sons took total control of the company. They soon set about modernizing the glassworks and in 1801, Joseph Richardson was contracted to build a new 11-pot furnace on Stone Street, Dudley.
In 1801, Abiabhar Hawkesí daughter married John Michael Molyneaux, a merchant who marketed goods in Russian and other countries. At this point in time, Hawkes Brothers started shipping large quantities of glass to Russia. They continued to expand their export business and shipped glass to the U.S. in addition to Russia. In 1815, their Philadelphia agent was Slater & Co. The business continued to trade as Thomas Hawkes & Co. In 1821, Roger Wright Hawkes the next oldest brother, joined the firm. In the same year of 1821, George Wright Hawkes died at 41 years of age. The following year in 1822, the partnership dissolved. A new firm of Thomas & R. W. Hawkes was formed. That same year the firm advertised cut glass and lustres. This is the earliest reference to lustres and since they were specifically mentioned, it must have meant they were among the firmís specialties.
The excise duties on glass had created a situation in which the glass manufactures were making little profits. In 1827, Thomas Hawkes was so frustrated with the excise duty that he quit the firm. He handed the business over to his two younger brothers. Roger Wright Hawkes was joined by his younger brother Abiaghar Hawkes II. After only a year they came to the same conclusion that their older brother Thomas did in 1827. So in 1828, the firm of Roger Wright and Abibthar Hawkes was dissolved.
In 1829, the firm of Thomas Hawkes was back in business. During the 1830ís, William Herbert and the rest of his family became noted for their wheel-engraving, often on ruby-stained crystalĖand what today we would call plated glass, cut to clear.
It should be noted that In 1810, William Haden Richardson (a glassmaker of some fame) joined the Hawkes firm at the age of 25 becoming the firmís traveler. Richardsonís own notebook indicates that he began glassmaking in Bilston in 1802. Richardson then moved on to Graftronís Brierly Glassworks, then on to Hawkes. He worked for Hawkes from 1810 to 1828. His younger brother Benjamin, joined the firm later and worked his way up to the Managerís position within the firm.
In 1833, Hawkes paid £5,593 excise duty for the year ending in January 1833. This sum indicates that the firm of Thomas Hawkes was the second largest of 16 firms in Stourbridge/Dudley.
Although Thomas Hawkes was reeling for high excise taxes, the firm continued to operate, and in 1836 they received praised for their gold-enamel wares, acid-etched. About this time Hawkes brought two new employees into the firm. They were William Greathead and his father Francis Greathead. In 1837, Thomas Hawkes brought his brother-in-law Richard Green into the firm. In 1838, a square glasshouse having 11 pots was added next to the large cone on Stone Street. The old cone on Priory Street was down and nearly forgotten. The firm now traded as Thomas Hawkes & Co.In 1841, William Greathead was a partner in the firm. Their trade name was Hawkes & Greathead. By the end of 1843, the firm of Hawkes & Greathead was closed. Thomas Hawkes died in 1858. By 1886, the glassworks was demolished with only a few vestiges showing in a few places.