Present day Norton residents might be interested to discover that in the early 1700s Norton had a ‘shop’ or general store owned by an Appleby farmer, which stocked a great range of useful goods.

Norton shop

James How, who is appears from his probate inventory to have been a farmer with lands in Appleby’s open fields, had two shops, one in Appleby and one in Norton. After his death, on 17th July, 1721, John White and Joseph Drath, the Appleby appraisers, drew up an inventory of his goods for probate, including a valuation of the stock in both shops. The Appleby shop with its attached ‘working shop and chamber over’ was the larger, valued at £66 while the shop in Norton had stock worth only about £20.

Like the shop in Appleby, the Norton shop had a range of useful products such as flax and hemp, wood, pitch and oil, soaps and starches.

There was also a stock of tobacco packed in boxes, with an estimated value of 10s. This represents about ten pounds of ordinary tobacco at an estimated value of a shilling a pound – a modest amount compared to the Appleby shop which stocked twenty eight pounds of best tobacco and sixty three pounds of ordinary altogether worth £4.15.8

For the women of the parish, or perhaps to meet the needs of local clothiers, he stocked mohair, silks and thread, inkle, laces and buttons. (Inkle refers to the linen thread or yarn which was woven into belts and tapes on an Inkleloom). The Norton shop also stocked foodstuffs such as raisins and currants, malt (good and bad), and sugar.

Seeds and nails were probably kept in boxes and bins and weighed out by the pound – hence the inclusion in the inventory of seven brass weights and a set of scales. James’ business appears to have been quite profitable, despite his book debts ‘good and bad’ amounting to £19.0.2 – the amount extended on credit. A full transcript of James’ inventory can be found on the Appleby website.

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