46 Washington St., Ipswich MA

46 Washington Street, the James S. Marble- James Peatfield house (1860)

This two-family house was built by James S. Marble. The deed was transferred to Sanford Peatfield in 1859. A map of 1872 identifies James Peatfield as the owner. Peatfield was born in England in 1803 and came to America in 1827. He worked in Ipswich as a machinist in the lace factory of the Heard Brothers and built one of the first lace machines in this country. He was also responsible for inventing a warp machine, after which he began manufacturing woolen underwear. He is considered one of the first in the country to do this. Together with his brother, Sanford, Peatfield built a brick mill on Washington Street and continued making woolen underwear until he retired in 1877.

In 1884 this house was owned by Charles S. Wlllcomb, a gateman for the railroad at the Linebrook Road crossing. By 1910 Baker had sold to T.K. Lord, and by 1916 the house was occupied by Abner H. & Elizabeth L. Gray and Noel and Serephine Boucher.

The following is from “The History of Essex County

The Hayes Hotel at he corner of Depot Square and Hammatt Street.
The Peatfield’s factory at the corner of Depot Square and Hammatt Street later became the Hayes Hotel.

In a building erected by the Heards at the “Lower Mills,” James Peatfield and his brother Sanford were engaged in knitting shirts and drawers upon a rotary warp frame, invented by James as early as the year 1834, working at the woolen mill on the northwest side of the County Street bridge.

Encouraged by their success, the Peatfield brothers bought the land in 1840, and proceeded to build the brick factory, known later as the “Hayes Tavern.” It was equipped with machinery invented by James, and began at once a prosperous business in the production of underwear. Mr. Geo. W. Heard was the warm friend of the enterprise and advanced money for the new manufacturer. But the business had been established only a few years, when Mr. Heard was obliged to go into bankruptcy and the Peatfields were hopelessly involved.

The Peatfield brothers lost their building and business for a time, but recovered in a few years. Sanford Peatfield sold his share of building and land, but James Peatfield began the manufacture of the nets then in vogue for women’s wear, and continued it profitably for years.

James Peatfield

James Peatfield was born in 1804 at Arnold a small town three miles from Nottingham England. He was bound as an apprentice to John Atherly of Arnold with whom he remained until his coming of age and learned the building of lace and woolen machinery. In July 1827 he came to the United States landing New York City. That same month he journeyed Ipswich where he took up his residence. He at once entered the employ of the Heards as a machinist, but found the machinery then in use old and imperfect All the machines had brought from England and had been in use for a time. Mr Peatfield immediately went to work to repair these machines and to make improvements finally built a new machine which was one of the first lace machines made in this country.

The old Hayes Hotel on Depot Square near the intersection with Washington Street was built by the Peatfield Brothers in the 19th Century as a factory. The building burned in the 20th Century with a loss of life.

Mr. Peatfield then turned his attention to other fields of manufactures and in 1839 he invented and built a warp machine and began the manufacture of woolen underclothing. To James Peatfield belongs the honor of being the first person to manufacture woolen underclothing in the United States. The goods were manufactured in the lace factory of the Heards the lace machinery was removed and warp machines put in their place. The Ipswich River afforded ample water power to run the machinery and the business was very successful.

In 1842 in company with his brother Sandford, he built a brick mill on Washington Street at Depot Square near the Boston and Maine Railroad Station and continued the manufacture of woolen goods hosiery and underclothing until 1877 when he retired. In 1846 he bought some seven acres more or less bounded by the Topsfield road and the Ipswich River and planted a nursery in a part of this purchase. After leaving the building of machinery and the manufacture of woolens he devoted himself to the care of his nursery and the developing of his lands.

Excerpt from Ipswich Chronicle article, 1991

Read more about the Ipswich hosiery business:

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