I’ve been reading the series of booklets written by David Lowe and Jack Richards about lace in Nottingham and was surprised to discover that John Leavers (or Levers – the spelling seems to have changed over the years) actually moved to France and built many of his lace machines there. John Leavers was born in 1786 in Sutton-in-Ashfield and trained as a ’setter up’ of lace machines in Radford. He spent two years developing his own lace machine in Nottingham and produced a prototype in 1813. The history by Lowe and Richards says that he became disillusioned by the Nottingham lace trade and in 1821 he moved to France with his two brothers. They settled near Rouen, in Grande Courenne, and started building lace machines there, which became the basis of the lace industry in Calais. John’s first wife died childless in 1824 and he then married Francoise Massiotty from Brussels. His two sons from his second marriage both worked in the lace industry; William, the eldest seems to have stayed in France, but Edward returned to Nottingham to build lace machines. John died in France in 1848, and a street in Grande Courenne is named after him, but William and his mother seem to have continued with the family lace business. If you want to read more of the story I recommend ‘The lace heritage’ by Lowe and Richards. The image above also comes from the book and shows Leavers and Raschel laces.