William Walker + Thomas Topliss - paper manufacturers

William Walker was a wholesale & retail paper dealer living in Liverpool in 1824 (3 Forrest Street) but a paper manufacturer by 1837 (20 Upper Frederick St) - from 1820 he exported considerable paper to the Island where his agents were Anthony Lewthwaite (Fort Street Douglas) and Thomas Topliss of the New Paper Mill, Laxey. Cubbon quotes the Manks Advertiser (2 Nov 1820) which states that W. W. has rented the large spinning mill situate on Laxey River which he intends to convert to a paper mill - the paper mill was certainly working by July 1821 and paper was advertised as being available from Mr Topliss of the Laxey Mill.

Thomas Topliss was present in Braddan by 1815 as 2 of his children by Sarah Travis were baptised there - a third child was baptised in Lonan in 1821, Sarah is buried at Lonan in 1824 (according to MI born at Worsley near Ashburn, Derbyshire on 11th March 1792, and died at Laxey on the 2nd Sept. 1824 - a marriage between a Thomas Toplis and a sarah Treavis is recorded in IGI on 9 Sept 1811 at Saint Alkmund, Derby). It appears that Thomas then marries an Ann Mylrea in 1825 by whom he had seven children though two died young - it is possible that Thomas Topliss came over to work the earlier Ballaoates paper mill in Braddan as this was associated with a partnership of William Walker with Douglas based Wm Banks, Mathias Corran, John Kane & John Gelling who agreed in 1809 to erect a paper mill. Gelling was bought out by 1816 (which corresponds to birth of Topliss's first child in Braddan) but it appears that Topliss moved to the newly erected Laxey mill which supplied the paper on which the Rising Sun newspaper was printed as well as other high class paper in 1821 to 1824. In 1824 the Laxey mill was destroyed by fire (at a cost of £2000) but being insured by Norwich Union was rebuilt shortly afterwards. By 1824 Walker and Topliss had also taken over the Woodside Mill at Ballaoates (near Strang) in Braddan and their Douglas warehouse was known as Laxey and Woodside paper warehouse - however they advertised the Woodside mill for rent in 1830 with immediate possession but it looks as if no sale ensued as Topliss was still there in 1840. In 1837 Thomas Topliss passed control of Laxey Mill to his son William. William (born in Braddan) had married Janet Brown (born c. 1811) in Lonan in 1834 - she was probably the daughter of Richard Brown (d 1828 age 43) landlord of the Lancashire House public house on Douglas North Quay ,as it passed from Brown to Wm Topliss as landlord though William continued with his paper warehouse. In 1840 Thomas Topliss apparently committed suicide in his Woodside Mill as the notice in the press of 1 Oct stated he was found on Thursday suspended by the neck and quite dead - the report mentions an embarrassment of affairs. His daughter Mary (by 1st marriage - probably baptised 2 Aug 1812 at St Saint Alkmund, Derby) married Mr Henry Taubman brewer of Ballaugh on 23 Aug 1831 (Manks Advertiser). In 1837 Thomas Topliss and wife Ann Mylrea disposed of part of the "Brewery Houses offices and concerns situate in Laxey in the Parish of Lonan it being the whole concern belonging to the late Henry Taubman" to James Taubman (sale registered in 1852).

It is likely that William left the paper business shortly after his father's death as the last mention is in an 1846 directory - Wm Walker entered into a new partnership with a Mr Tilsley of Liverpool in 1843 and Dillon's Guide of 1846 records Laxey Mill as under the management of Walker and Tilsley.

William however is still recorded as landlord of the Lancashire House in 1863 which it seems he ran until his death, as in 1877 it is noted as previously under the late landlord Toplis - Topliss is also connected with the Steam Packet Vaults also on North Quay.


W. Cubbon Bibliography of works relating to the Isle of Man Vol II section L4 Douglas:1939 pp1485-1493


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© F.Coakley , 2008