Need help researching glass or crystal makers in your line?

+7 votes
I am happy to help you research any glass or crystal maker ancestors.  I belong to an international organization dedicated to preserving the history and techniques of those who made glass or crystal.
in Genealogy Help by Laura Bozzay G2G6 (6.2k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith

3 Answers

+5 votes
Best answer
Hi Laura,

Maybe this chap would interest you, would love it if a picture of him or the glass he made could be found :) he's an indirect link to my tree, that Carol and I have been creating a profile for, but may prove interesting


Happy searching :)
by Paula Dea G2G6 Mach 6 (63.7k points)
selected by Laura Bozzay

Thanks Paula,  Here is some info I found on your guy's business:  

Burtles & Tate


Burtles & Tate were based in Poland Street, Ancoats, and started business circa 1858.  Thomas Burtles was from Greenock, Scotland, though the family were originally from Warrington and had spent some time in the Warrington glass industry in the early 19th century. The Scotland connection may come from the Geddes family, who co-owned Perrin & Geddes in Warrington, and were active in Scottish glass as well, and may have encouraged two way movement between the areas. Matthew Tate was from Newcastle.  An early dissolution notice from November 1860 shows they were also in business with a Samuel Walton, who left the partnership at this time.  They were then joined by a John Davison who died in 1865.


On the 1861 census Matthew Tate was listed as a glass manufacturer employing 8 men and 6 boys.  If this was the sum total of employees at the firm, the company must have been a very small enterprise in its early days.  On the 1881 census, the company head Richard Burtles claimed to employ 80 men 48 boys and 11 women.   


The Burtles family eventually took control of the firm, and when they listed publically in 1916 at a value of £17,000, all the share capital was distributed between sixteen Burtles family members. The largest shareholding belonged to Richard Burtles, with Charles William Burtles acting as company manager.


The company may well have listed to raise money during the war. Within a year they had arranged a loan from the bank against the value of the company land and factory, and soon after they raised a further sum against another set of land with properties in the Jersey Street and Oldham Road area. Although they paid some of it back it looks like the bankers called in the loans and the company went into voluntary liquidation in October 1924, with the company being taken over by Butterworths.


Burtles, Tate & Co.:  This company was located in Manchester, England. In 1891, the company’s new “Topas Opalescent” ware was described as a ‘striking imitation of the old Venetina Topas’. (from The Identification of English Pressed Glass, 1842-1908, by Jenny Thompson)  Thompson: “In reality, it was similar to the Davidson Pearline of 1889, although the Burtles, Tate & Co. pieces are considerably harder to find today.” The elephant flower holder design was registered on 12/28/1886 as Rd. 64234. The mermaid flower trough features a motif of shells along the sides of the boat, with a mermaid masthead at each end.  The sugar bowl has been given the generic name of PINWHEEL.  There is no Rd. number on the sugar bowl.  Other pieces known to exist by this company include a flower shoe (Rd 65455), another style of boat (Rd. 29106), wall bracket (Rd. 39807) and a swan (Rd. 20086).

Elephant flower holder (Rd. 64234)

Mermaid flower holder (Rd. 44445)

Shoe flower vase (Rd. 65455)

Flower Trough in boat shape (Rd. 29106)

Wall bracket for flowers (Rd. 39807)

Swan flower vase (Rd. 20086)


In 1885 Burtles and Tate in Manchester, England, registered a swan novelty. They are much sought-after items, and are known in clear (crystal) opalescent, rose pink opalescent and vaseline opalescent. Three sizes of swan are reported. The design was for a “glass flower holder”, and the Registered Design number is normally found moulded in a rectangle on the base (“Rd. No. 20086”). As the picture below shows, their design is extremely similar to the Carnival Glass Swans that were subsequently made by Dugan and Fenton in the USA. 

Burtles and Tate Swans

Burtles and Tate Swans (small size). Clear opalescent, vaseline opalescent and rose pink opalescent.  has a larger photo of the elephant

+1 vote
Thanks Laura!

I have a first cousin - 3 X removed who worked as a glass blower in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and then in Alton, Illinois.  This is mentioned several times in his obituary which I have transcribed on his profile.  If any of the sound familiar, please let me know.  Thanks!
by Ray Jones G2G6 Pilot (154k points)
Hi Ray,  I looked at my database and do not see him listed in it.  So I am adding him to it.  I live across the river from Alton, IL.  Glass was a huge business in the US until recent years when much of it has moved to both China and India.  Glass blowers often suffered from upper respiratory issues due to how glass was blown.  I wonder if that contributed to his death since it sounds like he had an upper respiratory disease that took him fast.

Thanks for the info!
0 votes
Hi Laura,


I have a Thomas Kenna, glass blower in Ballymacarrett, 1852. His daughter Mary (b. around 1856) is listed on a marriage certificate as a bottle blower, is this a similar occupation? and was it usual for a woman to have this job in the 19th century?


any info you could provide would be great,



by Angela L G2G1 (1.1k points)
Hi Angela,  in the early centuries the blowing was always done by men.  But the 1900s and even some of the later 1800s saw women taking on some of what were traditionally male occupations.  Women always had a role in the glass houses of old.  They were often used as grinders, polishers, cleaners, and as reverse painters on glass.   One of my ancestresses ran a glass house after her husband died until the boys came of age to take over.  This was in the 1600s

Bottle making is also an old art.  In the 1800s and 1900 some of the production became automated.  Less actually mouth blown, but mechanically blown.  So Mary may have been operating a machine if not doing actual mouth blowing which is done through a metal hollow rod inserted into the molten glass.  Today there are a number of women who do mouth blown glass.  Although I must say the majority of women I see working in glass do so with lamp worked glass like beads for jewelry.  this has some history of Ballymacarrett and talks about a glass manufacturing house being there.  one of the larger bottle makers in Ireland in that time period  good book about Irish glass in general and on page 175 it gives the formula for bottle glass.  And page 46 starts a section on the bottle making industry in Ireland.  

Kenna:  this shows a Peter Kenna as a glass blower.  Pittsburgh had a large number of glass makers and companies dedicated to glass.  see number 6 under McCrory's Row

I found a John Kenna from Ireland born around 1830 in the 1880 US Census in King, Brooklyn, NY

I have not found anything on Mary or Thomas other than what I have above.
Wow, that's amazing, thank you so much. I'm not sure why, but this occupation of my ancestor's is fascinating to me..I'm off to have a rummage around some of those links you posted..

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