Peter Mulcaster (c.1727-1814)

Peter Mulcaster was the third son of John Mulcaster (c.1685 – 1757) and his wife Frances.  John Mulcaster was a silver refiner at the London Lead Company’s Acton Mill and Peter learnt the craft from his father.   When the Greenwich Hospital, owner of the mineral rights on Alston Moor, decided to build their own smelting and refining works they appointed Peter Mulcaster as the first agent for the brand new Langley mill in 1768.   His salary was initially £30 p.a. with an allowance of house rent and coals, and a few acres of land at a moderate rent.  Because he proved such an honest, effective and efficient mill manager his salary was raised to £50 in 1770.    Mulcaster was highly valued by the Greenwich Hospital’s local receiver Nicholas Walton Junior, not least because he was always keen to experiment with new ideas to improve the mill’s efficiency.   He was also utterly meticulous.  In 1777 Walton and his fellow receiver John Smeaton asked for a further increase in Mulcaster’s salary to £80 citing: “the Exactness wherewith he keeps his accounts, and the clearness wherewith he does all his busyness…”.    Soon after his appointment Peter was joined at Langley Mill by his older brother James but Peter was always the senior agent. Meanwhile younger brother Robert was the smelting agent at Blaydon for Blackett. In 1805, when well into his seventies, Peter Mulcaster was still the Greenwich Hospital’s principal lead mill agent but was “almost worn out”.   He died in 1814 and was buried at Haydon Bridge.

Ian Forbes

Further reading: I. Forbes and Y. Purdy “The Mulcaster family: a lead mining dynasty” Hexham Historian, Volume 25, (2015).

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The Dukesfield Smelters and Carriers Project aimed to celebrate and discover the heritage of the Dukesfield Arches & lead carriers' routes between Blaydon and the lead mines of Allendale and Weardale. A two year community project, it was led by the Friends of the North Pennines in partnership with Hexhamshire and Slaley Parish Councils and the active support of Allendale Estates. It was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the generous support of other sponsors. Friends of the North Pennines: Charity No:1137467