William Greaves lead a remarkable life.
Born in 1752, little is known about his early years, or even how he started his business. There were a lot of men making things with steel and named William Greaves. There were, in general, a lot of men named William Greaves.
With 19th century Sheffield razors the most succinct answer is deeply unsatisfying: we simply don’t know.
But it has a clear manufacturer’s stamp!
And yet, the answer is the same.
While that answer is disappointing, understanding the reason why is more interesting.
Old Sheffield produced an incredible number of cutlery firms. Some of them left behind clear records, like Joseph Rodgers or Marshes & Shepherd, but there were a great many smaller companies who are known only by their work or a single directory listing.
Edward Allison and his wife Mary had a daughter, Catherine, in September 1819. Catherine’s baptism record lists her father as a razorsmith, but he doesn’t appear in any of the business directories until late 1820 when Pigot lists him as a Razor manufacturer and operator of the tavern The Barrel. Both the tavern and the razor manufacturing were in Little Sheffield.
Hawcroft & Pearson are first listed as operating from Eldon street in 1834. It’s hard to say if that’s when the business was founded.