Daniel Hobday was born in 1800 at Dover and died at Maidstone in 1880. He was something of a wanderer but his travels can be traced with some certainty from the records of the births of his children in the family bible and., to some degree, by memories of stories told of him by his youngest son, Henry.
Daniel was apprenticed as a papermaker to John Norwood at the Horne Street Mill in 1811 who had taken over the mill in 1806 after working at River where he was born and. at Lower Buckland mill at Dover. Daniels indentures required him to serve until he attained. the age of twenty one years, a period of eleven years during which time "his said. Master faithfully shall and. will serve, his secrets keep and. his lawful commands everywhere do". A further requirement was: "Taverns, Inns or Alehouses he shall not haunt; at Cards, Dice, Tables, or any other unlawful game he shall not play, nor from the service of his said Master day or night absent himself but in all things as an honest and faithful Apprentice shall and will demean and behave himself towards his said Master and all his family during all the said term" John Norwood. on his part undertook"..... the said Apprentice in the Art, Trade, Mystery or Business of a Papermaker which he now useth, shall teach and instruct". He was allowed twelve shillings a week for "his board maintenance and support and a further sum of Three Pounds yearly his board maintenance and support and a further sum of Three Pounds yearly..... for his clothes, wearing apparel and other necessaries". At a time when hand-loom weavers in the North were being paid about nine shillings a week Daniels apprenticeship terms could. be considered as generous. It so happened however that Daniel lived with his Masters family which at that time numbered seven children, and his wages were handed to his Masters wife, Martha, the daughter of Francis Ash of River, who no doubt spent it wisely on his behalf.
John Norwoods eldest child, Sarah Elizabeth, was fifteen years old. when Daniel. came to live with the family and it is believed that he continued to work at Home Street until he married. Sarah in 1827. They were married at Dover where his mother is believed to have lived. There is no record of his father. The Norwood. family and Daniel appear to have been very decent people for this association to have lasted for some sixteen years. Sarah was a well educated woman and deeply religious judging from her letters, beautifully written and expressed, in later years of her life when she exhorted her children to take care of their beloved. father in the event of her death and. to lead a Godly life. Daniel at the age of eleven signed his apprentice Indenture with a cross.
Daniel appears to have moved to Little Chart mill in Kent after his marriage where his first two children were born in 1828 and 1850. In 1851 he moved to Wooburn Green working at Glory Mill, then owned by the Spicer family. He is said. to have been there at the time of the Wye Valley riots. He has left no record of the state of affairs in the Valley during this period but the writer was told something of the terrors of the time from an old machineman of about seventy from Wrights Mill at Marlow in 1933 who told of the stories his father had related to him of the bitterness and strife which prevailed. On a visit to this mill just after it had been closed down there were relics such as mantraps preserved as a reminder of the times and the serious steps then taken to preserve property.
In 1834 a third child was born to Daniel and Sarah at Cheriton which ,indicates that he had returned to Horne Street. At this time John Norwood was 67 years old and it is possible that Daniel returned to assist him in the running of the mill. In 1839 George Paine is recorded as being the owner of the mill meanwhile in the previous year a forth child, Henry, was born to then at Chartham. It is believed that John Norwood disposed of the mill at Horn Street about 1837/38 which prompted Daniel. to move on. He went to Chartham Mill, then owned by William Weatherley and later by his brother who had operated Buckland Mill in 1846/49. In 1851 Chartham Mill was burnt down and with the rebuilding a papermaking machine was installed. A family record shows that Daniel turned out" with all. the Legal Society of Papermakers" members over a question of working the machine. He left Chartham and went on tramp and obtained work at a mill in Somerset, the name of which is not known. He sent word back to his son Henry, then fourteen years old, to join him. Henry set off to join his father travelling under a Legal Society card which entitled him to a meal, a nights lodging and breakfast, but before reaching Somerset he met his father returning and they both came back to Chartham where they were reinstated in employment.
The expression "On Tramp" was a common one at the time when the employment of skilled papermakers became hazardous due to the transition from hand to machine made paper. There is a record of a meeting of the Legal Society of papermakers held on 3rd. July 1847 at the "Oak and In" Upper Stone Street Maidstone, to discuss and adopt a new "Tramping System". (The name of the Legal Society was changed to the Original Society in 1885 but the latter name seems to have been used some years before this date). At this meeting it was reported that seven men from the mill at Basted who were drawing First Class pay (1-2-0 per week) would pay five shillings and six pence per month to the Tramping Fund.
Daniels movements from now on are somewhat vague. It is known that he worked at the old Hollingbourne mill and that his last job was that of Beaterman at Turkey Mill, Maidstone. Meanwhile his eldest daughter, Mary Ann, married, as a second wife, Isaac Tovey who was Manager of Turkey Mill. It was a marriage of convenience and convenient indeed it was for Daniel for after the death of his wife he lived from 1877 with his daughter
Lewis Hobday spoke of his grandfather as being a regular church-goer while working at Chartham and as he often worked until midnight on a Saturday he found it difficult to keep awake during the sermon. Because of this he adopted the habit, when feeling sleepy, of standing up during the sermon. He always sat in the gallery and so must have been very conspicuous. Shifts, at the tine, were of 24 hours, midnight to midnight.