John Howlett (Mark Frost) and Rebeccca Howlett (Laura Main)
The impoverished Howletts have left their home in Bledlow, in Buckinghamshire, to work at Quarry Bank Mill. John is adamant that hard work and determination alone will feed his family. He works his way up the ranks, and clashes with Daniel over workers’ rights. After suffering poverty in the south, John is just grateful to have a job and a home.
The fact: In 1834, the Howlett family were one of the first families to participate in the migrant scheme, which saw northern mill owners offer work to unemployed southern rural labourers to improve the rate of the poor relief for the remaining families in that area.
At first John was indentured to work in the scutching room in the Mill for two years. After that period he went to work on the estate, whilst his wife Mary, his daughters, and his son Timothy worked in the Mill. Mary was his second wife: his first wife had died a couple of years before the family relocated to Styal. The Howletts remained in Styal and their descendants continued to work in the Mill. They were not related to the Whittakers.