Colston, Emma (c. 1796-1877)

Piece of Kells lace, Ireland, early 19th century. Piece of Kells lace, Ireland, early 19th century.

Emma Colston (c. 1796-1877; neé Hubbert) was an Anglo-Irish lace designer and lace runner, who established the company of Kells Lace in 1825. Being the daughter of Henry Hubbert, she and her brother Henry were brought up at Kells (Ireland) and later went to Nottingham. Their father was a lace manufacturer and Henry was trained to take over the family business, while Emma was taught to be a lace runner and a lace designer.

According to one account, Emma Colston started to learn designing lace in 1819 in Nottingham “wherein she studied and wrought until she became perfect mistress of [lace] business in theory and practice.”

It would appear that in 1825 their father died and Henry Hubbert continued the family business in Nottingham, while Emma Hubbert went back to Ireland. Shortly afterwards, she purchased a bobbinet machine and in March 1825 set up a lace manufactory in Kells, where she produced various forms of embroidered net lace (mainly using silk thread on a cotton net), known as Kells lace.

She married Henry Colston in c. 1827 and continued her lace business for several decades. It would appear that the production of Kells lace stopped in the 1840's due to cheaper products coming onto the market following the development of machines that could imitate the appearance of embroidered net lace.

Henry Colston died in 1856, while Emma died in 1877. They are buried together (plot D9) in St. Columbia’s graveyard, Kells.

Source: REYNOLDS, Mairead (1984). 'Kells Lace,' Irish Art Review, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 50-54.

Digital source (retrieved 3 March 2017).

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 3 March 2017).


Last modified on Friday, 03 March 2017 20:55