Friday, 27 April 2007

Croscombe occupations, 1851

The occupations that people give on censuses often makes interesting reading. Often they are amusing and educational, but when the occupations of a whole census is analysed it gives a good picture of how a community functioned and made a living.

Listed below are all the employed occupations from the Croscombe (Somerset, England) census of 1851. It accounts for 310 people, or 46% of the population. I have omitted all the scholars, paupers, housewives etc and will look at these in later postings.

Agriculture and textiles are the major occupations, though I think we should be careful before assuming that all these people were employed in the village, especially amongst the textile workers who may have worked in nearby Shepton Mallet. In compiling this list I found a few surprises. The first was the total absence of quarry workers, an industry which in later decades accounts for considerable employment in Croscombe. There is however a considerable leather industry, but a noticeable abscence of any tanners. There are four inn keepers, and it would be nice to know where these establishments were, but unfortunately no addresses have been recorded on this census.

Agriculture (89)

The census shows 61 agricultural labourers, 5 more who work on the family farm and 2 girls aged 12 and 15 working as dairy servants. There are 13 farmers, and of those who state their acreage, the average is 84 acres. One person has a 'Small income from land" and three others declare themselves as landed proprietors. There is also a miller and a millers servant. Six people find employment as gardeners.

Textiles (76)

The textile industry seems to be the largest source of employment, with no less that 76 people working in the industry. The wool trade is still alive and there is 1 fuller and 8 woolcombers, who no doubt supplied the raw material for the 7 worsted workers.

Silk manufacture provided employment for 41 people. Samuel Peters, silk throwster, and originally from Derbyshire, employed 8 boys and 22 girls. The average age of workers in this industry was 18, the youngest being just 5, and they give their occupation as either silk winders or silk workers. 75% of the silk workers were female, but of the 10 males, five are under 12 years old, a much higher proportion of youngsters than the females. Their silk was probably used by the 12 Velvet Weavers living in the village.

John Jerrard described himself as a hosier employing 12 men. Three people describe themselves as stocking knitters, one as a knitter of hose and one just as a knitter. William Obren also gives his occupation as hosier, but mentions no workers, so it is hard to say if he is employed by John Jerrard or not.

Clothing (28)

No less than eleven women work as dress makers, and there are also four seamstresses and a 'plain sewer'. There are two tailors and two hatters. Keeping things clean employs seven washer women and a laundress.

Domestic help (26)

There were ten house servants, five servants, five nurse maids, two governesses, two nurses, a cook and a gents servant.

Trades (25)

The census shows seven masons, five carpenters, four thatchers, a cabinet maker and a sawyer. There are two people working at blacksmithing, a coachmaker, three wheelwrights and a wheeler. I'm not clear on the distinction between those last two. There is also a watchmaker, and one apprentice of unspecified trade.

Merchants (20)

Croscombe in 1851 boasts one shop keeper, a grocers porter, a butcher, a tea dealer, a mealman and no less than five bakers.

Ten men are employed in the coal trade: one merchant, two sellers, three hauliers and four carriers. I wonder if there is any significant distinction between some of these titles? It seems like rather a lot of people, but if they had to haul coal from Shepton Mallet (the nearest railway connection) in small carts, maybe this would account for it.

Leather (17)

Eight people are employed in the leather trades, comprising a fellmonger (a dealer in skins or hides - O.E.D.), skinners, dressers and workers. There are four cordwainers, two shoe makers, two boot and shoe makers, one apprentice to the trade, and one shoe binder. (Although the term cordwainer originally applied to someone working with cordovan leather, the name was later used by trade guilds, companies of shoemakers etc., to include all branches of the trade. - O.E.D.). It seems a little odd to me that there are no tanners.

Labourers (15)

Fifteen people give their occupation as labourer, but are not specific about the type of work they do.

Professions (8)

There is one accountant, one solicitors managing clerk and a Rector. There is one school master, two school mistresses, an English teacher and an assistant infants teacher.

Inns (6)

There were four inn keepers in Croscombe at the time, along with a lodging-house keeper and an ostler.


Anonymous said...

Most of my male ancestors were agricultural labourers, but my Great Great Grandfather was a molecatcher (which I found interesting). His eldest son took it up for a while too.

Martin said...

Impressive research!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful information...My family lived in Croscombe (Perkins) and were butchers and farmers...Also lived in Ashwick/Oakhill/Little London...Just a great article!!

susan merrifield said...

My Perkins family also lived in Ashwick (gtGF born there) and his brother lived in Little London and also Oakhill (brewery)...Joseph Perkins (father to my GtGf) had a brother John Perkins who owned Yew Farm...Susan Merrifield

Inspiration Alley said...

I keep meaning to analyse the census in this way for the village I now live in, thanks for the reminder, now know how I'll be spending tomorrow.

babu21 said...

Oh great job, great research. It's so informational article. It'x so useful to me .
thanks again

Anonymous said...

We have recently found our family derives from the Collins Family of Croscombe - of which there appears to be many. Your article was fascinating. Thanks

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