RootsChat.Com

Some Special Interests => Occupation Interests => Topic started by: Hampshire Lass on Friday 15 April 11 22:56 BST (UK)

Title: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
Post by: Hampshire Lass on Friday 15 April 11 22:56 BST (UK)
Does anyone know anything about the trade of Bricklayer in the 1800's in London?

I have found that my ancestor moved from Dorset to London early in the 1800's and the 1841 census shows he was a bricklayer.

I then wondered what his job would have entailed and whether he was involved in the building of any of our important London buildings.

On googling Bricklayer in the 1800's I came to a site which lists slang expresions in the 1850's and it says that bricklayer is a term for a clergyman.

As I'm in the process of putting together some information about our direct ancestors for my cousin and her family I am now left wondering exactly what was the career of our 3x Great Grandfather and thought I would ask for your opinions.
Title: Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
Post by: pinefamily on Saturday 16 April 11 01:12 BST (UK)
I don't think a clergyman (or a census enumerator) would use a slang term on the census form. It's a safe bet your ancestor was a bricklayer. It's my understanding that bricklayers and mason's labourers were very similar. I have several ancestors who described their occupations as one or the other at different times.
Title: Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
Post by: Hampshire Lass on Saturday 16 April 11 07:52 BST (UK)
Thank you. 

I hadn't reasoned that out really - of course it's unlikely that a clergyman would use a slang term. I had thought of him as a bricklayer for such a long time that to think he may have been a clergyman was quite a shock!  It's not as though his children became bricklayers but equally we have no clergy. :)
Title: Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
Post by: stanmapstone on Saturday 16 April 11 09:58 BST (UK)
If you look at this entry http://www.rootschat.com/links/0cs5/  you will see the origin of the term Bricklayer = Clergyman, is from much earlier times, and I doubt it was being used in 19th Century England. Certainly the Oxford English Dictionary does not refer to it.

Stan
Title: Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
Post by: behindthefrogs on Saturday 16 April 11 10:10 BST (UK)
Back in the first half of the 19th century a bricklayer was what we would today call a builder.  He would probably have designed and constructed houses and have had bricklayer's labourers working for him doing the hard work.

At that time, one of my ancestors was master bricklayer at Walham Abbey gunpowder works and he was second in command of what in those days was a huge enterprise.

David
Title: Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
Post by: Hampshire Lass on Saturday 16 April 11 10:16 BST (UK)
Thanks Stan, that wasn't the same reference that I found but still links bricklayer with clergyman. As my ancestor was born in1798 and working in mid 1800s I can still think of him as builidng important and historical buildings in London.

I've learnt something there though. :)

Thank you David, a cousin of mine visited Westminster and talked to a local publican who explained to my cousin that our ancestor may have done more than "lay bricks". This was the reason I googled Bricklayer, expecting a definition of what the job entailed in 1850. I didn't expect any information about clergy. :)

I like to think he was involved in the design of London's historical buildings.
Title: Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
Post by: Nick29 on Saturday 16 April 11 10:54 BST (UK)
Bricklaying in the early 1800s was a really nasty job.  Most bricklayers burned their own lime to make the mortar mix, and the exposure to the fumes produced by this process triggered many respiratory diseases including TB and lung cancer. 

The apprenticeship for bricklaying was seven years, and once an apprentice had served his time, and got his indentures, he became a "journeyman bricklayer", which means that he could have one or more apprentices learning from him.  Because of the length of the apprenticeship, many apprentices were sons or younger brothers of the journeyman bricklayer.  In time, many bricklayers were making enough money to employ other journeymen, and they then called themselves Master Bricklayers.

The photo below shows my own paternal grandfather, who was a Master Bricklayer, as was his father before him.  He's the one in the bowler hat, whilst all his employees wore caps.
Title: Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
Post by: stanmapstone on Saturday 16 April 11 11:22 BST (UK)
In the 1841 Census there were 5,534 Bricklayers in the county of Middlesex, and 1,544 builders.
http://www.rootschat.com/links/0csa/

Stan
Title: Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
Post by: stanmapstone on Saturday 16 April 11 11:29 BST (UK)
Thanks Stan, that wasn't the same reference that I found

That is apparently the source for the entries in the other books, by Eric Partridge, who says c1850 but gives no other source, or quotations to support this.

Stan
Title: Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
Post by: Hampshire Lass on Saturday 16 April 11 11:59 BST (UK)
Thanks Nick - what a truly fantastic photograph - I have very few of my ancestors.

Thanks for the information also.
My 3x great grandfather died in 1851 at the age of 53. The censuses just say bricklayer, so I don't know if he was a master bricklayer.
For some reason I've never sent for his death certificate but am going to today as he may well have died from a disease related to his trade.
He had moved to London from Wareham in Dorset by the time of his marriage in 1826 and there is reference on one website to others with the same surname working in the clay industry on the Isle of Purbeck. I haven't yet found their connection with my family.

I also completely forgot that another ancestor was a journeyman bricklayer and have never known what that meant.

Thanks Stan - that link to the census information was very interesting. There certainly were a lot of bricklayers in London at that time. My GGG Grandfather being one of them.
Title: Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
Post by: stanmapstone on Saturday 16 April 11 12:04 BST (UK)
Clergymen called Bricklayers.
This appears to be the original source of the subject;
Notes and Queries Vol. 6 2nd S. (156) Dec 25 1858 Page 528 http://www.rootschat.com/links/0cse/
Clergy called Bricklayers. Can any of your readers inform me of the origin of the word "bricklayer" used for "clergyman" in the counties of Oxon and Berks? Has it any connexion with St. Paul's phrase "a wise master-builder" &c.?

There were two replies Vol. 7 2nd S. (158) Jan 8 1859 Page 38, http://www.rootschat.com/links/0csc/
and Vol. 7 2nd S. (162) Feb 5 1859 Page 115 http://www.rootschat.com/links/0csd/


Stan
Title: Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
Post by: pinefamily on Saturday 16 April 11 23:54 BST (UK)
Stan,
You never cease to amaze me with your depth of knowledge on unusual or rare topics. I always take an interest in these things myself, but hats off to you. :)

Darren
Title: Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
Post by: HeatherLynne on Sunday 17 April 11 00:20 BST (UK)
I guess construction of both underground train tunnels and the sewerage system would have required many bricklayers, perhaps even more than the obvious brick buildings above ground. 

Heather
Title: Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
Post by: pinefamily on Sunday 17 April 11 02:43 BST (UK)
Most of which projects took place after this particular ancestor died unfortunately. But I like your thinking, Heather.
Title: Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
Post by: Hampshire Lass on Sunday 17 April 11 08:59 BST (UK)
Stan,
You never cease to amaze me with your depth of knowledge on unusual or rare topics. I always take an interest in these things myself, but hats off to you. :)

Darren


I agree Darren,

Actually does anyone know what buildings would have been built from 1820-1850 in London? I also had thought of sewers and bridges but was obviously wrong there.

The family lived in Upper Garden Street, Westminster and on a map site somewhere once I found there was a sewer running along behind thier houses. I believe it was an open one - but I may be wrong as I am a bit hit and miss with my information at times :)
Title: Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
Post by: Nick29 on Sunday 17 April 11 11:37 BST (UK)
I think the railways drove most of the construction in and around London.  Not only did the construction of the railways themselves require a lot of bricklayers to build stations and bridges, they drew people into the cities, who themselves required places to live.  One of the largest brick-built buildings in London from the period was Kings Cross Station, which required hundreds of bricklayers to complete it.  It opened in October 1852.  I would like to think that my grandfather was involved in that masterpiece, but alas I have no idea which buildings he was involved with.
Title: Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
Post by: Hampshire Lass on Sunday 17 April 11 15:05 BST (UK)
Ah, thanks Nick, I thought buildings was more of a man thing - I had no idea what was built when!

Perhaps our building ancestors worked together on London's buildings :)
Title: Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
Post by: pinefamily on Monday 18 April 11 11:59 BST (UK)
Reading these last few posts, gave me impetus to search a bit.
Big Ben was finished in 1858, but may have been started in your ancestor's lifetime.
The Houses of Parliament were re-built after a fire in 1834.
Trafalgar Square was finished in 1845.
The Royal Exchange was re-built after a fire in 1838.
I guess this is only scratching the surface.....
Title: Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
Post by: Hampshire Lass on Monday 18 April 11 12:07 BST (UK)
Incredible information Darren, Thank you so much.

I really like to think my 3x Great Grandad was involved in that sort of building.

I don't get to London very often but I'll look at Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, The Royal Exchange and Trafalgar Square, with a totally different kind of respect from now on. An amazing thought :)
Title: Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
Post by: Nick29 on Tuesday 19 April 11 08:06 BST (UK)
Places like the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, etc, would have been built more by stonemasons than bricklayers.  If you want to see the art of bricklayers in London, look towards the railways, houses, and smaller shops. 
Title: Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
Post by: Hampshire Lass on Tuesday 19 April 11 13:42 BST (UK)
Oh, OK Nick, I expect you're right there, but it's still interesting to imagine what London would have been like in 1820-1850 when all the historical buildings like those mentioned were under construction.
Title: Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
Post by: janetbournecarling on Tuesday 05 September 17 03:49 BST (UK)
I just found this site while looking for information on bricklayers.  My 3rd great grandfather was at least a journeyman brick layer.  He did have others working for him.  In the 1841 census he lived in Ledbury and in 1851 he lived in Kings Norton.  In a family story it is said he and his sons build several homes on one street and that street was nicknamed Bourne's row.  Does anyone know anything about Bourne's row?
Title: Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
Post by: HeatherLynne on Tuesday 05 September 17 12:56 BST (UK)
Hi Janet, welcome to Rootschat! 

Do you have any idea where Bourne's Row might be?  Does the family story say it's in London or could it be somewhere else?  There's a Bourne's Row and Bournesfield in Hoghton near Preston, Lancashire that Google maps found when I searched.  Bourne's Row is a terrace of houses that could be old enough to be the ones you're looking for.

Hope that helps, Heather
Title: Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
Post by: CndBrn on Friday 16 October 20 06:11 BST (UK)
  Hi, I found your story fascinating, to have that many generations of bricklayers. I have multiple generations as well, I'm also a Brick and Stone Mason.

I've seen a few old videos of Bricklayer/Masons back when they did it all, footings, foundations, from plumbing the toilets and sinks to roughing in windows/doors. They even did roofing, putting the shingles on. When complete, if called for they'd parge/render the building. They were the original Jack of all Trades 8)

I managed to find a pretty old video that gives you an idea of what was expected of the Masons'
https://youtu.be/oEL3K45yWUw

          Here's a 354 year old short-story (Bricklayers' Parable) called "The 3 Bricklayers"

     After the great fire of 1666 that leveled London, the worlds most famous architect was commissioned to rebuild St Pauls Cathedral.

One day in 1671, Christopher Wren observed three bricklayers on a scaffold,
one crouched, one half-standing and one standing tall, working very hard and fast.

To the first bricklayer, Christopher Wren asked the question, What are you doing? to which the bricklayer replied, Im a bricklayer. Im working hard laying bricks to feed my family.

The second bricklayer, responded in a similar wat but slightly different, Im a builder. Im putting up a wall.

But the third brick layer, when asked the question, What are you doing? replied with pride in its voice, Im a cathedral builder. Im building a great cathedral to The Almighty.

Author of the Three Bricklayers: Unknown.