Author Topic: Economy & social standards for 1850...your opinion?  (Read 4937 times)

Offline UncleLarry

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Economy & social standards for 1850...your opinion?
« on: Wednesday 14 November 07 20:17 GMT (UK) »
Researching James Foord, watchmaker (see my other thread) and reading some of Chris’ comments on early Hastings have really tickled my curiosity.

I wonder what it would be like to be in business in the mid 1800s in Hastings. And I solicit your thoughts, have you ever thought about these questions? This is meant to be very very informal….all posts are equal in strength of opinion, and there is no overall objective beyond modifying my opinion.

The average businessman, is he higher on the social/economical scale that a laborer? Is he lower than the “gentry” that he is selling to? If he had employees, would that elevate him beyond the mom and pop shops we have come to know today? Would it elevate him in society? Would he have made twice as much money as laborer?

He would have required capital to start the business; could he have borrowed from a bank? How long (in this case watchmaker/jeweler/goldsmith) would his apprenticeship last, and how young would he have started? How many hours would a typical storeowner put in for a week……six days at ten hours a day? At one point in time my James had three or four employees…..does that elevate him socially and/or economically? And what exactly does “living on his own means” mean when commenting in the census?

And feel free to introduce new sub topics into this thread.

We welcome your input, and we thank you in advance!

Larry Foord
Foord, both from Sussex and Kent...vist our website:
http://www.execulink.com/~lfoord/index/jfoord.htm

Offline Chris in 1066Land

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Re: Economy & social standards for 1850...your opinion?
« Reply #1 on: Wednesday 14 November 07 22:07 GMT (UK) »
Hi Larry

I wrote a paper on Servant Keeping in the new Robertson Street compared with George Street in the Old Town and how having servants moved you up the social scale of the time.

“Servant Keepers of the period were not only the traditional farms and country mansions, but also the growing middle classes such as traders, craftsmen, professionals and businessmen”

A lot of the points that you raised/mentioned are covered in this paper (Open University Course for DA301 - Community and Family History)

You can read the paper by clicking on this link
http://www.rootschat.com/history/hastings/content/view/72/26/

Chris in 1066

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Offline Shropshire Lass

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Re: Economy & social standards for 1850...your opinion?
« Reply #2 on: Wednesday 14 November 07 22:18 GMT (UK) »
The average businessman, is he higher on the social/economical scale that a laborer? Is he lower than the ?gentry? that he is selling to?

Definitely lower than the gentry.  Being "in trade" was very much looked down.  One should just have money, you know? ;D

The dirty work of earning/stealing/acquiring/marrying it should have been done by an ancestor sufficiently removed in time that he didn't need to be considered any more.  The "older" your family was, the better.

Monica
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Offline UncleLarry

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Re: Economy & social standards for 1850...your opinion?
« Reply #3 on: Wednesday 14 November 07 22:55 GMT (UK) »
Sorry about that......I pushed the wrong key......Monica you raise a good point that I seem have recalled reading before. It is the "social" value of "old" money, and this too fascinates me. I guess the human race is perpetually in a race (pun intended) to keep climbing that social ladder. I am though a bit surprised that the "in trade" was looked down upon.

So I am getting this impression.......lowest on the scale would be servants, then farm laborers, then trades, then store keepers, then "those of means". Is that a fair assumption?
Foord, both from Sussex and Kent...vist our website:
http://www.execulink.com/~lfoord/index/jfoord.htm

Offline mbiggar

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Re: Economy & social standards for 1850...your opinion?
« Reply #4 on: Saturday 17 November 07 03:48 GMT (UK) »
Laborers were often lower status than servants. Servants in "upstairs" roles had more status than those who served as kitchen maids and so on. These servants would have had more status than the common labourer.  Employment seemed to be more erratic or seasonal for some types of labourers as well - many of my labouring and fishing ancestors seemed to be in and out of the workhouse whereas the servant ancestors had long employment in some households. The master mariners and tradespeople seemed to do well except when there was a major change in industry that dramatically affected their employment.

Interesting discussion.
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Offline hartryyrtrah

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Re: Economy & social standards for 1850...your opinion?
« Reply #5 on: Saturday 17 November 07 12:36 GMT (UK) »
The servants in the big house had a very structured higherarchy and at the top end they had a lot of power.  The Housekeeper, Cook and butler ran the house on a day to day basis and therefore were well up the pecking order in the local comunity.  I would suspect that the jewler would have dealt directly with the Aristocracy and would therefore be higher up the order than the butcher who dealt with the cook or housekeeper.

Money is important in social hirarchies but being dependent on selling for it makes you dependent on the people you sell to and therefore a lower class.  The Aristocracy made most of their money from rents, although they will have sold the produce of their estates directly as well. (this obvoiusly had nothing to do with trade.)

Paul
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Online Erato

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Re: Economy & social standards for 1850...your opinion?
« Reply #6 on: Saturday 17 November 07 13:24 GMT (UK) »
This is an interesting topic not just for Sussex; maybe it should be moved to a more general location such as the Common Room?

Was there a hierarchy within the trades?  Were makers and sellers of luxury goods higher up the social scale than those who produced or sold mundane items, even though the latter might have earned more money?  Were dirty and physically rough trades lower class than cleaner ones [ e.g., stone masons vs. tailors]?

Did people earn social 'credit' by working their way up the scale?  Example, g grandfather started life as an errand boy at age 12
and worked his way up in the grocery trade.  He ended up as a fairly prosperous director of a wholesale grocery company.  Would he have been respected for his efforts?
Wiltshire:  Banks, Taylor
Somerset:  Duddridge, Richards, Barnard, Pillinger
Gloucestershire:  Barnard, Marsh, Crossman
Bristol:  Banks, Duddridge, Barnard
Down:  Ennis, McGee
Wicklow:  Chapman, Pepper
Wigtownshire:  Logan, Conning
Wisconsin:  Ennis, Chapman, Logan, Ware
Maine:  Ware, Mitchell, Tarr

Offline UncleLarry

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Re: Economy & social standards for 1850...your opinion?
« Reply #7 on: Saturday 17 November 07 15:13 GMT (UK) »
Thanks to everyone for replying, and I do appreciate everyone's view.

This is an interesting topic not just for Sussex; maybe it should be moved to a more general location such as the Common Room?


I personally find this topic extremely interesting, and I think I would agree to moving it to get more input. Not sure how that gets done, but if the moderator would like to it is fine with me!
Foord, both from Sussex and Kent...vist our website:
http://www.execulink.com/~lfoord/index/jfoord.htm

Online Erato

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Re: Economy & social standards for 1850...your opinion?
« Reply #8 on: Saturday 17 November 07 16:46 GMT (UK) »
I would also be interested to hear how this compared to the situation in the US, Canada or Australia during the same time period.  My US ancestors were all farmers, initially.  But there semed to be an effort to get a higher education for at least some family members and move them from farming into a professional occupation [law, teaching, ministry].  Even many of the women got a college education betwen 1860 to 1900.  This stress on education did not sem to happen until much later among my English ancestors.
Wiltshire:  Banks, Taylor
Somerset:  Duddridge, Richards, Barnard, Pillinger
Gloucestershire:  Barnard, Marsh, Crossman
Bristol:  Banks, Duddridge, Barnard
Down:  Ennis, McGee
Wicklow:  Chapman, Pepper
Wigtownshire:  Logan, Conning
Wisconsin:  Ennis, Chapman, Logan, Ware
Maine:  Ware, Mitchell, Tarr