Author Topic: Bricklayer in London in 1800's  (Read 15931 times)

Offline Hampshire Lass

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Bricklayer in London in 1800's
« 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.
Best wishes HL


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Offline pinefamily

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Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
« Reply #1 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.
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Offline Hampshire Lass

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Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
« Reply #2 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. :)
Best wishes HL


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Offline stanmapstone

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Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
« Reply #3 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
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Offline behindthefrogs

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Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
« Reply #4 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
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Offline Hampshire Lass

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Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
« Reply #5 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.
Best wishes HL


Census information is crown copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Offline Nick29

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Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
« Reply #6 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.
RIP 1949-10th January 2013

Best Wishes,  Nick.

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Offline stanmapstone

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Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
« Reply #7 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
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Offline stanmapstone

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Re: Bricklayer in London in 1800's
« Reply #8 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
Census Information is Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk