Earning a Living in the 19th century

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Until the enclosures and the industrial revolution full took effect, most villagers earned their income in the parish or within walking distance. As the 18th century gave way to the 19th, manufacturing industry provided more and more jobs within walking distance, notably in Redbrook and Whitebrook. The coming of the railway made embryo commuting possible and added to the variety of occupations available.

The Post Office Directory of 1871 does little to indicate these changes but does provide an interesting snapshot of the principal occupations in Penallt, limited however, to those likely to receive mail. Fifteen farmers are listed.

George Griffiths (Frost Lane)
George Gunter (Llananant)
James Gunter (The Limekilns)
John Gunter (Argoed)
Mrs Mary Herbert (Upper Glyn)
Thomas Hill (Sunnybank)
John James (Tregagle)
Endell Keddle (Penny garden)
William Meredith (Whitehall)
Charles Pritchard (The Meend)
Mrs Julia Roberts (Hoop Inn)
William Roberts (Ty-Mawr)
George Thomas (Tregagle)
Herbert Williams (New Mills)
John Williams (The Farm)

In addition there is Robert Panting, a market gardener of Lone Lane.

There are four inn-keepers – Thomas Gleed at the Bush, Mrs Mary Williams at the Boat, Mrs Julia Roberts (Hoop Inn) and James Jones (Wheatsheaf Inn, the Washings). The vicar (Rev. Wm. Oakley of Snakescroft – now Moorcroft) and Mrs Adams of Ty-Mawr head the list with the schoolmistress, Mrs Thomas of Pentwyn. Others listed are:

On the Land Water transport (Monmouth & Redbook) Metal Industries (chiefly Redbrook) Paper manufacture
Agricultural labourer Bargeman Blacksmith Paper maker
Farm Bailiff Barge owner Brightsmith Paper manufacturer
Cottage farmer Master mariner Forgeman Stoker at paper mills
Drainer Ship carpenter Furnaceman Wool sorter
Farmer Shipwright Hammerer
Farm Servant Purser Sorter in tin works Other trades & occupations
Gardener Sailor Tin man Clerk
Grafter
Tin manufacturer Coach maker
Keeper of entire horses Building trades Tinplate box maker Coal miner
Mole catcher Builder Tinplate maker Collier
Waggoner Block layer Tinplate salter Cordwainer
Horse breaker Gas fitter Tinplate shearer Fisherman

Glazier Tinplate worker Flaxdresser
Timber trades Mason Tin scaler Labourer
Cabinet maker Plate layer Tin worker Nailer
Carpenter Plumber Smith Parish clerk
Charcoal burner Plasterer
Pensioner
Cooper Quarryman Services Ruff rider
Hoop maker Stone cutter Bell-hanger Sexton
Hoop shaver Stone mason Brewer Shoemaker
Hurdle maker Tiler Butcher Student
Joiner
Butler Tanner
Turner Professions Cab proprietor Weaver
Lath cleaver Banker Coachman Woollen manufacturer
Mop stickmaker Clergyman Haulier
Sawyer Engineer Inn keeper
Timber agent Excise officer Miller
Wood collier Gentleman Millwright
Wood cutter Major in Army Postillion
Woodman Master in Navy Postman

Merchant Publican
Retailers Officer in Army Servant
Fruiterer Schoolmaster Signalman
Greengrocer Soldier Tailor
Hawker Surgeon Telegraphist
Shopkeeper Yeoman Turnpike gatekeeper
Travelling women


Waterman


Covering over a century, these lists show that by the end of the 19th century, agriculture and the timber trades shared pride of place with paper manufacture and metal working. The long-established occupations (quarrying, stone-working and localised work such as tanning, boot-making, weaving and brewing) are still there, with the professions and the service industries adding new variety as the years went by.

Only one occupation is obscure – that of ruff-rider – it could possibly be a mistake for rough-rider – that is, a horse-breaker, although that description is also listed. Perhaps the ruff-rider took on the horses the horse breaker could not handle.

With such a wide variety of “work experience” as we now expected call it, there can have been no shortage of tales to tell over the evening’s pint of local cider and most of them home-grown.

[from: Penallt Revisited]