Is anyone able to direct me to some information about how cutlers worked in Sheffield in the late 1800s? When the census says my relative "cutler, employs three men", I an unsure of what this means - what premises is he likely to have worked out of?
Any info, or sources of background to how this industry operated at that time, would be much appreciated.
Tony, thank you very much for your offer. Walter Oates, baptised 20 Feb 1831 was a cutler and so was his son, Walter, born 1840 or 1841 (but often 1838 in census).
In 1871, Walter (the son) and his wife Mary Cutts(b.1846) were living at Lambert Street Sheffield with three children: Frederick W (b 1866), George A (b 1868) and Firnlan (should be Florence) (b1871). Walter was a "cutlery manufacturer, employs three men".
In 1881 he was still at 9 Lambert Street and Walter's occupation is listed as cutler but this is about the time that he is also recorded elsewhere (as I discovered from the pub-keepers listing on the Sheffield History site, and from Whites' directory) as a publican. In 1895-6, Walter Oates was the publican at the Green Man at 23 Broad Street, Park. This fits with various other members of the family who worked in or ran pubs.
What I'm trying to work out is whether his work as a cutlter would have been done in some sort of industrial premises and what sort of arrangements would have allowed a person of his means to become an employer? Everything I know about this family before and after (including several dying in the workhouse or in jail) indicates a very modest subsistence.
Any suggestions you could make for further research would be most welcome.
It was commonplace for a "Cutler" to rent space and employ men in various forms of the industry, for the most part they were humble surroundings.
My great grandfather born 1871 rented space from the Union Grinding Wheel, Alma Street which I believe is now part of Kelham Island.I believe the Union Grinding Wheel was steam powered and at that time grinders would work at a grinding wheel on a self-employed basis renting a wheel from the owner of the site.
My great grandfather employed several men including his own sons. They were very harsh times and the jobs were very dirty hence the early death age of many cutlers due to silicosis.
Hi, there is also the possibility that he was what was called a " little mester" this was a cutler working from home or small workshop. There were a number of these premises at the rear of properties in the Rockingham Street area. Also lots of the houses in the area around Carver St and St Philips ( this would include Lambert St) and many other less affluent areas. Hope this helps. Regards Barry
Jul 30, 2012 - 10:10AM
Re: How did cutlers work?
Not an answer, but interesting all the same:
Sheffield and Rotherham Independent
29 Jul 1854
TUESDAY [25th Jul]
Walter Oates, cutler, of Lambert street, charged with
picking the pocket of Mr. W. Merchant of Hanover street,
of a silk handkerchief, at Newhall races, was committed
for a month
Marlene and Barry
Thanks for this information. Now it is beginning to make sense. Small-scale renting of space within bigger premises, or working in the back of home premises, may have been feasible. I haven't yet got to investigating causes of death but I have noted that this line of the family doesn't have much longevity. I'll look out for silicosis in the cutlers. Thanks once again,
Thanks very much for this interesting information! This sounds like it probably is my ancestor, even though he was living in Eldon Street at the time. They were connected with at least one other family on Lambert street at the time, and another possibility is that maybe he worked out of Lambert street at the time of the offence. I mentioned Walter the father (b1806) who I think committed this offence, and Walter the son (b about 1840) - both cutlters. But there was a grandson, Frederick Walter (b 1865) who was arrested at a race course (his fourth larceny offence I think) and died of injuries sustained between arrest and arriving in prison. I think that this family had some hard times!
Thanks so much for this information.
If you haven't already done so I'd look at the several headings in the columns to the left where you'll find lots of OATES information including burials. Under directories there are a couple of references to Walter OATES.
If Walter was a true Cutler the archivist at the Cutlers' Hall may be able to help you. I believe they have a list of apprentices and masters.
Also, I have been reading the history of Ranmoor and there are many "little mesters" working from home and workshops who had a beerhouse or were publicans.
Jul 31, 2012 - 12:42PM
Re: How did cutlers work?
Thanks, Marlene. I have been using this magnificent set of resources and found out quite a bit. I'm also trying not to be distracted by what I think to be some errors in family histories on Ancestry that seem to have been repeated. I'm really enjoying doing the research from South Australia and sending it through to my relatives in Barrow in Furness!
Judy, South Australia
Don't believe all you see on Ancestry until you can prove it for yourself.
It's difficult when you're as far away as Australia, I also have relatives researching my Aspinall lines in Australia, I have a 3x great grandfather who was transported there from Sheffield in 1834 and he married and produced a family over there so many relatives are descended and are eager to find English information. Unfortunately, some of the information you see on Ancestry trees needs to be confirmed before you accept it.
Just be careful and prove as you go, it's easy to get carried away and finish up going down blind alleys!