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Bricklayer and Bricklayer's Labourer

The Book of Trades or Library of Useful Arts 1811, Volume 1

This was published by Wiltshire Family History Society, originally printed by W. Flint, Old Bailey, London, for R. Phillips, No. 7 Great Bridge Street. The full piece is around 1,100 words long. Excerpts follow:

The bricklayer is an artificer who builds walls, etc, with bricks. In London this business includes tyling, walling, chimney-work, and paving with bricks and tyles. Tylers and bricklayers were incorporated, by Elizabeth, under the name of masters and wardens of the society of freemen of the mystery and art of tylers and bricklayers. In the country, plaisterers' work is always joined to the business of bricklayer and, not unfrequently, stone-mason's work also.

The material made use of by bricklayers are bricks, tiles, mortar, laths, nails and tile-pins.

Bricklayers are supplied with bricks by a man they call a labourer, who is also employed in making the mortar from lime. The labourer brings the mortar, and the bricks in a machine called a hod, which he carries on his shoulder. Before he puts the mortar into the hod, he throws over every part of the inner surface fine dry sand to prevent it from sticking to the wood.

A bricklayer and his labourer will lay in a single day about a thousand bricks.

The wages of a journeyman bricklayer are from four shillings to five shillings and sixpence a day; the wages of a labourer, from half a crown (two shillings and sixpence) to three shillings and sixpence a day.


Notes from Rootschat forum

This post adds another perspective. Any primary sources are not known and the item may no longer be accessible. The address was,526972.0.html:

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.

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.

Brentford bricklayers

Brentford's growth offered opportunities for bricklayers throughout the 19th century and later. These bricklayers are known to have lived or worked in Brentford; a starting point, more names will be added as research uncovers them.

Anthony: Thomas Anthony, born 1813 in Norfolk, is known to have worked at various locations around London before settling in Brentford: read more.

Davis: Frank Albert (or Albert Frank) Davis was born in Brentford in the early 1860s and gave his occupation as bricklayer in 1891 and 1911. His son, Harry Frank Davis, described his father as a builder when he married in 1913. Harry Frank was a gas fitter and plumber and referred to his 'expertise as a builder and contractor' when standing for election as a councillor in 1925: read more about Harry Frank and his family.

Hearn: Edward Hearn, bricklayer of Brentford End, left a Prerogative oCurt of Canterbury will that was proved in 1837.

Kenton: brothers John and Edward Kenton were baptised in Ealing in 1817 and 1827; both worked in Brentford as bricklayers; read more.

Marks: John Marks, bricklayer of Old Brentford, left a Prerogative Court of Canterbury will that was proved in 1807.

Pither: James Pither was born in Wargrave, Berkshire in 1846 and moved to Brentford by 1871. His two sons worked as plumbers; read more.

Richardson: Thomas Richardson, bricklayer of New Brentford, left a Prerogative Court of Canterbury will that was proved in 1800.

Rogers: Richard Rogers, bricklayer, left a will which shows he had acquired over a dozen local properties by the time of his death in 1840.


Newspaper items

These items are from the British Newspaper Archive, accessed via Findmypast.

Whitehaven News 25 June 1857

Bricklayers' Strike at Brentford.

About 150 of the bricklayers employed at the new docks in the course of construction at Brentford have 'struck' for an increase of wages. The wages hitherto paid to them were at the rate of 5 s. a day, but last week they demanded 5s 6d, which sum was refused by the contractors.


The article added that the Irish workmen continued to work, and as a consequence fighting broke out in the Market Place. I have not found a follow-up item as to whether the bricklayers' demands were met.

Acton Gazette 05 June 1875

Mr William Gardiner, bricklayer, New Brentford, forwarded to the (Brentford Local) Board an offer to pay the Board 30s. per year for the street scrapings which he would collect from the Half Acre, to the Gospel oak, Hanwell Lane.

No action was taken in the matter, and the meeting adjourned.

Middlesex Chronicle 01 March 1879

Reported on the County Court cases heard Thursday, February 27th, including


In this case the plaintiff, who is a bricklayer, of Brentford, sued the defendant, who is a gentleman, living at South Grove House, Ealing Lane, for £8 0s. 7d. for work done. Mr. Lay for the plaintiff, and Mr. T. Woodbridge for defendant. The defendant paid into Court £5, which he contended was a fair price for the work done. After the evidence had been gone into, an agreement was come to to pay the plaintiff £6 10s.


Presume that PETHER is in fact James PITHER, noted above.

The site has many contributions about Newgrove House but no reference to OWILLS - an unlikely name, perhaps HOWELL(S)?


Page published January 2022; last updated January 2023