Posted by The Mysterious H.C. on July 17, 1997 at 09:25:10:
In reply to Laborers posted by Beth on July 16, 1997 at 20:00:49
] ] Not to mention the class system which prevented lower class children (girls and boys) from much education. I would have to assume that my family would have been peasants, tenant farmers, or servants in Regency England, so education would not have been available to any great degree. I probably would not have been able to read Jane Austen's novels, sigh!
] Indeed! One of my descendants in England in the 1700s was a pewtersmith--a laborer, not even at the level of a person "in trade." Oh dear...
Beth -- a pewtersmith would have been an "artisan" or small craftsman, and if he ran his own businesss he would have been indeed "in trade" (though not a big "merchant").
I think the word "laborer" was mainly used to refer to hired agricultural workers who did not own or rent land of their own, and unskilled construction workers -- so your ancestor would not have been a laborer
My own ancestors in England at the time were small farmers and respectable small tradesmen (mainly butchers).
I think that even many servants had basic literacy (like Betty Higden in Our Mutual Friend), though they may not have had the money, the leisure, or the inclination to rent and read novels...
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