Keeping it in the family: professional dynasties in 19th century England
The 19th century witnessed a huge expansion in the number of people in Britain described as members of a profession, including lawyers, doctors, religious ministers and teachers, as well as newer service providers such as accountants, bankers and civil engineers. Historians have long suspected, but never attempted to prove, that these groups comprised a separate professional class, which championed its own interests and distinguished itself from the commercial middle class. This podcast will demonstrate how online genealogical tools and social media generated by family historians themselves, along with records held at The National Archives, can be used to create detailed family histories that bring us closer than ever before to an understanding of the role of the professions within Victorian society.
Michael Moss is professor of archival studies at the University of Glasgow. He is a member of the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Council on National Records and Archives and of the Forum on Historical Manuscripts and Archival Research. His most recent article is ‘Where have all the files gone . . . lost in action points every one’, in the current issue of the Journal of Contemporary History.
Simon Dixon was Research Assistant on The Victorian Professions Project at the University of Oxford from 2011-2012. He previously co-created Dissenting Academies Online, has edited documents on the history of 18th-century Devon and published articles on the Quakers in 17th and 18th-century London.
Laurence Brockliss is a tutor and fellow of Magdalen College Oxford and professor of early modern French history at the University of Oxford. He works on the history of science, medicine and education between 1500 and 1850 and is at present writing a history of the University of Oxford.
I’m Laurence Brockliss. That’s Simon Dixon and that’s Michael Moss, and we’re going to present this talk as a threesome. I’ll simply be introducing the project or explaining how we got to the project; Michael will tell you something about the project itself; and then the meat of the talk will be given by Simon who’s going to tell you about the results of the pilot that we’re doing over the last year. So the first quarter of an hour or so is not particularly erudite I’m afraid but thereafter when Simon comes on, you’ll begin to get some interesting information, I hope.
So, let me just set this up. The project really steams from a book that a number of us put together and was published in 2006 which goes under the slightly tongue in cheek title of Advancing with the Army.
This was a study of some 453 army surgeons who served during the Napoleonic Wars. Traditionally, army surgeons in the early 19th century had been seen as the lowest of the low; they were esteemed to be poorly educated, came from humble backgrounds and were generally deemed to be equally pretty useless at dealing with the various diseases that they encountered.
We wanted to test whether this was the case, or not, and began this work really at the same time it became possible to create relational databases. So we thought we’d do it as a biographical study and really drill down in detail into the lives of a large number of surgeons from that period.
We were able to do this work relatively quickly, thanks to a particularly rich source that you have in the Archives here. Now that source consists of about 1,200 answers to a questionnaire that was sent out to surviving members of the Army Medical Corp, after the Battle of Waterloo, by this man Sir James Macgregor. It’s a pro forma document asking for information about background, education, service history etc that surgeons were asked to fill in and send back to Head Quarters.
There’s no similar document surviving for the Navy and I don’t think it will be easy to find a similar document from the same date for other armed forces elsewhere, certainly in relation to the Medical Corps. So it’s a very easy way in to constructing a biography and in fact, we were able to demonstrate that the returns were accurate, that people didn’t make up what they were saying.
So using that as a starting point, we created this relational database and after several years work and the inputting of many sources which were again in the Archives here, we were able to come to some, I think, interesting conclusions.
We were able to show first of all that these people were very well educated indeed, and it’s a complete myth that they were poorly educated. We were able to show that going into the army was a very good life choice, in that you made the contacts and you got the experience which allowed you when you came out to set up in civilian practice in very smart places indeed and make a lot of money.
And we were also able to show that these surgeons, far from being on the fringe of the medical profession at the time, were very often in the vanguard and in their writings, their articles and books that they published across the first half of the 19th century, they made great contributions to the development of medical knowledge.
But we also found out something else in our study of this group which we hadn’t expected to find and that seemed particularly interesting. In investigating who they married; investigating what their sons did in the way of an occupation; finding out to whom they married their daughters and indeed, sometimes going through to the third generation, the generation of grandchildren, we discovered that the sorts of people that the army surgeons, whatever their own backgrounds, decided to mix with in terms of family formation, that these backgrounds were actually rather narrow and were all connected with the either established or new professions.
There’s no sign at all that these people were interested in marrying into business; marrying into manufacturing, or putting their sons into business or manufacturing, or marrying their daughters into business or manufacturing and so it went on down through the generations. They were part of a very tightknit professional caste.
Now this is a very interesting discovery because it immediately brought to mind a book that had been written in 1969 by a man called Harold Perkin who was then Professor of History at Lancaster. Perkin’s argument regards the class formation in the 19th century was that there were not really three classes in Victorian England but four. The middle class divided into two distinctive groups, professional [and] entrepreneurial with their own conceptions of what they wanted out of life in order to maximise their interests.
I went up to university in 1968 and when Perkin’s book came out, it was the book that everybody had to read and for about ten years, it was, I think, the kind of received wisdom in this country. Over the last 20 years, it’s almost disappeared completely from view. And anybody who’s writing about the middle classes today in the Victorian period nearly always treat the middle classes as homogeneous.
So having discovered that at least one very full session of professional class looked much more like a caste rather than part of the broader middle class, we thought it was incumbent upon us to try to develop a much larger project that looked at the professions in and around.
No-one’s ever done this before. No attempt was ever made to see whether there was some other material underpinning to what Perkin was saying. But we thought that, given our own findings in this particular book, this was the next thing we ought to do and so that’s the background for the project that Michael’s going to tell you about and Simon’s going to explore as regards to the pilot, thank you.
[Michael Moss speaks] Thank you, Laurence. So, where do we go from here? And perhaps I should say by way of elaboration that at the end of what Lawrence has said, because the project that we did on army doctors, we did as Google, as it were, our search engines emerged and when we began looking for these people, we spent a lot of time looking up the census, wading through indexes here.
By the end of the project, which was completed in 2005, we just began to type the names of our doctors into Google and we found stuff. And it was rather like, as I say in the last chapter of the book, as if we were eavesdropping on private conversations in social networks because that’s what we were doing. We were eavesdropping on genealogical websites and finding stuff and finding stuff that often took our families down to the present generation.
One of the descendants of our army doctors was Churchill’s last private secretary who’s still alive which we found entirely, as it were, serendipitously. And when we told our academic colleagues about this – this is what we were doing and we were gleaning extraordinary amounts of information from genealogical websites, they would immediately say ‘How do you know it’s true?’ and you felt like saying ‘Just come on’. And of course, in the last five years, user-generated content (and I can say a bit more about that at the end within archival catalogues, projects like this) have become, as it were, now an accepted norm and will be in TNA [The National Archives] when Discovery fully comes on stream.
Well, if we move into the professions, based on Perkin’s work – although as Lawrence said, it’s not referred to much by historians – it provides a very powerful platform for the whole new public management ethos which sees the professions as a whole as somehow being a break on efficient management, and particularly those of you who are in the civil service who are here are seen as the arch enemies of, as it were, a progressive well-run modern bureaucracy.
So then the new public management philosophy, which I think has been hugely damaging not just in this country, but especially in developing countries, is predicated on a notion that the professions exist as a body and they act as a break on the efficient entrepreneurial people over here.
One of the problems that we have and Perkin also had was in defining what was meant, or is meant by The Professions in the 19th century because it clearly changes over time as new professions emerge. You can quite easily distinguish what are sometimes referred to as ‘the higher professions’: the law, the clergy, particularly of the established church, and medicine. There are quite easy; we can think of those as professions.
Now Perkin was ambivalent about military officers, partly, I think, because he rather liked the rhetoric that surrounded army doctors; he believed in the rhetoric that surrounds military officers, that they must all be sons of aristocrats or gentry – and therefore, pretty useless, probably not very well educated.
And if you think about it, particularly if you think about the army during the French Wars as John Cookson, who is one of the main authorities of the army itself during the French Wars, points out: ‘there aren’t enough aristocrats and gentry to produce all the officers that you need to run what was effectively a total war by the 1810s’. And if you look at the composition of the Military class as a whole, you do find some quite ordinary people: bakers, shopkeepers, and people from the old professions are military officers.
And certainly by the time you get to the middle of the 19th century, well before Cardwell’s reforms, you’re beginning to see a degree of professional training, particularly of those who go to Woolwich because they have to take exams and quite a lot of military officers who served overseas also had to learn foreign languages and that sense of training which of course is fundamental to Perkin’s argument, you can see emerging within the military officer cohort by the middle of the 19th century.
And we would argue that they should be included within the professions and you can see that clearly from the study we did of army doctors where a lot of them placed their children…(sons), not in the medical professions but as military officers because they see that as a way to advancement.
And we move on down the list with civil servants which we see making the same sorts of progressions and one of the mistakes that Perkin made was to look to the utilitarian nature of examinations; examinations being in a way as a barrier or an entry qualification for professions and seeing them emerging quite late in the 19th century when quite a lot of the evidence is increasingly suggesting that some form of examination took place a long time before.
And you can see that in Brewer’s famous book, The Sinews of Power, where you can see the same thing happening, for example, I mean, the excise service in the 18th century. Robert Burns didn’t just buy his position as an excise officer, he had to take exams. He needed to be able to calculate how much liquor was in a cask to work out the duty and you had to take exams in it. And that well predates the sort of examination systems that have become well established by the late 19th century.
And an equivalent project was on army doctors on the clergy and the Church of England sees much the same development of a sense of professionalisation within the clergy much earlier in the 19th century than the establishment of the theological colleges would suggest.
There are older professions that parallel these professions like being a land agent or a banker, and they also develop their own examination systems in the period that we’re talking about. And then below that, we can see emerging by the late 19th century newer professions, particularly professions architecture, surveying, civil engineering, and what was interesting about our army doctors study was that a number of the children of army doctors find their ways into these new professions.
I’m going to say a bit more about the other caring professions and teaching [them] at the end of this talk because it creates certain problems.
So what we decided to do is to conduct this experiment would be to investigate the professional cohorts in a number of towns. [Shows image] If you look down that list quickly, you will say ‘Why are’, or you might say, ‘Why are the metropolitan centres not there; why do we not have London and Edinburgh and perhaps Dublin’. There’s a reason for excluding Ireland as…those of you who are genealogists will well know, the sources are not very complete.
Well, the reason that we don’t have the metropolitan centres in this list is in the army doctors’ study, we noticed a very pronounced metropolitan effect. And what we mean by that is that people born in rural Ireland, rural Scotland, gravitate towards, certainly our doctors did, gravitate towards the metropolitan centres not necessarily just London but also Dublin and Edinburgh, but principally London.
There may be peculiar reasons for that in the medical/army medical professions because the Duke was here and with the Duke here, Duke of Wellington, you could get a lot of patronage but we suspect there is that metropolitan effect at work right across the professions and that would skew, well we feel it would skew, whatever conclusions that we arrived at, but we’re open to debate.
So we decided on these towns: Winchester because it’s a cathedral city; Brighton as a spa town; Leeds, an industrial city; Bristol, a port and also a cathedral town, although sometimes it lost it; Morpeth and Alnwick; Dundee, Greenock and Merthyr Tydfil.
We had originally included an Irish town but it was pointed out to us, and we know from experience, that the sources are deficient and you can see the population numbers.
And then we had to decide in our own minds as you’ve seen what we meant by a profession and those were the professions that we chose and I’m going to say a bit more about teachers and nursing particularly. And we used the census categories from the 1851 and 1861 census which attempts to categorise people into various jobs which are then used as a surrogate for social class which in itself creates problems.
And in our investigations, we combine professional population of these eight towns with some 8,600. Well, we couldn’t obviously investigate the whole 8,600 because if you do some simple mathematics, you would realise that by the time we got to the grandchildren, we would have probably almost a 100, 000 people, and so we reduced that to a sample of a 1,000. And if you’re interested we will explain how we arrived at our sampling technique because we wanted to weight the samples so we didn’t end up just with the sample being dominated by the largest of the professions so we would have some of the newer professions represented because some of them are going to emerge towards the later part of the 19th century.
In the final project, there will be a sample of 50 members from each of the 20 professional cohorts that we have identified. And that will produce altogether some 20,000 individuals. And we had quite substantial numbers in our army study but because the quality of the online resources, which we are relying on needs to form the basis of our investigations, have got that much better since we started out on the army doctors project, we are confident that we will probably get more people than we had before and more data to work with.
So we applied to the Oxford University Fell fund, which is funded out of profits of Oxford University Press, for a grant to conduct a pilot study. By this hangs a tale because Laurence and I had also at the same time become friends and I mean friends – it’s like being on a Facebook page. We’d become friends with somebody called Mark Harrison who runs the Oxford University Centre for the History of Medicine. And we’d become friends so we could become part of a project on the health of the Navy and we have also applied for this grant, expecting to get neither but as a result as you might expect we got both!
And so we’re stuck with a project on the health of the Navy which is about quinine and malaria, and we have this project, which we think is more exciting, about the professions.
And we decided to choose two towns to form our pilot study: Alnwick and Morpeth because they are, as it were, the county towns but two, in Northumberland and Winchester, in Hampshire. Both of which have different characteristics. They are manageable in terms of population.
[Shows image] That’s the size of the population in 1851. We could easily draw a sample professional cohort. Winchester, we’ve got 56 individuals and Alnwick, 28. One of the interesting things about Winchester, which you perhaps may not know or have forgotten, is that Winchester was also an important garrison town and that of course…although it’s a cathedral town, will also have things to say about the sorts of results that we’re likely to get. And so this is where Simon is going to tell you something about where we’ve got to.
[Simon Dixon talks] Thank you Michael and this next slide here, which I won’t talk about in great detail, simply gives you an idea of why we structured the sample in the way that we did…As you can see there are some professions within these towns which are much larger than others so we have a rather a large number of clergy men particularly in Winchester because it has a cathedral and also Winchester College and a number of Anglican parish churches. We chose to structure the sample so that we would be able to have representatives not just the legal profession, medicine and the military, but also the smaller and emerging professions as Michael said: accountancy and actuaries, civil engineers and so on.
So I was for the last year the Research Assistant on the pilot project that you’ve been hearing about, and what this meant was that my job, my daily life consisted of getting up in the morning and turning my laptop on and then doing something that for a living that I’m sure many of you here do as a hobby…searching Ancestry, Genealogists, FamilySearch and various other online resources in order to construct longitudinal life histories of members of our cohort. And what we were looking to do was to find out about them as much information as we could. And that was then stored in a relational database that we created using Microsoft Access.
And you can see from the current slide that we tried to collect as much information as we could from as many sources as possible. So we’ve got basic biographical information at the top of the screen there and then information about who they married; their children; what happened to their children; the occupations that they entered; who their children married; what happened to their grandchildren; how much money they left in their wills; on their confessional allegiance, where they were baptised; whether they were married in the Church of England or another denomination. And also some information about their educational background; both their schooling, which was particularly difficult to come by unless you went to Eton or Harrow, it’s very difficult to find records, from the sources that we used anyway, of where many of these people were schooled; their higher education; and also information about their sort of associational life as well, the clubs and societies that they belonged to.
So using the sources that I’ve just mentioned, I entered as much as I could find on each individual into the database and then spent the last few months of the project, analysing the data. And it’s the results of this work that I’ve going to talk to you about for the next 15 or 20 minutes.
So we took our sample from the 1851 census which we obtained from Ancestry. And the first part of my job was to extract every record for a professional from the 1851 census. And then using the sort of structuring method that we identified to create a randomly chosen sample from each of the professional groups.
And a good example of what we were trying to do is provided by the Wickham family of Winchester of whom by pure chance two ended up in our cohort: William John Wickham, a surgeon who was among other things surgeon to Winchester College; and his brother, Frederick, who was an ordained Clergyman without a congregation but who was also the Second Master at Winchester College. The Masters at Winchester College were ordained clergymen. William and Frederick were the sons of William Nicholas Wickham, a surgeon, and his wife, Anne, the daughter of John Latham, another medic although better known as the author of a number of books on ornithology.
The professional dynasty stretched back at least another generation. William Nicholas was the son of Jacob Wickham, a navy surgeon who later practised in civilian life at Sutton Scotney near Winchester. Two other brothers of William and John and Frederick entered the Anglican Church and all four men married clergymen’s daughters. So they stayed within the professional cast that Lawrence was talking about. Between them all, they had a total of 32 children including 16 sons, at least 12 of whom entered a profession.
These included Edward Charles Wickham who was Master of Wellington College and Dean of Lincoln. He married a daughter of William Gladstone, the Prime Minister, and had sons who became a clergyman and parade commissioner to South Africa. Edward’s brother, Frederick Robert, married a daughter of Joseph Bazalgette, the engineer of the London Sewerage system who was himself, Bazalgette, the son of a naval officer, and the couple had sons who became a civil servant, naval officer, navy surgeon and a solicitor.
[Shows image] Our man here, a picture of William John Wickham, supplied courtesy of Winchester museums, had 33 grandchildren, whether he remembered all of their birthdays is not recorded, with most of the grandsons entering a profession including two engineers, two surgeons, a veterinary surgeon and a photographer – so evidence of moving by the third generation into what was quite a new, modern profession. One granddaughter became a nurse and at least three others married professional men, clergymen and a surgeon.
So the Wickhams provide a pretty strong case in support of our hypothesis that there was what’s being referred to as a professional project or a professional caste in Victorian society. But the next question is and what…our research methodology sought to find out is how typical were they; the answer to which is a fairly emphatic, ‘well, quite typical’, to a large degree they were conforming to type that people are people and so not all of the families behaved in a uniform fashion and that’s something that should be remembered throughout what I’m saying this afternoon that there’s a strong pattern that’s emerging but…there are exceptions to the rule.
The next slide that I’m showing gives an indication of the family background of the cohort as gaged by their fathers’ occupation. The first part of this table consists of what might be termed the elite or the higher ranking professions: lawyers, clergymen, medics, military officers and also we have some of the newer professions, architects and engineers.
And the findings here indicate that within the sample, members of the professions often came from a professional family background. Ten entered the same profession as their father although there was also some sideways movement, for example, the sons of lawyers becoming clergymen and the sons of clergymen becoming doctors. But as I said it can’t be ignored that at least a third of our cohort had fathers who were not professionals.
And the group here, the lawyers, clergymen, doctors and so on tended to be, if they weren’t the son of a professional, the sons of wealthy businessmen and landowners although the sample does include some anomalies based on, compared to other researches that has been carried out, for example, it just happened that the three barristers that we chose in our sample were all the sons of businessmen whereas work by Daniel Dooman [?] on the history of the legal profession suggests that barristers were far more likely to be the sons of professionals or members of the gentry than they were of businessmen.
The teachers are an interesting group and Michael will say a little bit more about them in a moment. An ordained Master of Winchester College like Frederick Wickham who you’ve already met, might well be the son of a doctor and have quite a high social status. But the village schoolmaster or schoolmistress was far more likely to come from lower down the social scale. There’s little evidence in our cohort that the schoolmistresses and governesses we’ve included were the fallen gentlewomen women of contemporary legend immortalised by Charlotte Bronte in the novel, Jane Eyre. Instead, they included Emily Lyons a farmer’s daughter from Morpeth, a gardener’s daughter and two shoemakers’ daughters.
Now from your own family history I’m sure that you may be thinking that the observation that sons sometimes followed their fathers’ occupation is not necessarily particularly surprising. But what is interesting about our group is the frequency with which this top group of professionals who were most likely to come from a professional background would also marry into the families of other professionals. And this shows the extent to which lawyers, medics, clergymen and army officers, in particular, married into other professional families, in the case of our sample exclusively into professional families.
An indication of how far members of the older professions were part of what we might see as an endogamous professional class is provided by the marriages of the three children of Thomas Butler, a Hampshire clergyman who died in 1823, whose younger son Frederick is one of our cohort. Frederick was a surgeon at Winchester and married the daughter of a clergyman, one Maximilian Geneste, splendid name, who was a clergyman on the Isle of Wright. His brother Thomas followed their father into the church and married another clergyman’s daughter, while their sister Henrietta Francis was the wife of Arthur Milleuge [?], an officer in the navy who as a young man had been a midshipman on the Beagle where he had encountered Charles Darwin.
Outside of the law and medicine, the church and the military, the picture’s more mixed with much less evidence of a closed professional class emerging. With the exception of Frederick Wickham, none of the other male teachers in the sample married into professional families.
James Withers, a cabinetmaker’s son who ran a boy’s boarding school in Winchester married the daughter of a linen draper while the Alnwick schoolmaster John Bartholomew Holland married a coachman’s daughter. Moreover, none of the schoolmistresses we’ve studied married professional men. Mary Weaball’s [?] husband, Thomas Chopping, was a Clerk of the Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors. Elizabeth Beavis married a joiner and Emily Lyons from Morpeth married a market gardener.
Now moving on from family background and marriages to look at what happened to the children of these people. Around half of our cohort had children, an average of five per marriage. And because our sample was drawn from the 1851 census, it proved relatively easy to identify the occupations of sons of the cohort as they can generally be traced through subsequent censuses.
Occupational evidence was obtained for 90 sons: two thirds of those traced; many of the others died in childhood; or some of them may well have emigrated. And their career paths make interesting reading when compared to their family backgrounds.
And we can see again this familiar pattern emerging with the sons of lawyers, medics, army officers and architects often entering a profession. A number followed, entered the profession of their father which could have potential benefits, for example, less expensive training if you served your articles with your father or maybe with a friend of your father. And this could be followed by entering into a partnership and ultimately an inheritance of a practice, for example, John Barnes Colson was articled to his father John Colson, an architect in Winchester, later becoming a partner in the firm which he then inherited when his father died in 1895.
Well it was often the case that a son of a lawyer could enter the profession and join the family firm, brothers may well have pursued alternative careers. And it’s worth mentioning here that, as I’m sure you will be aware, this was a period of very rapid population growth in Britain. But the professions themselves did not grow necessarily even at the same rate as the rest of the population.
So in other words, there wasn’t a massive explosion in the number of lawyers, particularly clergymen and medics during the second half of the 19th century. And this meant that if a solicitor had seven children, there probably weren’t going to be jobs for all seven sons; there probably weren’t going to be jobs for all seven of them in the family legal practice so some of them chose other careers.
Edward Williams Faithfull, a solicitor from Winchester had seven sons. The eldest of whom entered the civil service before emigrating to Iowa where he worked as a bookkeeper, later becoming a real estate salesman in Los Angeles. And one of the wonderful things about this research is that with Ancestry, as you I’m sure well know, we can trace some of these people, not just their movement within the British Isles but also across the Atlantic as well. And we’ve got a small but significant group of children and grandchildren who emigrated to America. Faithfull’s second son went to Spain as a missionary for the Christian Brethren and two others followed their father into the law with a fifth becoming a stockbroker.
At the fringes of the professional class were those such as artists and musicians including in Winchester lay vicars at the cathedral who often needed to find more than one means of earning a living. A landscape artist like George Prosser of Winchester is described variously in censuses and trade directories as a drawing master, artist, bookseller and stationer. In fact in censuses, he usually described himself as a landscape artist. When you look at the trade directories to find out how he actually made a living, he was a bookseller, stationer and drawing master. One of his four sons apparently worked in an architect’s office but the remainder earned their living from the stationary side, so in other words the commercial side of their father’s business.
Alfred Conduit, a lay vicar at Winchester cathedral in 1851 found various means of earning a living from music including tuning pianos, teaching and selling instruments and it was from the more lucrative music shop on Winchester high street that his sons earned their livings.
Moving on now to look at the marriage patterns of the children of the cohort; and if we look at some of the established and higher ranking new professions, we continue to see evidence of this insular professional class with designs to continually replicate represent itself from one generation to the next.
The Clerk of the Peace of Alnwick, William Dixon, was a solicitor who also made a fortune as proprietor of the local bank. He had secured an advantageous match for himself, marrying the daughter of the solicitor to whom he had been articled. The younger of Dixon’s daughters married the Reverend George West, a curate from Ryton, near Newcastle, and the son of Frances George West, a barrister from Thaxted in Essex. It was presumably through this connection that William the eldest of Dixon senior’s two sons met his daughter Francis, the curate’s sister. The younger of the two sons, Patrick Thorpe Dixon married the daughter of a doctor Carlyle from Dumfriesshire.
Dixon had two other daughters; Sarah, who never married, and Grace the wife of John Atkinson Wilson, a solicitor and son of another of the Alnwick cohort, a surgeon by the name of George Wilson. Wilson’s other children also forged links with professional families through their marriages, for example, the eldest son George, another medic marrying Rosa Elderton, daughter of a Newcastle attorney and Wilson’s eldest daughter, Isabella, forming a match with the same family when she married Charles Richard Elderton, an army officer in 1853. So the behaviour of the Dixons and Wilsons supports the view that members of the top professions were engaged in the formation of a professional caste or a professional project.
At the other end of the scale were the sons and daughters of those on the fringes of the professions who were not able to use, or at least weren’t using, marriages as a means of securing their status within the professional class. And they usually married into non-professional families.
Now there was, of course, more to the lives of our cohorts than their identities as professionals and as sons, husbands, fathers, mothers, wives and daughters. They engaged more widely with the political, social and cultural life of their communities and they occasionally, as this image from Winchester museum shows, relaxed with a game of croquet.
This is the family of Andrew Crawford, a Winchester surgeon of Scottish origins. He was active in Winchester politics and was an associate of the local MP whom he proposed at the 1852 election. While he declined to take up public office, he was nonetheless involved in a number of local institutions and societies, including his parish vestry, pavement board, the local hospital and the Hampshire County Museum. In October 1846, he seconded the motion to establish a county museum for Hampshire and he was elected to its first committee the following January. Crawford was also a trustee of a Mechanics Institute in Winchester and a member of the committees of the Volunteer Rifle Corp and a member of the Architect Institute in Great Britain. So Crawford was one of life’s doers.
Just over a third of our sample have been identified as being involved in some form of associational activity including membership of an intellectual society, Masonic Lodge, a volunteer for also a sporting club or society. At meetings and at social gatherings, they would have met other members of the Victorian middle class with whom they are likely to have had business and personal relationships.
And yet as we’ve seen, those who earned a living from one of the learned or more prestigious new professions often exhibited what might be described as a distinctively caste-like behaviour, marrying into one another’s families, sending their sons into a profession and marrying their daughters to the professional sons of professional men.
While our findings today may be secure for the towns of Winchester, Alnwick and Morpeth which remained largely outside of the noise and dirt of the Industrial Revolution, it’s quite possible that members of the professions and the broader middle class didn’t behave in a uniform fashion across the British Isles and throughout the 19th century.
And whether the patterns that we’ve identified form part of a national or localised phenomenon is the question that will be addressed by the next phase of our research which will also give us the opportunity to revisit some of the definitions and assumptions that we’ve made in this project as Michael will now discuss quickly.
[Michael Moss speaks] So we do have some issues. Two that I’ve referred to already: nurses and teachers where there are very large numbers present in the 1851 census. Nurses cover everything from what are going to become the Florence Nightingale Nurses who will be trained in the Florence Nightingale School which is now part of King’s College, London; and those who were, as Lawrence discovered on a recent trip to Wales, more or less illiterate and simply employed to teach people how to crochet or to knit. And they represent an issue and also the very large number of pupil teachers who we have discounted, although ‘pupil teachers’ often are a means into the professions. But if we had included the sheer numbers of them, we would skew the sample but we have included some because they do represent an important female cohort within our professional grouping.
The other issues, of course…are the choice of the towns, the size of the sample that we’ve chosen, and we have a problem about grandchildren because we will end up with 10,000 of them and…We will not be able to explore all their characteristics and we almost certainly have to sample the grandchildren ourselves.
We have issues about methodology which we might like to discuss and we’d also like to know about equivalent projects elsewhere. We do know of some or one at least in France that we have stumbled across.
And lastly, we do need the help of the genealogical community because we are very dependent, as I said at the beginning, on user-generated content.
We hope to build a database of similar characteristics. Have any of you used Founders and Survivors database from the University of Tasmania which is a huge database put together by my friend Hamish Maxwell-Stewart which is about the convict community in Van Diemen’s land (or Tasmania) and it’s a very similar project to ours. Who are they? Where do they come from and what happens to their children? And that project is entirely dependent on user generated content – ie people like you putting information, uploading information into the database and…we will hope that our database will have similar characteristics. We’re getting there and we have the funding and that’s what we hope to deliver. So we come to an end. Thank you very much.
Transcribed by Joy Omorogbe as part of a volunteer project, April 2015