Work and the Workhouse
Poverty was a daily obstacle to be overcome. Being in work did not mean that there was always a meal to be eaten nor shoes to be worn.
Eighteenth and nineteenth century families were large. Many mouths to feed and bodies to clothe put an immense strain on the breadwinner to maintain his job, for it was mainly the man of the family who went out to work. The women might add a few coins as launderesses or seamstresses but in general the head of the family brought in the main income.
The male children were put to work as early as 6 and 7 years old if suitable jobs could be found.
Employment was fragile. Crop disasters or mill owners looking to reduce costs were frequent causes of job losses and the only alternative was the Poor House (Union House or Workhouse or ‘Going on the Parish’)
Some professions ran for generations through the families. Pridmores were Sadlers and Harness Makers, O’Haras were miners, Bagshaws and Hopkinsons were farmers whilst Parrys went to sea.