• Stonemasons

    The January 2007 issue of "Your Family Tree" has an article about stonemasons which covers many different aspects including some historical background.

    The earlier you go back, the more likely your stonemason would have been a very skilled craftsman, with an apprenticeship of 15 years to learn all the different aspects of construction. However, in later times (17-1800s onwards), this term covered all sorts of trades other than the skilled carving we think of today... such as quarrying, fashioning door lintels, paving stones and all sorts of other things related to building & construction (think farm buildings & houses as well as bridges & viaducts etc). These folk probably start off as builders' labourers and most of the people who change their occupation between censuses probably fall into this category.

    The article does not give any sources for apprenticeship records; where they still exist these would presumably be included in the records offices.

    Master masons had their own "marks". Earlier ones are often symbols, later ones can be initials. You can sometimes see these on gravestones (low down and possibly buried by now). I am told there is no centralised record of these.

    Master masons may have belonged to a Guild, and here the Worshipful Company of Masons may be able to help, but you have to access the records in person. (Southgate, London N14)

    It is also suggested you may find relevant records in old Trade Associations (which are now our modern trade unions of course) and sources for these include the Working Class Movement Library in Salford, and the Modern Records Centre at Warwick University. Salford (holds 1865-1918 yearly audits of members etc.)

    Warwick has an extensive collection of Trade Union records as well as an index to obituaries.

    The relevant unions: Friendly Society of Operative Sonemasons of England, Ireland & Wales (1833-1919)
    Operative Society of Masons, Quarrymen and Allied Trades of England and Wales (1919-1921)
    This became the Amalgamated Union of Building Workers in 1921 & further evolved into the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians in 1971. You will have to visit in person to look at any relevant records.

    The following websites mentioned in the article may also be of interest

    Back to General History Section