Journeyman | Pottery industry Jobs



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J Potter = Journeyman Potter



               A journeyman is a male trader or crafter who has completed an apprenticeship

In the census records "J." is always short for "journeyman" - (meaning time-served/having completed an apprenticeship) basically someone who has completed their apprenticeship but isn't a master, with their own premises - so the journeyman works freelance so to speak, hiring out their labour where they can. The "jour" in "journeyman" actually is French for "day".


The first union - Journeyman Potter's Union

The first real union to emerge in the six towns [of Stoke-on-Trent] was the Journeyman Potter's Union in 1824. By the following year it had embarked upon a series of confrontations with employers. The issues involved:

  • the truck system;
  • standardisation of sizes; and
  • piece rates.

These would dominate union affairs for years to come. In August 1825 a strike began.

The manufacturers, who had closed ranks and promised to subsidise each other until the union's defeat retaliated with a lockout. The strike failed, the union disintegrated and selected leaders were victimised.
The biggest problem was with the Journeyman Potter's Union was its lack of unity. Ovenmen, potters, cratemakers, printers  and others all argued for their own corner and worked for the advantage of their group. This trend continued in later combinations.



1840 Report:-

In 1840 the House of Commons set up a commission to inquire into the state of children employed in the mines and  manufactories. Samuel Scriven visited the area of Stoke-on-Trent from December 1840 onwards to collect evidence.

"A lad serves two, or three, or more years, already at half the journeyman's wages, over which he holds undivided control long before he has acquired a sufficient knowledge of its real value"

"The employments of children are various and dissimilar; in some of the rooms great numbers are congregated together, while in others there are only one or two; the painting, burnishing, gilding, flower-making, moulding, figure-making, and engraving, constitute literally schools of art, under the superintendence of- masters and mistresses. In the first and second are to be seen the apprentice boys and girls (each working in separate rooms), whose ages vary from 8 to 17: the boys are seldom taken before 14. Both serve an apprenticeship of seven years, and receive in the first year 1s. per week, 1s. 6d. the second, 2s. the third, 2s. 6d. the fourth; for the fifth and sixth they get half price of the adult journeyman or women, and on the seventh their, full price"