work james dearman 1826-?
Like many poor young Victorian men, James began his working life as a labourer. Remember that this was the time of industrialisation and the growth of cities on a mammoth scale, so there would have been plenty of work to hand. Maybe he laboured for a bricklayer, because by the time that his third son James John was baptised in 1854, at the age of 28 he was describing himself as a bricklayer’s labourer. By the 1861 census he was a bricklayer not just a labourer. So somewhere or other he fitted in an official apprenticeship because later on in life he described himself as a journeyman bricklayer which means that he was fully qualified, although not a master, who employed people, and who had also submitted a master work.
Most bricklayers travelled around, but not our James. I suspect that after such a shaky start to life, security was what he looked for and this he had with his wife, family and friends around him in Enfield. Brother John Newman Dearman, who must have been close to him you would think, also lived in Enfield and worked as a baker. Maybe he gave James’s son Frederick his start in the confectionery business.
The railway line came to Enfield in 1849, and after that there was considerable development of housing in the area, although expansion was a bit spasmodic. Nevertheless lots of houses were built and the small arms factory for which Enfield is famous (the Enfield rifle) was expanded. So it is likely that James spent most of his working life working on building houses and transforming Enfield from a country village, supplying food to London, to the suburb that it is today.
No doubt the hours were long, and the work would have been physically demanding. Did he spend rowdy nights out with his mates I wonder, or did he go home and collapse? He must have been physically pretty tough though.
So an apparently steady working man, just getting on with life, stepping in to help out the children when needed. I do not know when he died - I cannot find him in the 1901 census (he would have been 75 by then), so I am assuming that he died sometime between his wife’s death in 1895 and 1901. Perhaps her death was the final blow. I will continue to search for his death.
The brickman in our key photograph looks fairly happy, as does this twentieth century bricklayer on the right. Let’s hope he was too.