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Recruitment, training and knowledge transfer in the London Dyers’ Company, 1649-1826

Feldman, Roger A. (2005) Recruitment, training and knowledge transfer in the London Dyers’ Company, 1649-1826. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis studies the role of a craft guild as a training organisation. The study looks at the London Dyers’ Company binding and joining records over 150 years, available from the mid seventeenth century to the early nineteenth century. The study initially deals with transmission of knowledge from master to apprentice, a single generation. It then looks at factors associated with chains of transmission over several generations, taking advantage of available occupational specialization data. The Dyers’ Company records of membership are estimated to be at least 94 percent complete from 1710-1792, and probably similarly complete in the earlier period 1660-1710. In 1750, 93 percent and in 1792 81 percent of dyers in livery companies were members of the Dyers’ Company. In those same years, 34 percent in the livery of the Dyers’ Company were not practicing dyers. Chapters 2 and 3 describe the dynamics of the Dyers’ Company from binding and joining information. The apprentice binding data includes information about families of apprentices, their places of residence, their father’s occupation, along with what premia were paid when they were bound. Information is presented about time as a journeyman, about how many apprentices an individual master bound in a lifetime, and about women apprentices and women who bound apprentices. Scattered information about specialized dyeing occupations allowed categorisation of chains of transmission by occupation. One specialty, calico printing, potentially the most innovative of any in the dyeing trade, was not fully represented in the Dyers’ Company records. Sixty one percent of all chains were no more than three generations long. Chains involving silk dyers were more often longer than those involving dyers with no stated specialty. Long chains might either be evidence of technological conservatism, a more technically difficult craft, greater use of innovation, or increased economic activity.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2005 Roger A. Feldman
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Sets: Departments > Economic History
Supervisor: Epstein, Stephan R.

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