Family Lessons 112: Working Class

When we think of Victorian homes, we imagine them to be busy places with a great many occupants. If wealthy, they were populated by servants; if poor, with children. My 5x great-grandparents, Robert and Christiana Nelson, headed a working-class household at Skerton, near Lancaster. Their house at 39 Main Street was home in 1841 to the following folk, their age and occupations following:

Robert Nelson, 50, weaver,

Christina, 50,

Joseph, 20, spinner,

John, 20, cooper,

Nancy, 15, weaver,

Isabella, 15, weaver

Agnes, 10,

Bridget Wilson, 25, weaver,

Ann, 15, weaver

Jane, 10, "

Francis Boardley, 15, spinner

11 is a rather large household, yet the dwellings on Main Street are modest in size. Although No 39 no longer appears to exist, the area having been given over to modern blocks of flats, the older, surviving cottages look little bigger than two-up-two-downs. Furthermore, the Victoria County History (London, 1914), states:

Another road, known as Main Street, goes north near the river bank towards Halton; it is lined by the older and poorer houses. It touches the river-side at the Lune Mill, recently closed.

This further indicates the small area shared by those 11 people. Their living space was under pressure, their beds were likely shared and their personal privacy minimal, yet see how busy they were. Five weavers, two spinners, a cooper (barrel maker), a housewife and a ten-year-old who likely helped out where she was needed. Like most of the Victorian working class, they toiled to make others rich, themselves merely subsisting on whatever the price for which they could sell their labour.

With the exception of charlatans and crooks, few today make financial gain from the gospel. Most work for a Master who pays no wage, though He provides much else beside. Many believers perform their labour in the evenings and at weekends, and few receive much public gratitude. The good Lord for whom they work, however, notes their industry and promises great reward when all their work is done. A Victorian weaver had little to look forward to; the Christian has everything.  

“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work." Revelation 22:12