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and times in being at their work ", the masters being allowed to reduce their wages "according to the time of their absence". The series of enactments is instructive because it enables us to trace the sequence of cause and effect; it shows that the masters in raising the hours of labour were themselves pursuing an aggressive policy. If the ordinance of 1526 alone had survived it would have inclined us to suppose that the journeymen were using their organization to bring about a reduction of their hours of working, and not, as was actually the case, simply to prevent their increase. We must not, therefore, readily assume that the journeymen gilds were invariably on the offensive; it is clear that they were called into existence as much by the fear of economic degradation as by the hope of economic advancement.

Another source of friction lay in the jealousy with which Restriction the masters of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries viewed of competition. the potential rivalry of their journeymen. Their anxiety to limit the field of competition led them to adopt measures which were injurious to the interests of their hired workers, whose prospects of independence were materially impaired. Accordingly a struggle began, in which the masters strove to keep the control of industry in their own hands, and the wage-earners sought to challenge their monopoly and set up as independent producers. The Leathersellers of London complained in 1482 that, when apprentices had served their term, they refused to become servants of their masters "for reasonable wages as their masters did before them", but took apprentices and a house or shop 2. In order to check the practice, the gild compelled the masters to pay a fine of five shillings for every apprentice in their employment. Another method of restricting competition was by exacting a promise from apprentices that they would not become masters, or by extorting heavy fees for admission to the freedom of the city, without which no one could legally carry on his business. Journeymen were forbidden to keep servants or apprentices 4, to work for any one save their 1 Coventry Leet Book, ii. 574 (1496); iii. 673 (1520); iii. 693 (1526). 2 Black, Leathersellers' Company, 39.

* Infra, p. 366. Cf. also the compulsory interval of three years: supra, p. 293. Fox, Merchant Taylors of Bristol, 33, 49 (1401).



of strife.

masters 1, or to undertake private work in secret or by night "for their own profit "; and they were prohibited from working part of the week for a master and the rest of the time on their own account. The Cappers of Coventry (1496) inhibited their journeymen from making caps of their own, or for any one except their masters. The men, however, refused to comply with the restriction, and in 1520 the prohibition was repeated that they should not compete with their masters or work caps in their own houses. So resolute were the masters to exclude all rivalry and keep their trade to themselves, that they agreed to boycott spinners who worked for journeymen, and not to employ journeymen who made their own caps in defiance of the ordinance 4.

Other causes of strife appeared from time to time, for where the clash of interests was inevitable occasions for dispute were never wanting. The journeymen complained of the disproportionate increase in the numbers of apprentices, which diminished their own opportunities of gaining a livelihood or accumulating sufficient capital to set up on their own. One of the terms of the agreement concluded between the masters and journeymen of the Coventry Weavers in 1424 was that every master should have free licence to employ as many apprentices as he pleased without challenge; it is evident that trouble had arisen over the number of the apprentices, in which the journeymen were now beaten. On their side the masters alleged that journeymen were unruly, difficult to control, and reluctant to show due respect to their authority 5. One specific charge levied at the journeymen was that they absented themselves without leave from their work, "deporting themselves in the streets for two or three days a week", or left their service without "reasonable warning given to the master". The Shoemakers of Norwich (1490) complained

1 Red Paper Book of Colchester, 24 (temp. Hen. VIII.).
2 Fox, op. cit. 62; York Memorandum Book, i. 89, 182.
3 Ibid. i. 48 (late fourteenth century).

Coventry Leet Book, ii. 573 (1496); ii. 672-673 (1520).
Cf. Records of Northampton, i. 272.

• Little Red Book of Bristol, ii. 107 (1408).

Lambert, Two Thousand Years of Gild Life, 239 (1465).

that their journeymen were greatly disposed to idleness and rioting, and "diverse days weekly. . . leave their bodily labour till a great part of the week be almost so expended and wasted". The utter disintegration of gild authority among the London Barbers (1556) is portrayed in the picture drawn of the journeyman who refused to keep his master's house all the week-day, "by reason whereof he doth lose his customers", and who "goeth out at his pleasure and cometh in at his will again without asking of any leave of his master" 2. It was also said that the journeymen indulged in drinking and became unfit for their work. The London Bakers complained in 1441 that the servants of their craft had "a revelling hall and a drinking there by the which many of them be not able to do no good work a day after, whereby the householders be greatly hindered of their work" 3. From these mutual recriminations on the part of masters and men one clear fact emerges the gild system was beginning to work badly because it no longer answered to the needs of the time. The internal relations of the craft gild were harmonious so long as the interests of the different elements, of which it was composed, coincided. But the expansion of industry had disturbed these relations, and in the effort to reconcile them a new adjustment of forces became necessary.

between the


gilds and the craft gilds.

It is scarcely profitable to attempt any generalizations Relations as to the relation of the journeymen societies to the craft gilds, and as to the position assigned to the journeymen within the craft itself, in view of the meagre nature of our evidence. It is clear, however, that the difficulty created by the existence of two separate and largely rival organizations would tend primarily to be one of finance. The masters endeavoured to control the funds of their subordinates and devote them to their own religious purposes. This became the dominant issue over which the struggle was fought, involving as it did the very independence of the yeomanry itself. At Oxford the master Shoemakers kept the funds of the journeymen in their own hands. The journeymen 1 Records of Norwich, ii. 104.

2 Young, Barber Surgeons, 175.

3 Letter Book K, 263.

objected to this arrangement, and after much strife, debates and controversies" the control of the common box was vested in the bailiffs of the town 1. As a rule financial disputes turned over the maintenance of lights and torches upon the altars of saints. At Hereford, where trouble arose over this matter, the journeymen Shoemakers complained that the wardens withheld their accounts 2. Again, at Bristol "divers debates and variances " were occasioned between the masters and journeymen of the Cordwainers as to the finding of torches; and it was settled that the serving-men should maintain their own lights, collecting money among themselves for the purpose 3. At Coventry the journeymen Weavers were required to pay twelvepence to the chief master for every brother admitted into their fraternity, and at Exeter the journeymen Tailors had to contribute to the maintenance of lights and a priest 5. Our fullest knowledge of the controversy is derived from the records of Northampton. Every master" at his entry into the livery of the masters" paid eightpence towards the maintenance of the torches, and every journeyman "at his entry into the livery of the journeymen" paid fourpence. And forasmuch as the masters and journeymen have stood in variance before this time whether the said money should be paid to the sustenance of the masters' torches or of the journeymen's torches, now therefore the said masters and journeymen by their common assent be accorded and agreed in this wise for evermore, that all the said money shall be put in common as well to the sustenance of the torches of the masters as to the torches of the journeymen without any severance". A further question arises as to how far the journeymen had any voice in the control of the gild and the election of wardens. There was undoubtedly a growing tendency for the control of the gild to pass into a few hands ; and the domination of an oligarchy meant the exclusion of the journeymen from any share in the direction or administra

1 Records of Oxford, 7 (1512).

2 Hist. MSS. Comm. 13th Rep. App. iv. 304 (early sixteenth century). 3 Little Red Book of Bristol, ii. 151 (1453).

4 Coventry Leet Book, i. 93.

• Records of Northampton, i. 273.

Smith, English Gilds, 324.

tion of affairs. This must have been resented by the journeymen, and it constituted an additional source of friction. The Weavers of Hull denied their serving-men a voice in the election of their aldermen or other officers 1. In London the journeymen Weavers complained in 1444 to the Court of Aldermen that they had been accustomed to elect wardens of the mistery, but that the masters had the last six years claimed that the election belonged to them; their contention, however, failed to win support and judgment was given against them. Again, in 1466, disputes arose among the London Butchers over the election of wardens and a verdict was recorded on behalf of the livery 3. But at Beverley the "journeymen brethren" of the Weavers' gild were allowed to vote, while among the Cordwainers of Exeter the journeymen were directly represented in office, since the Cordwainers appointed their wardens half from shopkeepers and half from journeymen 5. It was not always the case, therefore, that journeymen were devoid of all share in the craft gild or were without "voice in its proceedings", but the tendency would be more and more to restrict their right of interference in the government of the gild.


The journeymen gilds were often formed under colour of a Constitureligious pretext, and the influence of the friars was a notice- tion of the able factor in their formation". In 1417 the yeomen Tailors gilds. sought permission to meet once a year for religious purposes, but the petition was refused, "although it is sought and prayed for under a pious pretext of goodness", on the ground that it might lead to disturbances 8. We get occasional glimpses of the constitution of the yeomen gilds, from which it is evident that they were organized on the model of the 1 Lambert, Two Thousand Years of Gild Life, 205 (1490). 2 Letter Book K, 290. 3 Letter Book L, 67.


4 Hist. MSS. Comm. Beverley, 95 (1496).

5 Smith, English Gilds, 332 (1482).

• Webb, Trade Unionism, 7, would regard the journeymen as having "voice in the proceedings

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7 For the London Cordwainers, see infra, p. 357. Another example appears to be that of the York Cordwainers whose journeymen met at the Friar Preachers": York Memorandum Book, i. 190.

8 Letter Book I, 187. Clode, Memorials of the Merchant Taylors, 516. For Coventry and the St. Anne fraternity, see infra, p. 358.

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