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Postby Baggybooks » Sat Aug 16, 2008 11:56 pm

Would someone be able to explain what journeyman, attached to a trade, signifies?

My Great-great Grandfather was a house painter - journeyman.

Thank you.

Helen - searching for Abbotts and Monks - East London - 1850's onwards!

Also Lingards - where are you all?
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RE: Journeyman

Postby paulberyl » Sun Aug 17, 2008 3:16 am


A journeyman is someone who had completed their apprenticeship in their trade and was a fully qualified tradesman. Journeymen were employees and not allowed to employ others. To be able to employ others or run their own business they would need to become masters. A journeyman could become a master by election by the relevant trade guild but he would also need the necessary funds to be able to set up his own business. Consequently most journeymen stayed journeymen.

The word 'journeyman' comes from the French word [i]journée[/i], meaning the period of one day; this refers to their right to charge a fee for each day's work. In parts of later medieval Europe spending time as a journeyman moving from one town to another to gain experience of different workshops, was an important part of the training of an aspirant master.

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Re: Journeyman

Postby Debra W » Wed Aug 19, 2015 8:35 pm

I have a journeyman too, he was a coach builder. Would this apply to any kind of coach or a specific type? And would there have been a registration council or similar for that specific trade?
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Re: Journeyman

Postby AdrianB38 » Wed Aug 19, 2015 9:44 pm

It's possible to read too much into the significance of "journeyman" and "master" - depending on the time and place. Originally, the terms would have been strictly backed up by guilds and examinations (the term "masterpiece" originally referred to the piece of work that someone had to produce in order to be considered as a master).

However, as trade guilds declined in importance (and of course not every town or village had them), the terms acquired a looser meaning - generally the "master" was an employer and a journeyman was an employee. One relative of mine was recorded as a "master window-cleaner" during WW1. It's possible that he served a 7y apprenticeship at window cleaning and passed an examination - but I doubt it - particularly as he seems actually to have trained as a brickie. Master window-cleaner presumably simply meant that he was in business for himself.

A journeyman coachbuilder would have been trained or apprenticed in whatever types of coaches his "master" built. As for whether there was a specific body for that trade - most trades guilds were localised - you might find that there was a trade guild for coach building in London, say, but in Dundee, which I am rather more familiar with, there was certainly nothing that specific. I'd be fairly certain that a man running a coachbuilding business in the Burgh of Dundee during the height of Guild influence, would have needed to be a Master of some trade - my best guess would be that he'd be one of the Wrights - "The Wrights were the squarewrights, or cabinetmakers; Joiners, who were also responsible for Burials; and the Glaziers" (see Basically, you have to research the specific time and place to see what happened.
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Re: Journeyman

Postby Debra W » Wed Aug 19, 2015 10:07 pm

Thanks Adrian for the link. He may well have been something to do with train carriage building.
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Re: Journeyman

Postby Claire Price » Sat May 20, 2017 9:29 pm

Hi, this is fascinating can I ask is there a trades/apprenticeship record for a ship rigger journeyman? Just thought I would asked as you appear to have made headway in this area of investigation? Claire

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