The glovemakers of Battersea with particular reference to the glovers of the Fownes Glove Company, 1777-1900

James, Mary Olive (2004) The glovemakers of Battersea with particular reference to the glovers of the Fownes Glove Company, 1777-1900. (MPhil thesis), Kingston University, .


The main focus of this study is the working lives of glovers in Battersea in the century. The migration of glovemakers from other counties into Battersea is:lll'Ves1tiga.ted in particular. The hypothesis of the research is that glovers were a mobile workforce, and that their motivation in moving was the pursuit of available employment in the glove industry. Patterns of migration amongst this group of glove workers are used to test previous writing on migration theory, including Ravenstein's "laws of migration". The findings of this local study are placed in the context of an English leather glove industry that had existed, for several centuries, and of the economic situation of the period. The glovers of Battersea worked for the Fownes Glove Company, and the fortunes of this company are thus examined. Reasons for this firm's success may have been linked with the willingness of skilled glove cutters and other staff to be mobile. The role of women in gloving is also examined in some detail, since the majority of glove workers were female. The analysis of the birthplaces of glovers who lived in Battersea between 1851 and 1871 reveals that the majority were born outside Battersea or Surrey. According to census records, the largest proportion (34%-43%) came from Somerset, until 1881, when a large number of local young women had started to work as gloveresses. Some gloving families migrated around the country to various glovemaking centres. Five of Ravenstein's "laws of migration" are borne out by the findings of this study, but six are not. Comparison with previous migration research suggests that long-distance moves were not typical of internal migration, but that those who did travel a long way were likely to be skilled, as were the glovers. The conclusion is that glove workers were prepared to travel long distances to practise their craft, and this mobility contributed to the success of the Fownes' Company.

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