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Title: Government dockyard workers in Portsmouth, 1793-1815
Author: Wilson, David
ISNI:       0000 0001 2123 1295
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 1975
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The central concern of this thesis is the experiences and attitudes of the Dock Yard workers in the years between 1793 and 1815. In particular, our concern is with the attitude of the Yard workmen towards their employers, the embezzlement of naval stores, the popular radicalism of the seventeen nineties and food prices. All of these areas have attracted the attention of historians of the eighteenth century so that there are a number of historiographical problems to be confronted. The concept of a "moral economy" and historians' treatment of eighteenth century trade unionism are of special interest in this study. Clearly, we are able to obtain only a partial view of the Yard workers. Once they pass beyond the Dock Yard gates we lose sight of them in the streets and alleys of the town and we are unable to follow them into their pubs and homes. Only when the Yard acts collectively or find themselves in court are we able to see them outside their work situation. Therefore some thought must be given to Dock Yard administration and Admiralty policy. Even so, it must be remembered that Portsmouth Yard was but one part of a national administrative system which was run from London. For this reason policy matters and administration are only considered when they impinge on the lives of the Yard workers. Naval shipbuilding and repairing in Portsmouth established a skilled and well paid permanent labour force. The cooperative nature of shipbuilding, the close social ties created by geographical propinquity and kinship, the need to safe-guard their interests against their masters, and the training in organisation and management they received by being in government service, gave the Yard workers a strong desire to influence issues affecting their lives. The areas of their involvement ranged from the Poor Law to food supply. It was their ability to realise through joint action their desire for some control over the quality of their lives that united the Dock Yard workers into a community. Moreover, their influence as a group was felt in the town as a whole. Though the Yard workers are seen as central to Portsmouth society, they were but one part of it. Other groups were involved in the town and the interaction between them and the Yard workers created a wider community than just the Yard artisans. However, the town community was not based on consensus and harmony. Conflict between groups helps us to trace the pattern of interaction and highlight the complex of values which held the townsfolk together. The aim of this thesis, therefore, is twofold. On the one hand, we wish to isolate and identify the Yard workers as a social group; on the other, we wish to analyse and measure their involvement in the local society of which they were part.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: DA Great Britain ; HD Industries. Land use. Labor