From majestic cathedrals to humble gravestones, our stonemason ancestors helped create Britain’s historic fabric. My latest feature for Who Do You Think You Are? magazine (June issue) discusses how to trace your stonemason ancestors.
The Book of English Trades (London, 1824), defined ‘the business of a stonemason’ as ‘the art of hewing or squaring stone and marble; in cutting them for the purposes of building, and in being able to fix them in the walls of buildings with mortar’, and although modern stonemasons have access to modern cutting equipment, in many respects this is still the essence of their work.
Stonemasons’ expertise is still in demand, not only to create new buildings, but also to restore much-loved historic buildings like Salisbury Cathedral. Many ancient monuments still bear the marksof the men who lovingly crafted them centuries ago, like these ones in Herefordshire.
This was an interesting article for me to write as my 4x great-grandfather John Lomas was a stonemason. In the 1851 census, he was listed as a stonemason at Reaps Moor, Fawfieldhead and ten years later, he was listed as a builder employing 31 men at the same place. His 18 year old son John Henry was listed as a stone mason's apprentice in the same census, although puzzlingly ten years later John Henry's occupation is given as a joiner, not a stone mason like his father.
N.B. Sorry my blogs have been much neglected lately - I am busy writing Tracing Your Manchester and Salford Ancestors for Pen & Sword books, and I hope to resume regular updates after the book deadline.