The Wildgoose Chase

I met Chelsea Pensioner Walter Wildgoose in 1977 when he was 87 and I was 26. Through a series of letters written over the last year of his life, he passed along his life story - the workhouse children's home, a life in the British Army witnessing the opening battles of World War I and life in India, a remarkable family surviving the bombs of World War II London. This blog will document my research and progress on the novel I'm writing about this amazing man.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Tallow chandler, fellmonger, and whitesmith

As I work on a fictional version of Walter's story, I have to stop down occasionally to do various types of research. Right now, I'm concentrating on location descriptions - major settings like Sheffield, Aldershot, Lucknow, or specific settings like Ivy Cottage on the workhouse grounds.

While researching place names and photographs from turn of the (20th) century Sheffield, I found a list of trades and professions and the people practicing them in Sheffield around 1822 (well before Walter's time, but possibly still relevant in 1905). Some of them required a dictionary to find out what they were; some were more obvious. Here are my favorites:
  • metal button manufacturer
  • bone scale cutter (can't find a definition of this, but every Goggle listing mentions Sheffield, so I assume it had something to do with the cutlery trade)
  • beadle and gaol master
  • whitesmith
  • soap boiler
  • tea pot handle maker (guess someone else made the actual pots and put them together)
  • tallow chandler
  • dealer in bone and horn dust
  • fellmonger
  • smith and farrier
  • fancy case maker
  • penknife cutter and grinder

There were no Wildgooses listed for any of these trades/professions; I just found them interesting.

I also ran across a few surnames that will definitely make it into the book:

  • Abbershaw
  • Dewsnap
  • Staniforth
  • Ibbotson
  • Sneesby
  • Heppenstall
  • Cockerton

Very literary names. Obviously, "Wildgoose" wasn't so out-of-the-ordinary.

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posted by MaryB @ 3:10 PM  


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