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Tanner Blasch
English II B
Jan 28, 2013

Restoration period jobs and careers
In the days of the Restoration period in England, making a living was hard and even
dangerous. People knew that life was short and uncertain but they did their best living anyway.
“It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives. The act of dying is not of importance, it lasts so
short a time.”(Samuel Johnson) Many jobs and careers required no education or training but
were repetitive and difficult. Work was backbreaking for peasants who would have to take any
income they were offered. Wages were low and sometimes nothing but shelter was provided.
Some jobs for the middle class such as craftsman or merchants had better income but were
equally as difficult. Most jobs did not even require the need to be able to read or write
considering that only wealthy families were educated. The majority of the population of England
was illiterate so jobs were not complex.
Apothecary’s or doctors of England’s Restoration Period were some of the only careers
that involved going to a college or university. During this time, new advancement in medicine
emerged and caught the people’s eye. “The desire of knowledge, like the thirst for riches,
increases ever with the acquisition of it.”(Laurence Sterne) Medicine was preached throughout
great Britain and was actually taken seriously. People would now not just seek religious help
when dealing with injury or illness. They would see a Doctor and pay good money for medical
help. Some herbs and plants were thought to have properties’ that could heal anything from the
plague to a simple stomach ache. One example that doctors used was cinnamon. Cinnamon was
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used for head and heart problems and if a person has severe problems breathing. These experts in
medicine were also called chemical doctors. Many doctors who experimented used astrology to
determine an illness and diagnose. This was thought as a layman’s study but a man of medicine
named Dr. Richard Foster, who was very successful in his profession, used this practice and
believed it worked. He was a member of The College of Physicians, which was located in
London, England. Books were published showing people ways to self-diagnose and treat their
own illnesses according to astrological signs. Of course, these were never proven to work.
Eventually the study of astrological diagnoses and treatment was opposed by religion rather than
other medical practices during the time.
A popular career that did not involve much education, but involved tremendous skill, is
the work of an English tailor or craftsman. Tailors were trained as an apprentice by being placed
under the command of a master who has expertise in a trade. G.M. Trevelyan, a historian, says
that the system of apprenticeship was “The Key to The New National Life of the Elizabethan
era.” (G.M. Trevelyan) The first mention of tailoring was around the 12
th
century, but cloth
making existed long before that in England. The art of tailoring involves weaving, sewing, and
cutting of cloth. Tailors created clothing with many types of fabrics and materials. Throughout
the years tailors created clothing that was fashionable at the time. The Rich usually wore
embroidered crimson or blue fabrics. Some of the noblest wore gold and silver embroidered
attire that was very expensive. As time went on more and more people gained clothing from a
tailor rather than making their own. The art of cloth making became a complex skilled trade.
Influences from surrounding countries such as Italy and Spain created new types of clothing and
fashion among normal class people and the rich upper class. The wealthy were a main consumer
of fabrics and clothing and usually had a tailor of their own to supply them with whatever they
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desired. Most Tailors worked only in small shops but there were other businesses that employed
large amounts of craftsmen. One business was called, The Company of Merchant Tailors, in the
city of York. They apprenticed 165 people at one point to work as tailors in training.
In the time of the restoration period in England, simple ways to make a living and feed
your family was to farm crops and tend to animals. Most middle class to peasant families were
farmers. Unfortunately, the condition of rural areas was fairly rough up until the start of the
seventeenth century. Many diseases ran rampant throughout and since the population was so
sparse, medical care was hard to come by. Winters were very harsh and dangerous in England. If
crops did not do well before the winter came the farmers and their families would have a low
supply of food. Poverty was always a part of life for farmers. “The surest way to remain poor is
to be an honest man.”(Napoleon I) Fortunately, more and more improvements were made to
farming and agriculture. Farmers harvested more amounts of crops every year due to new
methods. Farmers began living better and having better houses. Some new improvements were
due to new things imported from other countries. New foods for cattle and sheep were introduced
to the English from the Netherlands. Animals were needed on farms not only for meat but for
manure which provided fertilizer for the crops. Cow manure was usually used to create fertilizer.
Chickens were used for their eggs and goats provided milk. Other foods like cabbage, lettuce,
and apricots also came from the Netherlands. Some other fruits like cherries came from France.
England consisted of about 77,800,000 acres of land of which thirty percent was used as
farmland. It just shows how much farming was part of the population’s lifestyle.
A highly regarded career was blacksmithing. Blacksmithing was work that consisted of
metal and iron work. Blacksmiths made tools, weapons, parts of wagons, and even structures like
gates and cages. The reason that blacksmiths were so important is almost all trade involved some
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kind of metal work. Products like axes, plows, shovels, and hoes were used by farmers and
needed in order to harvest crops successfully. For building materials, Nails and supports were
crafted by blacksmiths. Household products that were used daily such as pots, pans, silverware,
sewing tools and other kitchen tools were all made by blacksmiths. Blacksmiths were essential to
English society. Their main tools were an anvil and a hammer to pound the metal, as well as a
furnace to heat the metal to a malleable state. Other clamps and tongs were used to hold the hot
metal in place when forming it. In the system of apprenticeship, a boy would be trained by a
master under a seven year contract. He would be fed clothed and given a place to stay while in
training. After the seven years of training the apprentice will become a journeyman and travel
around looking for work. Some went to other villages to work as a blacksmith in their own shop
or go to train other people.
Being a soldier in the British army was a grueling career during the time of England’s
restoration period. At the time, Britain became involved in many different conflicts like the
Seven Years war which lasted from 1756 to 1763 and the war for America’s independence which
was being fought thousands of miles away. Plus, just getting into the army was a harsh challenge
due to all the training required. Soldiers had to go through many drills and combat practice
before seeing the battlefield. Any mistake is punished. Even though the conditions of life as a
soldier were harsh, most men and boys volunteered for service. The reason was it took them
away from their lives of poverty and hardship. The soldiers were referred to as many different
names such as volunteers, militia, Calvary, and yeomanry. Men that volunteered were usually
poor and in need of any wage that is offered. Most soldiers didn’t even see combat because of
their post. Most were sent abroad and never went to war. Volunteers did not really fight to serve
the interests of their country. They usually wanted to serve interests of their own. Money was
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what drove them to fight. Unfortunately the only way to move up in rank is to pay. Officers had
to pay money in order to move up in status. This ensured that only wealthy and respected
gentlemen were able to become an officer.
In a time like the Restoration period in England, people would do anything to make a
living. The people that worked long, hard hours and long days to just get by deserve much
respect. The men and woman of the work force in the present day may think that things are hard
but it is nowhere near the hardships that occurred back then. Many techniques that were used In
jobs then have paved the way for modern developments in the same trades today.