Staffordshire Working Lives
Survey of the poor of Leek

A detailed survey of the poor of Leek (1816).

(© Staffordshire Record Office: 5343/1/12)

Archive sources
View image
Download transcript (RTF format)


Depression in the silk trade: silk workers living in poverty

A detailed survey of the poor of Leek, 1816.

In 1816 there was a bad depression mainly triggered by the collapse of corn prices at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. This depression affected the silk industry because it represented a luxury item that most people could not afford. Therefore a market town such as Leek that was dominated by the silk trade would have been badly affected. Most people were involved in piece-work so had no guaranteed income. If the work was not forth-coming, then they received no income.

This survey is one of a series that must have covered the whole town, street by street. It gives great detail of physical circumstances such as lack of clothing and bedding, employment and income, number of dependents, and poor health. These people were mainly still in employment, but their total family income was too small to enable them to live in little better than the worst possible living conditions.


Return to menu page

Agriculture & Rural Lives Mining, Quarrying & Mineral Extraction Domestic Service Homepage Manufacturing-texile