Answers to Questions


Bricklayers & Builders of Ware, Early 19th Century

February, 2009




For more on Herts Brickmakers

Jane Clajus (jcpiano @t of Maineville, Ohio, writes: My family, the Goodmans were from Ware, HertfordshireJohn Goodman, b. 1795 was a brickmason in Ware all of his life as were most of his sons.  I do not now where they worked but am wondering if any of their names are listed among the local bricklayers?   John Goodman's son Ephraim left England and continued his knowledge of brick masonry in Chicago, Ill.  His brick company did very well after the "Great Chicago fire" of 1871.

I am sure you have already checked the census returns and the standard birth, marriage and death records which contain references to occupation - so I will say no more about these sources. The only easily accessible documents from the early 19th century which explicitly list occupations are the trade directories and I list all relevant entries below, followed by explanatory notes.

1823   1828-9   1839   1846
Bricklayers, &c   Bricklayers, &c   Bricklayers   Traders
Adams James, Baldock Street   Andrews Samuel, Cribb Street   Hitch Caleb (& brickmaker) Baldock Street   Hitch Caleb, brickmaker & surveyor
Andrews Samuel, Cribb Street   Adams James, Baldock Street   Reason Alfred, Mill Lane   Mayfield John Shepherd, carpenter, builder & undertaker
Hitch Caleb, (& brickmaker & surveyor) Water Row   Hitch Caleb, (& brickmaker & surveyor) Water Row   Smith George Escott (& lime burner) Amwell End   Reason Alfred, bricklayer
Smith George, West Mill Road   Smith George, West Mill Road  


  Smith George Escott, bricklayer
Smith William, Mill Lane       Hitch Caleb (& bricklayer) Baldock Street   Stevens John, builder, brick & tile maker
        Hitch James (& carpenter) Star Lane    
        Mayfield John (& carpenter) Amwell Road    

1851 Post Office Directory for Hertfordshire

  • Hitch Caleb, builder & brickmaker. Baldock Street

  • Hitch James, builder, upholsterer, undertaker, English & foreign timber merchant, & barge builder, Star Lane

  • Hitch Walter, surveyor & builder, & agent to Western Insurance company, Baldock Street

  • Mayfield John S., builder, Amwell End

  • Reason Alfred, builder, New Road

  • Stevens John, builder & agent to Star life insurance co., New Road


  • There is no good natural building stone in Hertfordshire, but there are deposits of brick earth and most buildings in the county in the early 19th century would have been constructed with locally made hand made bricks. This meant that someone who built houses might be described as a bricklayer rather than a builder. He may also have been responsible to making the bricks he used. The above list refers to all references of brickmakers, bricklayers and builders listed under Ware.

  • The information from 1823, 1828/9 and 1839 comes from Pigot's Directories, which listed traders by occupation for each town in the county.

  • The information from 1846 and 1851 comes from Post Office Directories, which list traders in alphabetical order for each town. Later directories are, in general, more detailed than earlier ones.

  • Trade directories list traders, and most bricklayers who are listed would probably now be described as builders. There are no equivalent lists for labourers and skilled employees, and relevant records relating to their employment rarely survive.

  • If someone is described as a brickmaker or bricklayer on a baptism record, birth or marriage certificate, or in the early censuses, but are not listed in the trade directories they were most likely an employee of one of the listed traders, or a casual labourer with relevant skills.

The fact that the Goodman name does not occur in the trade directories suggests that they were building workers - probably not well paid - and this is supported but the fact that John Goodman is described in the 1861 census as a pauper - possibly suggesting that he was a former bricklayer too ill or elderly to support himself. (There may be some surviving workhouse union records - I haven't checked at HALS to see).

The fact that Ephraim Goodman went to America and did well is not surprising. The social structure in England at the time kept labourers "in their place" (see "All Things Bright and Beautiful")- and there were excellent opportunities for skilled workmen (especially in the building trades) in the New World.

Caleb Hitch of Ware & Hitch Bricks

from the Newsletter

Monday, August 18, 2014

Caleb Hitch's Patent Bricks

I am mainly interested in St Albans Brickmakers but I recently had a query about Caleb Hitch of Ware. In 1828 he was was granted a patent for large interlocking bricks with cavities. They were laid on edge and claimed to be more economical than standard bricks, but because of the complicated form of brick required to turn a corner many different patterns had to be produced. Consequently, they were not widely adopted and outside Ware Hitch bricks are very rare. Has anyone got a good picture of some of these bricks so I can see how they worked?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Hitch Bricks at Ware Museum

Further to my earlier posting about the distinctive bricks made by Caleb Hitch of Ware, Helen has written to say that her grandfather and great grandfather worked with and subsequently bought out Hitch's building firm. In addition Ware Museum has a permanent display on Hitch bricks in the museum with information concerning the Hitch family, as well as the connection between malting and brickmaking. The museum is open from 11am to 4pm Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays and 2-4 on Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays.


February 2015

Ivan Judd wrote : Hitch the builders were still operative during my boyhood. I used to collect wood shavings from their carpentry shop as my parents knew Alf Pipkin who was a master carpenter and had worked for Hitch in Church Street from boy to retirement.. The shavings were for a neighbours rabbits which she bred for food. I seem to recall a small row of Hitch built cottages in Watton Road that still exist today showing well early Hitch brickwork

Cheryl Wallis has written an article on web site about the Ware Brickfields showing pictures of her ancestors the Neaves family that worked on the Brickfields. She has put some pictures up as well. I grew up with Cheryl's father Ray Wallis.