This paper examines the organizational structure and spatial distribution of the British trade union movement in the nineteenth century, with particular emphasis on the pre-1850 period. A number of novel sources are used, notably the archives of the Registrar of Friendly Societies. It is argued that existing stereotypes place excessive emphasis on the highly localised cultures of the miners; a number of different strands of experience are identified, but the dominant artisan unions evolved rapidly to organization on a national scale, reflecting a trade union culture in which loyalty to a craft dominated local ties.
- trade unions
- friendly societies travelling artiszans
- regional cultures
- British Isles