A Whitesmith is a tin worker (sometimes known as tinsmith), but the term also referred to a finisher of any metal goods, but usually iron, or pewter.
The whitesmith would finish off, i.e. polish, or make keys etc. from the basic forged state.
Basically he worked the cold forged metal, bringing it back to the original shine or lustre, and made household and agricultural items.
Some Whitesmiths were also skilled in other directions, such as the one who placed an advert in 1835 –
“John Ladmore, Whitesmith, Bell Hanger and Gun Maker of Widemarsh Street Hereford, begs leave most respectfully to inform his friends the public that he has removed from Eign Gate to more commodious premises”
News From Past – Whitesmith
In 1850 George Day, a Whitesmith went to the Barley Mow Inn in Ludlow and asked for a pint of beer – with nobody else around, he took a razor from his pocket and cut his own throat.
The landlady just happened to go back into the room and snatched the razor from George before he could do it again and the surgeon was sent for.
The would was dreadful, but the surgeon did a good job and it was hoped that the injury would not prove to be fatal.
No reason could be found for the attempted suicide, but some four years earlier George Day had been in court concerning alleged cruelty to his apprentice, Herbert James.
Herbert had brought the charge of assault, and said that George Day carried out repeated acts of cruelty and violence towards him.
However when the Magistrates heard George’s account of Herbert being idle and refractory, they dismissed the case and told James to get back to work. So it was okay then to be cruel and violent if your apprentice was lazy?!
One has to wonder about this – was George a troubled, violent and unpopular man, and could something about this have contributed to his suicide attempt.