Knobstick

Interesting, unusual or just plain weird: words from the past

This week I’m introducing a new feature to this site. In Word of the Week I’ll introduce a new or interesting word to the site. This week the word is Knobstick.

I found this word while reading Freiderich Engels The Condition of the English Working Class. A knobstick is someone who is a strikebreaker, or who doesn’t join a trade union

Engels wrote his classic book while living and working in Manchester in the early 1840’s. He wrote about the poor working and living conditions of the working classes, especially those working in the cotton mills in Lancashire. As many of my ancestors were born in the Manchester area, and worked as cotton spinners and weavers, knobstick would have been a word they were familiar with.

I’m not sure whether any of them were knobsticks. I try not to judge my ancestors for what they did, but I’m secretly hoping they were staunch trade unionists.

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