View Full Version : Ostler at an inn
25-04-2011, 11:58 AM
Would one expect the ostler at a coaching or staging inn be an emplyee of the innkeeper or in business on his own account in conjunction with the innkeeper. Which leads me to the question of who owned the horses. For example if one rode from Gloucester to London on hired horses (I gather that is about 15 changes of horse) what were the actual mechanics of the transactions at each stage.
The genealogy in question is Thomas THICK (b: 1825 Blackwater, Surrey) who starts as an 'ostler' and ends 'dairyman' (a man who clearly set great store on ensuring that his children were educated at the new fangled local 'National School' and it paid off).
26-04-2011, 11:27 AM
I have an ancestor who was a horsekeeper on the London-Portsmouth Road, so I am interested in this too. I think it very unlikely that a horsekeeper or ostler would be in business for himself. He was probably working either for the innkeeper or for the coaching company. Thinking about this - the coaches would be owned by the company providing the transport and taking the passengers' fares. As to the horses, not sure who owned them. I think that each team of coach horses ended up back in its home stable every night, because they pulled the coach on a 7 or 8 mile stage in one direction, then later in the day pulled the coach going in the opposite direction back to the place they started. So the horses could have belonged to the innkeeper, and thus the innkeeper could be providing a comprehensive service to the coach companies - horses, horsekeepers, food for the passengers at lunch or dinner time and so on. All the coach company had to own were the coaches, the ticket offices at either end (and employ the coachmen) while contracting out the services to be provided at each stop.
I don't know this is correct, of course. Perhaps the coach company owned the horses and paid the innkeepers for stabling etc. But in either case I think the horsekeepers / ostlers must have been employed by the inn.
Not sure how the system would work for post horses (the ones hired by well-off individuals for riding on a series of fast horses to their destination). Surely each horse would have had some sort of mark or tag (or be recognised individually) to indicate its owner and home stable so that it could be hired out for journeys in the opposite direction to make sure it got home within a day or two. Quite a complicated set of logistics, that somebody must have been taking care of.
26-04-2011, 12:01 PM
There's much about post-horses in this little book:
The Laws relating to Inns, Hotels, Alehouses, and Places of Public Entertainment: to which is added, an Abstract of the Statute for the Regulation of Post Horses, by J. W. Willcock (1829).
(on Google Books; see p.121 onwards). Also on Google Books are numerous law books with discussions of cases relating to horse hire (e.g. whether duty was payable or not, or who was responsible when horses were injured).
26-04-2011, 4:27 PM
Just Googling around, there are a few bits and pieces on this blog
A Grim Reality: The Life of a Coach Horse in the Regency Era
"These teams were contracted to stage lines or the Royal Mail. Other horses were available to be leased by individuals. Crack teams of hostlers prided themselves in changing mail coach teams in as little as three minutes."
Also, this book may be of interest...
The old coaching days in Yorkshire (1889), by Tom Bradley
My first impression of this book is that it tends to focus on coaching inns, the lives of postboys, coachmen, proprieters and other individuals rather than the logistics of coaching per se. However, I haven't read all 286 pages and you may find it of interest.
27-04-2011, 12:39 AM
One of my 19th century forebears had the interesting career path of outdoor servant (as a teenager)/ostler (as a young married man)/inside bar staff/publican.
He ended up with his own pub. His son became an accountant and entered the middle classes.
I have read that ostlers often aspired to more senior positions in the taverns they worked at, and that moving from ostler to tavernkeeper was not unachievable.
28-04-2011, 1:40 PM
Perhaps it is not surprising. There is a man who is likely to be one of the first to hear gossip and also real news both local and from away. Given even moderate ambition, he is in an ideal position to be one of the first to act upon what he hears. Given his everyday contacts with travellers, such a person might also see better than others that education for your children, both male and female, may launch them in a climb of the socio-economic ladder.
29-04-2011, 8:20 AM
Index of Old Occupations
"Originally, a Hostler was the host of an Inn or (H)ostelry. Later, became the man employed to look after the horses of visitors"
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